Sunday, March 17, 2013

MSU 3, UNO 1 ... On to St. Paul

Freddy's three thoughts of the game ...

1. The Final Five, finally: Minnesota State didn't want to miss out on this last party in St. Paul. After this season, the conference will break up, and the three league championship weekends next year just won't be the same as what we've seen at the Xcel Energy Center the last dozen years or so. The Mavericks' deserved to get back there this year after coming oh-so-close several times over the last decade (their last trip to the event was in 2003), but they still had to earn it, going three games with a tough UNO team. Some big-time play by some big-time players, too. That includes Matt Leitner, who scored a big power-play goal, had an assist and blocked a few shots, as well as Stephon Williams, who made saves on two breakaways.

2. Feeling just fine: Coach Mike Hastings' words about fatigue on Saturday rang true on Sunday. It was just a state of mind for his team. MSU kept the lineup the same and looked like the fresher team, coming out for the first period with a lot of hop and dominating Omaha for the first 20 minutes. Hastings said it was his team's best first period in about a month. Minnesota State possessed the puck, sustained a forecheck and outshot UNO 12-3 in the opening frame. It also scored two goals, one each from Bryce Gervais and Max Gaede (yes, that Max Gaede!). It could have been 4-0 if not for a couple of brilliant John Faulkner saves on Eriah Hayes.

3. More on Max: What a character Max Gaede is. First goal of the year? Game winner to get to the Final Five? What did you do? "I didn't do anything," the sophomore said. "I came off the bench, did nothing and my linemates did everything. Then I got the puck and tripped and somehow it went in off my backhand. I closed my eyes. I didn't even know I scored." It looked a lot prettier than that, Max. The two-goal lead was huge for Minnesota State, which took a punch in the second period and made it two again in the third on Leitner's power-play goal.

Deep thought: Another tough crowd with just 2,405 in attendance. Not sure what to make of it, other than students still returning from break and a Sunday night, but that was disappointing. Those who were there must have had fun, though.

Read The Free Press game story here.

Around the WCHA: Colorado College 4, Denver 3 (CC wins series 2-1) ... North Dakota 6, Michigan Tech 0 (UND wins series 2-1)

CC's upset win over Denver put the Mavericks into the Final Five afternoon game against Wisconsin, rather than in the evening game against North Dakota.

Final Five schedule:
Thursday's games
Minnesota State vs. Wisconsin, 2:07 p.m.
Colorado College vs. North Dakota, 7:07 p.m.

Friday's games
MSU/UW winner vs. St. Cloud State, 2:07 p.m.
CC/UND winner vs. Minnesota, 7:07 p.m.

Saturday's game
Broadmoor Trophy championship, 7:07 p.m.

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