The Free Press, Mankato, MN

November 18, 2013

Mavericks may look back on Gopher series later on

By Shane Frederick sfrederick@mankatofreepress.com
The Mankato Free Press

---- — MINNEAPOLIS — If the Minnesota State men's hockey team finds a way to play deep into March, it might look back at its series against No. 1-ranked Minnesota as a reminder of how tightly games will be played.

"That was a playoff-style first period," Hastings said on Saturday. "I didn't think either team gave the other a lot of opportunities."

Minnesota outshot Minnesota State 7-6 and led 1-0 after the opening period of that game, and it was a back-and-forth battle after that until the Gophers broke the game open with a pair of late goals for the 3-0 win. The teams combined for 27 shots without a goal in the second period.

The Mavericks appear to have the goaltending to make a run. Now if they could just get their stagnant offense going ...

Freshman goaltender Cole Huggins started his second- and third-straight games over the weekend and his fourth in five games. He stopped 26 of 29 shots in Friday's 4-1 loss and 33 of 36 shots on Saturday.

“Cole did a good job again,” Hastings said.

Huggins is now 2-2 with a .939 save percentage and a 1.93 goals-against average to start his college career. Sophomore Stephon Williams did not play against the Gophers.,

As for giving Huggins some goal support, Mavericks captain Johnny McInnis said, “We'll have to work on scoring in practice and build momentum that way.”

Brotherly love

Mike Reilly and Connor Reilly each had a goal for the Gophers on Friday, becoming the first brothers to score goals in the same game for Minnesota since Ryan Potulny and Grant Potulny did it in a game in 2004.

Grant Potulny is now an assistant coach for the Gophers.

The Mavericks were hoping to have a similar situation this season, but senior Josh Nelson's lower-body injury has kept him out for all but the first three games of the season. He remains out indefinitely. His brother, freshman Casey Nelson, has played in every MSU game thus far.

Up next

The Mavericks will travel to Bowling Green this week, returning to WCHA play. They split with the Falcons just a week ago in Mankato.

Bowling Green tied 3-3 and lost 4-2 this past weekend at Ferris State.

The Falcons are in third place in the WCHA with seven points, three points ahead of the Mavericks, who are in a five-way tie for fifth. Ferris State leads the league with 11 points. Bemidji State is in second with nine.

Loose pucks

The Mavericks were 0 for 1 on the power play on Saturday, but their time with the man advantage lasted just 4 seconds. ... The Mavericks were credited for 28 blocked shots in the series. Casey Nelson had seven of them. ... Sophomore defenseman Jon Jutzi leads the Mavericks with 22 blocked shots this season. He had five in the Minnesota series.

Freep stars of the series 1. Justin Kloos, UM: Impressive rookie center had two points, eight shots in series. 2. Cole Huggins, MSU: Goaltender stopped 90.7 percent of Minnesota's shots. 3. Michael Shibrowski, UM: Longtime backup shuts out Mavericks on Saturday.