|Pat Christman/The Free Press|
1. Need a Hug? Cole Huggins helped the Mavericks bounce back from their Game 2 loss to the Lakers and launch his team back to the Final Five with a 22-save shutout in Game 3. The shutout was the 10th of his career, tying the school record set by his old teammate Stephon Williams. It was also his 37th career victory. The 22 shots were the most Huggins has faced in nine games but didn't come near the 57 Lakers goalie Gordon Defiel made on Saturday. “We haven’t put a lot of workload on (Huggins) as far as being busy,” coach Mike Hastings said. “And tonight he was busy early. They had some opportunities. He made some big saves. To win at this time of the year — in games like this, in games like we’re going to have next Friday — you need your goaltender to be one of your best players, if not your best player, and tonight he was very good.”
2. First goal was big: After Saturday's blanking, the Mavericks needed to score quickly and grab an early lead, and they did just that with a power-play goal at 9:38 of the first period by — who else? — playoff hero Brad McClure, who got behind Defiel to put a loose-puck rebound into the net. (By the way, that's McClure pictured above; does anyone have any more joyous cellys than he does?) "They have a heck of a goalie over there," said MSU senior Bryce Gervais. "We knew the first one was not going to be pretty. (McClure) ... got a dirty one." The Mavericks put 32 shots on net and added a Casey Nelson power-play goal midway through the second period and an even-strength goal by Teddy Blueger just 38 seconds into the third, which was the backbreaker against the young-but-improved Lakers.
3. More milestones: With his two assists on Sunday, Gervais reached 100 points for his career, joining Blueger in the Century Club. He also played in his 161st career game, which broke MSU school record for games played and consecutive games played. Quite a career for him. It's just too bad there wasn't a bigger crowd on hand (2,026) to see him do that and play his final game in Mankato — same for Blueger, Jon Jutzi, Dylan Margonari, Brett Knowles and Jimmy Mullin. Gervais ranks 12th on MSU's Division I era scoring list now. Blueger is tied for ninth with 108 points. The Mavericks reached 20 victories for the fourth year in a row under Hastings, who now has 99 career victories at MSU. Win No. 100 would put his team back in the Broadmoor Trophy championship game.
Read my game story here.
Around the WCHA: Bowling Green 3, Bemidji State 1 (Falcons win series 2-1)
Up next: WCHA Final Five semifinals — Minnesota State vs. Bowling Green, Michigan Tech vs. Ferris State — at Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, Mich.