The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

March 15, 2013

Minnesota State opens WCHA playoffs with OT win

MANKATO — Chase Grant hadn’t scored a goal since early January, but the Minnesota State men’s hockey sophomore hasn’t been deterred.In overtime of Friday’s Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoff game against Nebraska Omaha, Grant was a little gassed and considered going off the ice for a change. But he saw a play developing.

“I saw the 3 on 2, and I wanted it,” he said.

And he got it, giving MSU a 4-3 victory and a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series.

Jean-Paul LaFontaine set up Grant, who joined the play late, with his third point of the game, and Tyler Elbrecht also assisted. Grant fired from the high slot, beating goalie John Faulkner at 7:04 of overtime.

“It was a great pass from Jean-Paul,” Grant said. “He drew the (defenseman), and I had all the time and space I needed. I was fortunate to put it past (Faulkner).”

It was Grant’s first goal since an overtime score against Providence on Jan. 4 and certainly the biggest of his college career.

“He’s been playing really well over the last three or four weeks,” MSU coach Mike Hastings said. “And if you’re doing all the right things, good things are going to follow you. … He has never stopped pushing, and it was great to see him finish.”

The goal made up for a tentative start for No. 10 Minnesota State (23-11-2), which was playing its first home playoff game since 2008.

Before a surprisingly small crowd of just 2,855 at Verizon Wireless Center, Omaha took advantage with an early 1-0 lead and a 3-2 advantage after two periods.

“I didn’t think that we played with the same edge that we had last weekend, and I blame myself for that,” Hastings said. “Coming off a big weekend like we did, Human nature is you’re going to be a little satisfied, and I should have done a better job of making sure we were aware of that.”

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