|Pat Christman/The Free Press|
Freddy's three thoughts of the game ...
1. The significance of 20: The word special was thrown around a few times after tonight's game, and why not? When a college hockey team hits the 20-victory threshold that's a good place to stop, even if it's just for a moment, and reflect on a darn-good season. The Mavericks have reached 20 wins just two other times since joining the WCHA. They won 21 games in 1999-2000, their first year in the league, and 20 in 2002-03, the only year they made the national tournament. But this year marked the first time MSU won No. 20 in the regular season — and there are still four games to play before playoffs.
2. The usual and unusual: Matt Leitner and Eriah Hayes made an impact — of course! — combining for two goals and an assist. But the Mavericks got production from all over the lineup on Saturday. Dylan Margonari scored MSU's first goal for the third time in four games and also had an assist. Zach Lehrke had a key short-handed goal along with an assist, and Brett Knowles was praised for his all-around play, including a goal and a beautiful saucer pass to set up Lehrke. Lehrke's minutes increased with Eli Zuck left with a lower-body injury (coach Mike Hastings said he'd know more about Zuck on Monday).
3. More fun from Stephon: Sure, his head was bobbing to the tunes during every timeout, but goalie Stephon Williams was into the game. His play quelled Michigan Tech's early push, and his late-first-period save on David Johnstone might be a season highlight. Williams fell backwards and got the back on his glove on the shot to turn it aside. Williams also got a little luck when Blake Pietila hit the post on a penalty shot early in the second period. "As goalies would say, the net's got to end somewhere," Hastings said. Both plays kept the game 1-0. Williams finished the game with 37 saves.
Deep thought: Much better crowd on Saturday, as 4,300+ was announced. That's more like it for a team doing what the Mavericks are doing right now. As I've said before, the VWC can be a pretty rockin' joint when it hits the 4K mark. But sustaining that number — getting the average back there — is going to be the challenge going forward.
Read my Free Press game story here. Be sure to check out Pat Christman's photo gallery.
Around the WCHA: Minnesota Duluth 1, Bemidji State 1 (OT) ... Nebraska Omaha 6, Alaska Anchorage 5 (OT)
WCHA standings (updated through Sunday)
1. St. Cloud State (31 points)
2. Nebraska Omaha (30)
3. Minnesota State (29)
4. Minnesota (28)
North Dakota (28)
6. Wisconsin (27)
7. Denver (25)
8. Colorado College (20)
Minnesota Duluth (20)
10. Bemidji State (16)
Michigan Tech (16)
12. Alaska Anchorage (10)