Friday, February 21, 2020

Friday Morning Skate

It's senior weekend for the Mavericks, who host Alabama Huntsville in their final regular-season series of the weekend. Minnesota State's senior class has made a major impact on the program — Marc Michaelis (who, it appears, will be be back in the lineup after missing seven games with a lower-body injury), Parker Tuomie, Nick Rivera, Josh French, Charlie Gerard, Ian Scheid and Edwin Hookenson — being part of 109 wins and counting.

Minnesota State can clinch a third straight WCHA championship this weekend, but with a five-point lead over Bemidji State, would need help from Alaska Anchorage, BSU's opponent this weekend. Also, the Mavericks would need to take care of business against the Chargers, who have earned WCHA points in each of the last four weekends.

Read about the UAH matchup and more in today's College Hockey Gameday.

Going around the rest of the WCHA ...

Bemidji State at Alaska Anchorage: The Beavers are setting up a showdown with MSU for the MacNaughton Cup next weekend with the way they've been playing. Like the Mavericks, they're 10-1-1 so far in 2020. While MSU is No. 2 in the Pairwise Rankings and has been one of the top teams there most of the season, BSU has risen 22 spots to No. 12 with their recent play. As for the Seawolves, they're still in position to make the WCHA tournament for the first time since 2014, which would be a nice finish considering all the program's been through recently.

Ferris State at Bowling Green: It's been a tough season for the Bulldogs, who have won just once in their last 14 games but could still make the WCHA playoffs with a late-season turnaround. The Falcons, meanwhile, are trying to get back into the top four and host a first-round series. They're currently in sixth but have taken nine points in their last four games after dropping four in a row.

Northern Michigan at Lake Superior State: Like Bowling Green, Northern Michigan has lost four in a row to MSU and BSU. The Wildcats are trying to right the ship but also hold firm to a home-ice spot in the standings. "We will be at home," coach Grant Potulny said this week. The Wildcats and the Lakers are also playing for a trophy, the Cappo Cup, which goes to the series winner each year. Lake State has gotten at least two points in each of its last six league series.

This week marked the announcement of the name of the new conference with Minnesota State, Bemidji State, Bowling Green, Ferris State, Michigan Tech, Northern Michigan and Lake Superior State, which will be the CCHA. A lot has been written about it, including commentary from College Hockey News. The Anchorage Daily News looked at things from the Alaska perspective and those teams' hopes of keeping the WCHA going after the breakup.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Friday Morning Skate

The Minnesota State men are idle this weekend, but locally, three teams are playing in important series: the MSU women and the Gustavus Adolphus women and men.

For the Mavericks women, who are coming off their shocking upset of Wisconsin, the WCHA this week did a feature on assistant coach, alum and mom Shari Dickerman.

Going around the WCHA ...

Bemidji State at Northern Michigan: Should be a playoff-like atmosphere in Marquette where the league's second- and third-place teams will be squaring off this weekend. Both teams are ranked in the top 20, too, with Bemidji at No. 16 and Northern at No. 19.

Michigan Tech at Ferris State: Firth-place Tech has split its last three series and still has hopes of getting home ice as it goes on its final full road trip of the regular season. Ferris' last win came in a split against the Huskies on Jan. 24-25. The Bulldogs are three points out of playoff position.

Bowling Green at Alaska: The Falcons broke a four-game losing streak with a sweep over Anchorage last weekend and will try to go on a late-season run to get into the top four of the conference. The Nanooks, who have scored league points in all but one of their last eight games — thanks, in part, to the play of sophomore Gustavs Grigals — hold that fourth-place spot currently.

Alabama Huntsville at Lake Superior State: The Chargers and Lakers will play in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, on Friday and across the border Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, on Saturday. Saturday's game will be the first NCAA Division I men's game played in Canada since January 7, 2012, when North Dakota and Clarkson played in Winnipeg. Four of Lake State's last six games have gone to overtime.

Alaska Anchorage at Arizona State: The Seawolves are stepping out of conference play and going to the desert to play the No. 10 Sun Devils. UAA is on a seven-game winless streak with four overtime games in that stretch.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Mavericks 1, Wildcats 0

Freddy's three thoughts of the game ...
1. Record night: You can read more about Dryden McKay in my gamer, but he's worth mentioning here, too. A dozen shutouts in less than two seasons and eight in one year are pretty impressive, no matter how good a team is defensively in front of him. McKay was tested. He came up with a nice toe save early in the game, took a hard shot off the noggin in the second period and held off a good push by the WCHA's third-place team late in the game, including the final 2 minutes with an extra attacker. 
2. Spoonman: Jared Spooner scored the only goal of the game, his third of the weekend. The goal was announced for Walker Duehr (who also had an excellent weekend) and wasn't changed until the third period. Spooner went hard to the net, as he so often does, and tipped in Duehr's shot. Dallas Gerads had the other assist. That trio ended up with eight points in the series — four goals and four assists. Duehr had three assists. "I liked the way our whole team played," coach Mike Hastings said.
3. Break time: The Mavericks will be off next week, a deserved respite after a tough stretch. Minnesota State has played seven straight weekends since their last break (a week in which everyone traveled for the holidays), going 11-2-1. MSU has an 11-point lead atop the WCHA standings over idle Bemidji State, which, along with third-place NMU (18 points back), has two games in hand. Northern Michigan hosts Bemidji State next weekend while the Mavericks are off. "First of all, get some rest," Hastings said about the bye. "We’ve got some guys that are on the mend, and they’re close to being ready to get back into it. Not quite there." That could mean the countdown is on for Marc Michaelis' return.
Read more in my game story here.
Around the WCHA: Michigan Tech 4, Lake Superior State 3 (OT) ... Bowling Green 4, Alaska Anchorage 1 ... Alaska 3, Alabama Huntsville 0

Friday, February 7, 2020

Mavericks 7, Wildcats 3

Freddy's three thoughts of the game ...

1. And the rout is on: That didn't feel like a blowout, at least not until the third period. As I wrote in my gamer, the Mavericks got some timely goals over the course of the game to keep the 4,400-plus crowd engaged throughout the night. Jared Spooner and Charlie Gerard had momentum-keeping goals, scoring less than 30 seconds after NMU goals. Reggie Lutz scored the game's first goal at 2:01 of the first period for a good, early start, too. "And we’ve struggled with that recently here (at home), so I think it was important," coach Mike Hastings said.

2. Feeling boxed in: My Free Press colleague Robb Murray works the penalty box from time to time, and he certainly wasn't lonely on Friday, as the teams combined for 14 penalties. The Mavericks put the Wildcats on the power play seven times and killed off six of them. They evened that out, though, by getting a short-handed goal from Nick Rivera. Dallas Gerads was whistled for three penalties in the first period alone, so he and Robb are getting to be close, personal friends. Gerads also had one of MSU's two power-play goals in the third period.

3. Here's to their health: Jake Jaremko returned after six games out with an upper-body injury and was effective throughout the game. He didn't register a point, but his line with Reggie Lutz and Gerard accounted for two goals. Lutz had a goal and an assist and 10 shots on goal. "Jake's been doing a lot of work off ice," Hastings said, crediting athletic trainer Matt Schmidt and strength coach Tom Inkrott for getting him ready. "He played significant minutes tonight. He played very well, handled it well. I think Reggie Lutz likes having him back."

Read more in my game story here.

Around the WCHA: Bowling Green 5, Alaska Anchorage 4 (OT) ... Lake Superior State 7, Michigan Tech 3 ... Alaska 6, Alabama Huntsville 6 (OT, Alaska gets 3x3 win)

Minnesota State vs. Northern Michigan

The Mavericks and Wildcats will square off at 7:07 p.m. at the Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center. Jake Jaremko is back in the lineup for the Mavericks after missing six games, and Josh French and Julian Napravnik are also back. Marc Michaelis (lower-body injury) remains out.

Follow along with the action Twitter @puckato

Here are tonight's lines:

16-Lutz, 5-Jaremko, 9-Gerard
6-Tuomie, 8-Smith, 15-Napravnik
22-Gerads, 11-Spooner, 17-Duehr
23-Rivera, 26-French, 14-Sandelin
19-Van Os-Shaw

2-Mackey, 3-McNeely
25-Zmolek, 18-Scheid
4-Carroll, 24-Hookenson


Scratches: Aamodt, Borchardt, Bukes, Malinowski, McMahan, Michaelis, Sowder

16-Loughran, 18-Nardi, 11-Ghantous
23-Slattery, 26-Readman, 14-de Mey
21-Schultz, 13-Voltin, 9-Craighead
27-Roeder, 29-Loven 15-Schroer

4-Van Unen, 25-Beaulieu
10-Newhouse, 24-Sorenson
28-Vescio, 6-Yaremko


Friday Morning Skate

No. 3 Minnesota State and No. 15 Northern Michigan meet this weekend in what should be a good battle between top-three WCHA teams. They split a series in December with the Wildcats breaking the Mavericks' 10-game winning streak.

For Minnesota State since then, it's been about getting back to its identity, which coaches and players agree, is defense.

Of course, everyone is wondering about the Mavericks' health. According to coach Mike Hastings, Jake Jaremko, Julian Napravnik and Josh French have been cleared to play this weekend. Marc Michaelis has been skating with the team, but it doesn't seem likely that he'll go tonight. Read more about that and the series in the College Hockey Gameday preview.

As for Northern Michigan, which has two games in hand on the conference's top five teams, it knows it's got a tough test this weekend, and coach Grant Potulny agrees that MSU's defense is its forte. "You don't get any freebies," he told The Mining Journal. The Wildcats come to Mankato with three of the WCHA's four players of the month for January.

• The games are televised locally on Charter 826 and 191 and are streamed on FloHockey.

• They're on the radio on KTOE, 1420 AM.

Going around the rest of the WCHA ...

Alaska Anchorage at Bowling Green: The Seawolves, coming off their one-point weekend against MSU, go on the road to face the struggling Falcons, who have lost four in a row and eight of their last 10. The Falcons could get a boost by their "Bleacher Creatures," the student section that was recently recognized by the NCAA for its rowdiness.

Lake Superior State at Michigan Tech: It's Winter Carnival weekend in Houghton, and Tech ought to be fired up for it, especially after last week's split at Alabama Huntsville. The Lakers, who have struggled much of the year, can do a lot to secure a playoff spot with a successful weekend.

Alaska at Alabama Huntsville: The Nanooks, who currently hold a home-ice spot for the WCHA playoffs, will try to avoid a Tech-like slip against the Chargers, who have just two wins this season.

In other hockey news, Minnesota State hosts Wisconsin in a WCHA women's series this weekend. Last night the two coaches, John Harrington and Mark Johnson, along with four other 1980 Olympians, talked about the "Miracle on Ice" at a 40th anniversary event in Mankato that raised funds for the MSU program.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Mavericks 7, Seawolves 1

Freddy's three thoughts (from afar) ...
1. Confidence booster: Chris Van Os Shaw entered the game with just one goal, playing in 11 of MSU's 28 games. The one-time UAA commit joined Minnesota State as a touted goal scorer. The hope is that's still in his future. For now, though, it seems he's still trying to find his game. A multi-point game should give him some good feelings. Perhaps he'll be more of a contributor down the stretch.

2. Bouncing back: No real surprise Mavericks played well coming off their fourth loss of the season last Saturday at home against Bemidji State. It was a nice rebound for goalie Dryden McKay, too. After a couple of uncharacteristic misses against the Beavers, he was sharp when he had to be against the Seawolves. He made a point-blank save early in a scoreless game, and the Mavericks went the other way and got the game's first goal.

3. Look familiar? The win was the 10th in a row for MSU against Anchorage. The Mavericks also defeated the Seawolves 7-1 during the series opener of their set in Mankato back in November. The next night was a little tighter before Minnesota State got some late goals and won 3-0. I'd expect tomorrow to be a bit closer, too, especially as Anchorage tries its best to maintain a playoff spot in the WCHA standings.

Around the WCHA: Bemidji State 4, Bowling Green 1 ... Northern Michigan 5, Ferris State 2 ... Michigan Tech 4, Alabama Huntsville 1