No. 5 Mavericks complete series sweep against No. 4 Bulldogs

Freshman goaltender Alex Tracy backstopped the Minnesota State University Mankato men’s hockey team to a 6-0 win against Minnesota Duluth in his first collegiate start Friday. 

On Saturday, senior forward Sam Morton proved to be the difference-maker scoring the Mavericks only two goals in their 2-1 win against the Bulldogs, earning the series-sweep.

Friday night’s game got out to the similar slow start that Maverick fans have seen so far this season, which included an early penalty that sent Duluth on the powerplay less than a minute into the game. Minnesota State was able to kill off the penalty thanks to a strong effort by junior forward Ondrej Pavel, which gave them momentum.

With just over ten minutes remaining in the first period, junior forward David Silye finished off a great passing play with a one-timer from the right dot to put the Mavericks up 1-0 on the powerplay. And it didn’t take much longer for the Mavericks to get another one.

Just over five minutes later, junior forward Josh Groll got his second goal of the season off a deflected shot from Silye that went bardown past Duluth goalie Zach Stejskal for the 2-0 lead. Late in the first period, Duluth forward Luke Mylymok was assessed a five minute major penalty for checking from behind during a puck-battle along the boards. It would take only two minutes for Minnesota State to capitalize on the powerplay as junior defenseman Jake Livingstone tapped one in after an indirect bounce off of senior defenseman Andy Carroll’s shot.

After a successful three-goal first period for the Mavericks, they were rewarded early in the second with another powerplay that put the Bulldogs down by two skaters for a brief period of time. Five seconds into the two-man advantage for the Mavericks, senior forward Cade Borchardt fired one past Stejskal for their fourth goal of the game.

Later in the second period, Duluth would be given a great scoring opportunity after Mankato took two penalties, resulting in a two-man advantage for the Bulldogs. But much to the Mavericks’ delight, they were able to successfully kill off the penalty and gain much more momentum. 

With less than a minute remaining in the second period, sophomore forward Will Hillman registered his first point of the season with a shot that just barely trickled past Stejskal for the fifth goal of the game and second of the period.

The Mavericks kept the ball rolling heading into the third period forcing another powerplay early. Morton was able to add to the Minnesota State lead with a one-timer blast from the right circle.

After a goaltending change by Duluth, the game appeared to have settled down for the majority of the period, but it wasn’t until a bit of controversy arose late in the period. Junior defenseman Tony Malinowski appeared to have extended the Mavericks lead to 7-0 after his shot hit the back bar inside the net.

The referee was quick to signal no-goal and explained that he believed the puck hit the crossbar and went directly out. The officials were unable to use video replay to review that goal, as they were told that replay was unavailable earlier in the period due to technical issues.

Minnesota State fans were quick to voice their displeasure as the boos rained down from the crowd, some even throwing beer cans onto the playing surface. The Mavericks went on to win the game by a final score of 6-0. Tracy earned the shutout and win in his first career collegiate start.

Borchardt commented about how the team did and how important it was to stay focused heading into Saturday. “I thought we played a complete 60 and anytime we do that and stick to our identity we’re tough to play against,” said Borchardt.

“We respect this team a lot because they play a similar style to us. I know if we were in their shoes and just got beat like that, we’d come out hungry so we gotta be ready for that.”

Minnesota State started out strong in Saturday’s game as they drew a penalty early and were given the man-advantage. Duluth was able to kill the penalty, but Mankato still controlled the pace of play early.

With 12 minutes left in the first, Morton got his second goal of the weekend as he went top-shelf past Stejskal for a 1-0 lead. The Mavericks were able to hold on to a 1-0 lead through the remainder of the first period.

The first five minutes of the second period saw back and forth action with both teams getting good chances. With about 12 minutes left in the second period, Duluth appeared to have gotten their first goal of the weekend, but the referee called it back due to the puck being played with a high stick.

Duluth head coach Scott Sandelin challenged the officials’ call on the high stick, but to no avail. Roughly two minutes later, Morton got his second of the game and third of the weekend with a one-timer from the right circle that put the Mavericks up 2-0.

Early in the third period, Duluth got their third powerplay of the game as Pavel was sent to the box for holding. The Bulldogs converted on the powerplay as senior forward Luke Loheit fired a one-timer past Tracy, cutting the lead to 2-1.

The Bulldogs dominated much of the third period, but weren’t able to get anything else past Tracy. With the Bulldogs in Maverick territory with seconds remaining in the game, there seemed to be some confusion with the time clock as it kept running after play was stopped.

The time was set to seven seconds and the teams were ready to battle it out one last time. As the puck was dropped, the Mavericks were able to control and kill the remaining time that was left.

Minnesota State defeated Minnesota Duluth in game two by a final score of 2-1 and completed the series sweep. Minnesota State head coach Mike Hastings commented following the game regarding his team’s efforts and playing on home ice.

“I just think that this has become a very special building for the fans and definitely for the players being able to go out and play in front of this group,” Hastings said. “And I just really liked the way we handled the weekend.”

With their two wins last weekend against Minnesota Duluth, Minnesota State improves to 3-1 on the season. The Mavericks will be on the road against St. Cloud next weekend. 

Header Photo: The Minnesota State University, Mankato’s Men’s Hockey team will play St. Cloud this Friday, Oct. 21 at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 6 p.m. (Dylan Engel/The Reporter)

Write to Karson Buelow at Karson.Buelow@mnsu.edu

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