Michael Huntebrinker, Brett Stern and Brett Knowles. Not exactly Minnesota State’s murderer’s row when it comes to goal scoring.
But the unlikely trio came up big in the WCHA Final Five title game on Saturday night at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich., leading the Mavericks to a 4-1 victory over Ferris State and their first Broadmoor Trophy championship.
The group, fourth-liners Huntebrinker and Knowles and junior defenseman Stern, came into the game with a combined one goal, by Huntebrinker.
“Sometimes it isn’t about who tucks it behind the goal line, it’s about who allows us to be in a situation like we were tonight,” coach Mike Hastings said, “and those guys have done a tremendous amount of the work.”
The victory improved Minnesota State’s unbeaten streak to 13 games and kept the season alive by clinching the WCHA’s automatic berth into the NCAA tournament, which begins next week.
Goaltender Cole Huggins stopped 25 of 26 shots and was named the Final Five’s Most Outstanding Player. He allowed just one goal in the two-game tournament. Huggins, Stern and forwards Bryce Gervais and Teddy Blueger were named to the all-tournament team.
Blueger, who entered the weekend with just three goals, scored an empty-netter and assisted on two goals.
Playing the conference’s regular-season champion, the Mavericks jumped out to a 2-0 lead with Huntebrinker and Stern scoring first-period goals.
Huntebrinker slipped behind the defense and got a perfect pass from Zach Lehrke to deflect past goaltender C.J. Motte, the WCHA's only Hobey Baker Award finalist, at 9:13. Jean-Paul LaFontaine also assisted on the goal.
At 13:50, Stern scored the third goal of his career. Blueger set him up on a rush, waiting for the defenseman to enter the zone, and Stern fired it over Motte's shoulder, grazing the crossbar and dropping in the net.