Friday, November 23, 2012

Mavericks 4, Badgers 2

Freddy's three thoughts of the game ...

1. The kids are all right: Minnesota State's young stars shined in the first period tonight, as freshman Dylan Margonari and sophomore Matt Leitner teamed up for a pair of goals that gave MSU leads of 1-0 and 2-1. Important leads in for a team desperately needing WCHA points and playing in a building where it hasn't had much success (more on that in a bit). Meanwhile, rookie goaltender Stephon Williams played his best game of the season and earned his first victory with 32 saves, including 15 in the second period alone. Sophomore defenseman Zach Palmquist assisted on two goals.

2. House of horrors no more: The Mavericks' last win in the Kohl Center came on Feb. 15, 2008, when Mike Zacharias had a 32-save shutout. Friday's victory snapped a seven-game losing streak in Madison. Certainly making it more sweet is the fact that with the conference shakeup coming next summer, this likely will be MSU's final trip here in quite some time. (Given the Badgers 1-6-2 start to the season — and, boy, are they down in the dumps right now — the Mavericks certainly won't be coming back here for the playoffs next March.)

3. Senior salute: A couple of old players sealed the win for the Mavericks. After surviving the second period by allowing just one goal (which came directly off a careless turnover by Jean-Paul LaFontaine),  Minnesota State took the lead on an Eriah Hayes power play goal. It was Hayes' team-leading fifth goal of the season. In the game's final minute, Eli Zuck scored an empty-netter, wisely and carefully making sure he got over the red line before taking the shot so he didn't ice the puck if he missed.

Deep thought: The Mavericks had to like playing in a not-so-hostile Kohl Center. Thanksgiving weekend. Few students. Crowd generously announced at 9,118. I probably said this last year in Mankato, but it's too bad that the WCHA schedules league games on a holiday weekend like this. Nonconference? Sure. Tournament? OK. Trip East? Cool. Off weekend? Even better. The WCHA prides itself on big rivalries in crowded buildings with great atmosphere. Maybe I'm just lamenting that the last games I'm covering in this building (most likely) are when it's a half-empty, quiet cave. Too bad.

Read my Free Press gamer here.

Around the WCHA: Minnesota 5, Vermont 1 ... North Dakota 2, Notre Dame 1 ... Alaska Anchorage 2, Bemidji State 2 (OT) ... Nebraska Omaha 3, Alabama Huntsville 2 ... Minnesota Duluth 2, St. Cloud State 1 ... Yale 2, Denver 1 (OT) ... New Hampshire 4, Colorado College 4 (OT)

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