Little by little, Minnesota State freshman Sean Flanagan is seeing his responsibilities increase.
“It was hard going into the season, knowing there were 10 defensemen, and everyone’s a good player,” he said. “I’ve stepped in and just tried to do my job. It’s nice getting a little more time. Coach is relying on me more and more.”
When the Mavericks were down a defenseman in the third period Saturday night, Flanagan’s minutes went up, and at 9:07 of the frame, he scored what would stand as the game-winning goal in the 3-2 victory and WCHA series sweep over Bemidji State.
“It’s hard to sweep in this league,” MSU coach Mike Hastings said, “and you’re going to have to have someone make a play and do some special things to get a sweep.”
Flanagan’s goal was a low laser from the right point that zipped through traffic and beat goalie Jesse Wilkins at the left post. Zach Lehrke and Jon Jutzi assisted on the play.
Flanagan has played in 21 of the Mavericks’ 30 games but is the second-leading scorer among defensemen with four goals and 11 points. He also leads the Mavericks in plus-minus at plus-8.
“He’s the old throwback from Saskatchewan,” Hastings said. “He just likes playing the game. Smart. Puts himself in good spots. There’s nothing that really rattles him.”
Before a crowd of 4,089 at the Verizon Wireless Center, the Mavericks were outshot 29-25 but scored two goals during a major penalty in the second period and then kept the Beavers off the board off its own major.
Johnny McInnis and Jean-Paul LaFontaine scored the Mavericks’ goals. Each assisted on the other, and Matt Leitner assisted on both goals as well.
Goaltender Cole Huggins stopped 27 shots for his 13th win of the season. The Mavericks have won three straight.