Sunday, September 30, 2007

Carter sits, Stevenson sent, Wagner surprises

The Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings opened the NHL season Saturday in London, but ex-Maverick Ryan Carter was a scratch. We'll see what happens in Sunday's game.

The Calgary Flames trimmed their roster to 24 players Saturday, and Grant Stevenson was among the players shipped to the American Hockey League's Quad City Flames.

As for Steve Wagner, he just might make the St. Louis Blues' opening-day roster -- if the reports are right. Peoria doesn't seem to be planning on him being with the Rivermen this week, and another report calls the defenseman the surprise of training camp.

Meanwhile, the current Mavericks officially start practice in just six days. In Sunday's Free Press, I have a story on Minnesota State coach Troy Jutting, who is beginning his eighth season behind the bench.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Nunn's the word

Many Maverick fans have looked at this year's roster and have wondered, "Where the heck is Garry Nunn?" Don't worry, Nunn, a recruit whom coach Troy Jutting has compared to former MSU star Shane Joseph, is set to be here in 2008.

Nunn, who signed a letter of intent with MSU last fall, is young; he won't turn 18 until November. So another season in the British Columbia Hockey League probably can't hurt the 5-foot-9, 175-pound forward. The Victoria Grizzlies seem happy to have him back.

We'll try to have more on Nunn's future soon. In the meantime, the Victoria Times Colonist newspaper recently caught up with the future Maverick.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Big loss

I've dropped by All Seasons Arena to watch Minnesota State's captains practices and other workouts recently and there's a noticeable absence. I'm not referring to Travis Morin either.

Mavericks trainer and all-around good guy Jason Bushie left MSU a few weeks ago. He's not leaving the WCHA, however, as he was hired away by Colorado College.

Bushie had been full-time for the men's hockey team since 2002.

Trying to make 'The Show'

Three former Mavericks were in action Wednesday night and hoping to make an impression on their respective NHL teams before opening-night rosters are set.

Grant Stevenson played 13:27 for the Calgary Flames in a 2-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers. Reports out of Calgary have said that Stevenson is one of about four players vying for the team's final forward spot.

Steve Wagner played 19:37 and was minus-1 in the St. Louis Blues' 7-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild. The Blues trimmed their roster to 28 today, sending four players to the minors, but Wagner, a defenseman, was not on the list. St. Louis has two preseason games remaining. David Backes, who appears to be a lock to make the big club, did not play Wednesday.

Tim Jackman is trying to make a different kind of impression on the New York Islanders. He dropped the gloves twice in the second period in a 6-1 slugfest against the New Jersey Devils.

Meanwhile, Ryan Carter is living the good life, hanging out in London this week with the Anaheim Ducks.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Not-so-great expectations

It's a bit earlier than usual, but the Grand Forks Herald released its annual WCHA coaches poll Wednesday. Minnesota State was picked to finish ninth in the 10-team league.

North Dakota (79 points) was picked first, receiving seven of 10 first-place votes. Minnesota (74) got the other three and was second. The rest of the picks were: Colorado College (55), Denver (53), Wisconsin (52), St. Cloud State (43), Michigan Tech (41), Minnesota Duluth (23), MSU (19) and Alaska-Anchorage (11).

Last year's Hobey Baker winner, North Dakota forward Ryan Duncan, was the obvious pick for preseason player of the year, getting five votes. Teammates T.J. Oshie and Taylor Chorney got three and one vote, respectively. Minnesota forward Kyle Okposo got the other.

Wisconsin freshman Kyle Turris, the No. 3 overall pick in last summer's NHL draft, was the overwhelming choice for preseason rookie of the year. He received nine votes, while North Dakota's Evan Trupp received one.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Sporting News likes Backes

In its NHL preview, The Sporting News gives five reasons to like the St. Louis Blues' chances this season. Reason No. 3: Ex-Maverick David Backes.

MSU women picked fifth

The WCHA women's preseason coaches poll was unveiled Tuesday and Minnesota State was picked to finish fifth, the same place they ended last season.

Not surprisingly, two-time defending national champ Wisconsin was first, receiving seven of the eight first-place votes (coaches are not allowed to vote for themselves) and 49 points, followed by Minnesota Duluth (one first-place vote, 42 points), Minnesota (37), Ohio State (31), MSU (23), St. Cloud State (22), Bemidji State (13) and North Dakota (7).

Minnesota forward Gigi Marvin was voted preseason player of the year, and Wisconsin forward Hillary Knight was named preseason rookie of the year.

Somewhat surprisingly, MSU senior goaltender Brit Kehler did not receive votes for player of the year.

Ducks keep Carter

Former Maverick Ryan Carter appears to have made the Anaheim Ducks' opening day roster. The Stanley Cup champions announced their final cuts on Monday, sending four players to the minors.

Anaheim opens the season with games Saturday and Sunday against the Los Angeles Kings in London. Sunday's game will be aired nationally on the Vs. network at 11 a.m.

Carter, you'll recall, got his name on the Stanley Cup last summer after getting called up during the playoffs and playing in one game of the Finals. As part of his "day with the Cup," Carter brought the trophy to Mankato.

Other ex-Mavericks looking to make NHL rosters include David Backes and Steve Wagner (St. Louis Blues), Grant Stevenson (Calgary Flames) and Tim Jackman (New York Islanders). The Washington Capitals sent Travis Morin to its American Hockey League affiliate in Hershey, Pa., and the Vancouver Canucks released Chad Brownlee last week. More on Brownlee later.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Drop the puck!

Welcome to The Free Press' hockey blog. The plan is to use this site to enhance our coverage of Minnesota State men's hockey. Check here regularly for the most recent news, notes and other observations on the Mavericks.

The Mavericks are going through captains practices and preseason conditioning daily at Mankato's All Seasons Arena and will officially open the season with their first practice on Saturday, Oct. 6.

MSU opens the season with a tough road schedule -- at least from a travel standpoint -- going to Michigan Tech (450 miles) Oct. 19-20, Alaska-Anchorage (3,240 miles) Oct. 26-27 and Alabama-Huntsville (945 miles) Nov. 2-3 before finally playing a home game Nov. 9 against Minnesota.