Wyatt Aamodt changed the definition of "using his head" during Saturday's game.

Early in the second period, the Minnesota State University sophomore defenseman twisted and tensed his body as Ferris State forward Jake Transit fired a shot into Aamodt’s shins that caused him to drop to the ice.

Twenty seconds later, Aamodt saw that MSU goalie Dryden McKay was caught out of position during a scramble for the puck, so he dropped to his knees while sliding to his left as Ferris State’s Luke Farthing unleashed a heavy shot toward the open goal.

The puck hit Aamodt in the head, cracking his helmet as his teammates banged their sticks and skates on the boards and let out cheers from the bench at Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center.

Aamodt's quick decision also kept the Bulldogs off the scoreboard and helped the Mavericks preserve another shutout, a 4-0 victory against Ferris State in the opening game of a two-game series.

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Minnesota State Mankato sophomore defenseman Wyatt Aamodt
Minnesota State Mankato sophomore defenseman Wyatt Aamodt

“That’s the good thing about our helmets nowadays, you don’t really feel it too much,” Aamodt said with a laugh. “Maybe a little bit of a headache afterwards, but it’s not too much of a big deal.

“It makes it easier when guys are loud on the bench and everyone’s helping each other out. It wasn’t just me blocking shots tonight by any means at all. … It’s something that’s contagious and can really help our group.”

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Aamodt finished Saturday’s game with six blocked shots to help Minnesota State to its fifth consecutive victory. The Mavericks improved to 8-1-1 overall and 5-0-0 in WCHA play.

MSU coach Mike Hastings called Aamodt’s performance “big time.”

With senior captain Riese Zmolek out of the lineup Saturday — Hastings said Zmolek will miss Sunday’s series finale, then will be evaluated day-to-day next week — Aamodt was pushed up to the top defensive pairing, alongside freshman Jake Livingstone.

“A very impressive showing for Wyatt Aamodt,” Hastings said. “There aren’t too many ways you can show selflessness more than blocking a shot and making sure it doesn’t get to our goaltender.

“Even though Dryden McKay gets credit for that shutout, I think Wyatt Aamodt should get a little bit of that because he was very selfless tonight and giving up of himself to make sure a puck didn’t get to our net.”

Saturday’s game marked just the third home game for the Mavericks in a pandemic-altered season, and it was the first time they played on their home ice since a 1-1 tie against Bemidji State on Dec. 19. The Mavericks and Bulldogs (1-9-0 overall) conclude their two-game series Sunday at 3:07 p.m.

“It was awesome,” Aamodt said of playing at the MCHSEC again. “Like coach said before the game, I think he said it’s been 35 days since we were able to be at home here. It was good for us to get out early and be able to take advantage of using our facilities and our rink here and hop on them right away.”

Minnesota State was never really in danger, dominating the game from the 10-minute mark of the first period through the final buzzer. The Mavericks went 2-for-4 on the power play and outshot the Bulldogs 34-11, including 24-5 through two periods.

Reggie Lutz (one goal, two assists) and Dallas Gerads (one goal, one assist) had multiple-point games, and Walker Duehr and Jake Jaremko each scored their first goals of the season.

McKay needed to make just 11 saves, but the junior from Downers Grove, Ill., recorded his sixth shutout of the season and 20th of his MSU career.

He continues his ascent up the WCHA and NCAA record books, moving into a tie for third place all-time in NCAA history in career shutouts, tying Vermont’s Joe Fallon, who recorded 20 shutouts from 2005-08.

Dryden McKay
Dryden McKay

McKay is also within one shutout of tying the WCHA career record of 21, set by Bemidji State’s Michael Bitzer from 2015-18. Michigan State’s Ryan Miller holds the NCAA record for career shutouts, with 26.

McKay’s six shutouts this season are also the second-most by a Mavericks goalie in a season, matching a mark set by Cole Huggins in 2013-14. McKay is chasing his own program record for shutouts in a season; he had 10 last season.

He’ll go for No. 7 this season and No. 21 in his career at 3:07 p.m. Sunday, as MSU goes for a series sweep.

“I thought we started off a little sluggish,” Hastings said. “We created some offense by pressure that Ferris State put on us. We weren’t possessing a lot of pucks and had eight or nine turnovers in the first 10 minutes. … Hopefully we can continue to talk about our depth as we continue to move on here in the season.”

MINNESOTA STATE 4, FERRIS STATE 0

Ferris State 0 0 0 — 0

Minnesota State 2 2 0 — 4

First period — 1. MSU, Walker Duehr 1 (Akito Hirose 7, Brendan Furry 3) 12:51. 2. MSU, Reggie Lutz 5 (Dallas Gerads 3, Andy Carroll 3) 13:36 (pp). Second period — 3. MSU, Jake Jaremko 1 (Lutz 5, Tony Malinowski 1) 3:16. 4. MSU, Gerads 4 (Lutz 6, Todd Burgess 4) 18:37 (pp). Third period — no scoring.

Shots on goal — FSU 4-1-6—11; MSU 10-14-10—34. Goalies — FSU, Logan Stein (L, 0-3-0; 30 saves); MSU, Dryden McKay (W, 8-1-0; 11 saves). Power-play opportunities — FSU 0-for-3; MSU 2-for-4. Penalties — FSU 4-8 minutes; MSU 3-6 minutes.