Thanks, faithful blog readers, for all of your questions, comments, rants and arguments. I wasn't sure how the blog would go off when I started it, but after a month or so, I think it's great. Now, on to some of your questions (I've paraphrased some of them):
What's the deal with Peter Lompado? Lompado has not played this season. The defenseman from Shattuck-St. Mary's is taking a redshirt season. He is practicing with the hockey team, but he's also working out with the MSU baseball team. He's a left-handed pitcher who went 6-1 at Shattuck last season with two no-hitters and a 1.17 ERA.
Does Troy Jutting need to pick a No. 1 goalie by the holidays, and is Mike Zacharias the obvious guy? This topic is the subject of much debate on the blog. As I see it, Jutting doesn't have to pick a guy right now. He has to see what he's got. So far, it looks like Zacharias has the edge on Dan Tormey. Neither stood on his head against the Gophers last weekend. This seems to be one of the coach's most important decisions week in and week out. Historically, Jutting prefers to roll with one main guy and play him 75 percent of the time or more, but some teams will rotate goalies all season. During MSU's best year in the WCHA, they rotated Jon Volp and Jason Jensen in the second half of the season. I'll admit, I was a little surprised to see Tormey in net Saturday at Mariucci. However, I like that Jutting gave him a chance to really get back on track in the building he got hurt in last year. If Tormey would have won the game, it would have been a huge confidence boost for him and the team.
Are there incentives in Troy Jutting's contract? I'll have to do some checking on this. But when I wrote about Jutting's two-year extension before the season started, MSU athletic director Kevin Buisman told me it was a pretty straightforward deal. From what I understand, though, in the MnSCU system, you can only sign a two-year contract once. The other deals have to be four-year contracts. If that's the case, Jutting has the ultimate incentive clause right there.
Are there any lines that Jutting is satisfied with, and what's wrong with Joel Hanson? Troy has done some line shuffling early in the year, as many coaches do. He has stuck with the line of Trevor Bruess, Jon Kalinski and Mick Berge for the last few games, however, and that seems to have worked as Berge and Kalinski have 10 of their team's 22 goals. As for Hanson, he has to be disappointed that the Mavericks are eight games into the season and he has yet to score a point. In fact, the three seniors on the team have just one point, a Matt Tyree goal. Hanson has had scoring chances, though.
What's the status of Austin Lee and can he be redshirted if he doesn't play? Right now, Lee, a freshman from Bloomington, is the Mavericks' No. 3 goaltender. Jutting said he can redshirt if he doesn't play, so, if Zacharias and Tormey stay ahead of him, that might be good option. But I've seen some weird things happen in net over the years. Remember when injuries forced the Mavericks to bring in MSU's club-team goalie, Erik Gilbertson, as a practice player in 2002? In one of Jutting's classiest moves, he let Gilbertson start and play 3 1/2 minutes on senior night.
Are the Mavericks purposely recruiting more four-year players, rather than getting one or two blue chippers who might leave early? I don't think so. Certainly, when you look at the current roster, it's hard to pinpoint someone who might leave early for the pros. Jon Kalinski was probably the most likely candidate, but he was kept out of free agency last summer when the Flyers drafted him in the sixth round. I think there was always a fear that David Backes wasn't going to stay at MSU for four years, and they got him for three. But I think, three years ago that the coaches sincerely thought Ryan Carter and Steve Wagner would be seniors on this year's team. Those losses certainly hurt the Mavericks the last couple of years. Maybe the coaches have to do a better job preparing themselves for those potential departures, but I don't think they'll be shying away from any blue-chip prospects if they think they can get them even for one season.
What happened to Kevin Huck? Huck transferred to Division III Wisconsin-Superior. He played two seasons for the Mavericks and was in and out of the lineup and the doghouse. He played 41 games, scoring four goals and 10 assists. This year, he has played two of five games for Superior and has one assist and one penalty. Not a huge loss for the program.
What do you think of the rotating assistant captain system? I like it. I'll admit, I haven't looked to closely into how they're doing it, although Jutting originally said he didn't have a set system and that he could just name an assistant captain for the the entire year eventually. But I like how the Minnesota Wild rotates its captains. Such a system could be a nice touch for a team that is going to need leadership from its younger players in the coming years.
Do you think the team rule regarding dumb penalties will hurt the team? In the short term it might, especially if it means sitting a top-line forward or defenseman. However, in the long term, if the players learn from it, it should help the team. The Mavericks already seem to have significantly cut down their penalties, and having a little depth allows the coaching staff to bench players for sub-par play. If you're going to do it, you have to do it early and consistently, and, so far, I think they have.
Enough with the David Backes updates. Let him go Move on. The beauty of the blog is, unlike the newspaper, I have infinite space to fill. If you don't want a Backes (or Wagner or Carter or any other MSU alum) update, don't read it. But he was a significant player for the Mavericks, and a lot of people want to know how he's doing and there's no harm in checking in once in awhile. Speaking of alumni, Lucas Fransen is indeed playing in the Netherlands (thanks, Chris!). B.J. Abel is playing in Italy. And, last week, Travis Morin got called up from South Carolina of ECHL to Hershey the AHL.
That's all the time I have for now. Sorry if I didn't get to one of your questions. Feel free to keep them coming, though, and we'll do another one next week.