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Minnesota State cruises to another MacNaughton Cup title

Minnesota State kept the 109-year-old silver trophy in the comforts of its own home by winning the CCHA regular season championship on Saturday with a 5-1 victory over Bemidji State.

Minnesota State players celebrate with the MacNaughton Cup after beating Bemidji State to secure the CCHA regular season title Saturday, Feb. 19, 2022 in Mankato, Minn.
Minnesota State players celebrate with the MacNaughton Cup after beating Bemidji State to secure the CCHA regular season title Saturday, Feb. 19, 2022 in Mankato, Minn.
David Faulkner / SFX Media

MANKATO, Minn. — The conference may have changed, but the MacNaughton Cup’s resting place remains firmly in place.

Minnesota State kept the 109-year-old silver trophy in the comforts of its own home, where it’s been since 2018, by winning the CCHA regular season championship on Saturday, Feb. 19 with a 5-1 victory over Bemidji State.

"What a great day to be a Maverick!" CCHA Commissioner Don Lucia said before presenting the Cup to MSU captain Wyatt Aamodt in front of a sold-out Mayo Health System Event Center crowd of 5,130.

It was the fifth consecutive conference championship for the No. 1-ranked Mavericks – the first in the CCHA after four straight titles in the WCHA. Minnesota State has now won seven of the last eight Cups, including one co-championship, dating back to 2015.

“I couldn’t be more happy,” said Mavericks senior Julian Napravnik, who led the way with two goals and an assist in front of his parents, who made the trip from their home in Germany to watch. “We, as a team, dictated both nights. I couldn’t be more proud. We established a thing that’s so cool.”


Four different players scored goals for the Mavericks (29-5, 21-3 in CCHA). Napravnik’s line finished with eight points as Cade Borchardt had a goal and two assists, and Brendan Furry had two helpers. Lucas Sowder and Ondrej Pavel scored the other goals.

As usual, the score and the shots didn’t necessarily tell the story of Dryden McKay. The MSU senior goaltender, who won his 104th career game, finished 25 saves. However, he was, by far, the Mavericks best player over the first 10 minutes of the game when he was peppered with eight Bemidji State shots to his teammates’ one.

“Dryden was the difference,” Mavericks coach Mike Hastings said. “There were some point-blankers. He allowed us to get the crowd into the game. … He’s a problem-solver for us. He calms the waters. That’s something that’s incredibly comforting from behind the bench.”

Said Napravnik: “Dryden is a brick wall; that’s the only thing I can say. He’s been like that all year – all four years, I should say.”

Once the Mavericks got their legs under them, they scored twice in the first period and added another pair in the second.

Sowder was wide open in front of goalie Mattias Sholl during a delayed penalty, and buried a nice feed from David Silye below the goal line at 13:53. Napravnik made it 2-0 on a rush with 1:33 left in the period, firing a Brendan Furry rebound into a gaping net.

Borchardt deflected in a power-play goal from Napravnik at 6:15 of the second period, and Pavel tipped in a Livingstone shot at 16:35.


McKay was denied his 10th shutout of the season and the chance to add to his NCAA-record 33 shutouts with 7:45 left in the game when Will Zmolek scored for the Beavers.

Two minutes later, Napravnik made it a four-goal game again, finishing off a 2-on-1 rush with Furry.

The Beavers outshot the Mavericks 26-25. Sholl finished with 20 saves. The Mavericks are 4-0 against the Beavers this season, the first time they have swept their in-state rival in the regular season since 2012-13 when they played them just twice.

The Mavericks played without their top scorer, Nathan Smith, who is still in China after playing for the U.S. Olympic Team, as well as their top goal scorer, Ryan Sandelin, who was injured in Friday’s game.

Hastings gave a shout-out to Smith, who normally centers Napravnik and Borchardt, and left for the Olympics as the nation’s top scorer. He’s since dropped to third, and Napravnik has now caught him with 41 points.

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“The impact he’s had on the program … I don’t want it missed, the part he’s played in this,” Hastings said.


As for Sandelin, Hastings didn’t specify the injury but said “it’s not a hangnail” and that the junior forward would be reevaluated on Monday.

The game was the last of the regular season for MSU’s seniors, a group that includes Reggie Lutz and Jack McNeely, who are in their fifth seasons thanks to the NCAA granting an extra year of eligibility to college athletes due to COVID-19. They have been part of all five MacNaughton Cup championships.

“McNeely and Lutz have been bricklayers for our program, from the guys that preceded them until now, to make us better,” Hastings said.

The seniors who won four-straight Cups include: McKay, Napravnik, Aamodt and Andy Carroll.

“For that group, that’s a very special feat,” Hastings said. “It’s very difficult to do.”

Minnesota State will close out the regular season next weekend at Michigan Tech, while the Beavers (14-18, 12-12), who have just one win in their last nine games, will host St. Thomas.

Bemidji State 0-0-1—1

Minnesota State 2-2-1—5


Scoring: 1. MSU-Sowder 4 (Silye 8, Groll 5) 13:53; 2. MSU-Napravnik 15 (Furry 25, Borchardt 21) 18:27

Penalties: Johnson, BSU (checking from behind) 13:53; Edwards, MSU (boarding) 19:09


Scoring: 3. MSU-Borchardt 14 (Napravnik 25, Hirose 18) ppg 6:15; 4. MSU-Pavel 8 (Livingstone 17) 16:35

Penalties: Johnson, BSU (high-sticking); Livingstone, MSU (interference) 11:51; Ierullo, BSU (roughing) 19:22; Krajnik, MSU (holding) 19:22


Scoring: 5. BSU-Zmolek 5 (Ierullo 20, Rosen 16) 12:15; 6. MSU-Napravnik 16 (Furry 26, Borchardt 22) 14:13

Penalties: Edwards, MSU, major/game misconduct (contact to the head) 16:45; Edwards, MSU (roughing) 16:45; Zmolek, BSU (roughing) 16:45; Ierullo, BSU (high-sticking) 17:09


Shots on goal: BSU 8-9-9—26; MSU 7-10-8—25. Penalties: BSU 5 for 10 minutes; MSU 6 for 23 minutes. Power plays: BSU 0 for 4; MSU 1 for 2. Goalie saves: BSU Sholl 5-8-7—20 (5 GA); MSU McKay 8-9-8—25 (1 GA).

Attendance: 5,130

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