MINNESOTA STATE ADVANCES TO WCHA FINAL FIVE WITH 4-3 OT WIN AGAINST NORTHERN MICHIGAN
Freshman Zach Stepan scores at 16:32 of overtime for Mavericks

Freshman Zach Stepan scored at 16:32 of overtime for the Mavericks

Mankato, Minn. --- 18th-rated Minnesota State battled back from four deficits to claim a 5-4 overtime victory over Northern Michigan in a Western Collegiate Hockey Association play-off game vs. Northern Michigan Saturday.

With the win, Minnesota State claims the best-of-three Western Collegiate Hockey first-round play-off series 2-0.

Northern Michigan forward Jake Johnson scored the game's first goal when he snapped a rebound past Cole Huggins at 7:18. The Mavericks knotted it up right before the end of the first period when junior forward Matt Leitner scored on a backhanded breakaway shot for this 11th goal of the year.

The Wildcats regained the lead after Ryan Kesti's screen shot from the top of the left circle found the back of the net at 3:31 of the second. The Mavericks tied it up for the second time on a Johnny McInnis power play marker at the 14-minute mark. The goal is the 20th of the season for McInnis.

Stephan Vigier one-timed a shot past Huggins at 4:44 with NMU on the power play in the third period, but sophomore forward Bryce Gervais tallied to even it up for the third time at 7:22. Defenseman Brock Maschmeyer's power play shot from the point gave NMU a one-goal lead at 12:11, but Gervais then got his tenth goal in the last 13 games to make it 4-4 at 15:37 with the Mavericks on the power play.

The Mavericks finally took their first lead and ended the game when freshman forward Zach Stepan put in a rebound at 16:32 of overtime. The goal by Stepan is his eighth of the year and second game-winning goal of the season.

MSU, which owned a 58-32 advantage in shots on goal, extended its unbeaten streak to 11 games with the win.

MSU now stands 24-13-1 with tonight's victory. Northern Michigan completes its season with a 15-21-2 record.

With the win MSU advances to the 2014 WCHA Final Five in Grand Rapids, Mich., which is scheduled for March 21-22 in Van Andel Arena.