Mavs open CCHA playoffs with a date with the Lakers

With their dramatic win in game two of last weekend’s series against No. 11 Michigan Tech, the No. 13 Minnesota State Men’s Hockey team will host unranked Lake Superior State this weekend. The series will be a best-of-three matchup, as it’s the first round of the CCHA playoffs. The defending Mason Cup champions are no strangers to said title, having won the conference tournament four times in school history.

The Mavericks closed out the regular season with a convincing 21-12-1 overall record and were 16-9-1 in conference play. Conversely, the Lakers ended with a 9-23-2 overall record and a 8-17-1 record in conference action.

“I think we’re all very aware of where we stand in the nation,” said senior defenseman Andy Carroll. “But we’re looking at this as an opportunity that we haven’t gotten often in recent history.”

Oddly enough, the Lakers have only won nine games on the season but are 7-2 in their last nine games played. To contradict this, since the turn of the calendar year, the Mavericks are 11-3.

With both teams getting hot at the right time, this weekend will be no easy task for either team. However, the Mavericks hold a dominant edge as they are 28-4-1 all-time against the Lakers, including a 15-2-1 all-time home record with their last home loss coming in 2019.

Though, home ice advantage has been a question mark this year for Mavericks’ Head Coach Mike Hastings’ squad as the team is 10-7-0 (.588) on home ice this year. But the city of Mankato still packs the Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center every game as the Mavs have reached 90 percent capacity or higher 11 times so far this season, including three sellouts.

“Over my career we’ve been able to make this place a hard place to play in,” said Carroll. “Yes we haven’t won as many games this year as we could’ve but we look forward to keeping this place a hard place to play in.”

The last time these two teams met occurred in late January in Mankato, which saw the Mavericks sweep the Lakers by final scores of 3-2 and 3-1. Junior defenseman Akito Hirose was the standout on the weekend having recorded two goals and two assists in two games.

At this time of the year scoring can come from anywhere, but Hastings understands that it’s your big names that need to step up and produce, otherwise the road to the NCAA tournament becomes that much longer. The scoring this year has come in the form of junior forward and Hobey Baker nominee David Silye.

Silye leads the Mavericks in goals with 21 and also points with 35. Silye also leads the CCHA in goal and point totals, respectively.

The Lakers counter with junior defenseman Jacob Bengtsson and senior forward Louis Boudon who each lead the team with 23 points on the season. The only difference lies in the goals column, where Boudon has 10 and Bengtsson has one.

The Mavericks have relied on sophomore goaltender Keenan Rancier since the beginning of their 11-3 run. The Victoria, British Columbia native sits at a .915 save percentage and a CCHA-leading goals-against-average of 1.86. 

The Lakers have found the most consistency between the pipes in junior Ethan Langenegger who leads the goaltending trio with a .914 save percentage. Senior Seth Eisele and brother of freshman Maverick forward Adam Eisele sits next on that list with a .909 save percentage.

“At this time of the year we need good goaltending and we need guys to step up,” said Hastings. “This is the time of the year when things happen in a hurry and I think the guys are super excited for that opportunity.”

After a scenario filled last weekend in terms of clinching the MacNaughton Cup, the scenario for this weekend remains simple: win two games. Puck drop is set for 7:07 p.m. Friday, 6:07 p.m. Saturday, and 5:07 p.m. Sunday if necessary.

Write to Karson Buelow at

Header photo: MSU Men’s Hockey team enters the CCHA quarterfinals as the number one seed. The first matchup is this weekend at home against Lake Superior State in a best of three series. (Dylan Engel)

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