Hockey team back on the ice against Mavericks

AnnMarie Kent

Coming off a bye week, the Wildcat hockey team hosts the Minnesota State University Mankato Mavericks at 7:07 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 20 and Saturday, Nov. 21 at the Berry EventsCenter.re-Hockey_ET

Head coach Walt Kyle said that it’s important having a week off after the trip to Alaska because of how long the ride home is. It gives the team more time to recover physically and academically from the trip.

“I think [this weekend] is going to be a real measuring stick. It’s a real good test for us,” Kyle said. “We had a great test here in this building against Michigan Tech.We had great fan support in that game. Certainly hope we get a ton of people to this one. It helps a lot to get that kind of energy and stuff in the building.”

The last time these two teams met on the ice was Friday, Jan. 2 and Saturday, Jan. 3 at the Berry Events Center.

During the Friday night game the ’Cats were toppled by the Mavericks 4-1. The Wildcats were outshot 37-20, with former Wildcat goaltender Michael Doan making the 33 saves for NMU.

The lone goal made for the Wildcats happened at 5:34 in the first period by senior forward Ryan Kesti.

Saturday night’s match ended in a 2-2 overtime tie. The teams traded power-play goals during the first period. The Mavericks had a 2-1 edge over the ’Cats going into the first intermission.

Junior forward Dominik Shine scored the lone goal in the second frame. They were scoreless during  overtime, finishing the game at
a draw.

Doan blocked 24 of the 26 shots against him, while the Wildcats shot 22 against the
Mavericks.

“I think they’re heavy. They’re hard to play against,” Kyle said. “They’ve got a real good group of defensemen, and as a team they defend really well. They always have some dynamic guys, the kid Gervais scored a ton of goals a year ago. They have a lot of kids that I like, that they’re high-end guys. They’ve had a really tough schedule, so they’re really battle-ready. This will be a great test for our team.”

After a split weekend, going 1-1 against University of Alaska-Fairbanks, NMU rests at a 4-3-3 record and 3-2-1 in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.

“We had a week off, so it was really nice,” junior defenseman Brock Maschmeyer said. “The boys have started to get a lot stronger with that week off—you get time to rest. So it’s nice to have this week coming up here, playing these guys and them being top contenders.”

Minnesota has gone 6-6-0 overall and has a 5-1-0 WCHA
record.

Winning against the Mavericks would be huge for the team because of how highly-ranked their team is, sophomore forward Robbie Payne said.

“Just be fast and hard to play against,” Payne said. “They’re gonna be a fast team, but we have speed too. We can play right with them I think, if we can play
defensively.”

The Mavericks played a home-and-home series against the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers on Friday, Nov. 13 at the Verizon Wireless Center in Mankato, Minn. and Saturday, Nov. 14 at the Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis, Minn.

Friday night the Mavericks were shut out on their home ice, losing the contest 4-0 to the Gophers.

The Mavericks came back Saturday to win 3-2 in overtime. Behind 2-0, going into the third period, the Mavericks pulled off a pair of late goals to force an extra frame. Senior forward Teddy Blueger made the game winning goal at 4:17 in overtime.

The biggest challenge the Mavericks face against NMU is that the Mavericks aren’t coming off of a bye week head coach Mike Hastings said.

“They’re coming off an off week,” Hasting said. “So I think they’re going to be fresh—they’re playing at home.”

Senior forward Bryce Gervais is the leading scorer for the Mavericks, scoring four goals and two assists in the 12 games he’s played this season.

Junior defenseman Casey Nelson trails with three goals but leads in assists with seven in his 12 games played this season.

“It’s important to defend home ice against anybody,” Kyle said. “But if you have aspirations to be successful, championship punch, you have to play well against other teams here.”