If all that was on the line was a championship, there’s little doubt that Huggins would have been on the bench for the final moments.
But Hastings, too, was concerned about the implications of an empty-net goal against his team. The Mavericks are a bubble team in the Pairwise Rankings, which determine the NCAA tournament field. While the tie kept them at 17th and a win would have bumped them up to 15th, a loss would have dropped them to 19th.
“It’s important not to lose hockey games this time of year,” Hastings said.
One could argue that such a tenuous position means MSU’s only realistic chance to get to nationals is to win the WCHA tournament, so forget the Pairwise and go for the win.
I’d say that it’s too bad that the heavy weight of the Pairwise Rankings put the Mavericks into that position to consider some quick calculations during a minute-long timeout.
The rankings were created to give a transparent view at the selection process, and it’s very black and white. A win is a win, a loss is a loss and a tie is a tie. For the most part, that’s a good thing.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a voice of reason on a committee who could say, “That loss should be looked at as a tie because that team was trying to win a conference title.”?
The Mavericks controlled the pace in overtime Saturday and outshot the Huskies 3-1.
Hastings and Pearson didn’t necessarily play not to lose. But they weren’t going to lose that way.
Perhaps both of them should have pulled their goalies.
Shane Frederick is a Free Press staff writer. Read his blog at mankatofreepresshockey.blogspot.com and follow him on Twitter @puckato.