Monday, December 18, 2017

Chargers' Saulnier suspended

Alabama Huntsville senior forward Brennan Saulnier was suspended for two games by the WCHA for his illegal hit to a Minnesota State player's head during Saturday's hockey game at the Verizon Center, the league announced on Monday afternoon.

With 30 seconds remaining in the game, Saulnier elbowed MSU freshman Dallas Gerads, who lay on the ice for several minutes before getting assisted out of the rink. Mavericks coach Mike Hastings said Gerads was "not healthy" and likely had a concussion.

Saulnier received a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct for contact to the head but not a game disqualification, which comes with an automatic one-game suspension. The WCHA reviewed the play and on Monday determined that the hit warranted a two-game ban.

Saunier will miss the Chargers games Dec. 29-30 at Bemidji State. It is the third supplementary-discipline suspension of Saulnier's college career.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Mavericks 3, Chargers 0

Freddy's three thoughts of the game:

1. Back on top: Minnesota State's sweep of Alabama Huntsville put it back in first place in the WCHA standings, five points ahead of Bowling Green, Northern Michigan (MSU's next opponent) and Michigan Tech. Tech has played four more games than MSU and BG, however. At the halfway mark of the conference schedule, the Mavericks are 11-3 against conference opponents. In their last four games, all wins, they have outscored Lake Superior State and Alabama Huntsville 20-2. That streak came after a 3-1 loss at Minnesota Duluth. "I think the work the guys did collectively," coach Mike Hastings said of the turnaround from that game. "They’re holding each other accountable and working for each other, knowing that what one does sets the other up for success. … We’ve been better offensively but better defensively also."

2. Better start: Minnesota State started better than it did on Friday, getting a 1-0 lead on freshman Reggie Lutz's power-play goal. It was Lutz's third goal and 11th point, and it came on a similar play to a first-period power-play chance on Friday that was turned away with an amazing save. Goaltender Connor LaCouvee had to make a couple tough saves early on, too, en route to his second straight shutout (more on him in my Monday series notebook). "I knew they’d come," Hastings said of the Chargers. "They’ve won in some pretty difficult buildings, Tech, Bowling Green Northern. They’re prideful in what they’re doing also. It was a pretty good pace to that first period going both ways."

3. Dirty play? It will be interesting to see if the WCHA punishes UAH's Brennan Saulnier for the elbow to the head of Dallas Gerads with 30 seconds left in the game. Gerads had to be helped out of the rink and could barely lift his head up as he departed. Hastings was livid on the bench, directing ire at his counterpart, Mike Corbett, but also at the referees, apparently arguing for a game disqualification for Saulnier. The Chargers senior got a 5-minute major and a game misconduct. Saulnier does have a history. He has twice been suspended by the league for head contact, getting two games last January in January of 2016 and a one-game ban in October of 2015.

Read my game story, which focuses on the stellar play of senior C.J. Suess (two goals, four on the weekend) here.

Around the WCHA: Bemidji State 4, Alaska Anchorage 0 ... Northern Michigan 4, Ferris State 2 ... Michigan Tech 3, Lake Superior State 3 (Tech wins in shootout)

Puckato Postgame Show:

Live: Minnesota State vs. Alabama Huntsville

The No. 7 Mavericks will go for the series sweep at 7:07 p.m. today at the Verizon Center. Minnesota State defeated Alabama Huntsville 5-1 on Friday. Follow the action below tonight's lines.

MINNESOTA STATE
6-Tuomie, 15-Suess, 19-McClure
16-Lutz, 5-Jaremko, 10-Knutson
22-Gerads, 11-Spooner, 17-Duehr
23-Rivera, 26-French, 12-Coatta

8-Brickley, 18-Scheid
25-Zmolek, 2-Mackey
4-Lewis, 3-McNeely

37-LaCouvee
39-Pawloski
29-Nelson

Scratches: Bigelbach, Cooper, Gerard, Hookenson, Michaelis, Schwalbe, Vanko

ALABAMA HUNTSVILLE
19-Salerno, 24-Saulnier, 21-Poulsen
11-Wunder, 15-Gorowsky, 26-Kestner
14-Dunn, 9-Rajic, 18-Beaulieu
12-Merkley, 25-Wilcox, 16-Wod

20-Parker, 8-Teets
28-Gosselin, 5-Champagne
33-Buri, 4-James

30-Sinclair
32-Uhelski



Friday, December 15, 2017

Mavericks 5, Chargers 1

Freddy's three thoughts of the game ...

1. Mr. French: Most of my gamer (link below) focuses on Josh French, the sophomore center, who finally scored his first collegiate goal after going 55 games without one. That tells you something. He played in every game from the start of his freshman year because he did other things so well, namely defensive-zone play, penalty killing, faceoffs. It was almost bizarre, though, that he did not yet have a goal. He had one taken away due to review last season and avoided that on Friday when officials went to the monitor to look at his. It stood this time, and French was grinning from ear to ear after the game.

2. Figuring it out: Coach Mike Hastings wasn't too happy with is team's play in the scoreless first period, although a lot of credit has to go to Chargers goalie Jordan Uhelski, too, who made 14 saves. "I thought our first wasn’t very good," Hastings said. "I didn’t think we were real crisp. I think at times we tried to slow the game down instead of speed it up. And our second period we started to play with more pace and cause more problems." The Mavericks were dominant in the second period, outshooting the Chargers 22-3 and taking a 3-0 lead on French's goal and two more by C.J. Suess.

3. Fourth-line shines: French centered the fourth line, and the group accounted for two goals, with Nick Rivera scoring the other. Max Coatta, who has been strong all year, also had an assist. Hastings said that trio has been used to match up with opponents' top lines over the last three games, but is getting things done at both ends of the rink. "For them to contribute offensively with a couple of goals, there’s karma in this game," Hastings said. "When you do things the right way and you play from your end to the other end, the game usually pays you back. And it did tonight. Because they’ve been putting a lot in the bank as far as playing the game from our end."

Read my game story here.

Around the WCHA: Michigan Tech 3, Lake Superior State 0 ... Northern Michigan 6, Ferris State 1 ... Bemidji State 5, Alaska Anchorage 1

Live: MSU vs. Alabama Huntsville

The Mavericks are back home (finally!) and will take on the Chargers in a WCHA series starting at 7:07 p.m. tonight. Follow along with the action in the box below tonight's lines:

MINNESOTA STATE
6-Tuomie, 15-Suess, 19-McClure
16-Lutz, 5-Jaremko, 10-Knutson
22-Gerads, 11-Spooner, 17-Duehr
23-Rivera, 26-French, 12-Coatta

8-Brickley, 2-Mackey
25-Zmolek, 18-Scheid
4-Lewis, 3-McNeely

39-Pawloski
37-LaCouvee
29-Nelson

Scratches: Bigelbach, Cooper, Gerard, Hookenson, Michaelis, Schwalbe, Vanko

ALABAMA HUNTSVILLE
19-Salerno, 24-Saulnier, 21-Poulsen
11-Wunder, 15-Gorowsky, 26-Kestner
14-Dunn, 9-Rajic, 18-Beaulieu
12-Merkley, 25-Wilcox, 10-Dodson

20-Parker, 8-Teets
28-Gosselin, 2-Knight
33-Buri, 5-Champagne

32-Uhelski
30-Sinclair

Friday Morning Skate

The Mavericks are back home for the first time in what seems like forever and will host Alabama Huntsville in a WCHA series.

This week, I take a look at the Mavericks' — and one of the WCHA's top two — leading scorer, Zeb Knutson, who is having his best season as a senior. But it's his play in the defensive zone, coach Mike Hastings said, that has led directly to his success in the offensive end.

Read more about the weekend in my College Hockey Gameday and other nuggets in my College Hockey Notebook (such as a new player on the practice rink), including a look at the MSU women's team. Also, here's a look at the series from the perspective of UAHhockey.com.

In cased you missed it, my Tuesday column encourages folks to come out and see a team that has spent a lot of time — and had a lot of success — on the road so far this season.

The WCHA website this week features MSU freshman Jake Jaremko, who sure looks like the real deal through one semester of college play.

Going around the WCHA ...

Alaska Anchorage at Bemidji State: The Beavers are on a bit of a frustrating run, going winless in their last five games, including three ties in which they missed out on the extra point. Perhaps the one-win Seawolves can cure what ails them. Anchorage is trying to crack an eight-game winless streak, although it did get the extra point in all three of its ties.

Lake Superior State at Michigan Tech: Minnesota State's opponent from last week will try to bounce back against the third-place Huskies. Tech, unbeaten in seven of its last nine games, is finding some chemistry, particularly in the line of Jake Jackson, Alex Smith and Brent Baltus.

Ferris State at Northern Michigan: With wins in three of its last four games and five of its last six, Ferris State has gotten itself back in the WCHA race. Up next is a trip to Marquette, where Northern Michigan will try to hold off the charging Bulldogs. The Wildcats have one win in their last seven games, although they feel good about the two ties at Bemidji last week, in which they got the extra points.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Three Mavericks honored

Three Minnesota State players received WCHA honors for their play in last weekend's series sweep over Lake Superior State.

Senior forward Zeb Knutson was named Offensive Player of the Week, junior defenseman Daniel Brickley was named Defensive Player of the Week and freshman center Jake Jaremko was named Rookie of the Week.

Knutson had a five-point weekend with two goals and three assists. Four of the points came in Friday's 5-1 win. He was plus-2 and had six shots on goal. He leads MSU in scoring with 20 points and in goals with eight.

Brickley had a goal and three assists for four points in the series. He had four shots on goal and was plus-1. Three of the points cam eon Friday night. He now has 14 points for the year, including four goals.

Jaremko also had a four-point weekend, with two each night. He had six shots on goal and was plus-1. He had a goal and an assist on Friday and two assists in Saturday's 7-0 victory. He now has 17 points, including four goals, for the season with 13 points coming during his current seven-game point-scoring streak.

The other WCHA award went to Alaska's Anton Martinsson, who earned the Goaltender of the Week honor for winning twice against rival Alaska Anchorage in Anchorage.