Friday, January 4, 2013

Mavericks 4, Friars 3 — OT

Pat Christman/The Free Press
Freddy's three thoughts of the game ...

1. Grant's game-winner: A few weeks ago, when the Mavericks were in Omaha, I talked to former MSU coach Troy Jutting before one of the games and he talked a bit about the current Minnesota State team. Among the things he said was, "Chase Grant might be the best recruit in the league," meaning Grant's return from a season lost to injury was one of those off-the-radar additions to a team poised to be pretty good. Grant scored in overtime Friday night, and current coach Mike Hastings said the sophomore was the team's "most-honest and best player tonight." Grant now has 6 goals and 6 assists this season.

2. Special team: Grant's goal was the only 5-on-5 goal scored by MSU. The Mavericks were 2 for 4 on the power play and perfect on the penalty kill with a short-handed goal. Eriah Hayes and Josh Nelson scored power-play goals just 98 seconds apart in the first period, and Brett Stern had a fabulous shorty that came at the end of Brett Knowles' 5-minute major for an open-ice charge late in the second period. Stern's goal tied the game 3-3. After diving to poke the puck out of the defensive zone, Stern got to his feet and won a race to the puck in the Providence end. From there, he positioned his body to ward off a defender and made a power move to the net that looked more like a 20-goal forward than a one-goal D-man. He finished off the play with a quick backhanded shot over goalie Russ Stein's shoulder.

3. Moving on up: I know some of my Twitter followers might rip me for saying this, but the win moved Minnesota up to 14th place in the Pairwise Rankings. Pretty good spot to be in, although it is early. (Last week, I proclaimed my boredom with Pairwise discussion on Twitter, feeling like it was too early for that talk. However, a lot of nonconference play over the holidays got people paying attention.) The Mavericks (13-6-2) have won 10 of their last 11 games, and Providence is a team under consideration in the Pairwise, which also adds to the importance of the victory and the series. It was the Mavericks' first-ever win over the Friars in five chances.

Read The Free Press game story here.

Around the WCHA: Nebraska Omaha 8, Colorado College 4 ... North Dakota 5, Holy Cross 2 ... Northern Michigan 6, St. Cloud State 2 ... Western Michigan 6, Bemidji State 0 ... Denver 5, Cornell 1 ... Wisconsin 5, Alaska Anchorage 3

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