Saturday, January 21, 2017

Huskies 4, Mavericks 0

Freddy's three thoughts of the game ...

1. Out of gas: Mavericks coach Mike Hastings on Friday worried that he overworked some of his team's top players as they rallied from a two-goal deficit, took a two-goal lead and then lost that before tying (and getting the shootout point against) Michigan Tech. On Saturday, MSU indeed looked to be out of gas. The Mavericks fell behind 2-0 in the second period and just couldn't get themselves back in the game. Michigan Tech did a good job defensively to keep goalie Angus Redmond clean, and he ended up with a 22-save shutout.

2. The importance of special teams: The Mavericks lost the special teams battle, allowing one power play goal (after failing to clear the zone three times and then only getting the puck to neutral, not deep enough for a change) while going 0 for 2 on their own chances. The second of those was negated partway through by an MSU penalty. Tech didn't score on its first power play, but did enough to turn the tables on MSU, which, before that point (about midway through the first period) was outshooting the Huskies 7-2. For the series, the Mavericks were 0 for 5 on the power play, and the Huskies were 3 for 7.

3. Fall to fourth: The Mavericks' loss, combined with Bowling Green's overtime win over Alaska, dropped them to fourth place in the WCHA standings, one point behind the Falcons. MSU does have two games in hand, however. Minnesota State now trails second-place Michigan Tech by nine points, a lot of ground to make up. The talk in the press box was that the winner of this weekend's series could very well end up hosting the other in the second round of the league playoffs. Is it too early to reserve another room in Houghton for early March? There are still five weeks left in the regular season.

Read my game story here.



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

Live coverage: MSU at Michigan Tech

The Mavericks and Huskies will go back at it at 6:07 p.m. CST tonight. Follow along below tonight's lines.

MINNESOTA STATE
6-Tuomie, 15-Franklin, 10-Knutson
25-Stepan, 20-Michaelis, 19-McClure
23-Rivera, 26-French, 12-Coatta
17-Huntebrinker, 27-Schwalbe, 9-Gerard

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

29-Nelson
34-Huggins

Scratches on trip: J. Nelson, Hookenson

MICHIGAN TECH
10-Jackson, 25-Neville, 7-Sturos
27-Heinonen, 15-Lucchini, 19-Gerrie
9-Gillies, 20-Smith, 13-Beretta
14-Gould, 16-Blacklock, 11-L'Esperance

22-Hanna, 5-Reinke
2-Watson, 6-Leibinger
12-Auk, 4-Birks

37-Redmond
31-Kero
35-Wintjes

Friday, January 20, 2017

Mavericks 4, Huskies 4

Freddy's three thoughts of the game ...

1. Comeback, kind of: For the second game in a row, the Mavericks trailed by two goals in the second period and mounted a comeback. They scored four in a row — three in the third period — to turn a 2-0 deficit into a 4-2 lead. However, the Huskies also had some left, and they scored twice to tie the game with nearly half the third period left to play. "It was up and down," said junior forward Zeb Knutson, who scored twice in a span of 1:26 in the third. "I thought we did well to get ourselves in a position to get the lead. We didn't really back down. We had our chances and tried to finish them." Tech scored its two third-period goals in a span of 1:17. The teams scored five times in the period's first 10:33.

2. Switching things up: Coach Mike Hastings made some line adjustments heading into Friday's game, putting C.J. Franklin (one goal) with Knutson and Parker Tuomie. Marc Michaelis (two assists) moved from wing to second-line center with Brad McClure (one goal, one assist) and Zach Stepan (on assist). "We need to be deeper offensively so we split up Franklin, Michaelis and McClure," coach Mike Hastings said. "Throughout our league — throughout college hockey — we’re trying to find ways to score goals. It’s amazing; as the season goes on the opportunities on the power play seem to go away. I don’t know what that is. That’s just the way it is. You better be able to generate 5 on 5. We’re still in search of trying to become better at that."

3. Extra point is good: Parker Tuomie scored in the third round of the sudden-death shootout to give Minnesota State the extra point for the standings. That could prove huge later, especially since MSU wasn't able to get the extra point in two previous league ties this season. "It's going to come down to the wire," said Knutson, whose first-round shot, like all five previous to Tuomie's, was saved by the goalie. "There are nine games left in the season so we're trying to get every point we can get and see what happens from there." Both teams were gassed in 3-on-3 and even the shootout after the wild third period.


Read my game story here.

Around the WCHA: Ferris State 5, Bemidji State 2 ... Alaska 3, Bowling Green 2 ... Northern Michigan 6, Alaska Anchorage 1 ... Lake Superior State 5, Alabama Huntsville 4

Live coverage: MSU at Michigan Tech

The No. 20 Mavericks are in the U.P., taking on Michigan Tech in what could be a pivotal WCHA series. Minnesota State is tied for third in the league, seven points behind the Huskies. Live blog can be found below tonight's lines (which have a different look than recent games).

MINNESOTA STATE
6-Tuomie, 15-Franklin, 10-Knutson
25-Stepan, 20-Michaelis, 19-McClure
23-Rivera, 16-Nelson, 12-Coatta
17-Huntebrinker, 26-French, 9-Gerard

8-Brickley, 5-Foguth
11-Flanagan, 18-Scheid
4-Lewis, 27-Schwalbe

29-Nelson
34-Huggins

Scratches: Bigelbach, Cooper, Hookenson*, Madry, Pawloski, Vanko*
* also on trip

MICHIGAN TECH
10-Jackson, 25-Neville, 7-Sturos
27-Heinonen, 15-Lucchini, 9-Gerrie
9-Gillies, 20-Smith, 13-Beretta
23-Brice, 16-Blacklock, 14-Gould

22-Hanna, 5-Reinke
2-Watson, 6-Leibinger
12-Auk, 4-Birks

37-Redmond
31-Kero
35-Wintjes

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Friday Morning Skate

Posting this Thursday night, as I'll be leaving bright and early for Houghton in the morning ...

It's a big series between the Mavericks and the Huskies of Michigan Tech, one that could have major playoff implications, considering we're six weeks from the end of the regular season. Will it have Pairwise implications? Probably not, but that doesn't really matter for WCHA teams.

The two teams met back on MSU's opening weekend, and the Mavericks swept the series. They're not playing the same team they saw then, coach Mike Hastings said in this week's College Hockey Gameday.

Earlier in the week, Minnesota State's C.J. Franklin was named WCHA Offensive Player of the Week. That and other notes in Thursday's Hockey Notebook.

As for Michigan Tech, it is looking for a spark after a pair of ties at home to Alaska Anchorage last week. Each team got an extra tiebreaker point int he series.

Every WCHA team is in league action this weekend. So it should be an interesting weekend.

Ferris State at Bemidji State: The Beavers are sitting pretty atop the WCHA standings. Can they keep things rolling as they approach the home stretch? The Bulldogs, meanwhile, are hoping to snap a seven-game winless streak.

Alabama Huntsville at Lake Superior State: The Lakers suffered a big blow on Thursday when the WCHA's fifth-leading scorer among defensemen, Owen Headrick, announced he was leaving the team to play major junior. The Chargers were off last week after getting swept at home by MSU.

Alaska at Bowling Green: The Nanooks have moved into fifth place in the standings and would love to make their way up to where the Falcons (and Mavericks) are sitting. Eight points currently separate third from fifth.

Alaska Anchorage at Northern Michigan: These are the two bottom teams in the league and are at risk of missing the playoffs. The Seawolves are six points ahead of the Wildcats and three out of eighth place. NMU hopes that it has a turnaround left in its season.

Going outside of college hockey, there were two high school games at Mankato's Verizon Center on Thursday night as the Mankato West and Mankato East/Loyola boys and girls teams played each other. I covered those games, with the East girls and the West boys winning.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Mavericks 5, Falcons 3

Freddy's three thoughts of the game ...

1. C.J. takes over: There's a lot in my game story (link below) on the night C.J. Franklin had as he led the Mavericks' come-from-behind victory. He had two goals as MSU scored four unanswered to beat Bowling Green. Here's a little more about him from coach Mike Hastings that missed the cut in the story: "I think he can be a dominant player in any game we play whether we’re playing in league or nonconference, just because he has a unique package as far as being able to play any type of game. If you want to play a fast game and get up and down the rink. He’s got the skating ability and the talent to be able to make plays. If you get into some games that are very physical ... tonight, he put a body on a guy, stole the puck and took it right to the hole." Franklin's three-point game gives him 22 points (9 goals, 13 assists).

2. Upper class: After Friday's overtime loss to Bowling Green, Hastings talked about needing more from his upperclassmen. He got that from Franklin and others on Saturday. Zeb Knutson had a goal and an assist, and Zach Stepan assisted on two goals. "Obviously it wasn’t our best effort through two (periods)," said Hastings, who said he singled out Stepan in the locker room after the game because of his solid play over the last two weekends. "We faced some adversity. ... Our leadership group really stepped up there in the third period, which we needed them to do."

3. Full Nelson: Goaltender Aaron Nelson got his fourth consecutive start since being promoted from the No. 3 job, and he bounced back from Friday's overtime loss, too. Nelson, who stopped 22 of 25 shots, picked up his third victory. "Just tried to have fun and get back to what made us successful last weekend (at Alabama Huntsville)," he said. "When we're good, we're good." There was quite a contrast in goalies on Saturday. Nelson is listed at 5-foot-9, 165 pounds. At the other end of the ice, Bowling Green went with freshman Ryan Bednard, who is 6-5, 205.

Read my game story here.



Around the WCHA: Alaska 2, Ferris State 1 (OT) ... Northern Michigan 1, Lake Superior State 1 (NMU wins in shootout) ... Michigan Tech 1, Alaska Anchorage 1 (MTU wins in shootout)

Live coverage: MSU vs. Bowling Green

Minnesota State will try to bounce back from Friday's overtime loss. Follow along or join the conversation in the blog below tonight's lines.

MINNESOTA STATE
20-Michaelis, 15-Franklin, 19-McClure
25-Stepan, 17-Huntebrinker, 10-Knutson
23-Rivera, 16-Nelson, 12-Coatta
6-Tuomie, 26-French, 9-Gerard

8-Brickley, 5-Foguth
11-Flanagan, 18-Scheid
4-Lewis, 27-Schwalbe

29-Nelson
39-Pawloski
34-Huggins

Scratches: Bigelbach, Cooper, Hookenson, Madry, Vanko

BOWLING GREEN
22-Craggs, 6-McLain, 29-Schilling
10-Dufour, 7-Spezia, 20-Pohlkamp
13-Baylis, 18-D'Andrea, 8-Letourneau
17-Linkenheld, 2-Mercier, 27-McKeown

23-Rauhauser, 28-Walker
14-Friedman, 21-Dalton
12-Pohlkamp, 4-McDonald

35-Bednard
33-Nell