The Minnesota State University, men’s didn’t get quite the start they were looking for . The first series of the year saw a nonconference match up on the road, where the Mavericks were swept by their opponent. On Friday, the no. 11 Mavericks faced off in their season opener at no.14 Providence in front of a crowd of 2,771. This was an important series as wins on the road, as well as wins against top 20-ranked teams hold more value in the NCAA tournament rankings.
|Bryce Gervais had the only Maverick goal over the weekend|
Friday’s contest seemed promising for MSU when sophomore forward Bryce Gervais scored first goal of the season to give the Mavericks a 1-0 just 4:41 into the first period. That goal was the only tally in the period, sending the Mavericks into the second period with the lead. However, the Friars came back and controlled play for the remainder of the game.
While the Mavericks were on the power play, Providence forward Ross Mauermann found himself on a breakaway and netted a shorthanded goal past MSU goaltender Stephon Williams at 4:01 of the second period to even the score at a goal apiece. Later in the period, the Friars took the lead when Steven McPharland found John Gilmour on a two on one rush who buried the puck past Williams to bring the score to 2-1 in favor of the . That concluded the scoring in the period, but Gilmour would be heard from again.
Providence’s Mark Jankowski scored 2:46 into the third period with an assist going to Gilmour. Before the Mavericks could regroup, the Friars struck again when Gilmour found the back of the net just 44 seconds later, giving him his second goal of the game and a 4-1 lead. After Jankowski tallied his second goal of the game at the 7:59 mark of the final period, bringing the score to 5-1, Maverick’s Coach Mike Hastings pulled Williams and put in freshman goaltender Cole Huggins. Huggins saved all ten shots he faced in the final twelve minutes of the game, but MSU couldn’t muster up any more offense, going zero for six on the power play and fell in the season opener 5-1.
Saturday night’s game had a similar start for the Mavericks. The first period saw MSU outshoot Providence 20-9 in almost dominating fashion, but Friars All-American goaltender Jon Gillies stood tall in goal and the game was scoreless heading into the second period.
Mauermann struck first again for the Friars when he scored just 17 seconds into the middle period. MSU tried to even the score until sophomore forward Bryce Gervais received a game misconduct for an illegal check to the head, leaving the already shorthanded Mavericks on a shorthanded five on three situation. Providence’s Anthony Florentino would score on this power play to give his team a 2-0 lead before Connor MacPhee scored with just 1:27 remaining in the second period to give the Friars a three goal lead. No goals were scored in the third period, and Providencecompleted the two game sweep at home over the visiting Mavericks.
The story of the weekend was the Mavericks struggling power play. Friday saw the Mavericks on the power play six times, while Saturday they were given the man advantage eight times and recorded not a single power play goal in the series. Perhaps MSU needs someone to step up and fill the hole left by last year’s senior captain Eriah Hayes, who led the nation in power play points a year ago. The Mavericks also had trouble staying out of the penalty box. Aside from Gervais’ ejection from the game, junior forward J.P. LaFontaine received the boot as well when he was ejected for checking from behind, and sophomore forward Teddy Blueger received a misconduct of his own. However, Williams stood tall in net for the Mavericks, stopping 35 of 38 shots faced.
MSU men’s hockey hits the ice at home Friday in another nonconference series against unranked Connecticut. The puck drop is slated for 7:37 p.m. on Friday night at the Verizon Wireless Center, with Saturday night’s game scheduled for a 7:07 start p.m.