Freddy's three thoughts of the game:
1. Defiel defies: You can read more about Lakers goalie Gordon Defiel in my Free Press game story here, including how he finally overcame some pretty horrific starts in the Verizon Wireless Center, both this season and last, but he was the star of the show on Saturday, stopping 57 shots for the shutout win. Clearly, the Mavericks were frustrated, not only to lose the game, but to have gotten shut out two Saturdays in a row, as well as six times this season and four times at home. But those weren't 57 shots from the perimeter. "We came in and stole a game," said Lakers coach Damon Whitten, whose team scored its first-ever win over MSU. "We gave ourselves a chance." The Mavericks' Cole Huggins may have won the WCHA's goaltending championship with his league-best goals-against average, but Defiel led the conference in save percentage at .934 in WCHA play.
2. Sunday, Sunday, Sunday: For the first time since 2013, the Mavericks will play a Game 3 of a first-round series. In 2013, coach Mike Hastings' first season, the Mavericks defeated Omaha in Mankato in the third game of their series to advance to the Final Five. Their previous five Game 3s were losses. "I don't know if any shutout feels different," Mavericks coach Mike Hastings said. "We need to get one by him. I thought we had some really good looks, but we just have to find a way to get it done tomorrow." All that's on the line is a trip to Grand Rapids for fourth straight Final Five appearance and a chance to keep the season going beyond that.
3. What's it going to take? Defiel said he expects the Mavericks to come at him hard in Game 3. Can they finish like they did on Friday when the made some pretty plays and picked their spots above the goalie's shoulder? Or will they have to get grittier and greasier? It might be the latter, according to Hastings. "When we’re unsuccessful, it’s not lack of possession," He said. "In
between the dots, it’s hard to score, so what are you going to do? What’s the
price you’re going to pay?" There seemed to be some of that effort on Saturday, but that's also part of a mantra we've heard at other times this season when the Mavericks have struggled to beat a good goalie or a defensive-minded team. Does this team have it in them? We'll find out Sunday night.
Deep thought: What's up with the crowds? Under 3,000 again on Saturday. I know traditionally there are smaller crowds for the league playoffs, especially because the students are on spring break. But come on! This is the fourth year in a row that the Mavericks have had home ice. Before that they were at home just once in nine years. Anyway, classes start up Monday, so I assume a lot of students return to town on Sunday night. What's it going to take for Minnesota State to lure those kids to the rink tomorrow? Hopefully, there's a plan in the works.
Around the WCHA: Michigan Tech 5, Alaska 3 (Huskies win series 2-0) ... Ferris State 5, Northern Michigan 2 (Bulldogs win series 2-0) ... Bowling Green 7, Bemidji State 2 (series tied 1-1)