by: JIMMY GOLEN, Associated Press
BOSTON (AP) — Reggie Lutz scored to break a second-period tie and Minnesota State scored three times in the third of the Frozen Four semifinal Thursday night to beat big-city rival Minnesota 5-1 and qualify for the national championship game.
Minnesota State will play for its first NCAA hockey title on Saturday night against Denver, which beat Michigan 3-2 in overtime in the first semifinal.
Benton Maass, Ondrej Pavel, David Silye and Brendan Furry also scored for Minnesota State, and Hobey Baker Award finalist Dryden McKay stopped 16 shots. Justen Close made 27 saves before being called out for an extra skater with 3:51 left, but the Gophers couldn’t convert and Furry delivered an empty net.
In a Frozen Four of bluebloods who have combined to win 22 NCAA titles, Minnesota State is the only school to never win the trophy. But the Mankato-based Mavericks were the winningest team in the country this year – they claimed 38th place on Thursday – and the only one of the four to also reach the national semi-finals last year.
Minnesota took the lead with 11 minutes left in the first period when MSU turned it around in the neutral zone to set up a two-on-none against the goaltender. Matthew Knies and Bryce Brodzinski passed it between them three times before Knies passed McKay on the Gophers’ first shot of the game.
Maass tied the game about seven minutes into the second period, and about six minutes later Lutz found himself with the puck in the side of the net. He hit him twice, unable to get him past Close, then went behind the net and rolled him up to make it 2-1.
The Mavericks made it 3-1 with two minutes remaining in the third when Jack McNeely’s shot from the point was deflected in front by Pavel.