The scoreboard Friday night in the Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center in Mankato, Minnesota, was a good indicator of which Western Collegiate Hockey Association team was well rested and which one had played last week.
The University of Alaska Fairbanks lost 4-0 to the Minnesota State Mavericks in the Nanooks’ first game since the first weekend of December. The conference-leading Mavericks were coming off a third-place finish Dec. 28 in the Mariucci Classic at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.
The total shots Friday night also spoke well of the opener of the two-game series. The Nanooks were outshot 39-7, including 14-0 in the third period.
Before Friday, the Nanooks last played Dec. 7, a 5-3 win over the Bemidji State Beavers in Bemidji, Minnesota. UAF had lost 3-1 in the opener the night before.
In Mankato on Friday night, the Nanooks trailed 1-0 in the first period after the nationally ranked Mavericks scored with less than two minutes left in the period. The Nanooks kept the hosts off the scoreboard in the second period but UAF was outshot 13-2 in the middle stanza.
“I thought we were a little bit sloppy right off the bat,” Nanooks head coach Erik Largen said by phone. “It’s to be expected with a long layoff. I thought we played OK.
“In the second period, I thought we pushed pretty well in the first 10 minutes of that period, and then after our first power play, we didn’t have a great response.
“We took a bad penalty leading into the third and they were able to capitalize with a power play (goal). I felt like we didn’t have any pushback into our game and it was actually very disappointing our last 20 minutes of that hockey game.”
The Nanooks were assessed eight penalties for 24 minutes Friday and the Mavericks received six for 12 minutes.
The Nanooks hope to rebound in the series finale, which starts at 3:07 p.m. AKST today.
“I think everyone’s going to look at themselves in the mirror and ask what they’re going to do to be a better teammate and bring more to our team,” Largen said of an impact of Friday’s loss. “I think right now there wasn’t enough of a group effort, there wasn’t enough push from our team as a whole.
“We have to learn from that. We can’t have it happen again.”
Senior goaltender Anton Martinsson registered 35 saves for the Nanooks, who slipped to 10-11-0 overall and 8-7-0-0 WCHA for 24 points and a tie with the Northern Michigan Wildcats and Michigan Tech Huskies for third place in the standings.
The Nanooks, heading into today’s game, are 19-13-1 all-time against Minnesota State. However, the Mavericks (17-3-1, 11-2-0-0 WCHA for 33 points) have won seven of the past eight games between the teams.
Consecutive goals by senior center Marc Michaelis triggered a three-goal surge in the third period Friday to help seal the win for the Mavericks, who are ranked third among NCAA Division I teams in the U.S. College Hockey Online (uscho.com) and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine polls.
Sophomore Dryden McKay earned his sixth shutout of the season and 10th of his career. Mike Hastings also gained his 200th career victory since he became the Mavericks head coach in 2012-13. Hastings is 200-83-22 with Minnesota State.
Senior defenseman Edwin Hookenson, assisted by junior forward Dallas Gerads, produced the game’s first goal at 18:19 of the opening period.
Michaelis, with helpers from senior left wing Parker Tuomie and senior defenseman Ian Scheid, made it 2-0 with a power-play goal at 1:12 of the third period. The power play had started at 19:14 of the second after Nanooks junior defenseman Chris Jandric was penalized for cross-checking.
Freshman right wing Lucas Sowder and junior defenseman Jack McNeely set up Michaelis for his second of the night and 13th of season at 6:21 of the third.
At 15:41 of the third, Tuomie, assisted by Michaelis, converted the Mavericks’ second power play in five opportunities Friday. Tuomie’s goal came 30 seconds after Nanooks senior defenseman Jack Weiss received a cross-checking minor.
The Nanooks finished 0 for 4 on the power play in the series opener.
Contact News-Miner sports editor Danny Martin at 459-7586. Follow him on Twitter:@newsminersports