Mavs split series, Tommies up next on Hockey Day Minnesota

After heading on the road to upper Mich. this past weekend, the Mavericks came back home with one win in two games. The Minnesota State men’s hockey team traveled to play Northern Michigan on their nine-game winning streak, which was inevitably snapped by the Wildcats.

Northern Michigan’s unfamiliar olympic-sized sheet of ice got the best of the Mavericks in game one of the two-game series, as the Wildcats were able to take down No. 1 MSU. Minnesota State tallied the first goal of the game on the power play where Senior forward Julian Napravnik sniped the top right corner of the goal to put the Mavs up one with less than two minutes remaining. 

Napravnik’s goal launched him into the 100-point club as a Maverick, becoming the seventeenth player in the program to reach the feat during Minnesota State’s time in NCAA Division I hockey. 

The second period proved to be pivotal as the Wildcats took over scoring three goals to the Mavericks’ none going into the third. Despite sophomore forward Connor Gregga’s rebound goal at the 9:07 mark, MSU was unable to complete the comeback as Northern Michigan sealed the game with an empty-netter to win 2-4.

Minnesota State fared much better the next day, lighting the lamp first once again. Sophomore forward Ondrej Pavel got the Mavs on the board, scoring his sixth goal of the year from the high slot to put the team up one 1:54 into the first period. 

MSU proceeded to find the back of the net two more times before the first period expired, as junior forwards Cade Borchardt and Ryan Sandelin each got the puck past Northern Michigan goaltender Charlie Glockner. The second period ended scoreless with both teams each getting a goal in the third. 

With the 4-1 win, the Mavericks improved to 21-5-0 overall on the year with a record of 17-3-0 in the CCHA. The Wildcats surpassed Lake Superior State with their one win over the Mavs, now putting them at 13-9-1 overall and 7-8-1 in CCHA play. 

Upcoming Minnesota State will compete against St. Thomas for the second time this season. The two teams previously battled in a home and home split in the first set of games, which now warrants the same for this upcoming weekend. 

The Mavericks travel north to St. Paul on Jan. 20 to take on the Tommies in the first game of the series, and will return back home to play in the Hockey Day Minnesota game on Jan 22. The game will be held outside at the bound to be frigid Blakeslee Stadium.

MSU gave the Tommies a not so friendly welcome back to Division I hockey the last time the teams met, defeating St. Thomas 9-0 and 5-0 in those contests. Until then, it was the first time the two teams had played each other since the 1996-97 season.

Senior defenseman Jack McNeely explained that the Tommies have improved a lot since the last time the Mavericks played them, and that it is going to be a battle the team is looking forward to.

The No. 2 Mavericks now get a chance at a regular season sweep of the Tommies with two wins this weekend. St. Thomas comes into the series with two wins on the season, putting them at 2-22-0 overall with a CCHA record of 2-16-0. 

The team sits last in the conference with nine points, far behind the top Mavericks who have 44. 

Minnesota State continues to be led by junior forward Nathan Smith in the points category, as Smith extended his NCAA Division I leading points mark to 35 with two points this past weekend against Northern Michigan. With a massive four-point weekend in Marquette, Napravnik now follows closely behind Smith at 29, which is tied for ninth in division I hockey. 

With no shutouts this past weekend senior goaltender Dryden McKay is now tied for second in total shutouts this year at eight with Quinnipiac goalie Yaniv Perets. 

With his ninth shutout of the year coming this past weekend, Northeastern’s Devon Levi now sits alone at the top. 

Sandelin is now the leading goal scorer for the Mavericks at 14.

Header Photo: Julian Napravnik (15) tallied four points this past weekend against Northern Michigan to move into a tie for ninth in total points in NCAA Division I hockey at 29. 

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