Saturday, March 3, 2018

Mavericks 6, Nanooks 2

Freddy's three thoughts of the game ...

1. Scoring explosions: Minnesota State clung to a 2-1 lead from first intermission on until Nick Rivera's beautiful short-handed goal at 5:43 of the third period started a stretch that broke the game open for the Mavericks, who won their sixth straight first-round playoff series. Rivera and Connor Mackey scored 25 seconds apart, and Daniel Brickley made it three goals in span of 1:53. Marc Michaelis added another goal for four in just under 5 minutes. The Mavericks did the same thing in a similar timeframe in the second period in Friday's opener to blow that game wide open. "We focused on getting pucks to the net all game," Rivera said. "We were fortunate to get that bounce [for the short-handed goal], but it was important to keep it rolling and keep the momentum up."

2. By the numbers: Saturday's win was the 150th for coach Mike Hastings at Minnesota State. What an impressive six-year run it's been for him. As for this season, Minnesota State (28-7-1) extended its unbeaten streak to 13 games (12-0-1). With two assists in the game, Zeb Knutson now has 41 points for the season, two behind C.J. Suess. It marks the first time MSU has two 40-point players since 2013-14 when Matt Leitner had 45 points and Jean-Paul LaFontaine had 40. Six players have 30 or more points. Goaltender Connor LaCouvee won his 22nd game, making 22 saves, including 13 of 14 in the third period.

3. Power up: The Mavericks finished 3 for 7 on the power play, getting a nice deflection by Dallas Gerads in the first period and third-period goals by Daniel Brickley and Marc Michaelis. But it might have a man advantage without a goal that got them going. Down 1-0, MSU grabbed some momentum with a power play that started at 7:36 of the first period. Hastings said he subscribes to the idea that you can get something out of a scoreless power play. "Absolutely," he said. "And We did. We had some good looks. We had some opportunities. We possessed. They had to defend. Like I said, later, I thought they did a good job of making some adjustments and making a couple of plays."

Read my game story here.

Around the WCHA: Alabama Huntsville 3, Northern Michigan 2 (series tied 1-1) ... Michigan Tech 5, Bemidji State 3 (Tech wins series 2-0) ... Bowling Green 5, Ferris State 2 (BG wins series 2-0)

Deep thought: The Mavericks will have to wait until Sunday night to see who they will play in next weekend's semifinal series at the Verizon Center. If Alabama Huntsville pulls off the upset of second-seeded Northern Michigan, the Chargers will come to Mankato. If the Wildcats win, Michigan Tech, which pulled off a mini-upset with a sweep at Bemidji State, will play here.

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