Saturday, March 7, 2015

Mavericks 3, Beavers 0

Photo by Shane Frederick/The Free Press
Freddy's three thoughts of the game:

1. MacNaughton comes to Mankato: Minnesota State missed out on a share of last year's WCHA regular-season championship by one point, settling for a tie on the final night of the regular season. On Saturday, the Mavericks knew they needed at least one point (after Michigan Tech finished off its sweep of Northern Michigan) to be take the MacNaughton Cup home with them, and they got it by grinding out a shutout victory over a tough Bemidji State team. "Last year we were one point shy, and that hurt a lot," senior captain Chase Grant said. "To get it outright this year is something special with this group." MSU won the league with 45 points, one more than Michigan Tech.

2. Big rebound for Williams: No, I don't mean he gave up a big carom off a shot. The Minnesota State goaltender, who was yanked after allowing three goals on 10 shots on Friday night, came back and was spectacular when he needed to be on Saturday. He was the difference in the game's first few minutes, when the Beavers, as they did in the season opener, got behind the Mavericks' defense. He finished with 18 saves for his fourth shutout of the season and the ninth of his career. "It's a tremendous honor," Williams said about winning the MacNaughton. "It's a tremendous symbol of our hard work and, going back to years previous, the guys building on what we have done. This is a really tough league. ... There are no nights off. To win a trophy is a blessing an something we're really going to cherish."

3. Why don't we do it (on) the road? After going winless in its previous four games away from Mankato, the Mavericks got a road win. Brett Knowles' pretty goal eight seconds after a Carter Foguth goal was waved off due to some goaltender interference gave MSU a 1-0 lead, one it was able to cling to until Bryce Gervais' nasty backhander with 5:55 left in the game. Brad McClure added an empty-netter with 2:00 to go. "On the road, in this league, it's hard to win," coach Mike Hastings said. Beavers coach Tom Serratore echoed that comment, saying: "Absolutely they deserved it. They earned it. They didn't back in. They earned it on the road. That’s a sign of a good team.” Minnesota State got through the regular season without losing back to back games, an impressive feat.

Read my game story, which details my somewhat out-of-focus (hey, I'm no Pat Christman!) photo above, here.

Around the WCHA: Michigan Tech 3, Northern Michigan 1 ... Bowling Green 2, Alabama Huntsville 1 ... Ferris State 3, Lake Superior State 0 ... Alaska at Alaska Anchorage (late)

Next week: The first round of the WCHA playoffs look like this (home teams listed first): Minnesota State vs. Lake Superior State ... Michigan Tech vs. Alabama Huntsville ... Bowling Green vs. Northern Michigan ... Bemidji State vs. Ferris State

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