Sunday, January 14, 2018

Mavericks 5, Nanooks 1

Freddy's three thoughts (from afar) ...

1. Wake-up call: If Friday's 5-0 loss didn't jolt the Mavericks, the first few minutes Saturday must have. Just 15 seconds in, Parker Tuomie was called for head contact, getting a 5-minute major and a game misconduct, and the Nanooks scored on the ensuing power play. Minnesota State dominated the game from that point on, though, and got the much-needed series split. Brad McClure, who's struggled to score goals this season, got two in the final 3:41 of the first period to give his team a 3-1 lead.

2. Switcheroo: Not surprisingly, coach Mike Hastings made some lineup changes Saturday night besides starting Connor LaCouvee in goal. Out were Reggie Lutz and Josh French at forward and Jack McNeely at defense. In were Charlie Gerard, Ryan Schwalbe and Edwin Hookenson. Those players, all of whom haven't seen a ton of action, came through. Gerard tied the game 1-1 midway through the first period, and Hookenson assisted on two goals.

3. Power restored: Minnesota State scored three power-play goals in the game after getting shut out on eight chances on Friday. McClure, Marc Michaelis and Daniel Brickley had the man-advantage goals. MSU was 3 for 10 and the Nanooks were 1 for 7 in the penalty-filled game. The teams combined for 30 penalties totaling 87 minutes. Michaelis also had an assist for a two-point game.

Deep thought: Friday's game was hardly ideal, but the Mavericks are going to leave Alaska with 9 of 12 possible points for the WCHA standings. They have some stuff to figure out, but that's not a bad road swing.

Read more here (link includes comments from Hastings)

Around the WCHA: Lake Superior State 5, Ferris State 3 ... Northern Michigan 3, Bowling Green 2 (OT) ... Bemidji State 2, North Dakota 2 (OT) ... Alaska Anchorage 2, Alabama Huntsville 1

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Nanooks 5, Mavericks 0

Freddy's three thoughts (from afar):

1. A stunner: I'm not sure I thought the Mavericks would sweep their four-game Alaska trip — according to a tweet by MSU's Paul Allan none of the previous seven teams who have done the back-to-back has swept — but I certainly didn't expect them to get blown out on Friday night by the Nanooks. The shots were even at 26 apiece, but Alaska made the most of its chances, blocked a lot of shots and disrupted passes. In short, the home team played hard and was rewarded for the effort.

2. Power play jinx: Of course on the day I write about how well MSU's power play is playing it gets blanked. The Mavericks had eight chances, including two lengthy 5-on-3s. Watching online, it was disconcerting to see the lack of urgency the Mavericks had on their first 5 on 3, trailing 2-0 at the time. Alaska went 2 for 5 on the power play, including a goal during Zeb Knutson's major penalty for barreling into goalie Anton Martinsson in the third period.

3. And the goalies? Mavericks starter Jason Pawloski didn't bail out his teammates, making for a lackluster performance throughout the lineup. He stopped 16 of 20 shots before being pulled. Connor LaCouvee came in and stopped 5 of 6 shots. Perhaps you can chalk this game up as one of those clunkers, but it will be interesting to see what Saturday night's lineup looks like — from the goal out.

Read more here.

Around the WCHA: Northern Michigan 5, Bowling Green 2 ... Ferris State 4, Lake Superior State 0 ... Alabama Huntsville 4, Alaska Anchorage 2 ... North Dakota 5, Bemidji State 1

Friday, January 12, 2018

Friday Morning Skate

Minnesota State will conclude its tour of Alaska today and Saturday when it plays Alaska. If you're looking closely at how the Mavericks have compiled their 16-6-0 record, you'll come across their power-play numbers pretty quickly. They scored six times with the man advantage last weekend and their success-rate is second in the country.

For more on the series, read my College Hockey Gameday feature.

For a preview from the Fairbanks side, including a feature on Nanooks sophomore Kyle Marino, go here.

ICYMI, my Tuesday column focused on the Mavericks' continued excellent road record, which, even after playing Alaska Anchorage, looks a lot easier than it really is.

In my College Hockey Notebook this week, I look at the fourth-ranked Gustavus Adolphus women's team, which is on a seven-game winning streak and faces No. 8 St. Thomas this weekend.

Around the WCHA:

Bemidji State vs. North Dakota: The Beavers are playing their biggest nonconference series of the year when they take on the Fighting Hawks. Players are, of course, excited about the opportunity to play the Fighting Sioux. BSU defenseman Zach Whitecloud is drawing a lot of interest from NHL teams.

Bowling Green at Northern Michigan: This should be a good series in Marquette between the second-place Falcons and third-place Wildcats. Just three points separate the two teams in the standings. Bowling Green has won four games in a row, its longest streak of the season. Northern Michigan, meanwhile, is back from break-even weekend in Las Vegas.

Ferris State at Lake Superior State: These are two teams that are trying to get going, sitting in eighth and ninth place, respectively. Remember: the bottom two teams in the WCHA don't make the playoffs, so this series could give the Bulldogs some breathing room or leapfrog the Lakers over Ferris.

Alabama Huntsville at Alaska Anchorage: Somewhere along the Denali highway, I'll bet, Huntsville's bus met Minnesota State's going in opposite directions. The Chargers split at Alaska last week and are hoping for a winning week in Alaska. The Seawolves, meanwhile, are still looking for their first home win of the year and their second overall.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Brickley named Defensive Player of the Week

For the fourth time this season, Minnesota State's Daniel Brickley was named WCHA Defensive Player of the Week, this time for his four-point weekend in the Mavericks' sweep at Alaska Anchorage.

The junior defenseman had a goal and three assists in the series, along with 10 shots on goal, and was a plus-3. He had two assists in Friday's 5-2 win and the game-winning goal and an assist in Saturday's 4-1 victory.

Other WCHA awards this week went to: Bemidji State senior forward Kyle Bauman (offensive), BSU senior goalie Michael Bitzer (defensive) and Bowling Green freshman forward Connor Ford (rookie). Read more about them here.

For more about the Mavericks' sweep at Anchorage over the weekend, read my Free Press column about the difficulty of pulling that off, even against a one-win team.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Mavericks down one, up one

Ranking teams in opinion polls is not a scientific process, especially when teams are bunched together and there are sweeps and splits among some of the better teams. So, after Minnesota State's sixth and seventh win in eight games, a sweep at lowly Alaska Anchorage but a sweep nonetheless, the Mavericks dropped a spot to No. 8 in the latest USCHO poll and went up a spot to No. 6 in the USA Today/USA Hockey rankings.

Just a curious thing. Here's the USCHO poll (which I vote on and the AP uses for rankings):

USCHO.com Division I Men's Poll
Minneapolis, Minn./January 08, 2018

   Team             (First Place)    Record   Pts  Last Week
 1 Notre Dame                (40)   18- 3-1   988     2
 2 St. Cloud State           ( 6)   13- 3-3   932     1
 3 Clarkson                  ( 3)   16- 3-1   916     3
 4 Cornell                   ( 1)   13- 2-0   855     5
 5 Denver                           12- 6-4   773     4
 6 Ohio State                       14- 4-4   707     8
 7 North Dakota                     11- 6-5   690     6
 8 Minnesota State                  16- 6-0   689     7
 9 Minnesota                        13-10-1   572    10
10 Northeastern                     12- 5-3   543     9
11 Providence                       14- 7-1   539    11
12 Western Michigan                 11- 8-1   440    12
13 Penn State                       12- 7-3   429    14
14 Bowling Green                    12- 6-6   244    19
15 Minnesota Duluth                  9- 9-3   228    16
16 Boston College                   10- 8-3   205    13
17 Omaha                            10- 9-1   187    18
18 Wisconsin                        10-10-3   173    15
19 Colgate                           9- 7-4    99    17
20 Maine                            11- 7-1    78    NR
20 Miami                             9- 9-2    78    NR

Others receiving votes: UMass Lowell 66, Harvard 16,
Michigan Tech 12, New Hampshire 11, Union 8, Bemidji State
6, Canisius 6, Colorado College 6, Niagara 3, Northern
Michigan 1.

Also, Bowling Green made a big jump to No. 14 from No. 19, which has lost just once in its last 10 games and has won four straight, including a sweep at Ferris State over the weekend.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Mavericks 4, Seawolves 1

Freddy's three thoughts (from afar):

1. More power: After scoring three power-play goals on Friday, the Mavericks added three more on Saturday to take control of the game. Jake Jaremko, Daniel Brickley and Marc Michaelis scored the PPGs, with the latter two getting assists as well. Minnesota State finished 6 for 12 on the power play against the Seawolves for the weekend, and impress percentage against any team.

2. Suess still going: With a short-handed goal to make it 4-1, C.J. Suess extended his point-scoring streak to eight games. In that stretch, Suess has nine goals and four assists. He now has 29 points in 22 games, failing to score in just four of MSU's games. Parker Tuomie also extended his point streak to eight games with two assists. He had a five-point weekend against Anchorage.

3. One-sided game: Friday's 5-2 win was probably closer than the score indicated, considering the Mavericks had to come from behind in the third period. Saturday's 4-1 victory wasn't that close. MSU outshot Anchorage 46-11, including a 20-2 thumping in the third period. That made for a relatively easy night for goalie Connor LaCouvee, who got his 10th win of the season and lowered his goals-against average to 1.94.

Read my game story with some Mike Hastings quotes here.

Around the WCHA: Bowling Green 6, Ferris State 3 ... Bemidji State 6, Lake Superior State 3 ... Alabama Huntsville 3, Alaska 1 ... Northern Michigan 3, Boston College 3 (OT) ... Arizona State 3, Michigan Tech 2

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Mavericks 5, Seawolves 2

Freddy's three thoughts (from afar):

1. Crisis averted: The Mavericks trailed 1-0 after one period and 2-1 early in the third after giving up a short-handed goals. Seemed like, despite a lopsided shot advantage, it was going to be one of those games. But MSU came to life big-time in the third period, scoring four unanswered goals to pull away from the one-win Seawolves. C.J. Suess scored two of the goals, the game-winner and an empty-netter to continue his torrid pace. He now has 28 points, including 12 goals, in 21 games.

2. Powerful stuff: Minnesota State scored three power-play goals, one each from Parker Tuomie, Jake Jaremko and Ian Scheid. They finished 3 for 7 with the man advantage, although did give up the shorty. Daniel Brickley had two assists on the power play, and Scheid also had a power-play assist. Anchorage also had a power-play goal, one that gave it its 1-0 lead. Scheid, a defenseman, and Tuomie each have five power-play goals this season, leading the Mavericks.

3. Gerads returns: Mavericks freshman Dallas Gerads returned to the lineup after missing two games after the nasty elbow to the head against Alabama Huntsville. Didn't hear his name much in the third period on the radio call (the WCHA.tv feed was out), but the fact that he was on the line chart again was encouraging. The box score had him with three shots on goal, playing on the fourth line with Jerad Spooner and Max Coatta.

Around the WCHA: Bemidji State 3, Lake Superior State 0 ... Alaska 3, Alabama Huntsville 2 ... Michigan Tech 4, Boston College 3 ... Arizona State 7, Northern Michigan 3