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WCHA Final Five: McClure's Third Period Hat Trick Leads Minnesota State to Championship

Matt Christians

Michigan Tech tried to cling to a 2-1 lead heading into the third period of the WCHA Final Five championship game, but the depth of Minnesota State's forwards was too much for the Huskies. A goal from Minnesota State's fourth line tied the game at two, and then three consecutive goals from third-liner Brad McClure led Minnesota State to a 5-2 victory for the school's second consecutive and second ever Broadmoor Trophy win.

The team teams combined for a very entertaining up-and-down first period with Michigan Tech's Blake Pietila opening up the scoring while Minnesota State's Chase Grant was in the penalty box, then Grant atoning for his mistake by evening up the score.

Michigan Tech would take a lead early in the second period when Alex Petan's one-time blast on the power play beat Minnesota State goalie Stephon Williams to make it 2-1. Michigan Tech controlled play through the second period and shut down Minnesota State's offense, but were unable to extend that lead, which proved costly in the deciding period.

Jordan Nelson tied the game with a rebound goal and then McClure took over from there, scoring three straight goals, including a pair with the man advantage. McClure was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player after scoring five goals and an assist on the weekend.

Both teams had already secured NCAA Tournament bids prior to today's action, and will wait to officially see where they are traveling for next weekend's NCAA Tournament regional when it is announced Sunday morning.

Fancy Stats:

Shots on Goal: MSU: 13-4-11-28     MTU: 6-12-7-25

Even strength shot attempts: MSU: 20-12-15-47   MTU: 18-20-16-54

Prime scoring area attempts:  MSU: 14-6-9-29   MTU: 7-10-6-23

What do the numbers tell us?

The even strength numbers mostly stress how much Michigan Tech carried the play in the second period, though they couldn't extend their lead past one goal. What's missing is that though Minnesota State had 15 even strength shot attempts in the third period, they also had ten attempts on the man advantage, and back-to-back kills to start the third period seemed to take some jump out of the Huskies and put them on the defensive the rest of the game.

Game Notes:

-These two teams are so fun to watch. I loved the series they played down in Mankato, and tonight was another treat. The first period was just sensational up-and-down hockey with a goalie making a big save on one end of the ice, which then led to a great transition opportunity the other way.

The second period slowed down a bit as Michigan Tech got a lead and tried to block enough shots to preserve it. They ran out of gas in the third period though as Minnesota State showed why they are such a dangerous team. All four lines can attack and hurt the opposition which means there are no easy shifts when they are coming at you.

-It wasn't the usual suspects for Minnesota State. Asked if he would have believed before the weekend that Brad McClure would be the tournament's most outstanding player, Mike Hastings said, "I would have said it was a possibility....I don't think I would have taken it to the bank" But Hastings said McClure's nickname in juniors was "Captain Clutch" and that he's a player that just has knack for scoring big goals.

But also, overshadowed by McClure's big third period, was primarily defensive defenseman Brett Stern being the offensive catalyst that set up Minnesota State's first two goals and put Minnesota State in a position for that big third period.

-McClure also gave special mention to Minnesota State's line of Max Gaede-Jordan Nelson-Brett Knowles. "They don't get as appreciated as they should be, but they bring a lot of energy to our bench". They brought more than just energy. A strong shift led to the game-tying goal for the Mavericks, and that energy they brought to the bench helped spark the big rally that won them the tournament.

-Mel Pearson was not pleased with the officiating, which called five penalties on his team in the third period alone. He said he would have liked to see a lot more 5-on-5 hockey.

-The atmosphere inside the X was really good tonight. The announced crowd was 8204, and with the upper bowl closed and both bands on the lower level, it made for a fun atmosphere. Both fanbases were really engaged and made a lot of noise. And it really felt like both teams were competing hard for a title, which isn't always the case when both teams know they'll be in the NCAA Tournament regardless.

A big credit goes to the new WCHA management for making what could have been a disaster into a pretty successful event.

Final Scoring

First Period

6:04 Blake Pietila from David Johnstone and Shane Hanna (power play) 1-0 Michigan Tech

Pietila picked up a rebound off a shot right in front of the net and put the rebound behind Williams.

9:28 Chase Grant from Brett Stern and Teddy Blueger 1-1 tie

Stern faced into the zone down the left wing and carried the puck behind the net. He fed a quick pass out to Grant who was standing at the top of the crease and put the puck into an open net.

Second Period

2:44 Alex Petan from Shane Hanna and David Johnstone (power play) 2-1 Michigan Tech

Hanna fed the puck out to Petan at the top of the point on the power play and Petan blasted a one-timer that beat Williams low to the glove side.

Third Period

8:08 Jordan Nelson from Michael Huntebrinker and Brett Stern 2-2 tie

Stern took a shot intentionally wide off the back boards. The rebound bounced out to Huntebrinker on the left side of the net. Phillips stopped the first shot, but Nelson was there to jam a second rebound into the net.

11:29 Brad McClure from Michael Huntebrinker and Zach Palmquist 3-2 Minnesota State

McClure carried the puck into the zone down the right wing. As he reached the top of the circle, he pulled the puck back to create a gap and fired a high wrist shot that beat Phillips over the glove.

14:25 Brad McClure from Teddy Blueger and Jon Jutzi (power play) 4-2 Minnesota State

Blueger took a shot from the point and McClure tipped the puck as it went between his legs and the puck deflected past Phillips for the goal.

18:40 Brad McClure from Zach Palmquist and Sean Flanagan (power play) 5-2 Minnesota State

McClure finished off his hat trick on a 5-on-3 power play. Palmquist's shot from the right side deflected off the right pad of Phillips to the weak side where McClure was all alone to put back in the rebound.