|Pat Christman/The Free Press|
1. If it's Mankato, it must be overtime: Friday's game was the fifth overtime playoff game in a row in Mankato. You have to go back to 2008 for the last three (against Minnesota) and 2003 (against Wisconsin) for the one before that, but that's a group of games that includes three double-overtime games. Friday against Omaha was just one OT, as Chase Grant ended it at the 7:04 mark, coming in as the late guy in a 3-on-2 rush. Jean-Paul LaFontaine finished off a spectacular night (1 goal, 2 assists) with the patient set-up pass for Grant, who had been without a goal since Jan. 4 when he scored in overtime to beat Providence.
2. It's just one win: Minnesota State needs just one win to get to St. Paul and the WCHA Final Five for the first time since 2003. Since then, MSU has won the Friday night playoff series opener five times (including this year), but dropped the next two games four times — at UMD (2004), at North Dakota (2006), home against Minnesota (2008) and at St. Cloud State (2010). In each of those games, the Mavericks won the first game in overtime. The seniors on this year's team were freshmen on that '10 team. Can they get over that hump?
3. Finishing strong: The Mavericks got off to a slow start, and mucked and grinded their way past a tough Omaha team that disrupted their attack all night. MSU scored a pair of power play goals to take a 2-1 lead but UNO had a 3-2 lead going into the third. But that's where Minnesota State has been so good all season, and it was a pair of freshmen, Bryce Gervais (game-tying goal midway through the period) and Stephon Williams (32 saves), who got the team to the extra period.
Deep thought: What happened to the crowd? I know it was spring break for the students, but 2,855? Come on, Mankato people! Aren't these the kinds of games you've been yearning for, no matter who the opponent is? Just an alarming number considering it was MSU's first playoff game at home in five years. Maybe Saturday will be better.
And another thing: MSU moved up to 7th in the Pairwise Rankings Saturday night.
Read The Free Press game story here.
Around the WCHA: All the home teams won to take 1-0 series leads. Wisconsin 3, Minnesota Duluth 1 ... Minnesota 2, Bemidji State 1 (OT) ... North Dakota 5, Michigan Tech 3 ... St. Cloud State 6, Alaska Anchorage 1 ... Denver 5, Colorado College 3.