The Minnesota State Mavericks returned home this weekend to face The Northern Michigan Wildcats where they split their series.
The Minnesota State men’s hockey team moved into a first place tie with St. Thomas after a series split over the weekend with Northern Michigan.
In Friday’s matchup the Mavs tied the Wildcats 2-2 in overtime with the Wildcats beating the Mavericks 2-1 in a shootout and getting the extra CCHA point. The NCAA will officially recognize this result as a tie.
The Mavericks responded Saturday with a dominant display winning 4-0.
The Mavs sit with a 9-5-2 record in conference and a 13-9-4 overall record.
Friday’s game proved to be a story of missed opportunities and unnecessary penalties for the Mavs as they gave up 3 power plays in the game while taking 24 shots in the game managing only five shots on goal in four power plays.
The first period started out with Northern Michigan firing right out of the gate putting pressure on the Maverick’s, but Alex Tracy saved four shots in the first 10 minutes to keep the Mavericks in it.
The Mavs went on the power play four times in the first period, but only managed two shots on goal during those chances. They managed to convert on their third attempt when Kaden Bohlsen pulled the draw back to defensemen Evan Murr, whose beautiful strike from distance found the back of the net marking his fifth goal on the season.
“When we get opportunities to get three or four power plays off the gate, we need to take advantage of them,” said MSU forward Lucas Sowder after the game.
The second period was all the Mavericks in the first seven minutes with the Mavs having 13 shots, but not scoring on any of them. The second period began to be very chippy and heated between both teams resulting in two power plays for Northern Michigan.
“The back to back penalties put us back on our heels,” said MSU Head Coach Luke Strand. “The way we took penalties is not conducive to win.”
Northern Michigan began to capitalize on the penalties, and took control of the game taking shot after shot with Tracy keeping the Mav’s in the game with six saves in the period.
The Wildcats inevitably found the back of the net with two minutes remaining in the second period with Jack Perbix cleaning up the loose puck to equalize for the Wildcats. Matvei Kabanov scored with 28 seconds remaining to give the Wildcats the lead to end the period.
The Mavs eventually got it going in the third period right away putting the pressure on the Wildcats. The Mavericks had kept battling and thought Lucas Sowder equalized the game for them at 8:23, but was marked off after review.
However, Lucas Sowder responded at 8:56 scoring his 10th goal of the season that counted this time. The goal was assisted by Sam Morton on a cross ice pass to Sowder.
“It’s been we over me, it’s nice to have some success, but I’m just trying to play a team game,” said Sowder. “I’ve been fortunate enough to play with some pretty good players on my line so all credit to them.”
The game began to become a back-and-forth affair with both teams having great looks at goal with both goalies coming up big. The Mavs dominated the last three minutes of play, but couldn’t find the back of the net.
The game went into overtime with both teams going back and forth again. The Mavericks and Wildcats were both on power plays, but yet again could not find the back of the net. Overtime ended scoreless and headed into shootouts.
Two of three Northern Michigan shooters scored while Morton was the only Maverick player to score.
The Mavericks managed 24 shots on goal to Northern Michigan’s 17 with Alex Tracy having 17 saves on the night.
“I thought their response to being up and then back down, then back to even was great,” said Coach Strand. “We just got to find a Saturday night here to bounce back and collect the points left on the table.”
Bounce back they did on Saturday night with the Mavericks having an electric performance dominating the Wildcats.
Ten different players recorded a point on the night and Alex Tracy recorded his third career shutout with 18 saves on the night.
The first period started off with the Mavericks firing on all cylinders getting shot after shot striking the goalpost three times, but not being able to score.
The Mavs scored at 14:28 with Tyler Haskins hitting a wraparound backhand goal for his fourth goal of the season.
The Mavs electric start continued into the second period with a goal on a power play three minutes into the second period. Sam Morton extended his point streak to five games and slotted in his league leading 19th goal to give the Mavericks a 2-0 lead.
“We’re getting chances and we’re feeling good when we’re playing the right way, and we’re not giving up a whole lot,” said MSU center Sam Morton during a press conference.
Zach Krajnik weaved around the goaltender and slotted the puck in at the far post at 11:48 for his first goal of the season and to extend the Mav’s lead to 3-0 on the night.
The Third period was a back-and-forth affair as the Wildcats looked to push for a comeback, but were denied by Alex Tracy who was able to keep the shutout.
“I thought Trace deserved the weekend,” said Coach Strand. “He just had a lot of winning
characteristics to his game and frankly he does it quite often and Ranc and him — the tandem — they’ve been unreal.”
Josh Groll put the cherry on top and closed out the game for the Mavericks with six minutes left to go scoring his 5th goal on the season.
“Good bounce back from last night. I thought we were really good through two periods. Relentless deep throughout our lineup and we were doing the right things.” said Morton.
The Mavericks Have put themselves in a great position after this weekend’s matchup setting up a battle for first place in the conference against St. Thomas.
The Mavericks play St. Thomas 7:07 p.m. Friday in Mendota Heights. The teams play 6:07 p.m. Saturday in Mankato.
“They’ve had a great goal and we’ve had a great series amongst each other,” said Strand. “We got to get back there on the road and take care of business.”
Header Photo: After the Minnesota State men’s hockey team returned to home action with a tie against Northern Michigan Friday, the team responded with a 4-0 win Saturday night. (Courtesy Maverick Athletics)
Write to Ahmed Hassan at firstname.lastname@example.org