McKay, Mavericks spoil Minutemen's party
Dryden McKay climbed closer to the NCAA's career shutout record, two veterans scored and Minnesota State received valuable ice time from a handful of newcomers as it knocked off top-ranked and defending national champion UMass on Saturday.
A banner was raised. A building was packed. A party was spoiled.
Dryden McKay and the Minnesota State University men's hockey team let the University of Massachusetts have its fun prior to Saturday night's game.
The Minutemen unveiled their 2021 NCAA national championship banner -- the first in program history -- just prior to the opening faceoff of the 2021-22 season.
After that, Minnesota State had all the fun.
Fifth-year senior Reggie Lutz scored less than a minute into the game. Last season's WCHA Offensive Player of the Year Julian Napravnik added a goal in the final five minutes. And McKay did what he does best — shut out the defending national champions and the No. 1-ranked team in the first poll of this Division I college hockey season.
Minnesota State opened its season by going on the road and beating the Minutemen 2-0 in front of an announced sellout crowd of more than 8,000 fans at the Mullins Center in Amherst, Mass.
The victory was equal parts early season statement and sigh of relief for No. 5-ranked MSU (1-0-0).
McKay recorded the 25th shutout and 76th victory of his standout college career, one shy of tying Ryan Miller (Michigan State) for the NCAA career record.
The Mavericks have 10 new players on the roster this year — the four who joined the program through the NCAA transfer portal were in the lineup Saturday night — and 17 returners who are looking to get rid of the sour taste that still lingers from the last time the Mavericks played a game.
That was back in early April, a 5-4 loss to St. Cloud State in the NCAA semifinals on a last-minute goal by the Huskies, who, coincidentally, come to Mankato next weekend for a two-game non-conference series. That series could mark a second straight week that the Mavericks play the No. 1-ranked team in the national poll.
There was no sign of intimidation or rust for the Mavericks on Saturday.
They limited UMass to one shot on goal in the first period and 18 in the game. McKay stopped them all, and got all the offense he'd need just 55 seconds into the game when Lutz scored the first goal for MSU in its CCHA Era, with assists from Nathan Smith and Cade Borchardt.
MSU coach Mike Hastings has repeatedly praised Smith's level of play down the stretch last season, as well as his work on and off the ice over the summer. Smith, the CCHA's Preseason Player of the Year, delivered on Saturday, assisting on both of MSU's goals.
Napravnik's goal came with 4:10 to play in the third period, after defenseman Benton Maass — who transferred in from New Hampshire in the offseason — fired a heavy point shot that Smith corralled near the net and pushed to Napravnik, who poked it into an open side of the goal.
The Mavericks were also perfect on the penalty kill, shutting down all five of UMass' chances on the man advantage. MSU gave most of its lineup a chance to play on the kill, and received strong shifts from transfers Maass, David Silye (Clarkson) and Josh Groll (Michigan), among others.
The Mavericks will look to sweep the Minutemen in the series finale at 3 p.m. Sunday.
MSU 2, UMASS 0
Minnesota State 1-0-1 — 2
Massachusetts 0-0-0 — 0
First period — 1. MSU, Reggie Lutz 1 (Cade Borchardt 1, Nathan Smith 1) :55 (pp). Second period — no scoring. Third period — 2. MSU, Julian Napravnik 1 (Smith 2, Benton Maass 1) 15:50.
Shots on goal — MSU 6-16-8—30, UMASS 1-7-10—18. Goalies — MSU, Dryden McKay (W, 1-0-0; 18 shots-18 saves); UMASS, Matt Murray (L, 0-1-0; 32 shots-30 saves). Power-play opportunities — MSU 1-for-4; UMASS 0-for-5. Penalties — MSU, 5-10 minutes; UMASS, 4-8 minutes.