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Minnesota State 2 UConn 1: Final Thoughts

Thoughts and reactions to the Mavericks first victory of the season against UConn on Friday.

Larry Radloff Photography

- Overall, it was an improved effort for Minnesota State after a terrible weekend against Providence last week, but the Mavericks still haven't quite gelled and played up to their lofty preseason expectations, scoring only two goals on 31 shots. They went 1-3 on the power play, including their first man advantage goal of the year, and generated some nice chances on the other two power plays. And UConn goalie Matt Grogan is certainly no joke. He posted a 1.93/.937 line last year, and is 2.17/.928 for his career, and made a ton of key saves to keep the game close. So perhaps a low scoring game was to be expected.

-One of the big issues for the Minnesota State power play right now is that they're sorely missing the presence of Eriah Hayes in the slot on the power play. There's a lot of talented perimeter puck movers on the MSU power play, and they were able to move the puck into the slot a few times, but were unable to capitalize on any of those chances. Johnny McInnis is currently filling in at Hayes' spot this year, which makes sense given that McInnis is known for his heavy shot, but he didn't quite display the hands tonight necessary to take advantage of it tonight. Of course, the Mavericks are just three games into the season, and if McInnis can develop a little more in that role, he could rack up a lot of goals later in the season, much the way Hayes did last year.

The other move MSU made on their power play tonight was dressing defenseman Mat Knoll as the 12th forward tonight, allowing the Mavericks to put Knoll on the point on the second power play unit.

-The line of Dylan Margonari-Teddy Blueger-Johnny McInnis really established itself as Minnesota State's top line tonight. Not only did they factor in both MSU goals, but they also created the majority of the high quality scoring chances that Grogan stopped. Margonari easily could have had another two goals on the night.

-For UConn, aside from the great performance by Grogan, 6-5 sophomore defenseman Kyle Huson was a ubiquitous presence on the ice. There's no official Time on Ice statistics in college hockey, but to guess his, you're better off starting at 60 minutes and subtracting the times he wasn't on the ice. He's going to play a huge role for UConn this year, and with his size, may garner some attention on the NHL's free agent market if he continues to play the way he did tonight.

-There's actually more talent on the UConn blue line than one might expect. The second pairing of Jacob Poe and freshman Ryan Segalla had an excellent game as well. Segalla, a Pittsburgh draft selection last summer, played a pretty conservative first college game, but overall didn't look out of place for a player expected to play in the USHL as late as last spring. It's easy to see why NHL teams liked him. He's not overly tall, but has a thick build, skates well, and handles the puck nicely. He few times he struggled with the pressure of the MSU forecheck, and found it a little tougher to rush the puck up the ice in the college game compared to prep school hockey, looked pretty comfortable on the ice.

-While the defense was exceptional for UConn tonight, offense was a much bigger struggle. With seniors Brant Harris and Billy Latta, along with sophomore Patrick Kirtland out, the Huskies didn't generate much outside of their top line of Brett Skibba-Jordan Sims-Joey Ferriss. Skibba has always been an fast, electric player, and tonight he put that speed to great effectiveness. In the first period, he outskated an MSU defenseman twice to negate icings, and registered three out of UConn's four shots in the period.

-There was a bit of an odd start to this game in that it took over 12 minutes--12:05 to be exact--to get the game's first whistle. MSU controlled play over that period outshooting the Huskies by a total of 10-1.

-The key moment in the game came in the second period. After being badly outplayed in the first period, Connecticut started the second period on the power play, and used that momentum to carry the play in the early part of the second period.  Then, six minutes into the period, a relatively harmless looking shot from the point by Josh Nelson was tipped in by Dylan Margonari to put the Mavericks up 2-0 on a night where it looked like UConn would really struggle to score three goals.

-Minnesota State dominated this game from the faceoff circle with a 26-13 advantage. Leading the way was Matt Leitner with a 8-1 mark on the night.

-The officials seemed pretty content to let the players play tonight. There were only five penalties called all night, including none in the third period. There was even a bit of a skirmish after the final horn when MSU tried to cover the puck along the boards in the closing seconds while UConn tried to dig the puck out, but after a lot of pushing and shoving, nothing was called. There were a few plays that might have been called in a tighter officiated game, but it was nice to see those plays go uncalled and not affect the flow of the game.