MANKATO, Minn. — Minnesota State freshman forward Andy Sackrison walked out of the locker room Friday night with a smile on his face.
“You’re gonna be spoiled,” came a voice down the hall.
“I know,” snapped Sackrison back.
The No. 9 Mavericks defeated Michigan Tech 5-2 Friday night at the Alltel Center to wrap up home ice advantage for next weekend’s Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs for the first time since the 2002-03 season. Whom they will play will not be determined until after Saturday’s games.
“It feels great,” Mavericks forward Mick Berge said. “None of us have ever had it.”
Berge scored a pair of goals in a critical second period for MSU, which scored four goals in the frame and turned a 1-0 lead after one into a 5-1 lead after two.
“It was nice to capitalize,” MSU head coach Troy Jutting said. “When you get your chances, you have to score. I thought we did a good job tonight of capitalizing on some opportunities.”
They also did a great job of creating them, as was the case on the game’s first goal.
As the Mavericks continued killing back-to-back penalties, Trevor Bruess stormed out of his own zone, cruised across the blue line and went around a defenseman before slipping the puck through Huskies goaltender Michael-Lee Teslak’s five-hole at the 8:30 mark of period one.
“I just tried to use my speed,” Bruess said. “I got a step on him and just crashed to the net. I don’t think the goalie expected it.”
Bruess’ fantastic pass set up MSU’s next goat at 3:58 of the second.
He carried the puck into the Huskies zone spearheading a 2-on-1 break. With Bruess in the slot, he appeared to fire a snap shot, but instead fed a pass to senior winger Joel Hanson, who one-timed the pass into a wide open net.
“Every 2-on-1 I try and fake a shot,” Bruess said. “It messes the goalie and the defenseman up.”
Michigan Tech narrowed the game to 2-1 with a power play goal at 10:21 by Malcolm Gwilliam. He one-timed a pass from Geoff Kinrade at the left faceoff circle to notch his fifth goal of the season.
But that’s when the Mavericks took control.
MSU scored three goals in 3:01 to put the game away. Berge scored back-to-back goals at 12:44 and 15:07, the second coming with the man-advantage. Sackrison pounded home a rebound at 15:45 to make it 5-1.
“We played simple,” Bruess said. “They were plays we have been making lately.”
Tech’s Mark Malekoff scored an unassisted goal at 14:59 of the third to cap scoring.
The Mavericks outshot Michigan Tech 41-33. Mike Zacharias made 31 saves for MSU and was especially stellar in the opening minutes of the game. Teslak got the start and made 23 saves before giving way to Rob Nolan to start the third period. Nolan stopped all 13 shots in the final 20 minutes.
“Their will to win was greater than ours tonight,” Huskies coach Jamie Russell said. “We were missing the senior leadership of our captain John Schwartz and not having him in the line-up really hurt.”
Minnesota State climbed into a tie for eighth in the PairWise rankings, up from 11th prior to the game. Michigan Tech began the night tied for 21st but dropped from teams under consideration.
The same two teams will square off Saturday night at the Alltel Center. Face off is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. CST.
By /USCHO Arena Reporter