Saturday, January 25, 2014

Special Teams Prove Huge in Maverick loss to St. Cloud State

After suffering tough losses on Friday night, the Minnesota State University Mavericks and the St. Cloud State Huskies faced off in the consolation/third place game in the inaugural North Star College Cup. The Mavericks lost a heart breaker in the final minute of overtime against the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs, while the Huskies lost to the Minnesota Gophers 4-1 in the late game on Friday.

The Mavericks came out flying the first half of the first period, and seemed to dictate the pace of play. Just before the halfway point of the first period, Maverick junior J.P. LaFontaine found the back of the net on a strange goal to give the Mavs a 1-0 lead. Coming in on a two-on-one, LaFontaine attempted to pass the puck but whiffed on it, and it slid into the net on the near side under Husky goaltender Ryan Faragher. Bryce Gervais tallied the lone assist on the goal.

"I was trying to make a pass over to Teddy and kind of fumbled it," said LaFontaine, "it found its way to the back of the net so I'll take it."

Jonny Brodzinski had two goals in the game
and three in the tournament
Later in the period, Teddy Blueger bobbled a puck on the offensive blue line that sent Husky forward Ryan
Papa in on a breakaway until he was caught up to by Maverick defenseman Carter Foguth. Papa then spun around and found Jonny Brodzinski streaking into the zone, fed him a pass, and Brodzinski fired a slap shot past Maverick goaltender Stephon Williams to tie the game. The teams headed to the locker room after one tied at 1-1, and when the second period started the Mavs were able to grab another lead.

While battling for position in front of the net, Maverick sophomore Bryce Gervais buried a loose puck to lift the Mavs to a 2-1 lead, Blueger and Sean Flanagan recorded the assists. The triumph the Mavs had after that goal was overshadowed however, by four second period Husky goals.

Just as MSU defenseman Blake Thompson exited the penalty box to bring the Mavs back to even strength, Husky forward Cory Thorson deflected a Kevin Gravel shot from the point past Williams to tie the game at two a piece. Then, with the Mavericks trying to regain the lead, Husky captain Nick Dowd gave St. Cloud their first lead of the game with a spin around shot that eluded Williams for a 3-2 SCSU lead. Not too long after, the Huskies pushed the pedal to the floor.

While on a five on three man advantage, Brodzinski unleashed a rocket of a slap shot from the blue line past Williams for a 4-2 lead. Only 53 seconds later, Andrew Prochno found David Morley wide open and Morley buried another power play goal for St. Cloud, bringing the lead to 5-2. Williams was then pulled in favor of freshman goaltender Cole Huggins.

Leitner, in his junior year, now has 100 career
points as a Maverick
Early in the third period, the Mavs would get a power play goal of their own when Johnny McInnis brought the score to 5-3. McInnis headed down the ice on a two on one rush and showed great patience as he
waited until he got in tight on Faragher, cut to his backhand, and lifted the puck into the net. LaFonatine and Leitner were credited with the assists on the play, which was Leitner's 100th career point in a Maverick sweater.

With plenty of time remaining, it looked promising that MSU could get back in this game, but St. Cloud answered back once again. Husky forward Kalle Kossila swatted in a rebound past Huggins on the power play for a 6-3 lead. But again, the Mavs showed promise.

Halfway through the third period, LaFontaine found himself all alone in front of Faragher, and buried a rebound into a wide open net for his second goal of the game and a team leading 16th goal of the year.

MSU failed to score the rest of the game, though they created plenty of opportunities but ultimately fell 6-4 to the Huskies.

"We didn't get accomplished what we wanted to accomplish" said Mavs head coach Mike Hastings. "We had quality opportunities that just didn't go our way."

Though MSU came away empty handed this weekend, it was an overall good experience for the team.

"Not a great weekend here for us" said Hastings, "but a phenomenal tournament, first class."

Jean-Paul LaFontaine had two more goals in the game,
bringing his team leading total to 16
Hastings' players agreed. "It was an awesome experience" said LaFontiane, "we like playing these teams and we miss it, so it was a good experience."

Maverick captain Johnny McInnis believes this tournament could rival Boston's annual Beanpot Tournament. The Beanpot is a similar tournament consisting of Boston University, Boston College, Harvard, and Northeastern University, held at the Boston Garden and has been played since 1953.

"It was a great experience" said McInnis, "we have the Beanpot in Boston and this is something that I think could be better and also keeps the in state                                                                                            rivalries going."

Minnesota went on to beat Minnesota-Duluth in an overtime shootout as the first North Star College Cup champions, though the game stands officially as a 4-4 tie.

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