McKay collects 100th career win

Coming into the series on the three-game win streak, the No. 1 Minnesota State men’s hockey team battled with out-of-conference opponent Arizona State this past weekend in the hopes of extending their streak and building their resume for the upcoming NCAA tournament.

The Mavericks had to get through the Sun Devils first, a pesky independent team who has wins over several top 20 teams in the USCHO Men’s Hockey Poll throughout the year. Mavs’ head coach Mike Hastings noted the Sun Devils success against top teams in the nation and knew ASU would be a great challenge for the Mavericks heading down the final stretch of the season. 

As Friday came around the corner, 4332 fans packed into the stadium to watch the two teams play. It was the Sun Devils who got on the board first quickly in game one, as a one timer from Matthew Kopperud zipped past Dryden McKay’s left side 1:01 into the opening period.

After missing a pass on a breakaway chance heading into the 10 minute mark, ASU surrendered their first goal of the game as MSU’s sophomore center Ondrej Pavel gathered the puck from behind the Sun Devils’ net. Pavel swiftly passed the puck into the middle of the zone and senior defensemen Andy Carroll buried it home to tie the game. 

Despite the Mavs almost heading into the second period up one from a Brendan Furry shot off the post, the two teams headed into intermission tied 1-1. In the opening 15 seconds of the second period, Arizona State tripped a Maverick player to put MSU on the power play.

Senior winger Reggie Lutz made the most of it, as he corralled a Nathan Smith saucer pass from cross ice to give the Mavericks the lead on the power play just 1:10 into the period. Lutz missed seven games due to injury before returning and earned a point in his first game back with the goal.

Only four minutes later MSU got on the board again as Pavel scored a circus shot while getting hooked by an Arizona State defender. The sophomore center was able to beat a defender to the puck, and as the puck slid unevenly on the ice, was able to tip it up and over ASU goaltender Ben Kraws’ shoulder to give the Mavs a 3-1 lead. 

The Sun Devils got a three on one shorthanded chance in the waning minutes of the period, but it was denied by McKay to keep the MSU lead at two. As we opened the third, senior winger Julian Napravnik got on the board, as he pump faked the goaltender into a wide open net and buried the shot to go up three with 16:51 remaining in the game. 

Arizona State needed goals quickly, but were only successful in getting one from Kopperud with 5:53 remaining in the contest as he buried his second goal of the game off a McKay save. The Mavs headed home with a 4-2 win on the night, and Lutz earned the first star in his first game back. Smith also reached the 40 point mark with two assists.

In a post game press conference on Friday Lutz stated, “just don’t feed into their offense… they can make you pay in a heartbeat” when asked about what the Mavericks needed to do to improve for Saturday’s game.

MSU did their best coming into the game, but were unable to keep ASU from scoring. Despite playing almost the entire first period without a goal, Arizona State got on the board first partly due to a Jake Livingstone holding penalty.

Sun Devils’ Jack Becker collected a rebound and shot the puck past McKay’s right side to give ASU a 1-0 lead heading into intermission. More penalties riddled the second period and Minnesota State took advantage of it.

Lutz buried a tic-tac-toe goal for the Mavs on the power play from Smith and junior winger Cade Borchardt, which evened the game at one six minutes into the period. It was not until the final four minutes of the period where MSU opened up the scoring once again, as sophomore defenseman Akito Hirose scored his third goal of the year from the blue line. 

The Mavericks were not finished there, scoring again before the period expired. They did so as Borchardt collected a fast rebound off his own shot to give MSU a 3-1 lead going into the final period of play. 

A fourth consecutive goal put the Mavs up three when junior winger Ryan Sandelin scored his 16 goal of the year with less than seven minutes remaining. Arizona State was forced into pulling their goaltender early to help reduce the margin, and they did just that, scoring two goals in two minutes to narrow MSU’s lead to one. 

Arizona State’s Josh Doan buried both goals for the Sun Devils but their fate was inevitably decided when Sandelin scored the half-ice empty netter with 14 seconds left. 

With the series sweep the Mavericks now move to 25-5-0 overall on the season and remain at 17-3-0 in CCHA action while the Sun Devils fall to 15-14. With Saturday’s win, Minnesota State goaltender Dryden McKay moved into sole possession of third place in total wins with 100. 

It has been quite the year for McKay, who has become the NCAA hockey leader in shutouts as well as the third ever goaltender to reach the century mark in career wins. The senior netminder also collected his 25 win of the season in the final game of the series, and now officially averages 25 wins per season. 

The series marks the final series before Coach Hastings and Smith head off to the olympics, where the two will be representing team USA in Beijing. While they are gone, the Mavericks are set to face Bowling Green first in Ohio on Feb 4.

Header Photo: With Saturday’s win over Arizona State, senior goaltender Dryden McKay (29) collected his 100th career win and his 25th win on the season. McKay now holds sole possesion of third in career wins only bedind Michigan’s Steve Shields (127) and Marty Turco (111). 

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