The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

March 2, 2013

Mavericks bounce back, crush Tigers

COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO. — Colorado College set up camp in its penalty box on Saturday night, and the Minnesota State men’s hockey team finally plugged in its power cord.

A night after being shut out with the man advantage, the Mavericks rebounded from their WCHA series-opening loss with a 7-2 victory over the Tigers at the World Arena in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The Mavericks scored five second-period goals, including three power-play goals in the period’s final 63 seconds during a major penalty on the Tigers

“Matt Leitner was very good, and guys we haven’t had step up in awhile really stepped up,” coach Mike Hastings said in a phone interview afterward.

Leitner had a hat trick, and Josh Nelson had a goal and three assists.

Brett Knowles, Zach Lehrke and Johnny McInnis scored MSU’s other goals.

In all, the game had 81 penalty minutes, including 55 charged to Colorado College, which was called for three five-minute majors.

“Our power play wasn’t very good early,” Hastings said.

Finally, on the third major, which came late in the second period, MSU scored three times.

Leitner, the Mavericks’ leading scorer, scored two of them. He now has 15 goals and 40 points on the year. Minnesota State hasn’t had a 40-point scorer since 2005-06 when David Backes and Travis Morin each finished 42 points.

Nelson had the other goal in the rally.

After a scoreless first period, Knowles and Leitner gave MSU a 2-0 lead in the second. CC’s Rylan Schwartz made it 2-1 with 2:46 remaining in the period before the Mavericks rallied.

Lehrke and McInnis gave the Mavericks a 7-1 cushion in the third period.

Minnesota State finished 4 for 13 on the power play. Colorado College was 1 for 8.

The Mavericks outshot the Tigers 45-28. Stephon Williams stopped 28 shots. Joe Howe took the loss with 29 saves before being lifted from the game after two periods.

The Mavericks tied their Division I-era record with their 21st win of the season. They also moved into a tie for fourth place in the WCHA standings.

“The WCHA is so tight,” Hastings said. “There are a lot of good hockey teams. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing the first-place team or the 12th, every night is going to be a battle. There’s such a fine line between winning and losing. It’s about somebody making a play on the offensive side or defensively.”

Minnesota State (21-10-3, 15-10-1 in WCHA) will close out the regular seson Friday and Saturday at home against North Dakota.

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