April 7, 2022
by Mike McMahon/Personal editor (@MikeMcMahonCHN)
BOSTON — Total domination.
When Reggie Lutz scored to give Minnesota State the lead in the second period, there were still nearly 27 minutes to play. But with the way Minnesota State protects leads, he could have stayed 227 minutes, that wasn’t enough time for the Gophers.
The Mavericks beat Minnesota, 5-1, Thursday night in the national semifinals at TD Garden in Boston. On Saturday, they will play for the program’s first national championship (as a DI program) against Denver.
“A lot of the game they kicked our ass,” Minnesota coach Bob Motzko said. “We made a few mistakes in the second half and they scored exactly as we knew they would, and we had to defend and then we went on with the game.”
As much as the Mavericks saw the game play out according to script in the later stages, the early stages of the game scared them. Matthew Knies scored on a neat 2-on-1 with Bryce Brodzinski to put the Gophers ahead just nine minutes into the game after a horrific turnover proved costly for the Mavericks.
“It wasn’t exactly the start we wanted, giving up a 2-0,” Minnesota State coach Mike Hastings said. “They got off to a good start. We said that was a big thing for us. We played a good first half even though we were down. We stuck with it. Not a lot of panic. It was a good effort for us.”
Added goaltender Dryden McKay “The last time we were behind was probably Bemidji in the conference championship. Lots of games this year where the other team scored first and we had to find a way. We have kept fighting and playing our game.”
Accustomed to playing up front, Minnesota State played in desperation as soon as Knies’ second goal crossed the line. Minnesota’s goal came on its first shot; the Mavericks had an 8-1 advantage on shots when that puck hit the back of the net and Minnesota State outscored the Gophers 11-4 in the first period.
Benton Maass put the Mavericks on the board with 12:38 left in the second period. Lutz’s goal came about six minutes later.
“I had more time and space than I thought,” Maass said. “I came to the side of the net and the coach is a great preacher to get the puck in the net if we get there. I was hoping for a rebound because I knew we had guys up front but he went from the other side. .”
Minnesota State was only one goal up, but Minnesota didn’t seem to have an answer.
Two minutes into the third period, Ondrej Pavel made it 3-1 for Mavs. David Silye extended Minnesota State’s lead to 4-1 with 6:43 remaining.
Minnesota, which started the third period with a goal, had just four shots in the first 17 minutes.
“It’s a team of grizzled veterans in every position,” Motzko said. “I was fine at the end of the first half. Their top guys didn’t really hurt us. Their glue guys created things for them. You’re going to have to weather storms against them. … This “wasn’t a fun game for us to hunt. They’re exactly how we saw them play on our movie breaking it down this week. And that’ll be exactly how they play on Saturday.”