Friday, January 8, 2016

Wildcats 3, Mavericks 1

Freddy's three thoughts of the game:

1. They have company: Minnesota State is no longer all by its lonesome in first place in the WCHA. Friday's loss to Northern Michigan put it in a tie with Bowling Green, which won its game at Lake Superior State. Both teams are at 22 points, and they tied each other twice earlier in the year. Friday's game was a loss, senior Brett Knowles said, that reminded him of his team's early season games when the Mavericks outshot opponents but couldn't score enough goals — if any — to win. "We got chances; we got shots," said Knowles, who scored his team's lone goal, a pretty short-hander in the first period. "But we didn't go that extra 2 percent. The effort was there but not that extra little bit."

2. The harder they come: The postgame theme was one we've heard before: "We have to be harder," coach Mike Hastings said. Indeed, the Mavericks, if they're not going to be a team that finishes finesse plays, need to be tougher around the net to score goals, especially against a team like the Wildcats, who practically dare their foes to disrupt things around the goalie. The Mavericks had 82 shots attempts, putting 42 on outstanding goalie Atte Tolvanen, getting 16 blocked and missing the net 24 times. There weren't much for second and third opportunities on plays, sometimes because Tolvanen controlled pucks and other times because there was no one around to snag a juicy rebound.

3. Streaks snapped: Lots of streaks went by the wayside in the game. The Mavericks nine-game unbeaten streak came to an end, as did a nine-game WCHA unbeaten streak, along with scoring streaks by Michael Huntebrinker (eight games), Teddy Blueger (five) and Zeb Knutson (five). Goalie Jason Pawloski lost for the first time this season, too. Northern Michigan broke a seven-game winless streak against Minnesota State, too. The Mavericks gave up three goals (NMU's third goal was an empty-netter) for the first time since their last loss, which was on Nov. 13 against Minnesota. The Mavericks have lost four home games this season. They lost a total of three at the Verizon Wireless Center over the previous two seasons.

Read my game story here.

Around the WCHA: Michigan Tech 3, UConn 2 ... Bowling Green 3, Lake Superior State 1 ... Alaska 6, Alabama Huntsville 3 ... Bemidji State 6, Alaska Anchorage 3

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