Friday, March 4, 2016

Mavericks 6, Beavers 1

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

1. MacNaughton stays put: The defending-champion Mavericks clinched a share of the WCHA regular-season title on Friday night with a lopsided win over the Beavers. A win or a tie on Saturday and MSU will keep the trophy for another year. If they end up tied with Michigan Tech, they'll have to split time with it — and Tech would get the tiebreaker for the No. 1 seed for the conference playoffs. If MSU's celebration after the game seemed somewhat subdued, that was probably why. There's work left to be done. For those wondering why they brought out the Cup on Friday, it's simple: They won the championship. Saturday's game will be for a top seed. "We've still got to play a very good hockey team tomorrow; today will go away," coach Mike Hastings said. "But those are things the guys can remember forever. Nobody can take that away from them."

2. Seniors shine: Saturday's game will be Senior Night for the Mavericks, but their old guys got he job done on Friday. The No. 1 line was made up of all seniors — Teddy Blueger, Dylan Margonari and Jimmy Mullin — and it had seven points. Blueger and Margonari each had a goal and two assists, and Mullin scored his first goal since MSU's first game of the season. "I think we had some jam playing together," Margonari said. "Jimmy and Teddy played well. We created a lot and possessed the puck. That's what we talked about all week." Blueger moved into WCHA scoring lead in both overall and conference games (33 points and 28 points). Seven of his 10 goals this season, including his goal against the Beavers, have been game-winners. Hastings continued to shower praise on Blueger, calling him the team's most consistent player offensively, defensively and on faceoffs. He was 9-5 in the circle on Friday.

3. All hands on deck: The Mavericks showed some signs of what made them so successful last season. Besides the Blueger line, they got coring from the three other lines as well, starting with third-liner Zeb Knutson's goal — a hard-working play that started with Bryce Gervais' forecheck and a good pass from Michael Huntebrinker — just 1:48 into the game. For some reason defenseman Carter Foguth wandered down to the net and took a pass from second-line center C.J. Franklin for the game's fourth goal, and fourth-liner Jordan Nelson also scored with seniors Brett Knowles and Jon Jutzi assisting. “One reason we’ve had some success recently is we’ve been able to roll four lines,” Hastings said. “When you can do that, you’re not stressing a group of three, a group of six. You’re sharing a lot of the load, and I think we’re a better hockey team when we do that.”

Read my game story, which has more reaction to the MacNaughton win, here.

Around the WCHA: Michigan Tech 4, Northern Michigan 0 ... Alabama Huntsville 7, Bowling Green 5 ... Ferris State 3, Lake Superior State 1 ... Alaska Anchorage at Alaska (late)

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