MANKATO, Minn. — Teddy Blueger may be a junior with 87 college hockey games on his résumé, but he’s still the youngest player on the Minnesota State-Mankato roster.
On Saturday night at the Verizon Wireless Center, the 20-year-old Blueger showed the crowd of 3,813 just how much he’s grown up.
Blueger completed his first college hat trick and helped the No.
13 Mavericks sweep a series with Bemidji State with a 5-3 victory.
“There’s been a maturation to his game,” Mavericks coach Mike Hastings said. “His consistency, not only throughout a game but throughout a weekend, and week to week, has come so far. Extremely coachable. He wants to be good. He’ll do anything he needs to do to get better.”
Minn.-Mankato | F | Jr.
Blueger finished the series with five points, equaling his linemate, Bryce Gervais, who had four points on Friday and an assist on Blueger’s first goal on Saturday. Gervais also had the Mavericks’ first hat trick of the season eight days earlier at Bowling Green.
On Saturday, Gervais let Blueger in on the scoring fun and even did some of the dirty work to help out Blueger, setting up screens in front of goaltender Andrew Walsh for a pair of power-play goals 59 seconds apart late in the first period to give MSU a 3-0 lead.
Both goals were wrist shots from the point that beat the goalie clean.
“Gerv helped me out,” said Blueger, who now has six goals and nine points. “He got the goalie’s eyes a couple of times. I didn’t have to do too much. I don’t think their goalie saw either shot.”
Blueger was more of an assist man during his first two seasons, with just 10 goals and 35 helpers. Now he leads the Mavericks (7-3-0, 5-1-0 in WCHA) in shots on goal and ranks second in goals behind Gervais (nine).
“I talked about wanting to be more of a dual-threat,” Blueger said, “not just a passer but a shooter. I worked on my shot a lot over the summer.”
Blueger completed the hat trick with 25.9 seconds remaining in the second period. The goal, a tap-in at the right post behind Walsh following the rebound of a Zach Palmquist blast, was crucial, as the Beavers had pulled to within 3-2 less than a minute earlier.
“It’s fun,” Blueger said. “It’s fun to contribute, and it’s a lot of fun to win, too. It was a good series. I’m happy with the way we played this weekend.”
Brad McClure scored MSU’s first goal at 11:22 of the first period, good for his fourth goal of the season. Matt Leitner added his second empty-net goal in as many games with 2:07 remaining. Leitner’s goal was also short-handed, as the Mavericks had to kill off three penalties in the game’s final 8 1/2 minutes.
The Beavers got goals from Phil Brewer, Graeme McCormack and Nate Arentz. Brewer’s goal came with 2.5 seconds remaining in the first period, making it a 3-1 game. Arentz scored with 10.5 seconds left in the game.
The Mavericks outshot the Beavers 33-23. MSU goalie Stephon Williams got his seventh win of the season, making 20 saves.
The win was the Mavericks’ fifth in six games.
“I don’t think it’s very easy in our league to get a sweep,” Hastings said. “This was a big weekend for us.”