|Pat Christman/The Free Press|
1. No one said it would be easy: So it's do or die time for Minnesota State. Omaha edged out MSU to force a Sunday-night game for a trip to the Final Five. Minnesota State has been in this position before, winning the Friday game in overtime and losing Saturday, but has never won the Sunday game. After dropping to 12th in the Pairwise Rankings, MSU's season may be on the line, too. Saturday's game was another tough, grind-it-out game, not unlike Friday's opener. "One-goal games," Hastings said. "This time of year, you can expect that."
2. Making plays: Minnesota State did that in Friday's overtime win but didn't on Saturday. Credit Omaha for clogging up the middle of the rink for much of the night and protecting goalie John Faulkner (34 saves) from too much trouble. "That's something we can do better," Matt Leitner said. Still, MSU had chances. Teddy Blueger hit a crossbar with a lot of net to shoot at. Dylan Margonari hit a post, as did Johnny McInnis. Jean-Paul LaFontaine was stopped on a close-in chance late in the third period. Meanwhile, Omaha caught a couple of breaks on its goals. A rebound shot hit Stephon Williams' dropped stick and went in the net in the first period, and the game-winner in the third came on a 2-on-1 rush that began when Margonari fell down and lost the puck in the neutral zone.
3. Tired? Who's tired? Players like Zach Palmquist logged a ton of ice time on Saturday night as MSU tried to get the game-tying goal (Williams was pulled for an extra attacker with 1:45 remaining in the third, by the way). When asked about how worried he might be about fatigue, Hastings brushed off the notion. "When I watch the Tour de France, I think about fatigue," he said. "Fatigue's a state of mind, right? So we're not fatigued."
Deep thought: A little better crowd on Saturday with 3,346 announced. The students will be back from break Sunday for Monday classes. Perhaps they'll show up.
Read The Free Press' game story here.
Around the WCHA: Michigan Tech 2, North Dakota 1 (series tied 1-1) ... Minnesota 4, Bemidji State 3 (UM sweeps) ... St. Cloud State 5, Alaska Anchorage 1 (SCSU sweeps) ... Wisconsin 4, Minnesota Duluth 1 (UW sweeps) ... Colorado College 2, Denver 1 (series tied 1-1)