Hockey Day ends with a sweep

The final day of Hockey Day Minnesota began earlier than most on Sunday, beginning with U8 Girls and Mite levels hitting the ice at a bright and early 8:00 a.m. From there on out began the MSU Women’s Alumni game, the Minnesota State versus St. Thomas women’s game, and the Minnesota Mullets Vs. the Steele County Blades game. 

The MSU Women’s Alumni game kicked off first, highlighted by a ceremonial puck drop by current Minnesota State women’s hockey coach John Harrington and former women’s coach Todd Carroll. Carroll coached the Mavericks between 1998 and 2001 finalizing his three-year stint as the team’s head coach with an overall record of 24-71-4.

Harrington took over the women’s program in May 2015. It is Harrington’s seventh season at the helm. He compiled a record of 42-134-23 prior to the 2021-22 season. After the alumni game, the Mavericks faced off against the Tommies. In the previous game of the series, the women traveled north to St. Paul to face the Tommies on the road where they came out on top 4-1.

Senior forward Brittyn Fleming and junior defenseman Charlotte Akervik had solid games for the Mavs in St. Paul, with Fleming scoring two goals while Akervik scored once while also tallying two assists. Forwards Sydney Langseth and Kelsey King also did great, each putting up two points of their own before heading back to Mankato for their Hockey Day Minnesota game at Blakeslee Stadium.

“It was extremely exciting for me and I know our girls loved every minute of it with the chance to play outside… We are thankful for the great support we had from the organizing committee for them to work us in,” Harrington said Monday.

The Maverick women lucked out on the weather in comparison to the day before, where most had to play in a winter wonderland which affected puck movement tremendously. The women started their game frigidly, just like the day before, but were granted a sunny and clear-weathered day to participate in their Hockey Day game. 

The Mavs got on the board first, as sophomore forward Madison Mashuga collected a pass in front of the Tommies’ net and beat the goaltender over her left shoulder to go up one with just over 10 minutes remaining. 

Unfortunately for MSU, St. Thomas struck with less than 30 seconds left in the period on the power play after collecting a rebound that initially hit the post. 

Nearly the whole second period went by without a score, until Fleming scored her third goal of the weekend thanks to a perfect pass from King to beat the shifting goaltender, regaining the Mavs the lead. The second period ended without another score and the whole third period went by before the Tommies strategically pulled their goaltender for an extra attacker.

It did not pan out well for UST, as King got her second point of the day after scoring on the empty net from nearly half-ice to give the Mavericks a 3-1 lead with less than a minute remaining. With the win, the Mavs now sit above the .500 mark for the first time since November when they lost to St. Cloud State University 2-3 in overtime. 

Harrington wondered, with his team coming off a historic win against Minnesota last week, how his team would react in this week’s matchup. He said he thought to himself, “Are we still going to have that same attention to detail when we played in that game?”  he said “And we certainly did that.”

“We are certainly going to have to do that again… We are starting a series of games all against some of the top teams in the nation.”

With a four-point weekend the past two games against St. Thomas, MSU’s Akervik earned WCHA Defensive Player of the Week honors. “Charlotte is having an outstanding year… She’s been one of the best two-way defenders in the league for us this year” said Harrington.

Akervik was also tied for the team lead in blocked shots during the series with two and earned a plus-minus rating of +4 in the series for her first WCHA weekly honor of her career.

Later that night the junior hockey teams hit the ice, as the U.S. Premier Hockey League Steele County Blades and Minnesota Mullets faced off. It was a quick start for the Blades who scored three unanswered goals in the first period.

The Blades also scored the first goal of the second period, before the Mullets finally buried one at the 8:33 mark. Steele Country did not let off the gas, however, scoring again with 23 seconds left to keep their lead at four. 

The third period had one lone goal scored by the Mullets, but the lone goal was not enough to bring Minnesota back into the game. 

Connor Lee and Gavin Ellis were the top performers for the Blades in this one, as Lee scored two first period goals and added an assist in the second.

Ellis scored once in the second period and assisted on Lee’s first goal of the game.

Header Photo: Kelsey King (20) scored an empty net goal to solidify the  Mavericks’ win over St. Thomas Sunday to total four points over the weekend versus the Tommies. The Mavs sweep the Tommies during the regular season with the win, moving above .500 for the first time since Nov. of 2021.

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