The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

November 11, 2013

Rookie goalie Huggins has second strong showing

MANKATO — After freshman Cole Huggins’ shutout performance on Saturday night, the Minnesota State men’s hockey team has a good situation in goal, captain Johnny McInnis said.

“Cole, he battled. There’s not much more you can say for that,” McInnis said after the 1-0 overtime win over Bowling Green. “He’s battled hard since he got here.”

Huggins got his second start and second win, stopping 33 shots. In 162 minutes 20 seconds of action, he’s stopped 80 of 83 shots (.964 save percentage) and has a 1.11 goals-against average.

Sophomore Stephon Williams, meanwhile, is off to a slow start, going 2-4-0 with a .867 save percentage and a 3.40 goals-against average. In Friday’s 4-3 loss, he allowed four goals on 16 shots before being lifted for Huggins.

McInnis said there remains a lot of faith in Williams, last season’s WCHA rookie of the year.

“It’s going to be a healthy relationship (between Williams and Huggins),” McInnis said. “It’s a good problem to have.”

Huggins said he didn’t feel a lot of pressure Saturday, even as Bowling Green freshman Tomas Sholl also had a shutout going at the other end of the ice.

“I always like overtime,” said Huggins, who did not face any shots in overtime.

“If you let up a goal, it’s over, but you can also play great. I wasn’t too nervous; I just tried to play my game. That was a big goal by McInnis.”

Commish pays visit

WCHA Commissioner Bruce McLeod attended Friday's game and said he's pleased with the competitiveness of the revamped conference.

"It's going to be a lot of fun," McLeod said. "I couldn't be happier."

The frustration of the last two years following the departure of eight WCHA teams to the new Big Ten and National Collegiate Hockey Association conference and getting the remaining and new WCHA teams on the same page have passed, he said.

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