Saturday, December 15, 2012

UNO 5, MSU 1

Freddy's three thoughts of the game ...

1. All good things ... Must come to an end, the saying goes, and so ended Minnesota State's impressive seven-game winning streak, tied for the longest in the Division I era. Looking back over the last month, MSU has to be thrilled with going 7-1 and getting a big series split in Omaha. A win would have put the Mavericks in first place in the WCHA standings at Christmas break, but what's more important is the run of eight games that ensured they'll be competing for home ice at the end of the season, something Omaha coach Dean Blais all but predicted would be the case during his postgame press conference.

2. That's different: One of the first things I do when I get to the press box before a game is grab the line charts. I had to a double-take when I glanced at Omaha's. Two big white spaces among the forward spots and some extra names crammed in among the defensemen. Blais dressed just 10 forwards and eight defensemen for the game, playing around with his lineup in hopes of not having a repeat of Friday night's episode of firewagon hockey. It sure seemed to slow down the red-hot MSU Mavericks, who didn't score until Matt Leitner's goal made it 3-1 in the third period. It helped that freshman goalie Anthony Stolarz (27 saves) was on his game.

3. Mixing and matching: With one injury exception, the MSU line chart hasn't changed at all over the last eight games. And during games, there has been little movement, as Hastings has been able to roll four forward lines and three sets of defensemen. But when things got stagnant on Saturday, the coach didn't waste anytime trying to change things up, and there were all sorts of combinations out there. Matt Leitner was part of a few of them, even getting double-shifted at times. "We tried to mix it up," Leitner said. "We had no goals after two periods. I felt good tonight; I had a lot of energy tonight. We had a little push there and almost made it interesting."

Deep thought: The Mavericks are off until the UConn tournament Dec. 29-30. Happy holidays, folks!

Around the WCHA: North Dakota 4, Michigan Tech 1 ... St. Cloud State 3, Colorado College 1 ... Bemidji State 5, Denver 1 ... Minnesota Duluth at Alaska Anchorage (late, UMD won 5-1 on Friday)

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