The injuries, perhaps, finally caught up to the Minnesota State men’s hockey team.
Playing the nation’s third-ranked team with six injured players back in Mankato and another key player hurt in Friday’s series opener, the short-handed Mavericks lost to Denver 10-2 Saturday night at Magness Arena.
The Pioneers broke the game open with a five-goal second period to get the Western Collegiate Hockey Association series sweep.
The last time the Mavericks allowed 10 goals in a game was Feb. 21, 2004, when they lost 10-1 at North Dakota.
Minnesota Wild prospect Jason Zucker, Joey LaLeggia and Shawn Ostrow each finished with two goals for the Pioneers, and five other players had goals. Ostrow added two assists for a four-point game, and David Makowski finished with a goal and three assists. Drew Shore finished with four assists, and Beau Bennett assisted on three goals.
The Pioneers got off to a quick start, scoring two goals — one from Zucker and one from LaLeggia — in the game’s first 5 minutes.
In the second period, Denver did one better than the first, getting three goals in the opening five minutes, including two on Austin Lee (16 saves) before he was pulled in favor of Phil Cook (13 saves).
Ostrow made it 6-0 at the 6:52 mark with a short-handed breakaway goal during a 5-minute major penalty.
The injuries just kept coming for the Mavericks over the weekend. Sophomore forward Chase Grant was lost early in Friday’s game with a lower-body injury and sat out Saturday’s game. Freshman defenseman Brett Stern was knocked out of the game with an upper-body injury on Saturday.
“It’s unreal,” coach Troy Jutting said after Friday’s game, a 4-2 loss. “Five games into the season and we can’t dress a full roster.”
Denver had an 8-0 lead in the third period before the Mavericks finally got on the board.
Freshman forward Jean-Paul LaFontaine scored his second goal of the weekend and his third of the season at 5:19 of the third period. The goal came during a 5-on-3 power play and snapped MSU’s 0 for 25 slump to start the season. Moments later, LaFontaine got an assist on a power-play goal, hitting freshman defenseman Zach Palmquist for the score. Matt Leitner assisted on both goals.
But that effort just stirred up the Pioneers, who scored two more goals before game’s end.
Minnesota State (1-5-0, 0-2-0 in WCHA) is idle next weekend and will be back in action Nov. 4-5 at Michigan Tech.