Friday, January 27, 2017

Mavericks 4, Lakers 2

Freddy's three thoughts of the game ...

1. Seniors lead: As I wrote about in my gamer (link below) Minnesota State didn't panic or suffer any kind of letdown when some adversity went its way. Perhaps part of that was the play of its seniors. Zach Stepan and Sean Flanagan scored goals early in the second period, and Flanagan also assisted on the game-winner for a two-point night. And then there was Cole Huggins, starting in goal for the first time since Dec. 16, getting the nod after six straight games by former third-stringer Aaron Nelson. He stopped 20 shots, including more than a few tricky ones. "He made some timely saves that allowed us to stay at two, allowed us to keep a one-goal lead," coach Mike Hastings said. "And that’s what you need from your goaltender, timely saves, and that’s what he did tonight."

2. Fresh blood: I've written a lot about Marc Michaelis and Ian Scheid, the Mavericks' top two freshman scorers, but a couple of other rookies made their presence felt on Friday. Parker Tuomie scored the game-winning goal. He came into the season with much hype and has been overshadowed by his fellow German, Michaelis. However, he has five goals and 10 points now, a good first season. Josh French has been a solid fourth-liner and penalty killer throughout the year. He came into the game with two assists (no goals). He doubled that on Friday, helping set up both third-period goals. He won the faceoff that led directly to Tuomie's goal and then made a veteran-like play on a rush to Brad McClure for MSU's fourth goal.

3. How things stand: Friday's victory was important because Lake Superior State was trailing directly behind fourth-place Minnesota State in the WCHA standings. MSU is now nine points ahead of the Lakers. A Saturday win and series sweep could be huge for the Mavericks. They also kept pace with Bowling Green, which won in overtime to maintain a one-point lead over MSU, which does have two games in hand. "Where we're at in the standings, trying to play for home ice," Hastings said, "big game tonight." The Mavericks have swept just one series since Oct. 14-15 and that was on the road at Alabama Huntsville Jan. 6-7.

Read my game story here.

Around the WCHA: Bowling Green 3, Ferris State 2 (OT) ... Michigan Tech 5, Alabama Huntsville 2 ... St. Cloud State 2, Bemidji State 1

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