This past weekend, the No. 10 Minnesota State University Mankato men’s hockey team battled to a series loss with No. 20 Michigan Tech in Houghton. Freshman forward Kash Rasmussen got the game-winning goal late in the third period for the Huskies Friday and powered them to a 3-2 win. Both teams battled to a 2-2 tie Saturday night, but freshman forward Christian Fitzgerald came in clutch in the shootout to give the Mavericks the extra point.
Sophomore goaltender Keenan Rancier got the start in net for the Mavericks Friday night after his solid performance against Northern Michigan the week prior. The Victoria, British Columbia native was tested during the first period, as the Mavericks let up a season-high 18 shots in a period while only countering with three.
The Huskies broke through late in the first period of game one as senior forward Logan Ganie found a loose puck in the crease and fired it past Rancier for the game’s opening goal. The Huskies took the 1-0 lead heading into the second period.
The second period started off similar to the opening period and Michigan Tech was granted their second powerplay of the game. The Mavericks’ recent struggles on the penalty kill continued as freshman forward Kyle Kukkonen cleaned up the rebound in front of Rancier to give the Huskies the 2-0 lead.
Minnesota State started to pick up the pace in the third period after allowing 28 shots to their own nine through 40 min of action. Fitzgerald got the Mavericks within one early in the third as he stole the puck and buried it under the Husky goaltender.
The Mavericks began pouring an onslaught of shots on the Husky netminder as they looked to tie the game up. Minnesota State head coach Mike Hastings pulled Rancier for the extra attacker with 2:14 left, but Rasmussen fired one into the empty net to bring it back to a two-goal Michigan Tech lead.
Junior forward David Silye was able to bury one with 52 seconds left, but it was too little too late as the Mavericks fell to the Huskies in game one by a final score of 3-2. Minnesota State hoped to rebound Saturday night in the series finale with Michigan Tech.
The Mavericks opened game two with a sense of urgency after Friday’s disappointing loss. But it was Michigan Tech who got on the board first on Saturday night as senior forward David Jankowski cashed in the loose rebound for the 1-0 lead.
Both netminders kept the teams off the board until the third period. After opening the third period with several shots, the Mavericks finally broke through as Silye pounced on a juicy rebound for his 11th goal of the season and tied the game up at 1-1.
Michigan Tech responded roughly three minutes later as senior forward Tristan Ashbrook sniped one short-side on Rancier to regain the lead for the Huskies. With eight minutes remaining, the Mavericks picked up the intensity to try and tie the game up once again.
With the Mavericks on the powerplay and their goalie pulled, senior forward Ryan Sandelin rebounded one top-shelf for his fifth of the year to tie the game with under 40 seconds to play. The Mavericks and Huskies needed overtime to decide the outcome of Saturday’s game.
Both teams got their chances during the overtime period, but neither was able to score and the game officially ended in a tie. Silye and Fitzgerald were both able to net goals in the shootout and Rancier came in clutch as the Mavericks earned the extra CCHA point.
Rancier stopped a total of 57 shots and ended with a .934 save percentage on the weekend. The Mavericks will be back in action as they take on Ferris State at home Friday and Saturday.
Header Photo: The Minnesota State Men’s Hockey team tied against Michigan Tech during the Saturday, Nov. 26 game. (Dylan Engel/The Reporter)
Write to Karson Buelow at Karson.Buelow@mnsu.edu