By Shane Frederick
Free Press Staff Writer
MANKATO — A week ago, Mike Hastings was wondering how what he considered to be a talented group of forwards could be kept off the goal-scoring list for an entire weekend.
Today, the Minnesota State men’s hockey coach must be breathing a little easier.
While the Mavericks got two goals from defensemen during their WCHA series split against No. 2 Minnesota over the weekend, they also got five from forwards, including the first goals of the season for veterans Zach Lehrke and Jean-Paul LaFontaine.
Freshman Teddy Blueger scored on Friday, while Lehrke, Johnny McInnis, rookie Dylan Margonari and LaFontaine scored on Saturday.
“We needed our forwards to start contributing,” Hastings said.
LaFontaine, a sophomore who entered the weekend with just one point, ended up with a three-point series. His goal was an empty-netter that sealed Saturday’s win.
Defensemen Zach Palmquist (Friday) and Josh Nelson (Saturday) had the other MSU goals, the first of the season for both players.
McInnis leads the Mavericks with four goals. Blueger and Margonari each have two. Margonari, who scored the game-winning goal with 3:41 to play Saturday, was moved to left wing for the series after playing his first four collegiate games at center.
Perhaps lost in Margonari’s game-winner was the work Max Gaede did to get the puck to his linemate.
Gaede won a battle along the boards against two Gophers players and threw the puck out to Margonari, who came off the bench and raced down the slot.
“Margonari was screaming like a madman,” said Gaede, who had a two-assist series. “I barely had to look. I saw him out of the corner of my eye and threw it out there.”
The Mavericks are 6-4-0 in their last 10 games against Minnesota, including a 3-0 record in the last three games in Mankato and a 4-1 record in the last five meetings here.
Senior goaltender Phil Cook is 3-1 in his four starts against the Gophers. Four of Minnesota’s six goals he allowed this weekend came on the power play.
After his team dropped three games in a row, Hastings sought some good vibes from another team on the Minnesota State campus.
“I had an opportunity to watch our football team play today was hoping some of that would rub off,” he said. “It’s a big win.”
The MSU football team improved to 10-0 on Saturday at Blakeslee Stadium, clinching a share of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference crown with a 27-13 win over Sioux Falls.
Senior defenseman Evan Mosey was a healthy scratch Friday and Saturday, snapping what had been a team-leading 53-game playing streak. … The Mavericks have outscored opponents 12-9 in third periods. … After allowing three power play goals on six chances Friday, the Mavericks allowed just one on six penalty kills Saturday. … Minnesota State is 2-0-1 at home this season.