Daniel McElroy ® Sports Editor |
Photos by Mansoor Ahmad ® Media Director |
The Minnesota State men’s hockey team will travel down south to take on the Alabama-Huntsville Chargers this week.
Rather than having to wait until the start of the weekend to start the series, the first game will be Thursday at 7:07 p.m., and the series will end Friday with the puck drop also at 7:07 p.m.
The Mavericks moved into third in the national rankings following their sweep of then No. 8-ranked BGSU.
Following the series, junior goaltender Dryden McKay was honored by the WCHA with the WCHA Goaltender of the Week award. McKay turned away all 30 shots he faced Friday, and stopped 20 of 21 Saturday. This is McKay’s third Goaltender of the week honor of the year, and his 17th of his career. McKay is 11-1-0 on the year with seven shutouts and he leads the WCHA in goals against average with 0.84 goals per game, a .959 save percentage, and win percentage with .917. With one more shutout, the tendy will take over as the all-time WCHA leader in shutouts, and sit alone in second in the NCAA all-time list.
The depth of MSU continues to prove to be one of the biggest strengths of the team, with 21 different Mavericks scoring at least one point on the year. Everyone down to the extra skaters have made significant contributions to the team in this COVI- riddled year.
“That’s a real hard decision and actually Coach Hastings loses sleep on that one sometimes,” associate head coach Todd Knott said in a press conference Tuesday. “If they’re [the players] doing their job, it’s really hard on coach,” he said.
We saw this in action this weekend with one of the best performances we’ve seen from Shane McMahan, putting pressure on BGSU’s special teams while he was on the penalty kill unit, scoring his first goal of the season while getting his season-high three shots on goal, and winning three of the four faceoffs he took Saturday.
Alabama-Huntsville will look to grab their third win of the year at home against the Mavericks as they hold a 2-7-1 record and are coming off two losses against the Michigan Tech Huskies. The Chargers hold one of the top power plays in the country, scoring 8 goals on 34 opportunities, good for 23.5%. Luckily for MSU, the Mavericks have one of the best penalty killing in the country with 88%, and are the only team with a higher power play percentage than the Chargers with 30.2%, making their special teams one of the most lethal units in the nation.
“Alabama’s going to be a good test for us, they play hard, it’s a tough rink to play in, it’s a little bit smaller so it’ll be a tough challenge for us,” senior defenseman and alternate captain Jack McNeely said Tuesday.
The Mavs veteran defensemen have made a massive impact on the year with the likes of McNeely and Zmolek, each paired up with a freshman defender in Akito Hirose and Jake Livingstone.
“I think they’ve taken a lot of steps this year. Obviously both very talented players…they’re getting better everyday, it’s kind of cliche but they’ve been working really hard,” McNeely praised his teammates.
Jared Spooner will not be available due to the hit he took against Bowling Green last week.