The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

December 2, 2012

MSU Hockey Review: Blueger snaps out of slump for Mavs

MANKATO — After a decent start to his college career, Minnesota State freshman Teddy Blueger had been in a bit of a slump, with just a lone assist over a six-game stretch.

As a result the wingers surrounding the center, Johnny McInnis and Chase Grant, also were kept off the scoreboard.

“That line … they’ve been pressing a little bit,” Mavericks coach Mike Hastings said. “They want to contribute as much as they can, and they really hadn’t been rewarded for some of their work. So for them to come out and make the difference that they did tonight, hopefully it’s a good sign for us and for that line.”

During Minnesota State’s 6-1 victory over Bemidji State on Saturday, which capped a series sweep (the Mavericks won 3-0 on Friday), Blueger assisted on three goals for his first three-point game. The rookie from Latvia set up his two linemates in the process, as each scored a goal.

For McInnis, it was his fifth goal of the season but his first since Nov. 2 at Minnesota.

Grant hadn’t scored since getting a hat trick in the Mavericks’ season-opener on Nov. 12 at Alabama-Huntsville.

“It’s been a frustrating last couple of games,” Blueger said, “because I feel like we’ve played well.”

The trio plays together on the Mavericks’ second power-play unit, and all three of Blueger’s assists came during Bemidji penalties (defenseman Josh Nelson scored the third goal).

“It was nice on the power play,” Blueger said. “Both (McInnis and Grant) were open at the right time. We’ve worked on that a lot in practice. It was nice to see it pay off. …

“It’s huge to have two good (power play) units that can score.”

Blueger now has two goals and six assists for eight points in 14 games. He’s one point behind Dylan Margonari (four goals, five assists) among MSU’s rookies.

It’s been awhile

The Mavericks are on their first four-game winning streak since the 2010-11 season when they won four in a row twice.

However, it’s their first four-game streak in Western Collegiate Hockey Association play since 2007-08 when they won seven in a row, finished in a tie for fourth place that season and hosted a conference playoff series against Minnesota.

Up next

The Mavericks will host Alaska Anchorage on Friday and Saturday at the Verizon Wireless Center.

The Seawolves split at home with St. Cloud State this weekend, falling 4-3 in overtime on Friday and winning 3-1 on Saturday. Anchorage (3-5-4, 1-4-3 in WCHA) led 3-0 in both of those games.

Loose pucks

Matt Leitner extended his point-scoring streak to eight games. He has three goals and nine assists in that stretch. … In the last four games, goalie Stephon Williams is 4-0-0 with a .953 save percentage and a 1.25 goals-against average. … Each team was called for two major penalties and game misconducts on Saturday night. … The Mavericks have won 10 of their last 12 games against Bemidji State.

Freep stars of the series

1. Stephon Williams, G, MSU — Stopped 37 of 38 shots in the series and scored his first career shutout on Friday.

2. Eriah Hayes, F, MSU — The captain’s backwards, between-the-legs pass for a goal on Friday was a thing of beauty.

3. Matt Leitner, F, MSU — Three-point weekend. Zach Lehrke called it “an honor” to play on Leitner’s line.

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