DULUTH — In its first real test as the No. 1 team in the nation, the Minnesota State men’s hockey team aced its exam Friday night.
As the Duluth area prepared for a Thanksgiving weekend blizzard, the Mavericks barraged No. 8 Minnesota Duluth in the second period, scoring three goals en route to a 4-1 nonconference victory at before a crowd of 5,494 at Amsoil Arena.
The win was the sixth in a row for the Mavericks.
“It’s always a great test when you go out of conference,” said Minnesota State senior forward Parker Tuomie, who had a goal and assist. “Those are the types of games you want to play because you have a chance to play teams like that at the end stage. It was a good test, and we were able to convert.”
Marc Michaelis also had a goal and an assist for the Mavericks. Josh French and Nathan Smith scored the other goals, and Connor Mackey had two assists. Minnesota State goaltender Dryden McKay made 27 saves for his 10th victory of the season.
Through the scoreless first period, the game looked like it would be a typical one between the in-state rivals — close and low-scoring. In their previous seven meetings as nonconference opponents, four went to overtime.
McKay stopped 10 shots in the opening 20 minutes, and Minnesota Duluth’s Hunter Shepard stopped 13.
“The first period was a little bit of give and take at both ends,” Mavericks coach Mike Hastings said. “There were some good chances both ways, and I thought both teams were kind of feeling each other out. In that situation, you want to try to get the first goal, especially on the road in their building.”
Minnesota State did that 4 1/2 minutes into the second period.
The Mavericks got some momentum from an unsuccessful power play early in the frame, and then scored a “slippery” goal when Michaelis went to the net and tapped in a pass from Tuomie who was behind the goal line.
“Coach came in (between periods), and it was pretty clear we had to go back to our game plan and play our type hockey,” Tuomie said.
A little more than five minute later, the Mavericks cashed in on a power play as Tuomie made it 2-0 with a snipe over Shepard’s glove from the left circle. Michaelis made the cross-ice pass from the wall to set up the goal.
French put the Mavericks up 3-0 at 14:13. He fired past Shepard, who did not have his stick, after collecting the rebound of a shot by Ryan Sandelin. Sandelin, a MSU freshman, is the son of UMD coach Scott Sandelin.
“That was a big goal at the end of the second period,” Sandelin said, “because (the Bulldogs) were making a pretty good push.”
It was the first goal of the season for French, a senior center.
“He’s been playing well,” Hastings said. “We’ve talked about trying to be more aggressive with the puck and shooting pucks, and he didn’t let that one stay on his stick very long.”
The Mavericks killed off an early penalty at the beginning of the third period, and Smith gave them some insurance with a 5-on-3 power play goal at 3:35, shooting in a cross-crease pass from Jake Jaremko to make it 4-0.
The Bulldogs finally got on the board with 10:40 remaining in the game, ending McKay’s shutout bid when Kobe Roth scored a power-play goal.
“They’re a good hockey team,” Bulldogs coach Scott Sandelin said. “It was like men amongst boys for awhile. I thought our first period was all right, and after that in the second period, they took over the game.”
Notes: Mavericks defenseman Riese Zmolek returned to the lineup after missing last Saturday’s game with an injury. ... The Mavericks outshot the Bulldogs 30-28. ... The Mavericks (11-1-1) and Bulldogs will play again at 7:07 p.m. today. UMD officials said Friday that the game is scheduled to go on as normal despite the winter storm.