MANKATO — Matt Leitner and Eriah Hayes aren’t regular linemates. But when the two Minnesota State forwards get on the power play together, look out.On Saturday, Hayes scored a hat trick of power-play goals, with Leitner assisting on all three, in a 5-1 victory and Western Collegiate Hockey Association weekend sweep over Minnesota Duluth before a crowd of 6,398 at Amsoil Arena.
Hayes had a four-point game and a seven-point series. He now leads the nation with 10 power-play goals. Leitner is second in the country with 20 of his 33 points coming on the power play.
“We knew tonight the power play had to be big and that special teams would be the difference in the game,” Leitner said. “We got a couple of bounces, and (Hayes) is a finisher on the power play. He did a great job. …
“When you play with someone like that it makes it easy. He’s a big, big target, and he gets himself in the right spots to score goals.”
Zach Lehrke and Teddy Blueger scored the other goals for the 11th-ranked Mavericks, and Jean-Paul LaFontaine assisted on two of Hayes’ goals. Goaltender Stephon Williams stopped 34 of 35 shots, including 12 of 13 when Duluth was on the power play.
“If go on the road and win two games that’s a great weekend,” MSU coach Mike Hastings said. “I think it’s incredibly difficult to do this time of the year.”
Minnesota State started the game much like it finished Friday’s series opener when it scored three goals in the third period. On Saturday, the Mavericks scored three goals in the first.
Lehrke got things started with a breakaway goal at 3:47, and late in the period, Blueger and Hayes scored 1:49 apart.
Blueger’s long shot from above the right circle deflected in off a Duluth defenseman’s stick at 16:38. It was his fourth point of the series. And Hayes, who assisted on Blueger’s goal, rammed in a nice cross-crease feed from Leitner with 1:33 remaining in the period.