Minnesota State came into Friday night's game needing a victory over Ferris State to have any hope of catching the Bulldogs at the top of the WCHA standings. They set the tone early with a pair of goals scored 17 seconds apart less than three minutes into the game to jump out to an early 2-0 lead, and though the Bulldogs would threaten, Minnesota State would lead the rest of the evening on their way to a 6-2 victory over Ferris State.
Matt Leitner was outstanding for Minnesota State, scoring the first goal of the game, and assisting on the second goal, while also adding a critical goal late in the second period to extend MInnesota State's lead to 4-2 heading into the final period.
Minnesota State would add on two goals in the third period to put the game out of reach for a very convincing victory over one of the top teams in the country. The loss is the first for Ferris State in conference play. They drop to 17-3-3 on the season, 12-1-2 in conference play, while Minnesota State improved their overall record to 13-10-0, 11-6-0 in conference play.
The two teams will meet again tomorrow night in Mankato at 7pm.
3:28- Matt Leitner from Bryce Gervais and Zach Lehrke 1-0 Minnesota State
Gervais checked a Ferris State defender behind the net, winning the puck and feeding it out to Leitner in the slot, who beat Motte up high for the goal.
3:45- Zach Lehrke from Jean-Paul LaFontaine and Matt Leitner(power play) 2-0 Minnesota State
On a play very similar to the first goal,LaFontaine fed Lehrke from behind the goal line and Lehrke beat Motte over the shoulder again.
11:24 TJ Schleuter from Andy Huff 2-1 Minnesota State
Schleuter out-raced a Minnesota State defender to a loose puck in the neutral zone creating a 2-on-1 opportunity. Schleuter stopped at the bottom of the circle to freeze the goalie, then fired a wrist shot that snuck through Huggins to score.
5:50- Johnny McInnis from Dylan Margonari and Chase Grant 3-1 Minnesota State
Margonari made an incredible effort to outrace a Ferris State defender and corral the puck while being taken down, then sliding a pass across to McInnis, who powered the puck past Motte for a goal.
11:41- Brandon Anselmini from Gerald Mayhew and TJ Schleuter 3-2 Minnesota State
Scheuter won a face-off in the MSU zone back to Mayhew, who dropped the puck to Anselmini at the left point. Anselmini fired a high wrist shot through traffic that beat a screened Cole Huggins over the glove.
17:56- Matt Leitner from Teddy Blueger and Zach Palmquist 4-2 Minnesota State
Leitner drove hard to the net and fought through traffic to bat home a rebound of a shot by Blueger.
1:35 Johnny McInnis from Dylan Margonari and Brett Stern 5-2 Minnesota State
McInnis used his speed to split the Ferris State defense and create a mini-breakaway. He slid his shot underneath the pads of Motte.
4:24- Jean-Paul LaFontaine from Zach Lehrke and Josh Nelson 6-2 Minnesota State
Nelson fired a shot from the point that Charles Williams stopped, but could not hold onto. Lehrke picked up the rebound, skated behind the net, and dished it to LaFontaine on the other side of the net, he fired it into an open net.
-Whether is was wanting to get the bad taste of the Alaska trip out of their mouthes, or a top-ranked opponent in the building, or having their backs up against the wall and needing a win, but Minnesota State played one of their best games of the season this evening. Ferris State matched that intensity for the first period, giving the game a playoff-type feel. But Minnesota State was able to keep their foot on the gas and put the game out of reach by the early third period. I wouldn't say it was a poor effort from Ferris State. The difference tonight was that Ferris State played like a team that wanted to win, and Minnesota State played like a team that had to win.
-This was my first chance at seeing Ferris State live, and despite the ugly result, there's a lot to be impressed about with the Bulldogs. They're extremely tough along the boards, and can be a bear on the forecheck. They created a lot of turnovers, and scoring chances off those turnovers in the first period.
They're extremely balanced in their line-up too. Robertson-Schempp-Thompson have established themselves as the top line, but there's really not a huge gap between lines 1 and 4. If anything, the fourth line of Jared Van Wormer-Cory Kane-Justin DeMartino was Ferris State's best tonight.
Minnesota State's speed definitely gave the Bulldogs some problems. The ice at the Verizon Wireless Center is a little wider (200 by 90 now), and that certainly didn't help. Overall, I think they just ran into a buzzsaw tonight, and gave up some poorly-timed goals that really hurt them.
-I've floated the theory before that when Matt Leitner is playing at his best, Minnesota State is a very difficult team to beat, and Leitner was fantastic tonight. He made no mistake on the first goal, which was huge, and made a nice play to fight through traffic on the second goal, which was huge in securing the victory. If Leitner can continue to play like that in the second half of the season, the Mavericks might be able to go on a big run here.
-Minnesota State mixed up their lines this week, and the early returns on that decision seemed to be pretty good. Dylan Margonari moved to center and was able to use his speed effectively. They went with a little more skill on that top line with Gervais-Leitner-Lehrke and that paid dividends too.
-Credit where it is due: Officials Chris Perrault and Dan Kovarik--not exactly the two biggest names on the WCHA officiating roster-- called a pretty good game tonight. They kept a lid on what was a very physical game, with neither team willing to back down after whistles. After calling coincidental minors twice in post-whistle scrums in the first period, they handed out an extra minor to Minnesota State on the third scrum, and that quieted down a lot of the extra-curricular activity. They did the same later in the second period, handing out an extra minor to Ferris State on a scrum after the whistle, and once again, things quieted down considerably. It's amazing how much actual consequences deter that type of behavior; a lesson that was never quite grasped in the old WCHA.
-How difficult is it to figure out the WCHA? Last weekend, Alaska-Anchorage swept Minnesota State. Tonight, Minnesota State blows out the league's top team, and one of the best in the country, while Alaska-Anchorage struggled to a 1-1 draw against Alabama-Huntsville, who is sitting in last place in the league. If nothing else, it's very interesting to watch, even if not that many people are.