The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

March 9, 2013

Mavericks clinch home ice for WCHA playoffs

MANKATO — What a way to get home ice.

Brett Knowles with an overtime winner. Stephon Williams with a plethora of highlight-reel saves. A standing-room-only crowd of 5,088.

“I’m assuming that resembles a playoff game,” Minnesota State coach Mike Hastings deadpanned after his team’s 2-1 overtime victory over No. 5 North Dakota at the Verizon Wireless Center.

For the 10th-ranked Mavericks, the win clinched their first WCHA upper-division finish in five years and the fourth since joining the league fulltime in 1999-2000.

The victory also snapped a 10-game losing streak to UND and came in the two teams’ final regular-season meeting as conference foes.

“That was two good teams playing a good hockey game,” said Knowles, a freshman winger who slammed in Jean-Paul LaFontaine’s pass behind goalie Zane Gothberg at 3:22 of the extra period. “That was one of the funnest games I’ve played in in my life. The crowd was unreal.”

The Mavericks (22-11-3, 16-11-1 in WCHA) finished the regular season in a tie for fourth place in the WCHA after back-to-back 11th-place finishes. They also set a Division I-era record for wins.

“It’s great for our community, great for our team, great for our school,” senior defenseman Tyler Elbrecht said. “It’s great for everybody. We’re where we want to be. But there’s still a lot to accomplish.”

Minnesota State will be either the fourth or sixth seed in the first round of the conference tournament, depending on the outcome of today’s game between Denver and Alaska Anchorage, and will host either Minnesota Duluth or Nebraska Omaha.

“It’s huge for us,” said Williams, who all but locked up the WCHA’s goaltending title with a 1.93 goals-against average in league play. “We accomplished one of the goals we set at the beginning of the season. But we’re not satisfied. We’ve still got the playoffs.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Sports
Outdoors

Latest auto racing news
Featured Ads
Live Moondogs coverage
Shane Frederick's Twitter updates
Chad Courrier's Sports Report
Latest NCAA basketball news
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
NDN Video
Denver Broncos Owner Pat Bowlen Resigns Control Sterling says he's not trying to block Clippers sale Jack White's Cub Face Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Eli, Giants learning new offense How Emmanuel Mudiay Ended Up in China Selig: MLB 'more popular today than ever' Boy With Life-Threatening Tumor Gets Wish To Visit PNC Park, Meet Cutch Longhorns Coach Disses Texas With Compliment - @TheBuzzeronFOX James Rodriguez Joins Real Madrid Kluwe: How can Tony Dungy advocate felons, not Michael Sam Tony Dungy Weighs in on Michael Sam Bowlsby talks cheating in NCAA Clay Travis On Mettenberger Punch & "Dumbest Fanbase" - @TheBuzzeronFOX Morosi: Lee could be a tough sell Dareus fails conditioning test, Watkins lifts spirits English Captain Steven Gerrard Retires From International Soccer - @TheBuzzeronFOX How Will Wiggins Deal Impact Potential Love Trade? McIlroy wins British Open, Tiger finishes 69th 105-year-old woman throws first pitch