Friday, November 15, 2019

Friday morning skate

The No. 1 Mavericks are idle this weekend, using the week to get healthy — Jake Jaremko is back on the ice practice after an illness has kept him out for about a month — and sign their recruiting class for next year, or at least a good chunk of it.

Four players signed their NLIs on Wednesday and another player, Brendan Furry, was also mentioned in the MSU release. Furry is at Minnesota State but sitting out this season due to signing previously with Niagara before re-opening his recruitment. He can practice with the Mavericks but hasn't due to offseason surgery. By the way, I recently stumbled across a Q&A with Furry from September in which he talks about going to Minnesota State and how he almost ended up going to Bowling Green to play club hockey.

So who is playing this weekend? Let's look around the WCHA ...

Bemidji State at Ferris State: After getting win No. 300 for coach Tom Serratore, the Beavers will try to keep pace in the top half of the league when they take on the Bulldogs. BSU's freshmen defensemen, with names familiar to southern Minnesota, are off to good starts, too. Ferris State is looking for its first win in conference play.

Michigan Tech at Lake Superior State: The Huskies, who were swept by Minnesota State last weekend, are in unfamiliar territory at 1-5-0 in league play, but, perhaps, they're ready to break out after a tough schedule. The Lakers were outscored 12-2 at Bemidji last weekend and are hoping to rebound at home, where they're 4-2 with the two close losses coming against Denver.

Alaska at Northern Michigan: The host Wildcats are looking to bounce back after a tie and overtime loss at home to St. Cloud State last weekend. The Nanooks, meanwhile, are 6-6-0 and hoping to do what they did last time they were in the UP and sweep a conference series (they took two games at Tech on Oct. 11-12).

Bowling Green at Alaska Anchorage: The Falcons had last weekend off following their split in Mankato on Nov. 1-2. They'll go to Anchorage to play the Seawolves (next week's MSU opponent), who already have matched their league win total of last year (two), are on a three-game unbeaten streak (1-0-2) and are 2-1-2 in their last five games. Beth Bragg of the Anchorage Daily News has the story on a UAA player who is a survivor of the tragic Humboldt Broncos bus crash from April of 2018. Brayden Camrud is one of 13 survivors, one of three still playing hockey and the only one playing Division I hockey. Bragg also wrote last week that college sports at the Alaska schools, including hockey, are safe for at least another year.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Mavs No. 1; McKay, Looft honored

Minnesota State moved up to No. 1 in the nation in the USCHO rankings, following their sweep at Michigan Tech (and Denver's tie and loss at Minnesota Duluth. Denver is a close second, and the Mavericks and Pioneers are actually tied top the USA Today/USA Hockey poll (although DU got more first-place votes in that one). Division I Men's Poll
Minneapolis, Minn./November 11, 2019

   Team             (First Place)    Record   Pts  Last Week
 1 Minnesota State           (25)    8- 1-1   961     3
 2 Denver                    (15)    8- 1-1   913     1
 3 Cornell                   ( 5)    4- 0-0   890     4
 4 Notre Dame                ( 4)    7- 0-1   882     5
 5 Massachusetts             ( 1)    6- 2-0   774     2
 6 Minnesota Duluth                  4- 3-1   734     7
 7 Clarkson                          7- 2-1   671     8
 8 Penn State                        7- 2-0   639     6
 9 North Dakota                      7- 1-1   620    10
10 Providence                        5- 3-2   473    11
11 Ohio State                        6- 3-1   470     9
12 UMass Lowell                      7- 2-3   406    14
13 Harvard                           3- 0-0   389    18
14 Northeastern                      5- 3-2   359    13
15 Wisconsin                         5- 5-0   307    12
16 Boston College                    5- 4-0   193    19
17 Bowling Green                     5- 4-0   166    17
18 Northern Michigan                 6- 2-2   160    16
19 Omaha                             5- 2-1   127    20
20 Western Michigan                  5- 3-2    87    NR

Others receiving votes: RIT 77, Quinnipiac 75, New Hampshire
42, St. Cloud 33, Maine 24, Boston University 11, Arizona
State 7, Alaska 5, Brown 5.

Meanwhile, the WCHA weekly awards came out on Monday, too, and Mavericks goaltender Dryden McKay was named the league's goaltender of the week after allowing one goal on 49 shots in the sweep over the Huskies. McKay stopped 31 shots for his second shutout of the season and sixth of his career on Friday. McKay ranks third in the nation in save percentage (.946) and second in goals-against average (1.32).

Among the other WCHA award winners was Mankato native and former Mankato West player Kyle Looft. The Bemidji State freshman was the league's defenseman of the week. He recorded his first college points, assisting on two goals, and was plus-3 in Friday's 7-1 victory over visiting Lake Superior State. The Beavers won 5-1 on Saturday. Looft has played in four games this season. He's plus-3 with seven shots on goal.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Mavericks 2, Huskies 1

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

1. Clean sweep: Minnesota State finished off the series sweep of the Huskies, winning a low-scoring game against a team desperate to win at home. Michigan Tech is now 0-4 in Houghton this year, while the Mavericks improved to 4-0 on the road. Charlie Gerard and Parker Tuomie scored goals, and Dryden McKay made 17 saves the night after a 31-save shutout.

2. Line sheet shakeup: Coach Mike Hastings shuffled the lines again, making life tough for radio announcers by putting Charlie Gerard and Dallas Gerads on the same line (with Marc Michaelis). Lucas Sowder was a scratch, and Ryan Sandelin was put in. Hastings said Sandelin had one of his best games so far this season "at both ends of the rink."

3. Break time: The Mavericks went 8-1-1 in their first 10 games. A darn good star that deserves a bit of a break. Minnesota State will be off next week before returning to play the following weekend with a home series against Alaska Anchorage. Hastings said he hopes that Jake Jaremko and Chris Van Os-Shaw will be healthy by then.

Read more here.

Around the WCHA: Bemidji State 5, Lake Superior State 1 ... Alaska Anchorage 3, Alabama Huntsville 1 ... St. Cloud State 5, Northern Michigan 4 (OT) ... Western Michigan 8, Ferris State 2 ... Arizona State at Alaska (late)

Friday, November 8, 2019

Mavericks 3, Huskies 0

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

1. Life saver: Mavericks goaltender Dryden McKay recorded his sixth career shutout on Friday, stopping 31 shots, including 16 in the third period. He also made three big saves in a scoreless first period with his team getting off to a bit of a slow start. McKay equaled his previous high for most saves in a shutout. He also stopped 31 on March 16 in the WCHA playoffs against Lake Superior State. Earlier this season, he made 14 saves in a 5-0 win over Arizona State.

2. Middle men: Minnesota State struggled in the second period of both games against Bowling Green last weekend, and it cost the Mavericks one game. On Friday at Michigan Tech, the second period was MSU's best period, as it scored two goals, including Julian Napravnik's power-play goal during a five-minute major that put the Mavericks up 2-0. Reggie Lutz scored the first goal of the game. Jared Spooner added an insurance goal 61 seconds into the third.

3. Shuffle function: The Mavericks' lines looked a bit different on Saturday, as Napravnik was on the top line with Marc Michaelis and Charlie Gerard. Parker Tuomie was put with the freshmen, Nathan Smith and Lucas Sowder; they were listed as the fourth line. Also, for the first time this year the six defensemen on the lineup were different as Wyatt Aamodt was listed among the group. Andy Carroll was listed as the extra skater, although it appeared he played quite a bit.

Read more here.

Around the WCHA: Bemidji State 7, Lake Superior State 1 ... Western Michigan 4, Ferris State 2 ... St. Cloud State 3, Northern Michigan 3 (OT) ... Alaska Anchorage 4, Alabama Huntsville 4 (OT, UAA wins shootout) ... Arizona State at Alaska (late)

Friday Morning Skate

The No. 3 Mavericks are in Houghton this weekend (Puckato, sadly, is not) for a matchup against Michigan Tech. It is MSU's second road trip of the season.

Minnesota State got Dallas Gerads back in the lineup last weekend, and he provided a boost to a forward group that's had to be mixed and matched throughout the season's first eight games due to injuries and illnesses.

Tech has won once in its last five games and was swept in its only home series so far this season, so it will be motivated for sure.

Going around the rest of the WCHA ...

Lake Superior State at Bemidji State: This should be a good series between a pair of teams vying for the league's upper division. The Lakers have played one of the tougher schedules in the WCHA this season and got a pair of much-needed wins against Ferris State last weekend. The Beavers split at Alaska last week and are hoping to find a way to get their power play going this weekend..

Alaska Anchorage at Alabama Huntsville: These two teams have just one win between them so far. The host Chargers are looking for their first victory of the season, although they should be encouraged that they played Northern Michigan tough a week ago. The Seawolves are on the road for the second time this season.

St. Cloud State at Northern Michigan: The No. 16 Wildcats are 6-1-1 and the surprise of the WCHA, considering how much talent graduated from last year's team. They'll have a tough test this weekend with a nonconference series against the Huskies, a team that outscored them 9-1 early last season.

Ferris State at/vs. Western Michigan: The Bulldogs will try to snap a four-game losing streak with a nonconference, home-and-home series against the Broncos, who are 3-3-2 despite some high preseason expectations.

Arizona State at Alaska: The Nanooks are 5-5-0 and feeling pretty good about their start. They will step out of league play and host the Sun Devils, who have won four games in a row since getting swept at Minnesota State on Oct. 11-12.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Mavericks 5, Falcons 1

Freddy's three thoughts of the game ...

1. Good response: I was curious to see how Minnesota State would respond to losing its first game of the season and first game at home in a long time. They got off to another good start, but, more impressively, closed out the Falcons with three goals in the third period, extending a 2-1 lead to a 5-1 final. "I liked it," said senior forward Parker Tuomie, who had two assists, including his 100th career point. "Obviously, Bowling Green is a really good team. They gave us a pretty hard push, and we were able to (withstand) it."

2. Three apples: Dallas Gerads had three assists in his second game back after missing four games with injury. He made a nice, soft pass to Connor Mackey as the defenseman went to the net for the game's first goal and helped on the Mavericks' first two goals of the third period. Gerads, who was minus-2 playing with two rookies on Friday, was moved to a veteran line with Jared Spooner and Reggie Lutz on Saturday. "I thought Dallas Gerads was influential in the outcome of the game — physically, offensively, defensively," coach Mike Hastings said. "Whenever you play Bowling Green, you’re going to have to play a hard game because they’re going to make you earn everything you get."

3. Good in goal: Dryden McKay continues to be solid in goal. The sophomore made 23 saves on Saturday, none bigger than the breakaway chance he stopped less than a minute after Spooner gave the Falcons a two-goal cushion in the third period. McKay allowed Alec Rauhauser's breakaway goal in the first period, which came 39 seconds after Mackey got the scoring started. McKay actually made the first save on Rauhauser but the rebound went right back to the talented BG defenseman, and he popped it in to tie the game.

Read my game story here.

Around the WCHA: Lake Superior State 4, Ferris State 3 ... Northern Michigan 4, Alabama Huntsville 2 ... North Dakota 3, Michigan Tech 1 ... Bemidji State at Alaska (late)

Minnesota State vs. Bowling Green, Game 2

The Mavericks will try to salvage a series split with the Falcons on Saturday after falling 3-2 in overtime on Friday. A little shuffling of the lines but nothing major ...

6-Tuomie, 20-Michaelis, 9-Gerard
23-Rivera, 26-French, 15-Napravnik
22-Gerads, 11-Spooner, 16-Lutz
21-Sowder, 8-Smith, 17-Duehr

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


Scratches: Aamodt, Borchardt, Bukes, Jaremko, Malinowski, McMahan, Van Os-Shaw

28-Kruse, 10-Johnson, 6-Barber
25-Craggs, 11-Schneider, 8-LeTourneau
17-Linkenheld, 20-Ford, 16-Wright
18-St. Jean, 22-Pitters, 13-Conquest

23-Rauhauser, 7-Lloyd
27-Theocharidis, 2-Cullen
14-Wells, 4-Daly