By Shane Frederick
---- — Mike Hastings described the game as “playoff style,” and with one weekend remaining in the regular season, that was a good thing for his Minnesota State men's hockey team.
The Mavericks defeated Lake Superior State 4-3 on Saturday, holding on to earn the WCHA series sweep at Sault Ste Marie, Mich. It was the seventh victory in a row for MSU (the second time they've done that this season) but just its second road sweep of the year.
“You talk about our leadership, and Johnny McInnis stepped up,” Hastings said in a phone interview after the game.
McInnis, MSU's senior captain, scored two goals, including his sixth game-winner of the season. Another senior, Zach Lehrke, also scored, as did sophomore Bryce Gervais. Junior defenseman Zach Palmquist had two assists, and freshman goalie Cole Huggins stopped 27 shots.
The Mavericks outshot the Lakers 40-30.
The Mavericks fell behind 1-0 at 7:52 of the first period, giving up their first goal in four games.
Colin Campbell's goal ended MSU's shutout stretch of 206 minutes, 2 seconds.
“They came out and punched us right in the nose,” Hastings said. “They're good hockey players; they have a lot of pride. They came right after us, and we kind of survived.”
McInnis tied the game 65 seconds into the second period, getting assists from Teddy Blueger and Palmquist.
Kevin Czuczman gave the Lakers the lead again on the power play at 3:33 of the second, but Gervais and Lehrke (power play) helped the Mavericks take their first lead of the game into the third period.
McInnis made it 4-2 at 2:56 of the third. That proved to be a necessary cushion, as Lake Superior's Alex Globke added a power-play goal 61 seconds later.
The Mavericks (21-13-0, 18-7-0 in WCHA) moved into a tie for first place in the league standings, at least briefly. Ferris State lost to Alaska late Friday, and Saturday's game between those teams was not completed at The Free Press' deadline. Minnesota State will close out the regular season at home Friday and Saturday against Michigan Tech.