Wednesday, November 26, 2014

NAHL's top scorer commits to MSU

Chandler Madry, the leading scorer in the North American Hockey League, announced his commitment to Minnesota State on Wednesday via Twitter:


The 6-foot-0, 190-pound forward from the Fairbanks Ice Dogs, has 39 points, including 12 goals in 26 games this season. The 19-year-old is a Denver native who spent some time playing in California and is in his third season in Fairbanks.

In a story about his commitment on the NAHL's website, Madry said, "Winning is what you're always striving for in hockey. I've got an opportunity to go to a winning program. I want to keep that going there and hopefully produce for them"

Last week, another NAHL player, defenseman Daniel Brickley committed to MSU. Brickley is a 6-foot-3, 210-pounder is from Sandy, Utah, who has seven goals and 19 points this season. He's also +11 in 22 games with 34 PIMs.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Williams earns WCHA award

Photo by David Archambeau, Daily Mining Gazette
Minnesota State goaltender Stephon Williams was named WCHA Defensive Player of the Week on Monday, following his backstopping of the Mavericks' sweep over then-No.1 Michigan Tech over the weekend.

Williams stopped 55 of 58 shots in the two games to improve his record to 9-1-0. The junior now has 35 career wins, which ranks fifth on the Mavericks' all-time list.

Ferris State's Chad McDonald was named Offensive Player of the Week, and Lake Superior State's James Roll was named Rookie of the Week.

For more on Williams' weekend read my series review from Monday's Free Press.

Release the polls!

For the first time in its Division I history, Minnesota State swept a team ranked No. 1 in a weekend series when it won a pair of WCHA games at Michigan Tech.

According to MSU sports information, the Mavericks have had other significant sweeps, including last year's home sweep of No. 2 Ferris State, a home sweep of No. 2 Wisconsin in 2005-06, a home sweep of No. 4 Denver in 2007-08 and a home sweep of No. 7 North Dakota in 2002-03.

So what did the then-No. 9 (No. 2 in the Pairwise) Mavericks and then-No. 1 Huskies do in this week's polls? Well, MSU rose and Tech dropped, but the flip-flop most people expected to see did not happen (except in the Pairwise). However, Minnesota State's No. 7 ranking in the opinion polls is an all-time high for the program.

Here's how they look:

U.S. COLLEGE HOCKEY ONLINE
1. Boston University (42 first-place votes), 8-1-1, 988 points
2. North Dakota (3), 9-3-1, 889
3. Minnesota (1), 7-3-0, 825
4. UMass-Lowell, 8-2-3, 806
5. Miami, 10-4-0, 764
6. Michigan Tech, 10-2-0, 748
7. Minnesota State (3), 9-4-0, 746
8. Minnesota Duluth (1), 9-5-0, 615
9. Colgate, 9-4-1, 575
10. Denver, 8-3-0, 572

Other WCHA teams in rankings: 15-Bowling Green, 19-Northern Michigan, RV-Ferris State. For full top 20 go here.

USA HOCKEY/USA TODAY MAGAZINE
1. Boston University (27 first-place votes), 497 points
2. North Dakota (4), 447
3. Minnesota, 409
4. UMass-Lowell, 367
5. Michigan Tech (1), 358
6. Miami, 337
7. Minnesota State (2), 321
8. Minnesota Duluth, 241
9. Colgate, 236
10. Denver, 226

Other WCHA teams in rankings: 15-Bowling Green. For full top 15 go here.

PAIRWISE RANKINGS
1. Minnesota State
2. Nebraska Omaha
3t. Minnesota
3t. Michigan Tech
3t. Minnesota Duluth
6. Boston University
7. Miami
8. Bowling Green
9. Vermont
10. Denver
11. North Dakota
12. Quinnipiac
13. UMass-Lowell
14t. Harvard
14t. Penn State
16. Yale

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Mavericks 3, Huskies 2

Freddy's three thoughts of the game

1. Playoff-esque: Circle Feb. 27-28 on your calendar. Minnesota State's last regular home series of the season. That's when the Mavericks will have a rematch against Michigan Tech. Although there's a lot of hockey to be played between now and then, my guess is that will be a pretty meaningful series, possibly with MacNaughton Cup consequences. This was simply fabulous weekend of well-played hockey between two very good college hockey teams, and Minnesota State was able to come out on top each night and sweep the previously unbeaten and No. 1-ranked Huskies. It probably could have gone either way or been a split or a three-point series for someone or a couple of ties. "It was a road game, and we knew it would be hard," Matt Leitner said. "We knew there weren't going to be any tic-tac-toe plays. We had to get bodies to the front of the cage. ... We had to keep it simple."

2. Senior salute: The old guard got it done for the Mavericks, with Leitner and LaFontaine scoring third-period goals (each assisting on the other's, too) to give their team a 3-1 lead. Leitner's shot was a slow one that hit off a defenseman and deflected past goalie Jamie Phillips. LaFontaine made a hustle play to the goal line to retrieve a 50-50 puck and, noticing Phillips out of position went behind the net and scored with a wrap-around. They've only had two of them, with the last one coming three years ago, but Saturday nights in Houghton have been pretty special for the duo. Credit senior defensemen Brett Stern and Zach Palmquist for their back-end play, and senior forwards Chase Grant and Max Gaede for adding their veteran grit, too.

3. Getting the Willies: Stephon Williams had his best weekend of goaltending since his freshman season. He stopped 25 of 27 shots on Saturday and 55 of 58 on the weekend for the big sweep. Again, a lot of credit has to go to his teammates for keeping the sheet clean in front of him and keeping Tech clear of the scoring areas for the most part. But he stood tall in the second half of the third period for the sweep when the Huskies made their big push and MSU took three penalties over the final 8:40. Tech scored on the third power play, a rebound goal, but he stopped 13 of 14 shots in the third, including 6 of 7 when his team was short-handed in the frame. He has nine wins now. "The young man has put in a lot of work — physically, preparation-wise and mentally," coach Mike Hastings said. "It's nice to see him rewarded for that dedication."

Deep thought: I tweeted this out earlier, but if you're a college hockey fan, you have to make the trek to Houghton for a Michigan Tech game or two. Great student atmosphere, great pep band, great traditions. As college hockey grows in non-tradition places and in big mega-conferences (which is great for the sport), it needs to continue to latch on to the its roots. It's here in the U.P. Worth the drive and, yeah, even worth the weather.

Read my game story here.

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

MSU at Michigan Tech — Game 2 live blog

Click on the post title above or go here to join the live chat.

MINNESOTA STATE
15-Franklin, 23-Blueger, 9-Gervais
21-Grant, 18-Leitner, 12-LaFontaine
25-Stepan, 26-Margonari, 19-McClure
24-Knowles, 16-J. Nelson, 8-Gaede

7-Palmquist, 5-Foguth
27-Stern, 3-Thompson
11-Flanagan, 6-C. Nelson

35-Williams
34-Huggins

Scratches: Buchanan, Huntebrinker, Knutson, A. Nelson, Schmeisser

MICHIGAN TECH
15-Johnstone, 19-Pietila, 7-Sturos
23-Petan, 10-Kero, 14-Gould
18-Eick, 8-Steman, 9-Gillies
27-Heinonen, 25-Neville, 20-Hietala

2-Watson, 17-Sweeney
22-Hanna, 3-Roy
6-Leibinger, 29-Hyland

30-Phillips
35-Wintjes
31-Kero

Referees: Mike Elam, Jarod Moen. Linesmen: Eric Froberg, Dan Juopperi


Friday, November 21, 2014

Mavericks 2, Huskies 1

Freddy's three thoughts of the game:

1. Little Willy Willy won't give up goals: As I write in my gamer (link below), all eyes were on Michigan Tech goaltender Jamie Phillips, who was outstanding in shutting out the Mavericks for almost 52 minutes on Friday night. But when the Mavericks scored two quick goals and took a 2-1 lead with 8 minutes to play, attention turned to Stephon Williams in the MSU net. Williams played his best game of the season, maybe his best game since his freshman year and stopped 30 of 31 shots for the win over No. 1 Tech. He had 15 saves in the third period alone and stopped seven shots on the penalty kill. He gave a lot of credit to his teammates for they way they defended. "I had a lot of games where I faced just 15-16 shots," he said. "I know that's not going to happen all year. But when you do give up a lot of shots, it's the quality (of shots) you're giving up. I'm fortunate that my team doesn't give up a lot of quality chances."

2. Stern warning: It's probably not often that you see Teddy Blueger defer to Brett Stern for a quality goal-scoring opportunity, but that's what happened on the game-tying goal. Good work by rookie C.J. Franklin to bust down the ice on the forecheck and get the puck to Blueger and to Blueger for noticing Stern sneaking down toward the hash marks where he fired a shot that "had eyes" (Stern's words) and beat Phillips above the blocker. Stern, a senior defenseman has five career goals now, two this season. "Brett's done a better job over the last year and a half working on his offensive game," coach Mike Hastings said. "And he's been rewarded for that work." Stern actually led the Mavericks in the game with six shots on goal. Sophomore defenseman Carter Foguth also picked up a point, is first of the season, assisting on Dylan Margonari's game-winning goal.

3. Knocking off No. 1: The Mavericks certainly seemed to keep the win over the top-ranked Huskies in perspective. After all, it's still November. Lots of hockey left to be played. Including Saturday night's series finale. "It's good to beat a top-ranked team," said Margonari, who scored his third goal of the season and the 21st of his career. "But we've still got business to do tomorrow. We've got to try to get that sweep." Stern echoed those sentiments, saying "It's just another game. Every weekend is going to be tough." The Mavericks are still chasing the Huskies in the WCHA standings, too, and trying to keep pace with Bowling Green. "(Tech coach) Mel (Pearson) and I talked about this before the game," Hastings said. "This league is difficult to play in — every single weekend. It's got great goaltending, great coaches and guys who compete their tail off."

Read my Free Press game story here.

Around the WCHA: Alabama Huntsville 3, Ferris State 2 (!) ... Bowling Green 3, Bemidji State 1 ... Alaska 7, Lake Superior State 5 ... Northern Michigan 1, Alaska Anchorage

Minnesota State at Michigan Tech — Live blog

Click on the post title above or go here to join the live chat.

MINNESOTA STATE
15-Franklin, 23-Blueger, 9-Gervais
21-Grant, 18-Leitner, 12-LaFontaine
25-Stepan, 26-Margonari, 19-McClure
24-Knowles, 17-Huntebrinker, 8-Gaede

7-Palmquist, 5-Foguth
27-Stern, 3-Thompson
11-Flanagan, 6-C. Nelson

35-Williams
34-Huggins

Scratches: Buchanan, Knutson, A. Nelson, J. Nelson, Schmeisser

MICHIGAN TECH
28-Baltus, 19-Pietila, 7-Sturos
23-Petan, 10-Kero, 14-Gould
27-Heinonen, 25-Neville, 15-Johnstone
18-Eick, 8-Steman, 9-Gillies

2-Watson, 17-Sweeney
22-Hanna, 3-Roy
6-Leibinger, 29-Hyland

30-Phillips
35-Wintjes
31-Kero

Referees: Mike Elam, Jarod Moen. Linesmen: Eric Froberg, Dan Juopperi