Snow, St. Thomas can't stop Minnesota State from outdoor win during Hockey Day Minnesota
Each media timeout was extended as Mankato high school players and others shoveled off the sheet as best they could. By the third period, the piles got more and more difficult for them to push. Pucks cut through the snow, creating wakes behind them.
MANKATO, Minn. — David Silye is a Canadian who grew up playing some pond hockey, so he was right at home on the outdoor rink built on Blakeslee Stadium for Hockey Day Minnesota.
“You go back to your childhood,” the Minnesota State sophomore center said.
So as the snow piled up on the rink on Saturday night, so did the goals for Silye and No. 2-ranked Minnesota State.
Playing in what he called a “picture-perfect” setting, Silye scored his first collegiate hat trick and led the Mavericks to a 7-1 CCHA victory over St. Thomas. The flakes swirled around the Minnesota State University campus throughout the evening, creating a snow-globe scene for the 2022 edition of what’s almost become a state holiday in the State of Hockey.
“As challenging as it was, I don’t think I would change it,” said Silye, a Amprior, Ontario, native who transferred to Minnesota State from Clarkson last summer.
Julian Napravnik had a goal and an assist for the Mavericks. Nathan Smith, Sam Morton and Ryan Sandelin also scored goals. Jack McNeely and Cade Borchardt each had a pair of assists.
Although attendance wasn’t announced on Saturday, it’s estimated that more than 10,000 people were present throughout the event, filling the stands for the first Hockey Day Minnesota played on a college campus and in a football stadium. The Mavericks-Tommies game was also the first Division I men’s game played outdoors and televised on Hockey Day.
“To be part of this was pretty special for so many people,” Mavericks coach Mike Hastings said. “It was a good night on the rink and an incredible event.”
Following a pair of high school games, snow began falling about an hour before the Mavericks and Tommies squared off, and it continued throughout the evening. Pucks cut through the snow, creating “rooster tails” behind them. Each media timeout was extended as Mankato high school players and others shoveled off the sheet as best they could. By the third period, the piles got more and more difficult for them to push.
“The shovelers started getting gassed in the third,” Hastings said. “The guys on the bench were appreciative of what was going on.”
It also got more difficult for goalies and other players to see pucks as they buried themselves in the drifts.
“The coach in me didn’t (like it),” Hastings said. “But the hockey guy in me did.”
Early on, it seemed like the snow might equalize the playing surface between the best team in the state and the newest one. In their first three meetings this season, the Mavericks (23-5-0, 17-3-0 in CCHA) outscored the Tommies 19-1.
But MSU slogged through the snow and found ways to make plays and get pucks to the net, outshooting St. Thomas 32-7. Silye scored the game’s first two goals, at 8:54 and 11:08 of the first period.
The Tommies didn’t have a shot on goal in the first period, but they made their first count in the second, as Tim Piechowski made it 2-1 at 1:52. They nearly tied it a bit later but Piechowski put a shot off the right post.
It was all Minnesota State from that point on, however, as it scored three times in second and two more in the third, including Sandelin’s goal just 17 seconds into the final frame. Silye finished off his hat trick at 8:39. It was the fifth hat trick of the season for the Mavericks.
“It was awesome being part of it,” St. Thomas coach Rico Blasi said. “The snow, the cold — it’s the way it’s supposed to be.”
Watching the goalies
Mavericks goaltender Dryden McKay picked up his 98th career win, making five saves before giving way to freshman Keenan Rancier in the third period.
This week, McKay was named one of 28 goalies on the watch list for the Richter Award, which goes to the top goaltender in Division I men’s hockey. McKay was a finalist for the award the last two seasons. The Richter committee will trim the last to about 15 names over the next two weeks.
Michigan Tech’s Blake Pietila is the only other CCHA player on the watch list.
For St. Thomas, Peter Thome made 18 saves before turning the net over to Jacob Berger in the third. Berger started his career at Minnesota State before transferring to St. Thomas in 2020.
Minnesota State alumni played on the Blakeslee rink during Friday night’s Hockey Day Minnesota festivities, and the game featured 40 former Mavericks, including retired NHL players David Backes, Ryan Carter and Tim Jackman.
But the highlight might have been the return of Troy Jutting, MSU’s head coach from 2000 to 2012. Jutting, who also played for the Mavericks and was a longtime assistant coach under Don Brose, had not been back around his old program since being dismissed in 2012.
“It’s been awesome to see all the guys,” Jutting said. “There are guys here I played with, guys I coached, guys I recruited and guys I knew who came before me as a player.”
Prior to the alumni game, all three head coaches in MSU history — Jutting, Hastings and Don Brose — got together on the ice for a photo.
Minnesota State hosts Arizona State in a nonconference series on Friday and Saturday. It will be the Mavericks’ final series before Hastings and Smith depart the team for three weeks to take part in the Winter Olympics in Beijing. Both will be part of Team USA, with Hastings working as assistant coach.
St. Thomas (2-24-0, 2-18-0) is off until Feb. 4-5 when it hosts Michigan Tech in a CCHA series.
St. Thomas 0-1-0—1
Minnesota State 2-3-2—7
Scoring: 1. MSU-Silye 3 (Zmolek 5) 8:53; 2. MSU-Silye 4 (Maass 8) 11:08
Penalties: Recchi, UST (cross-checking) 5:31; Grundy, UST (slashing) 12:20
Scoring: 3. UST-Piechowski (Kangas) 1:52; 4. MSU-Napravnik 12 (Borchardt 15, McNeely 9) ppg 10:42; 5. MSU-Smith 15 (Borchardt 16, Napravnik 20) 13:43; 6. MSU-Morton 5 (Furry 22) 14:00
Penalties: Gauer, UST (holding) 2:30.
Scoring: 7. MSU-Sandelin 15 (McNeely 10, Furry 23) :17; 8. MSU-Silye 5 (Pavel 5) ppg 8:39
Penalties: Livingstone, MSU (boarding) :29; Gauer, UST (high-sticking) 8:27; Gregga, MSU (kneeing) 8:52.
Shots on goal: UST 0-3-4—7; MSU 11-12-9—32. Penalties: UST 4 for 8 minutes; MSU 2 for 4 minutes. Power plays: UST 0 for 2; MSU 1 for 4. Goalie saves: UST Thome 9-9-0—18 (6 GA), Berger x-x-1—1 (1 GA); MSU McKay 0-2-3—5 (1 GA), Rancier x-x-1—1 (0 GA).