The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

January 18, 2014

Mavs find scoring touch in win over No. 2 Ferris State

MANKATO — The Minnesota State men's hockey team rediscovered its scoring touch on Friday night.

Apparently, it had left it back in Mankato where it was preserved and waiting for the top team in the WCHA.

The Mavericks, who mustered just two goals in their last series at Alaska Anchorage, scored them early and often against No. 2-ranked Ferris State and the conference's best goaltender, winning 6-2 before an energetic crowd of 3,635 at the Verizon Wireless Center.

Matt Leitner had two goals and an assist, and Johnny McInnis also scored twice. Zach Lehrke had a goal and two assists, and Jean-Paul LaFontaine finished with a goal and an assist.

"They started going in, and it became contagious," Leitner said.

MSU freshman goaltender Cole Huggins out-dueled C.J. Motte, stopping 29 shots in the first meeting of the top two teams in the WCHA's preseason polls.

Minnesota State was the consensus pick to win the conference back in October, but Ferris State started running way with the league title. Friday's loss was the Bulldogs' first in league play. It was also the first time they had allowed more than four goals in a game this year.

"We've stuck together as a family," Leitner said. "We're as good as anybody, and we know that. We can hang with anybody and do all the things we need to do to be successful in this league."

The win moved the Mavericks (13-10-0, 11-6-0) back into second place in the WCHA standings, although they remain four points behind Ferris State (17-4-3, 12-1-2) going into Saturday night's series finale.

"I think it's important to understand we want to play well at home. We have to play well at home," MSU coach Mike Hastings said. "Tonight was a step in the right direction."

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