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MSU finds its 'mojo,' holds off rival Bemidji State

Minnesota State snapped out of its funk on the power play, and sophomore Cade Borchardt continued to show his versatility and scoring touch as the Mavericks hung on for a 5-4 victory in their home opener Friday against Bemidji State.

Cade Borchardt

MANKATO — Mike Hastings said his team was looking for some “mojo” in one crucial area this week.

Minnesota State University found it on Friday.

The No. 5-ranked Mavericks had gone just 1-for-10 on the power play over their first three games of the season, winning two of those games as much because of their stingy defense and elite goaltending as because of their offensive output.

Whatever the Mavericks did during the 11-day stretch between games worked. MSU scored on its first two power-play opportunities en route to sweating out a 5-4 non-conference victory against WCHA rival Bemidji State in MSU’s home opener at Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center.

“I thought two things,” Hastings said of MSU's success on the power play. “First of all, puck possession off faceoffs, where we didn’t have to go back and regroup and get entered into the zone again. And then our ability to get after loose pucks, maintain possession and make Bemidji defend for extended periods of time.


“Then we had guys make plays.”

The Mavericks coaching staff shook up the team’s lines again Friday. They shook up the special teams units, too.

The forwards on MSU’s top power-play unit included sophomore Brendan Furry, playing in his fourth game as a Maverick; sophomore Cade Borchardt, who was listed as the extra skater in Friday’s lineup; and junior Julian Napravnik, who was making his return to the lineup after being scratched in the Mavericks’ series finale at Michigan Tech on Dec. 7.

The result was a big, big night both on the scoresheet and in terms of growing confidence for sophomore Borchardt, who is nicely stepping into whatever role is asked of him this season, and for junior forward Napravnik.

Borchardt had a “coming out party,” Hastings said, with two goals and two assists. The Burnsville native and former standout with Sioux Falls in the USHL scored his first college goal in that game at Tech. He notched the second of his career and second in as many games when he beat BSU goalie Zach Driscoll top-shelf on a rebound of a shot by Furry, for a 1-0 MSU lead just 5:04 in.

Napravnik, who also scored twice on Friday and added an assist, made it 2-0 with exactly 1 minute to play in the first, when freshman defenseman Akito Hirose sent a nice pass from the high slot to Napravnik in the left circle. The junior fired it just under the crossbar for his 19th career goal.

The Mavericks and Beavers — who had combined for six goals in a game just twice in their last 12 meetings — then combined for six goals in the second period, three for each team.

“It was a roller-coaster game,” said Borchardt, who has been in the lineup for all four of MSU’s games this season and has responded with solid play every time. “We stuck together and stayed positive. Anytime you can get points against the Beavs it’s a good night.”


BSU’s Owen Sillinger scored once and Ethan Somoza scored twice in the second, including one on a breakaway and another that was initially stopped by McKay, but bounced in off the stick of MSU center Jared Spooner.

For MSU in the second period, Ryan Sandelin tapped in a rebound of a Riese Zmolek shot, then Borchardt and Napravnik each scored their second goals of the game and third of the season.

That made it 5-3 Mavericks after two.

Beavers defenseman Tyler Vold scored with 4:31 to play, with Driscoll pulled for an extra attacker, to make it 5-4. But the Mavericks killed the ensuing penalty on Lutz, then held off the Beavers over the final 40 seconds — a span in which sophomore defenseman Wyatt Aamodt recorded two of his game-high four blocked shots — to get their second win this season against Bemidji State (1-3-0).

“Just our overall responsibility coming back into our end,” Hastings said of what the Mavericks will need to shore up for Saturday’s rematch. “(Bemidji) did a good job late in the game of spreading us out, possessing the puck and extending some shifts.

“We didn’t give up a lot early, I think (16) shots through two periods, but then Bemidji put its foot down and pushed the pace in the third. We’ll have to calibrate that and get that cleared up for tomorrow.”

The game was played in an empty arena with piped-in crowd noise played over the speakers during gameplay. Hastings said a late-game penalty-kill situation is the type of moment where the Mavericks will often feed off the energy of their home crowd. He said he particularly noticed the lack of a crowd in some of those key moments late in the game.

"You do notice it," he said, "because when you're here, the energy (from the crowd) has previously been something we've drawn from. I did like our start, though. We came out with a purpose."


Game 2 is set for 5:07 p.m. Saturday at Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center.

NOTES: Sophomore forward Lucas Sowder, MSU’s top returning scorer, was not in the lineup. … Riese Zmolek played in his 115th game as a Maverick; McKay played in his 75th. … Zmolek’s brother, Will, a sophomore defenseman at Bemidji State, was scratched. … The last time MSU allowed three goals in a period was on Feb. 28, 2020, in a 4-1 loss at Bemidji State. The Mavericks won 4-1 the next night to clinch the WCHA regular season championship. … BSU won the faceoff battle 39-32. Nathan Smith was the lone Maverick who was better than .500 in the faceoff circle, going 9-5. Owen Sillinger led BSU, going 16-7. … Wyatt Aamodt led the Mavericks with four blocked shots, and Zmolek had three. MSU blocked 21 shots total, while Bemidji State blocked 14.


Bemidji State 0 3 1 — 4

Minnesota St. 2 3 0 — 5

First period — 1. MSU, Cade Borchardt 2 (Brendan Furry 1, Nathan Smith 3) 5:04 (pp). 2. MSU, Julian Napravnik 2 (Akito Hirose 2, Borchardt 2) 19:00 (pp). Second period — 3. BSU, Owen Sillinger 1 (Ethan Somoza 1, Tyler Vold 2) 5:56 (pp). 4. MSU, Ryan Sandelin 1 (Riese Zmolek 1, Jared Spooner 2) 10:07 (4x4). 5. BSU, Somoza 2 (unassisted) 12:20. 6. BSU, Somoza 3 (Eric Martin 1) 15:25. 7. MSU, Borchardt 3 (Hirose 3, Napravnik 2) 17:15. 8. MSU, Napravnik 3 (Dallas Gerads 1, Borchardt 3) 19:22. Third period — 9. BSU, Vold 1 (Brad Johnson 1, Tyler Kirkup 1) 15:29 (ex).

Shots on goal — BSU 5-11-11—27; MSU 14-20-6—40. Goalies — BSU, Zach Driscoll (L, 1-3-0; 35 saves-40 shots); MSU, Dryden McKay (W, 3-1-0; 23 saves-27 shots). Power-play opportunities — BSU 1-for-3; MSU 2-for-2. Penalties — BSU 3-6 minutes; MSU 4-8 minutes.


Julian Napravnik Minnesota State Mavericks mug 19-20.jpg
Minnesota State Mankato sophomore forward Julian Napravnik

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