CHN Staff Report
Minnesota State will host the CCHA Tournament championship game once again, after dispatching Ferris State, 7-2, in Saturday’s semifinal.
But a big test awaits, and the Mavericks are still no lock for the NCAA Tournament, which they’ve qualified for the last five years.
Northern Michigan is flying into the championship game, after shutting out Michigan Tech in Houghton.
“We’ll have our hands full. They’re about as hot a team as there is,” Minnesota State coach Mike Hastings said. “Scoring goals, power play, committing to defense — I think (NMU coach) Grant (Potulny) does a fantastic job. They’ll be prepared and they’ll be excited coming into our building.”
The Mavericks had trouble burying pucks early, and fell behind 1-0 to the Bulldogs. But once things got rolling, it was hard to stop MSU.
Christian Fitzgerald (15) and David Silye (23) each scored, 28 seconds apart, late in the first period. Brandan Furry and Cade Borchardt tacked onto the lead from there, and the Mavericks were on their way.
Minnesota State is currently 13th in the Pairwise, and a loss next weekend and some twists of fate could keep them out of the NCAAs.
“When you start a season you set goals, and one was to get home ice, two was to play for a regular-season championship, and the third one was to try to win a playoff championship,” Hastings said. “So we’ve got that opportunity.”
Northern Michigan 4, Michigan Tech 0
Meanwhile, Michigan Tech was unable to live up to its end of the bargain for a rematch between the league’s top two seeds.
The teams played a pair of epic games to close out the regular season, with the Mavericks barely coming out on top. Both teams are currently in decent-to-good shape for the NCAAs, so the natural assumption was that they would meet again in the championship game.
Northern Michigan, however, had other plans.
The Wildcats won the last four regular-season games just to get the 4 seed and last home-ice spot, and then kept rolling from there. They swept Bemidji State in last weekend’s quarterfinals, and were extremely strong in toppling the Huskies on Saturday.
NMU has won seven straight, outscoring opponents 38-13.
“If you’d ask me at the beginning of the year (this is) what I thought our team would be like,” NMU coach Grant Potulny said. “We had injuries and too many…
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