The Mavericks struck first in today’s NCAA Division I National Championship, capitalizing on the power play in the first period, but all went downhill from there. A second period of back and forth scoring attempts but no scoring led way for Denver to take over in the third, where they amassed all five of their goals.
Denver’s Ryan Barrow buried the first one, scoring off a loose puck in front of MSU’s senior goaltender Dryden McKay. The Pioneers were relentless after gaining momentum, scoring another goal off a one-timer on a two on one breakaway.
Not long after Denver did it again, scoring another tic tac toe breakaway on a two on one, giving them a 3-1 lead.
Minnesota State pulled Hobey Baker award winner McKay with 3:30 remaining for an extra attacker, but DU tallied an empty netter to seal the deal. The Mavericks did not give up, pulling McKay again, which only resulted in another empty netter.
Minnesota State’s best period of hockey was played in the first, with junior forward Sam Morton finding the back of the net.
At the 7:37 mark, senior defenseman Andy Carroll neared the offensive zone while carrying the puck and was tripped right in front of Denver’s bench to send MSU on the man advantage.
About a minute through the power play, junior forward Lucas Sowder collected a rebound off Denver goaltender Magnus Chrona’s pad and quickly tapped the puck towards a wide open Morton. Morton one-timed the puck five-hole, tallying the first goal of the game.
Despite two breakaway chances for the Mavericks, the second period remained scoreless, and eventually led to a breakdown in the third period.
McKay was quick to put the loss on himself postgame, knowing the Mavericks were unable to recover after one goal helped Denver let loose.
“I thought that I gave up a bad rebound on the first one and they capitalized. Then we took a penalty shortly after, it was just a bad bounce. Then a guy makes a good shot on the power play and all of a sudden its 2-1. Just never really recovered,” explained McKay.
“Would have been nice to make a few more saves for the guys and keep one or two, but it just never really happened.”
Although the Mavericks let up that first goal in the third period, Hastings was confident in his group to rebound. MSU has faced adversity like this before but just came up short in doing so.
Although ending a season with a loss in the National Championship is something that causes the most “open of wounds” according to Hastings, there is much more to be proud about than there is to hang your head over for this team.
The Mavericks welcomed their first ever Hobey Baker recipient, claimed a MacNaughton cup, a Mason Cup, and advanced to the team’s first ever National Championship game all behind a team-best 38-6-0 season.
The team will undoubtedly look different next year, but Minnesota State’s depth runs deep, and they will have a great chance at making a rebound next season.
Header Photo: Seniors Jack McNeely (3), Wyatt Aamodt (7), Dryden McKay (29), and junior Sam Morton (6) huddle around the Mavericks’ net after the final buzzer sounds, ending Minnesota State’s historic season. (Mansoor Ahmad/The Reporter)
Write to Kole Buelow at email@example.com.