Mankato, Minn. --- Minnesota State downed Ferris State 3-0 in the first game of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association best-of-three first round series, but it was anything but easy for the third-rated Mavericks.
Scoreless through the first 40 minutes of the game, the Mavericks scored three unanswered goals in the third period to claim the win.
Minnesota State outshot the Bulldogs by a 7-4 margin in the opening period, but after 20 minutes of action the score stood 0-0. And, again, while Minnesota State owned an 11-5 advantage in terms of shots on goal in the second period, the score remained the same at 0-0.
Then, at 8:49 of the final period and with the Mavericks on a power play, junior winger Julian Napravnik, standing at the left edge of the crease, took a pass from Nathan Smith and lifted the puck past Logan Stein high on the stickside to score the game's first goal. The goal is Napravnik's tenth of the season. Then a short time later, Riese Zmolek's shot from the right point glanced off of Jared Spooner and the puck skimmed under the Stein's left pad and suddenly the Mavericks led 2-0 at 9:42. Walker Duehr got his fourth goal in the last six games when his shot bounced off a skate past Stein at the 15:28 mark in making it a 3-0 Minnesota State lead and thats how the game ended.
Minnesota State connected on one of two power plays in the game and owned a 27-15 advantage in shots on goal.
Junior netminder Dryden McKay, Minnesota State's Hobey Baker and Richter Award candidate, stopped all 15 shots in picking up his ninth shutout of the season. McKay upped his record on the year to 18-2-0 mark with the win.
Napranik's goal is his sixth game-winner of the year, a number that leads the nation.
The win gives the Mavericks a 19-3-0 mark for the 2020-21 season.
Game two of the series is slated for 4:07 p.m. Saturday at Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center.