The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

November 8, 2013

College hockey gameday: Minnesota State vs. Bowling Green

The 18th-ranked Mavericks (3-3-0, 1-1-0 in WCHA) will play their first home conference games of the season when they host the Falcons (4-2-2, 2-0-0). The Mavericks are 3-0-1 in the all-time series against Bowling Green. Minnesota State swept the Falcons in Mankato in 2009-10 and tied and won in Ohio a year earlier. But this weekend marks the teams’ first meetings as conference opponents. The Falcons won their first two WCHA games, sweeping Alaska Anchorage last weekend.

The 5-hole

Five things to know about the matchup:

1. Vets club: The Mavericks have just one senior in the lineup, captain and forward Johnny McInnis (1 goal-3 assists—4 points). He scored his first goal in Saturday’s win over Bemidji State but leads the team with 24 shots on goal. Add the junior class to the mix, and the Mavericks have just three goals from that group of seven players (five forwards and two defensemen). “We need our upperclassmen to step up this weekend,” coach Mike Hastings said. “Offensively, there’s an expectation for those guys to carry us, and I think they have high expectations of themselves.”

2. Second year stars: The sophomore class has been the most productive group for the Mavericks, starting with leading goal scorer Bryce Gervais (3-1—4). Dylan Margonari (2-1—3) and Teddy Blueger (2-1—3) are part of a small group with multiple goals, joined by freshman Jordan Nelson (2-1—3). Goalie Stephon Williams (.882 save percentage, 2.92 goals-against average) saw his 37-game starting streak end on Saturday and is getting pushed by freshman Cole Huggins (.927, 2.52).

3. Leit’s on: Mavericks junior Matt Leitner (0-3—3) returns to the ice after missing last weekend’s series at Bemidji State with a back problem. For his career, Leitner has 79 points in 83 games, which puts him in a tie for 22nd with the great Grant Stevenson on MSU’s Division I-era scoring list. Stevenson put up his total in two seasons (76 games) before turning pro in 2003. One point will put Leitner into the top 20 with Steven Johns (2001-05) and Joel Hanson (2004-08).

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