Wednesday, April 10, 2013

2012-13 top 10

We're less than two weeks removed from the end of a pretty special season for the the Minnesota State hockey team. With a Division I era-best 24 wins, the Mavericks provided plenty of memorable moments.

Here is Puckato's top 10 list from this season. It includes moments, games, series and significant stretches. Call it Freddy's 10 thoughts of the season. What do you think?

1. Playing in the postseason (March 21, March 29): The Mavericks didn’t have their best performances against Wisconsin or Miami, but they were playing in the WCHA Final Five and the NCAA tournament for the first time in a decade, significant steps for the once-struggling program. In St. Paul, they turned in a bit of a clunker, a 7-2 loss to the Badgers, but they were better against the Redhawks despite the 4-0 loss in Toledo, Ohio.

2. Finally, a playoff victory (March 17): Minnesota State advanced to the Final Five with a Game 3 victory over Nebraska Omaha in Mankato. The series started with an overtime thriller that ended with a Chase Grant goal at the 7:04 mark. After a 2-1 loss on Saturday, the Mavericks finally won a third game (they had lost their previous four Game 3s, winning the Friday-night game in all of those series). Thanks to a dominant first-period performance that included Max Gaede’s only goal of the season, MSU won 3-1.

3. The turnaround begins (Nov. 23-24): Freshman goalie Stephon Williams got back-to-back starts for the first time and stopped 65 of 69 shots in a series sweep over Wisconsin. It was MSU’s first-ever sweep in Madison and set the wheels in motion for Williams’ WCHA Rookie of the Year campaign (he started every game after that). Matt Leitner finished the series with three goals and five points, and Eriah Hayes also scored three goals on the weekend.

4. Getting the Gophers, Part 1 (Nov. 3): Phil Cook was an MSU success story. He came in as a third-stringer as a freshman and perhaps wondered if he’d ever get in a game. By the time his career ended he had played in 73 career games (fifth on the school's all-time list) and compiled a 28-29-7 record. While he lost his starting job to Williams this season, his last victory was a big one, as he stopped 30 shots in a 5-3 home win over No. 1 Minnesota. Freshman Dylan Margonari scored the game-winner with 3:41 to play.

5. Getting the Gophers, Part II (Jan. 25): Minnesota was still No. 1 in late January when the Mavericks went to Mariucci Arena and won 2-1. It wasn’t quite the upset of the November game, as MSU had moved into the national rankings by then. But it was a thriller nonetheless. Williams was brilliant, stopping 20 third-period shots and 37 for the game, and another freshman, Brett Knowles, potted the game-winning goal with just 44 seconds remaining in regulation.

6. Stopping the Sio … uh, UND (March 9): With a crowd of 5,088 at the Verizon Wireless Center, the Mavericks clinched home ice for the WCHA playoffs (and prevented North Dakota from getting a share of the league title) with a 2-1 overtime victory. Once again Brett Knowles was the hero, scoring the game-winner. Fellow rookies Margonari (one goal) and Williams (30 saves) were also excellent in that game.

7. Call it the streak (Nov. 23-Dec. 14): The series sweep at Wisconsin began a run of seven consecutive wins that included home sweeps (and a pair of Williams shutouts) over Bemidji State and Alaska Anchorage. It finished with an impressive 6-3 win at Nebraska Omaha. In that game, the freshmen shined again as Teddy Blueger had three assists, Gervais scored short-handed breakaway goal, and Margonari and Jutzi (How much better did he get as the season went on, by the way?) had goals.

8. Nonconference success (various dates): The Mavericks had a better Pairwise ranking than WCHA co-champion St. Cloud State, mainly because of the two teams’ nonconference record. Minnesota State went 6-0-2 in nonconference play, which included games against solid opponents like RPI, Providence, Brown and UConn. The wins included a two overtime victories, with Eriah Hayes (RPI) and Chase Grant (Providence) scoring the winners, a Williams shut out of the Friars and Johnny McInnis garnering MVP honors not far from home at the UConn tournament.

9. Hayes’ weekend in Duluth (Feb. 8-9): Eriah Hayes had his best weekend of his best college season when the Mavericks swept the Bulldogs at Amsoil Arena. The right wing, who led the nation in shots on goal and finished the season with 20 goals, was dominant, scoring seven points — including a hat trick in the series finale — to help MSU win its first games in Duluth since 2006.

10. Special delivery (Nov. 30): What was the play of the year this year? There are many to choose from, including more than a few goals listed above, plenty of pretty Matt Leitner passes (he had 30 assists) as well as more than a few nifty saves by Williams, the WCHA rookie of the year. For now, anyway, I’m going with Hayes’ no-look, between-the-legs assist to Zach Lehrke for a goal against Bemidji State. Have a look:

What’s do you think? What’s missing from the list? Feel free to comment on your favorite moments from this past season.

1 comment:

MSU Hockey Girl said...

I'm surprised you didn't mention Williams trip to the penalty box. While maybe not a 'highlight' it's definately not something you see everyday.