Saturday, January 9, 2016

Mavericks 3, Wildcats 1

Freddy's three thoughts of the game ...

1. Coatta many passes: Freshman Max Coatta was a healthy scratch on Friday, a casualty of Minnesota State's newfound health. He was inserted into the lineup at right wing on the third line on Saturday, taking the place of Jimmy Mullin, and he came up huge, assisting on all three of the Mavericks' goals. The Minnetonka native, who played at Waterloo of the USHL last season, played in 16 game in the first half of the season and had two goals and an assist. Listed perhaps generously at 5-foot-10 and 174-pounds, he's not the biggest player, but he wasn't afraid to do work around the net and along the wall. "I can kind of be an energy guy," he said. He was behind the net when he made a pass to Zach Stepan, who fired on net, and Dylan Margonari cleaned up the rebound for what would be the game-winning goal at 4:28 of the third period. "He shows a lot of character, too, not being in the lineup last night and stepping up and being the player he was," Margonari said. "It was a huge effort tonight."

2. Football on ice? I plan to write more about this in my Tuesday column, but the officiating on Saturday — and, really, throughout college hockey all season — left a lot to be desired. And fans desire at least some offense — some up and down action — and scoring chances. Clutching, grabbing, obstruction, interference, bear hugs, tackles ... you name it, it's bogging down the game. Sure, the Mavericks had 80-plus shots on the weekend, and you have to tip your hat to the Wildcats' two goalies, Atte Tolvanen and Mathias Israelsson. But there's a reason why goal scoring is so low, and officials allowing teams to muck up play is a big reason for that. "I think the standard, as far as officiating, as far as what's a penalty and what isn't anymore has gone back a little bit," coach Mike Hastings said. "And that's not specifically about these two officials. It's just, I think the game' moved that way a little bit. And we need to adjust to it."

3. Rebound win: Freshman goaltender Jason Pawloski lost for the first time on Friday night (although he was pulled from a game earlier this season in which he got no decision), and bounced back well. He allowed a goal on Northern Michigan's first shot, but it was a play by a very good top line that had MSU chasing in its defensive zone. (Darren Nowick, Dominik Shine and Gerard Hanson, by the way had 10 of their team's 15 shots). Pawloski kept a clean sheet from there for his eighth win, making just 14 saves but a few key ones when the game was still tied and when the Mavericks had a 2-1 lead. "He's got a calmness about him that he doesn't get too high or too low," Hastings said. "He grabbed our goaltending coach after their skate today and just said, 'Hey, I'd really like to watch some video.' He's trying to get better all the time. ... I like his demeanor."

Deep thought: The win, combined with Bowling Green's overtime loss to Lake Superior State, put Minnesota State back on top of the WCHA standings. They're two points ahead of the Falcons and five ahead of next week's opponent Michigan Tech.

Read the game story here.

Around the WCHA: Lake Superior State 1, Bowling Green (OT) ... Alabama Huntsville 3, Alaska 1 ... Bemidji State at Alaska Anchorage (late) ... Michigan Tech vs. Yale (Sunday in Arizona)

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