Mavericks one win away from McNaughton Cup after split with Beavers
Having not won a game against the unranked Bemidji State Beavers since their magical victory in last year’s Mason Cup final, the No. 12 Minnesota State’s Men’s Hockey team was destined to flip that script. Last weekend, they took on the Beavers at the Sanford Center. Led by freshman forward Christian Fitzgerald’s two goals, the Mavericks defeated the Beavers 4-1 on Friday night before dropping Saturday’s contest 1-2 in overtime.
Both the Mavericks and Beavers got out to a slower start on Friday night as the teams managed 12 shots combined during the first period. The second period seemed slow as well, as neither team got on the scoresheet until the 14:06 mark when freshman Beaver Lleyton Roed snapped one past Maverick sophomore Keenan Rancier.
Bemidji’s lead wouldn’t last long as Fitzgerald picked up a loose puck in front of sophomore Beaver Mattias Sholl and buried it to tie the game at 1-1. Moments later, Fitzgerald picked up his second goal of the period as he crashed the net and potted the loose rebound for a 2-1 lead heading into the final frame.
The Mavericks kept the ball rolling in the third period as senior forward Lucas Sowder picked up his third goal of the season and first since his return from injury. To cap things off, junior defenseman Jake Livingstone added one more goal on a breakaway to give Minnesota State a 4-1 win in game one of their series.
Saturday’s game against Bemidji was quite the opposite from Friday’s in terms of goal scoring. Bemidji got on the board first in the contest when freshman forward Adam Flemming ripped a shot top shelf past Rancier for the first goal of the game.
The Mavericks would answered back with just over two minutes left in the first as senior defenseman Andy Carroll sprung sophomore defenseman Steven Bellini on a breakaway and buried his first career goal.
Both teams got their chances through the next two periods, but the game remained tied at 1-1 heading into overtime. Both teams were able to get quality looks early in the overtime period, but the real chance came when the Beavers were gifted a powerplay off a holding penalty by junior Maverick forward David Silye.
Bemidji State was able to convert on the strength of a one-timer blast by senior defenseman Kyle Looft with only 11 seconds left on the powerplay and 15 seconds left in the overtime period. The Mankato native lifted Bemidji State to a 2-1 win over Minnesota State on Saturday night.
Rancier tallied 39 saves on the weekend and is now 10-2 on the calendar year. In addition, the Mavericks secured four out of a possible six points this weekend and now sit two points ahead of No. 11 Michigan Tech for sole possession of first place in the CCHA.
Minnesota State returns home this weekend to host Michigan Tech for the last series of the regular season. In order for the Mavericks to secure the regular season CCHA title, they must get a win of any kind this weekend against the Huskies.
If the Mavericks look for sole possession of first place, they must defeat the Huskies at least once in regulation this weekend. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. Friday and 6:07 p.m. Saturday.
Write to Karson Buelow at Karson.Buelow@mnsu.edu
Header photo: MSU’s Men’s Hockey team splits their two-game series against Bemidji State with a 4-1 win Friday, Feb. 16 and a 2-1 overtime loss Saturday, Feb. 17.(Dylan Engel)