Mavs advance to CCHA Championship with win against Bulldogs
It wasn’t long ago that the Minnesota State Mankato men’s hockey team fell short of Ferris State en route to giving up their first sweep on home ice in several years.
But that memory seemed in the distant past last weekend as the Mavericks blanketed the Bulldogs by a final score of 7-2 to advance to the CCHA championship for a second straight year.
“It’s not the first time we’ve not exactly started the game the way you wanted to,” said Minnesota State head coach Mike Hastings. “But I liked how we reacted.”
That poor start Hastings referenced was a late goal scored by the Bulldogs with under five minutes to go in the first.
Sophomore forward Bradley Marek found freshman forward Connor McGrath alone in front who potted the first goal of the contest.
But the lead wouldn’t last long, as freshman forward Christian Fitzgerald buried a loose puck off a rebound by junior forward David Silye to tie the game. The Mavericks kept buzzing as Silye buried the go-ahead power play goal 32 seconds later with a snipe from the slot.
“We were fortunate enough to be playing in our own building,” said Hastings. “I thought that once we scored that first goal, the energy in the building increased and we were able to draw a little momentum from that.”
The Mavericks carried that momentum along with a 2-1 lead into the locker room following the first period. The momentum carried over very quickly into the second period as the Mavs found themselves up 3-1 thanks to a nifty backhand goal from senior forward Brendan Furry.
But the goal-scoring didn’t stop there. Senior forward Cade Borchardt increased the lead just six minutes later with a one-timer to improve the score to 4-1. The Mavericks saw their lead cut to 4-2 just over a minute later as the Bulldogs converted on the power play on the strength of Bradley’s eighth goal of the season.
That would be all the Bulldogs put past sophomore goaltender Keenan Rancier, but the Mavericks still continued the onslaught of goals into the third period. At the 12:17 mark of the third period, junior forward Ondrej Pavel tallied his fifth of the year on a breakaway to open up a 5-2 lead.
With under three minutes left in the third, Ferris State pulled their goaltender in the hopes of spawning a late comeback. But that effort fell short rather quickly as senior forward Lucas Sowder went the distance for the empty-net goal, improving the lead to 6-2.
Junior defenseman Jake Livingstone tallied a final power play goal late in the period en route to a 7-2 win for Minnesota State. The Mavericks were four-for-four on the power play in the game and Rancier stopped 19 of 21 shots.
With their win against Ferris State, Minnesota State advances to the CCHA championship game against Northern Michigan in defense of the Mason Cup. Puck drop is set for 6:07 p.m. this Saturday in Mankato.
Header Photo: The MSU Men’s Hockey team advances to the CCHA tournament championship game after a 7-2 win over Ferris State last Saturday. (Dylan Engel/The Reporter)
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