Sunday, October 23, 2016

Nanooks 4, Mavericks 2

Freddy's three thoughts from afar ...

1. Tough night: After starting the season 5-0-0 for the first time since 1998, Minnesota State wasn't able to match that season's six-win start, falling to Alaska. Not a lot appeared to go right for the Mavericks. C.J. Franklin was lost early in the second period for a contact-to-the-head major/game misconduct penalty. Daniel Brickley left the game late in the third period with an apparent injury. The Mavericks also went 0 for 6 on the power play while allowing two power-play goals to the Nanooks. Trailing 3-2, Minnesota State outshot Alaska 11-5 the rest of the way but con't get the equalizer.

2. Goalie change: Coach Mike Hastings opted to start Jason Pawloski in goal despite Cole Huggins' hot start. The moving wasn't surprising here as it seemed to be a good time to give Huggins a break and see what the sophomore could do. Pawloski put up good numbers last season before getting hurt. Didn't turn out too well, however, as Pawloski allowed three goals on 13 shots before being pulled midway through the second period. Speaking of goalies, Alaska's Jesse Jenks had a solid game, making 25 saves, including 11 in the third period when the Mavericks were making a strong push.

3. Top players: The Mavericks got goals from defensemen Sean Flanagan and Ian Scheid. For Scheid, a freshman, it was his second goal of the weekend. Freshman forward Nicholas Rivera had an assist for a four-point weekend. Another positive for the Mavericks was the return of senior forward Zach Stepan to the lineup. Stepan was cleared to play last week but was a scratch on Friday. On Saturday, he played on a line with Josh French and Ryan Schwalbe and finished the game plus-1.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Mavericks 7, Nanooks 1

Freddy's three thoughts from afar ...

1. Freshmen jell quickly: Nicholas Rivera scored two goals and assisted on another, Marc Michaelis had two goals and Ian Scheid scored another in the road victory to keep MSU undefeated through five games. Those are all first-year players. Each week and game, it seems, a different freshman emerges for this team. This night it was Rivera. Michaelis has been so good so far and already has eight points for the season. First career goals for Rivera and Scheid — and for sophomore defenseman Alec Vanko, who didn't get much playing time as a rookie.

2. Brick by Brick: Daniel Brickley continued to impress. He finished the game with three assists and now has 10 points on the season. Already, he's just one point shy of last season's total. Lots of scouts watched him play last weekend against St. Cloud State. The good news for the Mavericks is they have him this season. The question will continue to be: How much longer after that? In Mankato, of course, there are lots of comparisons to the development of Casey Nelson. But with MSU playing in Fairbanks this weekend, one wonders if you can compare him to another former great WCHA defenseman, Colton Parayko.

3. High scoring: With seven goals in the game, the Mavericks already have 24 goals for the season, an average of 4.8 per. It's early, of course, but that production has to be pleasing to coach Mike Hastings, especially considering the goals are being spread all around. No one player has more than three. Last year, it took MSU 12 games to get to 24 goals and they averaged 2.56 for the season. They finished 3 for 9 on the power play on Friday, upping their percentage to 30 percent (9 for 30) for the season.

Read more here.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Friday morning skate

The ninth-ranked Mavericks are in Alaska, set to start a two-game, WCHA series against the Nanooks and hoping to keep their unblemished record intact. It's amazing what a difference a season makes. A year ago, MSU was 0-4 and heading out on the road with a lot of questions. Now, it's 4-0 and going on the road feeling pretty good. Every season has to be treated differently, coach Mike Hastings says.

Don't expect too many changes to Minnesota State's lineup compared to last week. If anything, Zach Stepan could see some action. Hastings said the senior forward has been cleared to play, but the coach, on Wednesday, made no guarantees about what his Friday-night line chart would look like.

More on the series on my College Hockey Gameday preview.

ICYMI earlier in the week: my College Hockey Notebook and my Tuesday column on the importance of nonconference wins in the WCHA.

As for the Nanooks, they're hoping to bounce back from a pair of losses in their own tournament last weekend. It was the first time Alaska went winless in the Goal Rush. Sophomore forward Chad Staley is optimistic, however, and sees a team that has good depth and a balanced attack.

Going around the WCHA ...

Bemidji State at North Dakota: The undefeated Beavers face their toughest task of the season as they go to Grand Forks to take the No. 1 Fighting Hawks. Bemidji State, now ranked No. 18, always seems to play UND tough. Star goalie Michael Bitzer stunned them two years ago in his first collegiate start. Indeed, the Fighting Hawks are aware of the pest the Beavers can be.

Bowling Green vs./at Ohio State: The Falcons face an in-state foe when they take on the No. 19 Buckeyes in a home-and-home series. Surprisingly winless, Bowling Green has a number of issues and areas in need of improvement, including goaltending and team intensity.

Northern Michigan at Ferris State: The Wildcats go below the bridge to take on the Bulldogs in a WCHA series. Each team is 0-2 in league play. Northern Michigan is 1-3, but there might be bigger concerns in Big Rapids where Ferris State is 0-5 to start the season.

Michigan Tech at Michigan: The Huskies step out of conference play for a series below the bridge (is that how the Michigan folks say it?) against the Wolverines. They can help themselves out (and their league-mates) big-time with a win or two against the nation's 11th-ranked team.

Lake Superior State at Alabama Huntsville: The Chargers are finally hope after an up-and-down road swing, one that started with a pair of wins at Ferris State but continued with three losses and a tie/3-on-3 loss. They will face a Lakers team that scored 13 goals during its opening weekend.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Tuomie gets WCHA honor

Minnesota State freshman forward Parker Tuomie was named WCHA Rookie of the Week for his efforts in last weekend's sweep of St. Cloud State. Tuomie had a three-point weekend and 10 shots on goal in the sweep over St. Cloud State.

He had an assist on Friday and scored his first two collegiate goals on Saturday during a four-goal outburst in the second period.

I made comments over the weekend suggesting Clint Lewis (2-2--4, +6) might get Defensive Player of the Week honors, but he was competing against Bemidji State goalie Michael Bitzer (two road shutouts at Northern Michigan) and Lake Superior State's Owen Headrick (1-5--6, +2 in two home wins over Michigan State). Bitzer and Headrick shared the award.

Michigan Tech's Reid Sturos got the Offensive Player of the Week award for netting the WCHA's first-ever 3-on-3 overtime goal to break a tie against Alabama Huntsville on Saturday. The goal does not count for his stats, but it was historic in the league's eyes. He had one regulation goal in the Huskies' Friday-night win.

Number 9 ... Number 9

Now 4-0-0 to start the season, Minnesota State is ranked ninth in both national polls released on Monday. The Mavericks moved up from No. 14 in the USCHO top 20 rankings and from the Others Receiving Votes category in the USA Today/USA Hockey top 15.

North Dakota was the unanimous No. 1 in both polls.

St. Cloud State, whom MSU swept over the weekend, dropped to 14th in both polls. The Huskies had been seventh and fifth, respectively.

The only other ranked WCHA team is 4-0-0 Bemidji State, which entered the USCHO poll at No. 18. Bowling Green received two votes. Bemidji State and Lake Superior State (2-0-0) received votes in the USA Today poll.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Mavericks 6, Huskies 4

Freddy's three thoughts of the game ...

1. Are you not entertained? Ten goals. Five in the first period. Five in the second. If you like offensive hockey, if you like goal scoring, this was the game for you. The Mavericks got off to a good start for the fourth game in a row, but finally got some real push-back when St. Cloud State erased MSU's 2-0 lead and took a 3-2 lead into the first intermission. "I thought it was starting to become a little bit of pond hockey," Mavericks coach Mike Hastings said. After the two teams traded goals to start the second, MSU scored three unanswered goals to take command of the game again. “It was good to see us react they way we did after getting punched in the nose,” Hastings said. "We needed to see how we’d react to that because it hadn’t happened yet (this season."

2. Your defensive player of the week is ... It's got to be Clint Lewis. The junior scored the game's first two goals and was +3 (as was his defensive partner Carter Foguth, who played an outstanding game). Lewis had two assists and was +3 on Friday. Four points, +6 ... what a weekend. His first goal was a blast from the blue line 20 seconds into the game. His second came 4:21 later on a shot from the left point. The puck deflected off a defenseman (at first Max Coatta was credited with the goal) and into the net. Daniel Brickley also had an assist and in the game and now has a team-high seven points.

3. Freshman fits in: Parker Tuomie was named the WCHA's preseason rookie of the year in the coaches' poll, and he showed why against the Huskies. Tuomie scored two of MSU's four second-period goals — his first two collegiate goals — to tie the game and then give his team the 6-4 lead. "It was good to see him doing what he’d like to be doing," Hastings said. "He cashed in a couple of goals and we needed them. ... I think I’ve go tto do a better job of just leaving him alone a little bit, let him grow and allow him to just go play because he’s a very talented player and sometimes you got to give those guys a lot of room. … Hopefuly that will help him continue to play like he did tonight."

Deep thought: It was fitting that MSU swept St. Cloud State, the team it's played more than any other, on the night that the school and the city honored Don Brose with the naming of the hockey training facility after him.

Read my game story here.

Around the WCHA: Michigan Tech 1, Alabama Huntsville 1, OT (Tech gets extra point in 3x3 play) ... Bemidji State 2, Northern Michigan 0 ... Michigan 2, Ferris State 1 ... Lake Superior State 7, Michigan State 3 ... Western Michigan 8, Bowling Green 2 ... Alaska Anchorage 1, Canisius 0 ... Omaha at Alaska (late)

Mavericks-Huskies, Game 2 live coverage

The Mavericks and the Huskies will wrap up their nonconference series at 7:07 p.m. at the Verizon Center. Minnesota State will go for the series sweep, while St. Cloud State looks for a season-opening split. Follow the action and join the conversation below tonight's lines.

20-Michaelis ... 15-Franklin ... 19-McClure
6-Tuomie ... 17-Huntebrinker ... 10-Knutson
23-Rivera ... 16-J. Nelson ... 12-Coatta
27-Schwalbe ... 26-French ... 13-Madry

4-Lewis ... 5-Foguth
8-Brickley ... 18-Scheid
11-Flanagan ... 21-Vanko

29-A. Nelson

Scratches: Cooper, Gerard, Stepan, Hookenson, Bigelbach

19-Eyssimont ... 18-Peterson ... 21-Wahlin
23-Jackson ... 11-R. Poehling   ... 14-Newell
3-J. Poehling ... 42-Winiecki ... 10-Papa
4-Storm ... 6-Tedesco ... 17-Benson

22-Schuldt ... 20-Borgen
5-Widman ... 12-Ahcan
16-Lizotte   ... 27-Cholowski