Mavericks sweep the Pups.

Eriah Hayes and the Minnesota State Mavericks earn sweep Minnesota Duluth for the first time in seven seasons with a 5-1 victory on Saturday night.

Photo: Dave Harwig

I think Aaron Crandall would have wanted the first period to end much differently than how it did.  Hell, the team would have wanted it to end differently, but this was Aaron's first start since the Dogs hosted Bemidji back on December 8th.  Both the first two goals were very rare and flukey, I mean the first Maverick goal looked more look a football hail-mary than anything i've ever seen on the ice.  Even the second goal was one that had been deflected off of Drew Olson's stick as he was defending the front of the net.  By the time the first period expired, the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs were down three goals thanks to Zach Lehrke, Teddy Blueger, and Eriah Hayes, which after Friday night, was not where they wanted to be.

Second period play improved.  Which is about all anyone could have asked for from a team that went down three goals in the first.  The first power play attempt for UMD gave them solid momentum, as they were constantly in Maverick goalie, Stephon Williams's face.  The only issue was that Williams didn't give up very many rebounds.  He was literally a vacuum, sucking every shot up or deflecting it way off to the side, making scoring a very tedious task.  Tony Cameranesi did eventually put one past Williams on a nice power play goal that cut the Purple Maverick's lead 3-1.  The momentum kept up too, especially towards the end of the period when Blueger took a slashing penalty with 20 seconds left, which would have given the Dogs a large momentum swing entering the third period had Wade Bergman not have taken a charging penalty at the very end of the second.

So instead of the third period starting off with Duluth at a man advantage, the teams engaged in four-play for a good 100 seconds until they killed the 20 second power play Bergman had gifted Minnesota State with.  Third period play was much better than the first.  The hustle was there, the shots were there, and even the defense played solid for the most part, but unfortunately luck hasn't been kind to the Pups.  Hayes put two more past Crandall, earning a hat trick and giving the Mavericks a 5-1 lead just a little over half-way through the last period.  At this point, Crandall was pulled and Scott Sandelin put in third string Alex Fons, which killed his redshirt opportunity.  Fons looked a little bit shaky at first put saved all four shots he faced until the buzzer sounded and the Dogs were swept at home by Minnesota State for the first time since the 2005-06 season.

"I'm going to put 80% on goaltending right now" said Crandall, "I thought our guys played awesome.  Obviously we need to score more, but if you have a team that's struggle you need your goaltender to step up and that hasn't happened".

It's been an issue all season where scoring and solid goaltending just haven't been found.  Obviously there will be games when the Dogs can put a few in and goalies, whomever it may be, will make some solid saves, but in this series it was very simply understood that they were outplayed.

Minnesota State coach Mike Hastings was happy with the way his team and spoke very highly of not only some of his players, but the Mankato community and administration as well.

"I think Eriah Hayes was a different maker the whole weekend." said Hastings, "I thought Teddy Blueger played very well, and when you have your best players being the best players on the rink than you have other guys buying into the idea of paying the price to kill penalties and those types of things.   And (when you are) getting the goaltending you got, then more often than not things are going to work out your way".

Final Words

Two weekends of being swept in row is something that hasn't happened to this team in a very long time.  Newer fans are scratching their heads wondering what the heck is happening while older fans are trying to keep their hearts in the team.

I thought Jake Hendrickson continues to play better every weekend.  The amount of heart this senior puts into his game is admirable, especially as the team continues to struggle.  I watched both Hendo and Danny DeLisle show more hustle on the ice this weekend than I've seen most guys give all season.  I think DeLisle is also starting use his frame much better.  I watched him drive through two defenders toward Williams with confidence knowing he's not necessarily going to get picked on to much.  Andy Welinski also stood out in my eyes.  For a kid that looked shaky during the start of the season, Welinski has panned out to be one of the smoothest, most relaxed skaters on the ice.

The Bulldogs head to Bemidji State next weekend, which usually can be picked up on local TV out of Bemidji.