Men’s hockey travel to Bemidji to battle for the MacNaughton Cup

The Minnesota State men’s hockey team travels to Bemidji this weekend to take on the Bemidji State Beavers in the last regular season games of the year. 

After splitting last weekend’s series against Lake Superior State, the Mavericks kept their MacNaughton Cup hopes alive sitting four points behind the Beavers. 

In order for the Mavericks to win their seventh straight MacNaughton Cup, the Mavericks will need to win Friday and Saturday. If the Mavs get one regulation win and one overtime/shootout win, then they will be CCHA co-champions for only the seventh time in 100-year history of the trophy.

The Mavericks need five points to earn a shared title, and six points to win the MacNaughton Cup straight up. 

The Mavericks go into the series holding a 16-12-4 overall record and 12-8-2 conference record. This places them second in the CCHA with 38 points. 

The Beavers have a 15-15-2 overall record and 13-7-2 conference record, which places them first in the CCHA with 42 points. 

“We’re going up against a first place team, for us we’ve got a job to go about,” head coach Luke Strand in a press conference posted to the Maverick Athletic page. “We gotta take care of Friday to even be in the conversation for Saturday. We’ve got to go beat the first place team.”

Earlier this yearthese two teams split their series in two high scoring games. The Mavs won 5-1, and lost the next game 7-6. 

Maverick captain and Hobey Baker Nominee Sam Morton will be the main guy to watch up front for the Mavs. Morton has scored a league leading 22 goals and dished out nine assists for 32 points (second in CCHA). 

Maverick wings Luc Wilson (16 points) and Lucas Sowder (25 points) will also be players to look at, cementing a dangerous offense for the Mavs. 

The second line has been a highlight for the Mavs with Evan Murr, Carrabes and Josh Groll leading the Mavs in February with six points. 

Four Maverick players are on active scoring streaks- Evan Murr (3 games), Adam Eisele (3 games), Lucas Sowder (3 games) and Brian Carrabes (3 games). 

The Mavs go into this series averaging league leading goals scored per game (3.13), assists per game (5.16) and points per game (8.28). 

Bemidji State goes into the series having been the hottest team in the CCHA in the month of February winning seven of eight games.

Strand had nothing but praise for the Beavers, calling them “dangerous.” 

“They got a really good balanced group, that’s why they’re in first place,” said Strand. 

The Beavers are coming off a series sweep against St. Thomas which propelled them to the top of the CCHA. 

Four Beaver players have 20 plus points so far this season: Lleyton Roed (28), Kyle Looft (23), Eric Martin (22) and Carter Jones (21). 

Mankato West graduate Kyle Looft is fresh off winning his fourth CCHA defensemen of the week accolade after his performances against St. Thomas. Looft put up three points and blocked four shots Friday.

Rookie Rhy Chiddenton is fresh off winning the CCHA rookie of the week accolade after leading all CCHA rookies with three points last weekend. 

The Beavers have been a solid side this season averaging 14.88 blocked shots per game (2nd in CCHA), 0.11% shots per game (1st in CCHA) and 2.97 goals per game (3rd in CCHA). 

This weekend’s games will be held at the Sanford Center at 7:07 p.m. Friday and 6:07 p.m.  Saturday. 

“I’m way more confident than everyone who picked us sixth in the beginning,” said Strand. “I love our guys and I love our crew, they’ve got a warrior mentality, and an underdog attitude. If we can get the right bodies on the ice this weekend, then our confidence keeps going up.” 

Header Photo: After their dramatic win against Lake Superior State, the Minnesota State men’s hockey team close out their regular season with a road series against Bemidji State University. (Dylan Long/The Reporter)

Write to Ahmed Hassan at ahmed.hassan.4@mnsu.edu

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.