MADISON, WIS. — There haven’t been too many seasons that you could say the Minnesota State men’s hockey team had more talent than Wisconsin. But that’s seems to be the case right now.The Mavericks’ playmakers came through again on Saturday in a 4-2 victory to complete MSU’s first-ever Western Collegiate Hockey Association sweep in the Kohl Center.
Senior captain Eriah Hayes scored two power-play goals, and sophomore center Matt Leitner had a goal and two assists for an impressive five-point weekend against the one-win Badgers.
“Coach (Mike Hastings) told us before the weekend that he was going to be hard on the guys who need to be the leaders of the team,” said Hayes, who scored three times in the series. “Matt Leitner was lights out all weekend; he really got us started both nights.”
Leitner came into the series averaging a point per game but said that wasn’t good enough. Those totals included “second assists on power play goals,” he said, not enough to make the impact he needs to make.
“I wasn’t creating offense like I’m capable of doing,” said Leitner, who now has 15 points (three goals, 12 assists) in 12 games. “I wasn’t playing defense. Coach let me know what he expects of me, and I knew it. It’s something I’ve been working on.”
As they did in Friday’s 4-2 victory, Leitner’s line had the game’s first score. On Saturday, Leitner got the goal, with Dylan Margonari and Zach Lehrke assisting at the 4:38 mark of the first period.
“Matt Leitner, I thought, was exceptional all weekend,” Hastings said. “He made an impact on both games. He’s been a little peak and valley for us at times. … I thought he really stepped up as a sophomore tonight and really took it on himself.”