The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

March 8, 2014

MSU hockey comes up a point short

Minnesota State finishes second in WCHA

Minnesota State went to overtime to try to clinch its first WCHA championship on Saturday night, and the league’s preseason favorite came up one point short in the standings on the final day of the regular season.

The Mavericks tied a tough, shot-blocking Michigan Tech team 1-1 before a crowd of 4,012 at the Verizon Wireless Center.

“It hurts, but it didn’t end our season,” MSU coach Mike Hastings said.

It was an anticlimactic result for both teams, as Minnesota State missed out on the MacNaughton Cup, and the Huskies missed out on home ice for the first round of next week’s conference playoffs — also by one point.

Ferris State clinched the outright championship with a 2-1 victory over Lake Superior State in Big Rapids, Mich.

Minnesota State (22-13-1, 20-7-1 in WCHA) will be the second seed for the tournament and will play either Northern Michigan or Alaska Anchorage next weekend.

“Our season’s not done; we’ve got a lot to look forward to with the playoffs,” said sophomore Bryce Gervais, who scored the Mavericks’ goal. “We’ve got to gear up for next week.”

The tie ended the Mavericks’ winning streak at eight games, although MSU extended its unbeaten streak to nine.

“We got ourselves in a position where you gotta win nine in a row to win a league championship. You’re asking to go to the well quite often. To finish 8-0-1, it gave us a chance.”

Like Friday night, the Mavericks had trouble getting through the Michigan Tech defense and goalie Pheonix Copley.

Copley stopped 25 shots, and his defense blocked 25 of the Mavericks’ shot attempts.

Gervais finally broke through at 7:09 of the third period, tying the game. Getting a pass from Sean Flanagan, Gervais reached back to catch the puck and ripped it past Copley from between the circles. Chase Grant also assisted on the goal.

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