The Minnesota State University, Mankato men’s hockey team experienced some déjà vu this past weekend when they faced off against the Bowling Green State University Falcons. At BGSU, the Mavericks came away with a series split against the Falcons, just as they had done twice last season.
On Friday night, MSU fell behind early when Tyler Spezia put the Falcons on the board 3:31 into the first period. The Mavs fought back, though, and took control of this game.
Jean-Paul LaFontaine buried a power play tally at the midpoint of the first period with assists going to Casey Nelson and Matt Leitner. Tied at one apiece after the first period, the Mavericks took over in the second period to run away with this one.
Just over a minute into the second period, Nelson tallied his first goal of the season with LaFontaine and Brad McClure recording assists on the play. Maverick leading goal scorer Bryce Gervais added to the lead with two second period goals of his own heading into the third period.
Just 33 seconds into the final period, Spezia struck again with his second of the night to close the gap to 4-2, but the night was highlighted by what came next. Gervais netted his third goal of the game for his first career hat-trick and his team leading seventh goal of the season. Freshman C.J. Franklin recorded assists on all three of Gervais’ goals for the first three-point game of his career.
Maverick goaltender Stephon Williams recorded 17 saves on Friday to secure his fifth win of the season.
On Saturday night, the Falcons fought back to earn a series split and avoid a Maverick sweep. BGSU led after one period of play on a goal by Brett D’Andrea for the only tally of the period. Then in the second period, Franklin would tie the game for MSU on his fourth point of the weekend, assisted by Blake Thompson and LaFontaine. The third period was all Falcons, though.
“They're a good hockey team,” MSU Coach Mike Hastings said. “Their bite was good again. And we had opportunities.”
Spezia would score his third goal of the weekend and the eventual game winner before BGSU sophomore Kevin Dufour added a late empty net goal to seal the game up with a 3-1 win. It was Dufour’s NCAA leading ninth goal of the season.
“Not scoring on the power play was our demise,” Hastings said. “It wasn't good enough. One goal on the road isn't going to get it done.”
Williams made 18 saves on the night, but was credited with the loss, bringing his record to 5-2 on the season.
With the split, the Mavericks move to 5-3 on the season and 3-1 in conference play.
"It was a hard game," Hastings said. "That's what it's going to be in this league. We knew this weekend would be a test."
Next up for MSU is a home series this weekend against a much improved Bemidji State University squad. The Beavers come to town for the two game series which is slated for puck drop at 7:07 p.m. on Friday and Saturday night.