On paper, the Minnesota State men’s hockey team’s series against Bowling Green pitted one of the nation’s best offenses against one of its best defenses.
The Falcons entered the series averaging 4.0 goals per game, while MSU was only surrendering 1.25 goals.
Something had to give.
In a series with massive implications on the WCHA standings, MSU put the clamps on Bowling Green, completing the sweep of the Falcons with a 5-1 victory Saturday at the Mayo Clinic Health Systems Event Center.
The Mavericks only allowed one goal all weekend after getting a 4-0 win Friday night.
“We just defended them early and kept them to the outside. We ate a lot of pucks on the weekend. (Dryden McKay) obviously stood on his head when he had to, made a lot of big saves,” MSU forward Reggie Lutz said. “When they did have some offensive zone time, we just kind of weathered the storm.”
McKay made 20 saves in the game, but the Mavericks also blocked 20 shots. On the weekend, the Mavericks blocked 37 shots, while the Falcons blocked 24.
Shots on goal favored the Mavericks 30-21.
“When you come here and play for the Mavericks, it’s ‘we before me,’ and blocking a shot is a selfless thing to do,” Lutz said. “I think it’s just a buy-in from the leadership group on down.”
Despite the Falcons getting the better of things early in the first period, Shane McMahan got MSU on the board at 4:56 with his first goal in two seasons. His wrist shot beat Falcons’ goalie Zack Rose high blocker, hitting the pipe before eventually going in.
The key stretch came in the second for MSU, when it scored three times in less than three minutes.
At 16:45, just after stepping out of the penalty box, Ryan Sandelin fired a wrist shot past Rose. About a minute later, Nathan Smith slid a nifty pass to Jared Spooner from below the goal line for an easy tap in.
Then at 19:37, Lutz scored MSU’s third goal after receiving a perfect backhand pass from Jake Jaremko.
Lutz added another goal three minutes into the third, completing a nice bounce back after receiving a game misconduct for spearing in the second period Friday night.
“It’s good to see him get back to doing what he does, which is score goals,” MSU coach Mike Hastings said. “I like Reggie Lutz right now. He’s been an every-dayer for us all year long, so it's good to have him have some success on the sheet.”
With just under 30 seconds remaining in the game, the Falcons’ Will Cullen checked Spooner from behind hard into the boards, and a massive scrum ensued.
For Bowling Green, Cullen, along with Sam Craggs were disqualified, as was MSU’s Riese Zmolek. Those three will miss at least one game.
“It’s not good. We’ve got to protect players, so hopefully (discipline) happens,” Hastings said.
Although Spooner got up fairly quickly and left the ice under his own power, Hastings added that Spooner’s condition was “not very good.”
The Mavericks (11-2-1, 8-0) start a WCHA series Thursday at Alabama-Huntsville.
Follow Kevin Dudley on Twitter @Dudley7Kevin.