The Minot State University men's club hockey team has several "statement wins" this season, but the Beavers' latest three-game road trip to Arizona may have sent the strongest message of all.
The fourth-ranked Beavers (16-4) knocked off top-ranked Arizona State University 3-2 on Thursday before posting a two-game sweep against 18th-ranked University of Arizona on Friday and Saturday. MSU is now 10-3 against ranked opponents this season.
"It was a complete success," MSU coach Wade Regier said. "We came in with the goal of coming away winning all three games and getting all six points. It was one of those things where we needed to make a statement to the country and we were able to come out and do that."
MSU sophomore defenseman Brad Olynyk controls the puck in the defensive zone during a game earlier this season.
The Beavers never trailed against the Sun Devils, scoring twice in the first seven minutes Thursday. Sophomore forward Logan Herauf scored his first of five goals on the weekend at four minutes, 32 seconds of the opening frame, followed by senior forward Jordan Willert's tally just two minutes later.
With his team trailing 3-1, ASU's Stephen Collins scored with 59 seconds remaining in regulation to cut MSU's lead in half. But junior goaltender Wyatt Waselenchuk and the Beaver defense held on in the final minute to preserve the victory, handing the Sun Devils its second loss at home this season.
"We were pretty high on emotions," Herauf said. "It was obviously a big win for us and put Minot State on the map. We really wanted to prove ourselves and we really had nothing to lose and everything to gain."
The Beavers held ASU's two top scorers - Kale Dolinski and Colin Hekle - scoreless as Waselenchuk earned the victory with 38 saves.
"It's rewarding for our program, but in all honesty it's our guys," Regier said. "I'm so proud of the way that they played and they took the game extremely serious and played unbelievably. It was a complete team effort. It's a lot of satisfaction for our guys to know that now we can play with anybody."
Despite the victory, MSU had little time to celebrate with a two-game series against Arizona on Friday and Saturday. The potential emotional hangover from Thursday's victory appeared evident in the first period against the Wildcats on Friday, as the Beavers fell behind 2-0 halfway through the opening stanza.
But the Beavers strung together three unanswered goals to close out the first period and added three more tallies over the final two frames to pull out the 6-2 victory. Six different players registered goals and 10 Beavers registered a point.
"We tried to stay focused on playing our style of hockey," Herauf said. "We always preach not to get too high when we win and not get too low when we lose."
Herauf helped complete the series sweep of the Wildcats the following night, recording a hat trick to rally the Beavers from another two-goal first-period deficit to a 5-3 victory.
The Beavers get some much-needed rest before traveling to in-state rival Williston State College on Jan. 16.