Men’s hockey comeback sparks title battle at Bemidji State

Brian Carrabes’ last-minute goal Saturday made sure the Mavericks’ hopes of getting a seventh straight MacNaughton Cup were not dashed. 

The game was all level with under a minute left in play when Brian Carrabes weaved his way around the front of the goal and defenders in the low slot and put in his own rebound, lifting it over the left pad to clinch the game for the Mavericks with 46.5 seconds left in the game. 

“Obviously we saw how electric it was in the building, in the stands and on the ice,” said Sam Morton after the game. “That’s the most electric I’ve seen our bench, with our coaches bumping fists and what not.” 

The Minnesota State men’s hockey team split its series with Lake Superior State Lakers, losing 4-3 Friday and flipping the script Saturday.

After their series split, The Mavs sit with a 16-12-4 overall record, and a 12-8-2 conference record. 

The Mavs needed a win against the Lakers in order to still have a shot at claiming the conference, and put themselves in a prime position to get the MacNaughton Cup. 

The Conference is tight as the Mavs sit four points behind Bemidji State (42), and two behind St. Thomas (36) and Michigan Tech (36) with 48 points.

The Mavericks moved up to second place in the CCHA after Saturday’s win, setting up a pivotal series against Bemidji State next weekend to clinch the conference and close the regular season. 

Hobey Baker Nominee Sam Morton didn’t disappoint Saturday scoring two goals for his CCHA leading 22nd of the season. 

Friday’s game began with a first period to forget as the Lakers scored three goals, two coming within the first seven minutes. 

The Mavs’ bad start didn’t impress head coach Luke Strand who wanted his players to start better. 

“We didn’t do enough work in the first 15-20 minutes of the game to expect something different. I loved our push. I loved all the things later, but we can’t get pinned to the floor early,” said Strand in a press conference posted to the athletics page. 

The Mavericks fought back scoring two goals on power plays courtesy of Lucas Sowder and Luc Wilson. 

The Mavs outshot the Lakers 17-3 in the third, but this wasn’t enough as the Lakers scoredin the last two minutes of play, and the Mavs scored too late with under a minute remaining. 

On Saturday the Mavs needed a win to have a shot at taking the top spot in the conference. And 4,935 Maverick fans were on hand to see if they could make it happen. 

Junior goaltender Keenan Rancier, who’s only played in nine games all year, got the nod to start over Alex Tracy. He did not disappoint, saving 27 shots on the night.

The Mavs dominated the beginning of the first period pressuring the Lakers. Morton found the breakthrough, but the Mavs soon found themselves down 2-1 with 10:46 remaining in the second after the Lakers converted on a power play. 

The Mavs responded 10 seconds later as Brett Moravec worked around Easton Hesse to bring the Mavs level. 

The Mavs had built up the pressure, and found themselves on a power play, but soon found themselves down as a blind pass toward the slot was intercepted leaving the Mavericks once again down 3-2 going into the third. 

“The Mavs kept their swagger and confidence going into the third period,” Morton said, and they came back to win the third period. 

“I just liked the fact that when the score was not in our favor, we didn’t try to change,” Strand said. “We didn’t try to be someone we’re not, and we stayed on the same page. Ultimately that’s probably what helped us out at the end.”

The Mavs went on to equalize seven minutes into the third period with the duo of Morton and Sowder connecting for Morton’s second of the night. 

The Mavs kept the pressure on Hesse who had 37 saves on the night, and eventually found the breakthrough.

Brian Carrabes scored his eighth of the season and game winning goal completing the comeback for the Mavs, and celebrated raising his hand to his ear while skating past the Laker bench. 

The Mavericks look to take this momentum heading into their last two regular season games of the season facing Bemidji State away. 

“I just want to keep winning games. If we stay hot right now, we’re in good shape,” Morton said. “The more we keep coming together, the more we keep growing as a family and winning games, the more fun we’re going to have.”

Header Photo: Brian Carrabes’ late goal in the third period to give the Minnesota State men’s hockey team the victory over the Bemidji State Beavers is his eighth of the season. (Dylan Long/The Reporter)

Write to Ahmed Hassan at

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