Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Mavericks earn two points in Bemidji

The Mavericks men’s hockey team traveled to Bemidji last weekend, where they were taken by surprise in the Fridaynight game. Playing Bemidji State University at the Sanford Center in Bemidji, the Mavs couldn’t catch the breaks they needed.
After a scoreless first period on Friday night, the Beavers took over. Showing the Mavs that they have some depth on their roster too, BSU found their first two goals from fourth line players. St. Paul native and former Cretin-Durham Hall forward Bob Kinne kicked things off for Bemidji when he found himself all alone on a breakaway with Williams and found the back of the net for a 1-0 Beaver lead. Shortly after, Beaver forward Matt Hartmann tallied a goal of his own to give BSU a 2-0 lead before the Mavs dug themselves a bigger hole.
Freshman defenseman Carter Foguth took a desperate tripping penalty to prevent a breakaway before sophomore forward Brett Knowles took a slashing penalty right after, leaving the Mavs two men short on a five-on-three powerplay for the Beavers. With the two man advantage, Ruslan Pedan buried a goal to put BSU up 3-0 on the visiting Mavericks with assists going to Matt Prapavessis and Danny Mattson.
A minute later, MSU attempted to stop the bleeding when freshman forward Jordan Nelson found himself in the slot and ripped a shot past Walsh to put the Mavs on the board with 3:35 to go in the second period. It was Nelson’s first collegiate goal, assisted by freshman forward Zach Stepan.
Heading into the third period hopeful of a comeback, the Mavericks couldn’t get anything going. Only recording six shots in the final period, the Mavs couldn’t find the scoring they needed, and gave one up. Beaver’s leading goal scorer Cory Ward tallied his fifth of the year past Williams at the midway point of the final period to put the nail in the coffin for a 4-1 Beaver win.
Stephon Williams was credited with the loss for MSU, making only 16 saves on 20 shots, not a typical performance for a usually steady Williams. On the other end of the rink, Walsh was outstanding in goal for the Beavers, making 27 saves on 28 shots for the win.
The Mavericks also failed to score on the man advantage, with five power play opportunities and no goals. Matt Leitner is usually the go-to man on the power play and was clearly missed on Friday night as he stayed in Mankato, missing the road trip due to a back injury.
The Beavers played another hard fought game on Saturday night, but the Mavericks made some changes in hope of salvaging a split at Bemidji. Saturday night saw freshman goaltender Cole Huggins make his first career startbetween the pipes for the Mavs, leaving the usual starter Stephon Williams in the backup position for the game.
MSU finally got their power play to click when Stepan scored his first collegiate goal with the man advantage at 4:40 of the first period, with junior forwards Max Gaede and Chase Grant getting the assists. That was fairly short lived, though, as the Mavs went scoreless on their next six power plays of the game. Stepan’s goal was the only scoring of the first period and enough for a 1-0 Maverick lead with the Beavers missing on some key scoring chances with shots wide of the goal.
Sophomore forward Bryce Gervais gave the Mavs a 2-0 lead with his team leading third goal of the year at the 12:20 point of the second period, with juniors Jean-Paul LaFontaine and Zach Palmquist garnering assists on the play. The two-goal lead wouldn’t last long, however, as the Beavers fought back before the end of the period.
Mitch Cain scored for the Beavers with 7:57 remaining in the second period to bring the score within a goal at 2-1. The Mavericks looked as if they would head to the locker room with the lead until Graeme McCormack scored apower play goal with just 18 seconds remaining in the period, tying the score heading into the final period.
Johnny McInnis scored what he hopes is the first of many this season.
The third period featured mostly late action as all three goals scored in the period were in the final five minutes of the game. Senior forward and captain Johnny McInnis netted his first of the year on an assist by sophomore forward Dylan Margonari with just 4:52 to go in the game. With both teams sending a player to the penalty box, play was reduced to four-on-four action until the Beavers pulled their goaltender to get an extra attacker to play the Mavs five-on-four. With the goalie pulled, sophomore forward Teddy Blueger scored his second of the year, an unassisted empty net goal with just 10 seconds remaining in the game. That was thought to be all that was left of this game, but right off the center ice faceoff, Beaver defenseman Sam Rendle took the puck in for a goal with just one second left in the game to bring the score to 4-3 in favor of
the Mavericks, but it was too late.
Cole Huggins did well for MSU in his first start, recording 28 saves of 31 shots. Walsh played well again for BSU, making 27 of 30 saves. While the Mavericks would have loved to sweep Bemidji on the road, the split still gives them two points in the WCHA standings after their first conference series. The Beavers Friday night win gives them six points in their first four conference games, which seems to indicate early on that they will perform much better this season than the last few.
The Mavericks return home this week for a series at the Verizon Wireless Center against the Bowling Green StateUniversity Falcons. The puck drops in downtown Mankato at 7:37 p.m. Friday night and 7:07 p.m. on Saturday.

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