MANKATO — It took a little while to get going, but the ninth-ranked Minnesota State men’s hockey finally got to put on a show for a home crowd.
“We’ve got a good thing going here,” said forward Johnny McInnis, who had the game-winning goal and an assist in Friday night’s 4-2 victory over Michigan Tech.
Before an audience of 3,591, the Mavericks won their third game in a row and their 19th of the season but their first at the Verizon Wireless Center since Jan. 5.
They overcame an early major penalty and 1-0 deficit and got timely goals by their two red-hot players, Eriah Hayes and Matt Leitner.
“We controlled the momentum,” said McInnis, who now has five game-winners. “I think we do a good job of that.”
The Mavericks got off to a shaky start as Max Gaede was called for a major boarding penalty less than two minutes into the game. Alex Petan took advantage and put Michigan Tech up 1-0 at the 4:35 mark.
“I think we survived, giving one up and not giving two up,” coach Mike Hastings said. “We had some pushback.”
Minnesota State’s Dylan Margonari tied the game with a power-play goal at 13:41, and then the Mavericks started to heat up.
Hayes continued to display impressive effort that is sure to get him all-conference honors and gave the Mavericks their first lead of the game just 67 seconds into the middle period.
The senior got stuffed on a wrap-around attempt but then chased down his own rebound above the circles and fired a low laser shot behind goalie Pheonix Copley. It was Hayes’ team-leading 17th goal of the season.
“I think he’s learning to take some of his attributes and use them more often,” Hastings said of the 6-foot-4 right winger. “He’s using that big body to get second and third opportunities, and he had some traffic in front.”