The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

December 14, 2012

Minnesota State makes it seven in a row

OMAHA, NEB. — Minnesota State gave up a goal on the first shot less than a minute into Friday night’s road game and found itself having to kill off a 5-on-3 power play less than five minutes in.

Sound like the recipe for a streak killer? Apparently not.

“You know what I’ve learned from us so far?” junior forward Johnny McInnis said. “Nothing rattles us.”

Sure enough, the unrattled and 20th-ranked purple Mavericks extended their winning streak to seven games in a row and defeated No. 13 Nebraska Omaha 6-3 in a Western Collegiate Hockey Association game before 6,125 at CenturyLink Center.

McInnis scored two goals and assisted on another, and his linemate, freshman Teddy Blueger, finished with three assists.

Rookies Dylan Margonari, Bryce Gervais and Jon Jutzi also had goals for MSU, as did sophomore Jean-Paul LaFontaine.

Gervais’ short-handed breakaway goal 1:40 into the third period gave MSU a two-goal cushion to defend for the final 18 minutes, while the defenseman Jutzi’s first career goal all but ensured the impressive win streak would continue.

“Our freshmen are not playing like freshmen, and our upperclassmen are playing like seniors,” said McInnis, who now has eight goals. “Go right down the list; nobody gets rattled.”

Omaha’s Matt White scored just 53 seconds into the game, slipping the puck by goalie Stephon Williams (25 saves). And, a few minutes later, when the red Mavericks had 43 seconds of 5-on-3 power-play time, it looked like it might be a long night for the visitors.

But a strong penalty kill settled everything down, and McInnis tied the game off a nice feed from Chase Grant during a power play at 12:11.

“A team like UNO can score in bunches, and we kind of survived,” said MSU coach Mike Hastings, the former Omaha assistant. “I thought it allowed us to be able to exhale a little without being too far behind.”

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