Friday, January 25, 2013

Mavericks 2, Gophers 1

The Associated Press
Freddy's three thoughts of the game ...

1. Upset? Based on the rankings (Minnesota being No. 1), the standings and the Pairwise, plus the fact that the game was at Mariucci Arena, you could call Friday's game an upset win for Minnesota State. But the truth is that it was a very good game between two very good college hockey teams, each with an excellent freshman goalie, and came down to a last-minute goal. Shots were 38-33 for Minnesota, with Minnesota State outshooting the Gophers 24-18 in the first 40 minutes and Minnesota controlling the pace to the tune of a 20-9 advantage in the third period. Minnesota saw its 10-game unbeaten streak end with the loss.

2. Holy moly: What a couple of goalies. Gophers goalie Adam Wilcox stopped 31 shots in the loss and the Mavericks' Stephon Williams stole the show with 37 saves, including all 20 he faced in the third period. Williams got some great team defense, especially in the first period when the Mavericks blocked eight shots, but he came up big when he had to, notably on a sprawling 2-on-1 pad save against Travis Boyd midway through the first period, another tough one on Erik Haula early in the second and during the final 44 seconds after the Mavericks took the lead.

3. Unlikely hero: Freshman forward Brett Knowles has had a nice season, proving his worth as a defensive forward and a hard worker in the corners. He came into this weekend's series with just one goal and six assists. But he sure was in the right place at the right time late in Friday's game. After Wilcox stopped shots by Zach Palmquist and Eli Zuck, the puck caromed to Knowles' at the back door, and he shot it in with just 44 seconds left in regulation. "It's one of those things where it just happened so fast," he said. "I just hit it. It's pretty unexplainable."

Deep thought: The series moves to Mankato Saturday night, and it should be a fun one as the now fourth-place Mavericks try to win three out of four against the Gophers. Should be a big crowd at the Verizon Wireless Center. Will we see the 5,000 mark?

Read my Free Press game story here.

Around the WCHA: St. Cloud State 3, North Dakota 1 ... Nebraska Omaha 5, Bemidji State 3 ... Wisconsin 5, Alaska Anchorage 2

WCHA standings
1. St. Cloud State..........24 points
2. Minnesota.................22
2. Nebraska Omaha......22
4. Minnesota State........ 21
5. North Dakota............20
5. Denver......................20
7. Wisconsin.................19
7. Minnesota Duluth.....19
9. Colorado College......15
10. Bemidji State.......... 12
10. Michigan Tech........12
12. Alaska Anchorage...6

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