MANKATO — A lot of folks stayed away from the Verizon Wireless Center on Saturday night, content to watch the Minnesota Vikings in their NFL playoff game against the rival Green Bay Packers.
The crowd at the downtown arena was announced at a season-low of 2,475 people, but those fans saw a red-hot Minnesota State men’s hockey team continue to roll. The 14th-ranked Mavericks defeated Providence 4-0 for their fourth win in a row and their 11th victory in 12 games.
Minnesota State (14-6-2) also finished its nonconference schedule unbeaten at 6-0-2 and is now starting to peek at the Pairwise Rankings, which determine the NCAA tournament brackets at the end of the season. After the series sweep the Mavericks moved up to No. 12 in that field at the conclusion of their game.
“It was really good, especially with Providence being a contender,” said senior defenseman Evan Mosey, one of four goal scorers for the Mavericks.
Bryce Gervais, Matt Leitner and Eriah Hayes scored MSU’s other goals. Zach Palmquist and Zach Lehrke each had two assists.
Rookie goaltender Stephon Williams won his 11th game and recorded his third shutout, stopping 24 shots. He saw just six pucks in the third period, as Minnesota State clamped down defensively with a 2-0 lead through two periods.
“I thought we got back to playing a complete game,” MSU coach Mike Hastings said. “And the guys were playing for each other. They did a lot of little things that way, like chipping off the wall and blocking shots.”
The Mavericks grabbed a 1-0 lead on Gervais’ goal with 4:02 left in the first period.
After some hard work behind the goal by fellow fourth liners Taylor Herndon and Max Gaede, Gaede attempted a wrap-around shot and the puck squirted out to the right side of the crease where Geravis popped it in.