Mavs sweep Wildcats, advance to CCHA Semifinals

A year ago the Minnesota State men’s hockey team was advancing to the semi finals of the CCHA playoffs last year. 

The Mavericks find themselves in the same position yet again after sweeping the Northern Michigan Wildcats in the quarter finals over the weekend. 

The Mavericks won 2-1 Friday, and dominated the next day winning 6-1 Saturday to advance to the semi finals for the third straight year. 

The Mavericks came into the game on a goal drought after being swept by Bemidji losing 6-0 and 2-0. 

“I’m just happy for the guys,” said head coach Luke Strand after Saturday’s game. “I think after last week, we switched our mindset. A new season. Believe in what that means to us and act accordingly in how we play out there. I think we were very selfless in a lot of our actions out there which made a huge difference in what we were able to get done.”

Friday’s game saw an unlikely hero break the goal drought for the Mavs. Jordan Powers scored his first goal of the season with three minutes remaining in the first period to give the Mavs the lead. 

The Mavericks found themselves on the defensive side in the second period with the Wildcats getting a power play early. 

The Wildcats outshot the Mavs 15-2, but Tracy’s 15 saves in the period to hold them scoreless heading into the third. 

Lucas Sowder brought the Mavs lead to 2-0 after scoring on a power play for his 12th of the season with three minutes to go in the second period. 

The Wildcats scored early in the third period, but their 11 shots weren’t enough as Tracy stopped 10, giving him 32 saves on the night. 

“I thought Alex (Tracy) was calm, square, simple,” Strand said. “Very small movements helped us. Not only with his shot prep but he was around for seconds. They (NMU) are a greedy team around the net in a good way but I thought he did a nice job being tight.”

It was a defensive game for the Mavericks being outshot 33-21, but killing the Wildcats powerplay and blocking 18 shots propelled them to victory. 

“In the playoffs it takes every single player on the ice,” Sowder said. “You’re not going to see as many goals as in the regular season so it comes down to doing the right things and taking care of the puck and I thought we did a really good job tonight.”

Saturday’s game began with the Mavericks being unable to take advantage of their powerplay, turning the puck over to Andre Ghantous who scored the Wildcats first of the game four minutes into the first period. 

Brian Carrabes responded for the Mavericks with eight minutes to go in the third period to bring the game to 1-1. 

The Mavericks thought they had opened the scoring in the second period through Luc Wilson, but upon review was disallowed due to offsides. 

The Mavs didn’t take too long to respond. Sam Morton ripped a shot on Brian Halasz, collected his own rebound and scored to make it 2-1. 

Luc Wilson made it 3-1 after stealing a pass in the neutral zone and shooting it to the far post. 

Sam Morton got his second of the night three minutes into the third period for his 24th of the season. 

The Mavericks finished off the Wildcats in the last two minutes of the game with two goals courtesy of Tyler Haskins on an empty net and Brian Carrbes for his 10th goal of the season and second of the night to give the Mavs a 6-1 win. 

“Winning is Unbelievable, playoff hockey in general is unbelievable,” said Sam Morton after the game. “You can’t get numb to the feeling of winning, but at the same time you want to stay dialed cause there’s more work to do.”

The Mavericks were outshot 27-23 by the Wildcats, but 26 saves from Tracy and 12 blocked shots from the Mavs held them to no goals in the second and third period. 

After their sweep against the Wildcats, the Mavericks advance to the semifinals of the CCHA playoffs where they will face Michigan Tech in a single game series. 

“I think a lot of (our success) is just how tight we are as a group,” Wilson said after Saturday’s game. “The big story all year has been about the guys that returned. A lot of those guys stepped up and paved the way for our group. When playoffs come around, it’s do or die. You want to play as long as possible and keep your group together and we’ve really bought into that. We’re excited to be moving on.”

Header Photo: Mavericks senior captain Sam Morton scored twice in MSU’s  6-1 victory over Northern Michigan Saturday. (Dylan Long/The Reporter)

Write to Ahmed Hassan at

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