BOSTON — Total domination.
When Reggie Lutz scored to give Minnesota State the lead in the second period, there were still almost 27 minutes left in the game. But with the way Minnesota State protects leads, there could have been 227 minutes left, it wasn't going to be enough time for the Gophers.
The Mavericks beat Minnesota, 5-1, Thursday night in the national semifinal at TD Garden in Boston. On Saturday, they'll play for the program's first national championship (as a D-I program) against Denver.
"For big chunks of the game they kicked our butt," said Minnesota coach Bob Motzko. "We made a couple of mistakes in the second period and they scored exactly how we knew, and we had to defend, and then we were chasing the game."
As much as the Mavericks saw the game go according to script in the later stages, the early stages of the game gave them a scare. Matthew Knies scored on a pretty 2-on-1 with Bryce Brodzinski to give the Gophers the lead just nine minutes into the game after a horrific turnover proved costly for the Mavericks.
"It was not exactly the start we wanted, giving up a 2-on-0," said Minnesota State coach Mike Hastings. "They got off to a good start. We talked about that being an important piece for us. We played a good first period even though we were down. We stuck with it. Not a lot of panic. It was a good effort for us."
Added goaltender Dryden McKay "The last time we were behind is probably Bemidji in the conference championship. Plenty of games this year where the other team scored first and we needed to find a way. We just kept fighting and playing our game."
Used to playing with the lead, Minnesota State played with desperation from the second Knies' goal crossed the line. Minnesota's goal came on its first shot; the Mavericks had an 8-1 shot edge when that puck hit the back of the net and Minnesota State outshot the Gophers 11-4 in the first period.
Benton Maass put the Mavericks on the board with 12:38 left in the second period. Lutz's goal came about six minutes later.
"I had more time and space than I thought," Maass said. "I got to the side of the net and coach is a big preacher on getting the puck on net if we get there. I was hoping for a rebound, because I knew we had guys in front, but it went in on the far side."
Minnesota State only had a one-goal lead, but Minnesota didn't seem to have an answer.
Two minutes into the third period Ondrej Pavel made it 3-1 Mavs. David Silye extended Minnesota State's lead to 4-1 with 6:43 left on the clock.
Minnesota, who entered the third period down a goal, managed just four shots in the first 17 minutes.
"They're a grizzled, veteran team at every position," Motzko said. "I was OK at the end of the first period. Their top guys didn't really hurt us. Their glue guys created some things for them. You're going to have to survive some storms against them. ... It was not a fun game for us to chase. They're exactly how we saw them play on our film breaking it down this week. And that will be exactly how they play on Saturday."