Friday, March 20, 2015

Mavericks 4, Bulldogs 0

Pat Christman/The Free Press
Freddy's three thoughts of the game ...

1. Depth becomes them — still: Who would have thought (especially someone, like me, who wrote about the importance of the senior classes this weekend), that the freshmen would lead the way for the Mavericks on Friday? But there was Brad McClure (pictured above) with two goals and an assist and C.J. Franklin with a goal. Asked about his team's depth, Minnesota State coach Mike Hastings started working backwards, rewinding, bringing up Dylan Margonari last Saturday against Lake Superior State, Matt Leitner and Bryce Gervais the night before that, as well as Max Gaede. A week earlier at Bemidji there was Brett Knowles with a big goal. "When you can start talking about different people on consecutive nights, consecutive weekends, I think the responsibility gets shared and nobody feels like they're trying to carry the club."

2. Willie won't go home: Stephon Williams was rock-solid in goal for the Mavericks, stopping 25 shots, including 13 in the third period, to earn his 24th victory and fifth shutout of the season. It was his 10th career shutout, adding to his MSU record. The junior out-dueled the great C.J. Motte, just as he did earlier this season and just as Cole Huggins did in last season's Final Five championship game. Williams saw just three shots in the first period when the teams were "testing the waters," and shaking off "nerves," Williams said, but he made sure to credit the guys in front of him — "Sterno, Fogie, Casey Nelson, the whole D-corps" for blocking shots. The Mavericks blocked 16 shots. Carter Foguth blocked five, and Zach Palmquist blocked four. "They're a very difficult team to play against," Ferris State coach Bob Daniels said.

3. Broadmoor battle: It will be Minnesota State and Michigan Tech battling for the Broadmoor Trophy on Saturday night. It's only right, as they were the best two teams in the league all season long and, possibly, the only two teams from the league who will be playing next week (Saturday's results, including the 5-2 loss to Tech dropped Bowling Green down to 16th in the Pairwise.) The teams finished just one point apart in the standings, with MSU winning the MacNaughton Cup. A year ago, Ferris State finished one point ahead of Minnesota State to take the regular-season title, and the Mavericks won the playoff championship. Will history repeat itself or can MSU defend the tourney title?

Read my game story here.

Deep thought: Minnesota State's win and North Dakota's loss in the NCHC semifinals flip-flopped the two teams in the Pairwise, putting MSU at No. 1 Can the Mavericks hold the top spot and the No. 1 overall seed for the NCAA tournament? "I think that will be figured out sometime tomorrow night," Hastings said. "I've got a lot of respect for North Dakota and what's going on across the river (at the NCHC tournament), and I've got a lot of respect for what's facing us tomorrow night. Michigan Tech's as good a hockey team as there is in the country. ... There's enough on our plate with that."

And another thing: Not a bad crowd at the X on Friday. Announced attendance was 6,844. Not the old days of the Final Five, but not an embarrassment either. Michigan Tech coach Mel Pearson praised the fans of his team who made the trip, and there was a very good contingent of MSU/Mankato folks throughout the building. All four teams brought their pep bands, too, which added to the atmosphere.

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