Fourth-line center helps top-ranked Mavericks beat Sun Devils, 4-2
Ondrej Pavel picks up game-winning goal in second period for MSU-Mankato in nonconference win over Arizona State
MANKATO, Minn. — Asked earlier this week about the roles of top-six and bottom-six forwards for Minnesota State, sophomore center David Silye, the hero of Hockey Day Minnesota, said there is little that distinguishes the Mavericks’ lines from one another.
Silye, a third-line center, had a hat trick on Hockey Day. Back indoors on Friday against nonconference foe Arizona State, it was a fourth-line center, Ondrej Pavel, who continued his ascendance for the nation’s No. 1 team, scoring a highlight-reel goal and assisting on another score.
“When we roll four lines, we wear teams down,” said senior forward Reggie Lutz, who also had a goal. “Pavel had a great goal and an awesome assist that really gave us the win.”
Pavel, a 6-foot-2, 202-pound sophomore center from Prague, Czech Republic, showed off his muscle and moxie to score what would stand as the game-winning goal early in the second period of the Mavericks’ 4-2 victory over the Sun Devils.
Using his big frame, Pavel bullied his way to a “big-time goal,” as coach Mike Hastings described it. With ASU defenseman Jacob Wilson grabbing his left arm to try to prevent a breakaway, Pavel kept on skating and found a way to flip the puck under the crossbar with only one hand on his stick.
“I was kind of shocked that he was able to chip it up and in,” Lutz said. “You don’t see that very often. But nobody deserves it more than him. … He comes to work everyday in practice and is such a hard worker.”
“The appreciation I have, and his teammates have, for (Pavel), I can’t say enough,” he said, citing Pavel’s stellar work on the penalty kill and in the faceoff circle and growing confidence as an offensive player. “He’s hard and heavy, and as the season progresses, that’s what you need.”
Pavel now has seven goals and six assists.
After playing outdoors on snow-covered Blakeslee Stadium on Hockey Day, Minnesota State (24-5-0) enjoyed the perfect ice of its home arena, getting goals from Pavel, Lutz, Andy Carroll and Julian Napravnik in front of a crowd of 4,332.
National scoring leader Nathan Smith had two assists to give him 40 points in 27 games. Goaltender Dryden McKay picked up his 99th career win, tying for third all-time in NCAA Division I men’s hockey, stopping 24 shots.
The Mavericks didn’t get off to a good start, trailing 1-0 just 61 seconds in when the Sun Devils’ Matthew Kopperud scored on the game’s first shot, beating McKay off a beautiful behind-the-net pass from Eden Prairie native Jack Jensen.
Carroll tied the game at 8:06. It was the first goal of the season for the senior defenseman, who skated down the slot and buried a perfect behind-the-goal-line feed from Pavel.
Lutz made it 2-0 70 seconds into the second period with a power-play blast from the right circle. Lutz, a super-senior, was playing in his 159th career game but his first since Dec. 30 when he was injured against Minnesota Duluth. He missed seven games, including Hockey Day.
“We were pretty patient with his rehab,” Hastings said. “He did a lot of work over the last month to come out and play. Obviously, he made an impact on the game.”
Said Lutz: “It was a little disappointing (missing Hockey Day), but there’s nothing I could do. I couldn’t force myself and have a setback for the rest of the season.”
Pavel’s power move came at 5:37, and Napravnik all but put the game out of reach early in the third period before Kopperud scored his second goal of the game for the Sun Devils to make it 4-2 with 5:53 to play. Jensen picked up his second assist of the game on the play.
The Mavericks played without senior defenseman and captain Wyat Aamodt. Hastings said Aamodt is “day to day” with an injury and didn’t have a status update for Saturday’s rematch.
The Mavericks and Sun Devils (15-13-0) play again at 6:07 p.m. Saturday in Mankato.
MSU-Mankato 4, Arizona State 2
Arizona State 1-0-1—2
Minnesota State 1-2-1—4
First period scoring — 1. ASU, Kopperud 15 (Jensen 6, Theocharidis 10) 1:01; 2. MSU-Carroll 1 (Pavel 6, Krajnik 6) 8:06. Penalties — Szmagaj, ASU (interference) 13:25.
Second period scoring — 3. MSU, Lutz 9 (Smith 24, Maass 9) 1:10; 4. MSU, Pavel 7 (Livingston 15, Hirose 16) 5:37. Penalties — Wilson, ASU (tripping) :15; Wilson, ASU (holding) 5:37; Livingstone, MSU (roughing) 9:50; Murchison, ASU (holding) 15:32.
Third period scoring: 5. MSU, Napravnik 13 (Smith 25) 3:09; 6. ASU, Kopperud 16 (Dhooghe 7, Jensen 7) 14:07. Penalties — Furry, MSU (hooking) :32; Smith, MSU (kneeing) 7:27; Kopperud, ASU (roughing) 18:59; Lovell, ASU (roughing) 18:59; Morton, MSU (roughing) 18:59; Furry, MSU (roughing) 18:59; Smith, MSU (kneeing) 19:51.
Shots on goal — ASU 4-10-12—26; MSU 9-14-10—33.
Penalties-minutes — ASU 6-12; MSU 6-12.
Power-play goals, opportunities — ASU 0-4; MSU 1-4.
Goalie saves — ASU Craws 8-12-9—29 (4 GA); MSU McKay 3-10-11—24 (2 GA).
Attendance — 4,332.