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No. 3 Minnesota State too much for No. 15 NMU skaters

MANKATO, Minn. — The No. 15 Northern Michigan University hockey team had a tough task ahead of them this weekend going up against No. 3 Minnesota State and the Mavericks definitely showed what they were capable of Friday night.

MSU scored early and often as it blew out the Wildcats 7-3. NMU goalie Nolan Kent finished with 29 saves before being pulled for backup John Hawthorne in the second period. Hawthorne had six saves.

The Mavericks got on the scoreboard early in the first period as Reggie Lutz notched his 10th goal of the season, but NMU almost tied it shortly after that while it was on the power play. However, Darien Craighead’s rebound was just kept out of the net by MSU goalie Dryden McKay.

Meanwhile at the other end, Kent was doing everything he could to keep the Mavs from extending their lead. After Nathan Smith forced a Wildcats turnover, the forward sent a cross-ice pass to Julian Napravnik, but Kent made a nice save. With 8:55 left, Parker Tuomie almost MSU’s second goal, but his one-timer went wide of the net. Not long after that, the sophomore netminder made a sprawling kick save on MSU’s Connor Mackey keep the game at 1-0.

With 2:12 remaining, Northern’s Griffin Loughran gave Kent some scoring support as he tucked the puck under McKay’s arm and inside the near post to tie the game at 1-1. The lead didn’t last long though as the Mavericks’ Jared Spooner rang a shot off the far post and past Kent to give MSU a 2-1 advantage going into the second.

The Mavs pushed their lead to 3-1 on a shorthanded tally by Nick Rivera at the 12:24 mark, but the Wildcats answered back at the 13:57 mark as NMU defenseman Adam Roeder collected a loose puck and skated into the MSU defensive zone. He then sent a cross-ice pass over to Garrett Klee, who beat McKay blocker-side to cut the ‘Cats deficit to 3-2.

Once again though, Northern couldn’t celebrate for long as a few seconds later, MSU’s Charlie Gerard sent a shot over Kent’s left shoulder to get the Mavs back up by two at 4-2. Kent was then pulled for Hawthorne.

Things continued to go downhill for the Wildcats in the third as MSU went up 5-2 on a power play goal by Dallas Gerads. After NMU defenseman Phil Beaulieu cut the Mavs’ lead to two at 5-3 on a blast from the blue line at the 8:11 mark, MSU put the game away with goals from Mackey and Spooner.

Information compiled by Journal Sports Writer Ryan Stieg. His email address is rstieg@miningjournal.net.