Minnesota State 'on the same page' in bounce-back win over Northern Michigan
The No. 8 Mavericks bounced back from a rare home loss on Friday and defeated Northern Michigan 4-1 for a CCHA series split. In a game that got bogged down by a bunch of penalties, Minnesota State kept the energy up by scoring three timely power-play goals and holding the Wildcats to one.
MANKATO, Minn. — Keenan Rancier saw a bit of a different team in front of him on Saturday night compared to the one that he saw on Friday.
“All five guys on the same page,” the Minnesota State sophomore goaltender said. “They did an incredible job executing plays.”
The No. 8 Mavericks bounced back from a rare home loss on Friday and defeated Northern Michigan 4-1 for a CCHA series split. In a game that got bogged down by a bunch of penalties — 16 minors in all, 13 in the first two periods — Minnesota State kept the energy up in the Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center by scoring three timely power-play goals and holding the Wildcats to one.
In the series opener, Rancier nearly stole a win — stopping 32 shots — including 2 of 3 short-handed breakaways. He had to be on alert for a few more short-handed chances by the Wildcats, too, as the game got a little too loose for the Mavericks’ liking. There was none of that on Saturday, however, as the Mavericks controlled the game during all seven of their power-play opportunities and held the visitors to just 20 shots on goal.
“You always want to defend your home ice,” said Rancier, who made 10 of his 19 saves during Northern Michigan’s five power plays, for his fourth win of the season. “You always want to put on a show for the fans. Last night was a little disappointing, but we came back with a really good effort tonight.”
Before a crowd of 4,562, the Mavericks’ veteran skaters led the way offensively. Forwards David Silye and Cade Borchardt and defenseman Jake Livingstone each had a goal and an assist. Defenseman Akito Hirose assisted on two goals, and Ryan Sandelin added a late empty-net goal.
“We needed them to make an impact on the game tonight in a positive way,” Mavericks coach Mike Hastings said, “offensively, but they did it defensively also.”
Minnesota State’s loss on Friday was just the sixth on their home ice since the beginning of the 2018-19 season.
“I thought it was a good response by our group,” Hastings said. “Last night we were not as sharp as we needed to be on special teams, especially our power play. We gave up a lot last night. I thought our group did a really good job of making an adjustment and then going out and making an impact on the game.”
The Mavericks (8-4, 5-1 in CCHA) and Wildcats traded power-play goals in the first period. Silye scored his ninth goal of the season at 2:47, getting assists from Borchardt and Hirose, to give the Mavericks the early lead. David Keefer answered for Northern Michigan at 8:34.
Seven penalties were called in the first period, and six more infractions were whistled in the second. Again, Minnesota State cashed in early, however, as Livingstone, open in the left circle, blasted a cross-ice pass from Christian Fitzgerald past goalie Beni Halasz (21 saves) at 3:07. Hirose picked up his second assist on the play.
In the third, another early period power play resulted in another early Minnesota State goal, as Borchardt tapped in a perfect Livingstone pass to the right post for a 3-1 lead. Silye also assisted; he and Livingstone now have 13 points apiece, which lead the Mavericks in scoring.
“Jake Livingstone played one of his best overall games,” Hastings said of the junior all-conference defenseman, “with the puck, without the puck. He ate a lot of pucks on the penalty kill. … He’s a guy who’s going to be in every situation for us.”
Northern Michigan won Friday’s game 3-2 in overtime with CCHA leading scorer AJ Vanderbeck scoring two goals, including the short-handed goal and the power-play game-winner. The Mavericks not only held him scoreless on Saturday but limited him to just two shots on goal.
“It was an all-around effort,” Hastings said, “with different guys making plays at different times.”
The Mavericks will travel to Michigan Tech for a CCHA series on Friday and Saturday. Northern Michigan (9-7, 5-3) is idle next weekend.