Minnesota State Shuts Out Bowling Green to Keep NCAA Hopes Alive

Cole Huggins 36 saves put Minnesota State on the verge of clinching a second straight NCAA tournament bid. - Matt Christians

A stellar performance in goal moves Minnesota State to the WCHA playoff final.

In a game the Mavericks needed to win to give themselves a good shot at making the NCAA tournament, Minnesota State got 36 saves from goalie Cole Huggins and two timely second period goals to defeat Bowling Green 4-0 and advance to the WCHA Final Five championship.

After a scoreless first period, Chase Grant got the Mavericks on the scoreboard at 3:52 of the first period when he finished off a 3-on-2 rush by directing in a nice pass from Matt Leitner. Minnesota State increased their lead when Bryce Gervais stole the puck behind the Bowling Green net and deposited a wraparound goal before Bowling Green goalie Tommy Burke could get back into his net.

Minnesota State captain Johnny McInnis added a back-breaking third goal at 10:47 of the third period, and Matt Leitner scored an empty-net goal to ice the victory for the Mavericks.

Huggins was outstanding in goal for the Mavericks throughout the game, making 13 critical stops in the first period, and 13 stops in the final frame to protect Minnesota State's lead. The Mavericks will advance to tomorrow's WCHA Final Five championship game where they will face the winner of Friday evening's second semifinal between Ferris State and Alaska-Anchorage. Minnesota State's win, combined with other early results in conference tournaments, moved the Mavericks to 11th in the Pairwise Rankings and greatly improved Minnesota State's chances of earning an NCAA at-large bid should they lose tomorrow's game.

The loss ends the season for Bowling Green. The Falcons finished the season with a record of 18-15-6.

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