LOVELAND, COLO. – When it was all done, when his Minnesota State Mavericks had secured their first NCAA Frozen Four berth, Mike Hastings took time to reflect.
"Finally, we get a win and find a way to win a regional and get to the Frozen Four,'' Hastings said after the Mavericks' 4-0 victory over the Gophers on Sunday night. "For all the people that have come before me – Troy Jutting, Donny Brose, those guys who started this program – I'm very happy for them. And especially this group of young men.''
On Saturday, Minnesota State overcame a two-goal, third-period deficit to beat Quinnipiac 4-3 in overtime. It was the first win for the Mavericks in the NCAA Division I tournament in seven tries, six with Hastings as coach. On Sunday, they one-upped it by knocking off the top-seeded Gophers.
Hastings credited the momentum from game in helping his team get off to a dominant start against Minnesota.
"We wanted to get to our game a lot sooner than we did the night before,'' Hastings said. "They guys came out and played with confidence. That line of [Brendan] Furry, [Sam] Morton and Ryan Sandelin were difference-makers tonight.''
Sandelin, the son of Minnesota Duluth coach Scott Sandelin, was named tournament MVP. He scored the overtime winner on Saturday and had a goal and an assist in the first period Sunday, when the Mavericks took control.
Mavericks goalie Dryden McKay benefited from the strong start. He made 22 saves for his 10th shutout of the season, while his team blocked 23 shots.
"I've seen an effort like that as far as commitment to blocking shots,'' said McKay. "That selflessness is something we pride our team on and pride our game on.''
McKay sensed team that was dialed-in after getting the milestone win the day before.
The Mavericks will meet St. Cloud State, Hastings' alma mater, in the national semifinals on April 8. Minnesota Duluth meets Massachusetts in the other semifinal.
"All five schools making the NCAA tournament is a great statement to what it is to coach in this state. The expectation level is very high. We're just going to take this one in,'' Hastings said. "… I'm happy for those guys, and I'm happy for our guys.''