“I can't say it was a must win at this time of the year,” Hastings said, “but it was an incredibly important win.”
The battered Mavericks played a full lineup but had no healthy scratches. Then, less than six minutes in to the game, they lost their second-most experienced defenseman and a top penalty killer, Brett Stern, for the game to a checking-from-behind major and game misconducdt.
The Mavericks killed off Stern's five-minute penalty, allowing just two shots to get to Huggins along the way.
“We've faced some adversity so far,” Hastings said, “and I think we needed to have something positive happen so we could feel good about ourselves. I thought the effort was there tonight. Bowling Green is a good hockey team.”
Huggins stopped 12 shots in the first period and 12 more in the second en route to his first career shutout.
“I wasn't too nervous,” he said. “I just tried to play my game.”
Huggins got the start after sophomore Stephon Williams struggled on Friday. He stopped nine shots in the third period and saw none in overtime, as MSU outshot Bowling Green 3-0 in the extra period.
"I think he enjoys playing the position," Hastings said of Huggins. "He's not too high, and he's not too low. As a freshman and as a goaltender, he goes about things the same was as he does everyday in practice. ... Puck have a tendency to stick to him. We really needed a performance like that."
The Mavericks (4-4-0, 2-2-0 in WCHA) will play Friday and Saturday at Minnesota.