Saturday, March 4, 2017

Mavericks 4, Nanooks 1

Freddy's three thoughts of the game:

1. Moving on: The Mavericks avoided some lessons of the past and won Saturday night to advance to the WCHA semifinal round. Twice this season, Minnesota State defeated Alaska handily on Friday only to struggle against the Nanooks the next night, losing at Fairbanks and tying (and dropping the shootout) in Mankato. After winning 3-0 on Friday, MSU withstood a strong push and got the job done to sweep and avoid having to play a decisive third game as it did a year ago against Lake Superior State. "Now, we can take a day off an relax," said Jordan Nelson, whose line was fantastic on Saturday and, really, the whole weekend. "Last year, we had to play on Sunday and grind through it. Now, we can regroup and get our rest."

2. Who's next? Minnesota State will also spend Sunday waiting to see who they'll play next and where that will take place. With Northern Michigan winning at Bemidji State on Saturday and forcing a third game, the Mavericks could be home or away for the best-of-three semifinals. A Wildcats upset win will keep MSU at home against Bowling Green, which finished off a sweep of Ferris State, 5-3. If the top-seeded Beavers win, the Mavericks will go on the road to Michigan Tech, which swept Lake Superior State with an 8-0 victory. Certainly a lot of MSU fans will be rooting for Northern Michigan. If MSU is at home, will it be able to break the 3,000 attendance mark, something — partially due to the students being on spring break — it was unable to do this weekend?

3. Best for last: Every team says it wants to be playing its best hockey at the end of the year, and it would be hard to deny that the Mavericks are doing that. The win, MSU's 21st of the season, was the team's sixth in its last seven games. Since returning from Houghton, Mich., in Jan. 21 with a tie and a shutout loss, the Mavericks are 7-2-1. Goaltender Jason Pawloski started and won his third game in a row on Saturday and stopped 79 of 81 shots (.975) in those games. Nelson's line with Max Coatta and Parker Tuomie had three goals and three assists on Saturday and five goals and four assists for the weekend. "I like the direction we're going in right now," coach Mike Hastings said.

Read my game story here.

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