On a warm Halloween weekend, the No.8 Minnesota State University, Mankato played host to unranked Bowling Green at the Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center in downtown Mankato.
Friday night, senior forward Brendan Furry sealed the deal in overtime to capture the Mavericks’ first conference win of the season. Senior forward Sam Morton continued his impressive start to the season, picking up his second game-winning goal and leading the Mavericks to a 4-2 win Saturday.
The Mavericks entered the matchup seeking vengeance after being swept for the first time since the 2018-19 season on the road against St. Cloud State. Freshman goaltender Alex Tracy got the start in net Friday night looking for his first win since the series with Duluth.
Friday’s contest got out to a very fast-paced start for both teams as the Falcons were able to match the speed and intensity that the Mavericks brought. The first period seemed to go through waves where either team spent several minutes in the other’s defensive zone.
With just under three minutes remaining in the first period, junior forward Ondrej Pavel was able to cash in his first goal of the season with a backhand rebound into a wide-open net.
The Mavericks were able to hold onto the 1-0 lead heading into the second period.
Minnesota State kept the momentum rolling into the second period. Nearly four minutes into the second, sophomore forward Tanner Edwards picked up his own blocked shot and fired one top-shelf past the Falcon netminder for his first goal of the season and the Mavericks’ second goal of the game.
The Mavericks remained in control for the majority of the second period and carried the 2-0 lead heading into the third period. Bowling Green was able to break the shutout-bid early in the final frame as senior forward Adam Pitters picked up his first goal of the season off a rebound after a great save by Tracy.
The final period remained a tight back-and-forth battle as the Falcons tried to claw back into the game and force overtime. With about one minute left in the third, Bowling Green pulled their goalie for the extra attacker to make it six-on-four as they were also on the powerplay.
It didn’t take long, as sophomore forward Austen Swankler potted his team-leading fifth goal of the season which tied the game up at 2-2 and sent it to overtime. The teams played a sudden-death 3-on-3 format to decide a winner.
The Mavericks dominated the overtime period, not allowing Bowling Green a single shot. Senior forward and captain Brendan Furry was able to break through with his first goal of the season after a seemingly harmless shot trickled past the Falcon netminder which gave the Mavericks their first conference win of the season.
Senior forward Cade Borchardt commented following the game about Furry getting his first of the year.
“Just another guy I can’t speak highly enough about,” Borchardt said.
“He’s an unbelievable player and it’s fun to watch his game. To see him get that goal is huge and hopefully he takes off from here.”
As Maverick fans have seen so far this season, sophomore goaltender Keenan Rancier got the start in net on Saturday as the team still looks to find a consistent starter. Minnesota State got out to a hot start on Saturday night as junior forward David Silye picked up his third goal of the season with a wicked-wrister from the high slot less than five minutes into the game.
The lead didn’t last long, as senior forward Chase Gresock tied the game at 1-1 for Bowling Green on their first shot of the game. Despite the quick burst from Bowling Green, Minnesota State was able to dominate the majority of the frame and allowed two shots during the entire period.
The Mavericks were gifted a powerplay early in the second period, but to no avail. Rather, Bowling Green was able to pot a short-handed goal on the Maverick powerplay, giving them their first lead of the weekend.
Minnesota State continued controlling the pace of play during the second period, despite being down 2-1. The Mavericks were able to tie the game up at twos as Furry buried a rebound past the goalie with just under two minutes left to play in the second.
Seven seconds into the third period, Morton was able to send a shot along the ice that beat the Falcon goalie for his sixth goal of the season, putting the Mavericks up 3-2. With just under 10 minutes remaining, freshman forward Adam Eisele buried a loose puck after a shot from the point for his first career collegiate goal and the Mavericks’ 4-2 lead.
The Falcons tried to piece together a comeback like the night prior, but were unsuccessful in their attempts as the Mavericks completed the series sweep in game two by a final score of 4-2.
Minnesota State head coach Mike Hastings gave his comments about game two and the series overall following Saturday night’s win.
“We had some issues that were self-inflicted but I like how we stuck with it,” Hastings explained. “Giving up a short-handed goal and being down 2-1, I like the way we stayed after it. And I thought it was a really good game for our younger D-core.”
With their series sweep over Bowling Green, Minnesota State improves to 5-3 overall on the season and 2-0 in CCHA conference play. The Mavericks will be back in action Friday as they take on St. Thomas on the road before returning back to Mankato Saturday for family weekend.
Header Photo: Sweeping Bowling Green in the series at Mankato, the men’s hockey team currently stands as No. 6 according to the NCAA rankings. (Dylan Engel/The Reporter)
Write to Karson Buelow at Karson.Buelow@mnsu.edu