The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

January 6, 2014

Stepan returns early; Mavs split with Alaska

FAIRBANKS, ALASKA — Zach Stepan crossed 10 time zones to meet up with his Minnesota State men’s hockey teammates in time for Saturday’s game.

Jet lag didn’t seem to bother the freshman at all, as he scored his team’s first goal in what would end up a 6-4 WCHA victory over Alaska.

“He was really excited about getting here to play,” coach Mike Hastings said in a phone interview afterward. “He’s a mentally tough kid. He played a lot of minutes, and he was our best face-off guy tonight. That was a real gutty performance.”

Stepan was in Sweden playing for the U.S. Junior National Team at the World Junior Championships. The Americans were eliminated in the quarterfinals on Thursday. Had they won and kept playing, Stepan would have missed the entire Alaska series and not rejoined the MSU team until today. Instead, he was in Faribanks late Friday following the first game of the Alaska series.

Saturday’s win gave the Mavericks a series split with the Nanooks. Alaska won 4-2 on Friday, snapping the Mavericks’ seven-game winning streak.

Jean-Paul LaFontaine scored two goals and assisted on another on Saturday. He leads the team with 10 goals and 19 points. Chase Grant also and a three-point game with a goal and two assists.

“We’ve needed (Grant),” Hastings said. “Ever since we came back (from break), even in practice, he’s started to assert himself offensively.”

Matt Leitner assisted on two goals.

The fourth-liners even chipped in, as Max Gaede had the game-winner, and freshman Jordan Nelson also scored a goal.

The Mavericks finished 2 for 5 on the power play after getting blanked with the man advantage on Friday. But, more importantly, they scored four 5-on-5 goals. Unlike Friday’s game, in which the Mavericks outshot the Nanooks 38-19, Minnesota State crashed the net and got more pucks past goalie Davis Jones.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Sports

Outdoors
Latest auto racing news
Featured Ads
Shane Frederick's Twitter updates
Chad Courrier's Sports Report
Latest NCAA basketball news
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
NDN Video
Meet Johnny Manziel's New Girlfriend NBA playoff preview: Memphis Grizzlies vs. Oklahoma City Thunder NBA Eastern Conference playoff preview Can Malik Zaire Win the QB Job At Notre Dame? Boise State's Past Points To A Promising Future NFL Draft 2014 Team Needs - Seattle Seahawks NBA playoff previews: Golden State Warriors vs. Los Angeles Clippers Mike Tyson throws out first pitch at PNC Park Jabari Parker declares for the NBA draft NHL playoff preview: New York Rangers vs. Philadelphia Flyers NFL Draft 2014 Team Needs - Philadelphia Eagles Boomer: Chris Johnson signing will work for Jets NHL playoff preview: Los Angeles Kings vs. San Jose Sharks NFL Draft 2014 Team Needs - New England Patriots NFL Draft 2014 Team Needs - Washington Redskins NFL Draft 2014 Team Needs - New Orleans Saints NHL playoff preview: Boston Bruins vs. Detroit Red Wings NHL playoff preview: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Montreal Canadiens NFL Draft 2014 Team Needs - Dallas Cowboys NHL playoff preview: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Columbus Blue Jackets