There was more venting than question asking this week, it seemed. But I'm going to try to answer a few things tonight. Remember, some of the questions might be paraphrasing of question/comments or combinations of similar questions. If there are things I don't address, it doesn't mean it's being ignored; it might come up at a later date. Just stay tuned and keep the questions coming.
Was Mike Zacharias' injury valid? Isn't he clearly the more talented goalie? Yes, it was valid. He didn't practice Monday or today. As for whether or not he's more talented, I'm not sure. Certainly, he's been better this year. Remember, Dan Tormey beat him out for the No. 1 job during their freshman season and was still No. 1 before he got hurt last year. Both goalies have shown flashes of brilliance. I think, right now, however, a healthy Zacharias is the top guy.
Why does Troy Jutting mess with his goalies? This commentator said most coaches don't even talk to their goalies and only lets the goalie coach deal with them. Come on. Do you really believe that? Look, the last time I checked, a goaltender is every bit a part of a hockey team as the other guys. He's on the roster. He's considered a player. The head coach has every right to talk to a goalie and, yes, even yell at him from time to time when he's not doing his job. I do think that a coach has to be a good manager of goaltenders and know how they're playing, when to play them, when to pull them, etc. There's no question that the position is different than any other, but that doesn't mean you treat goalies as outcasts.
What will it take to get back on track? How crucial is the Minnesota Duluth series? The Mavericks need wins right now. They need points to get out of the basement of the WCHA. More disturbing than the 7-0 loss might be the failure to win close games like Friday at Denver, Friday at home against Minnesota and even Friday at Anchorage when they tied. Five more points puts them in fifth place, but they left those points on the table. The schedule gets a little easier for awhile, and they have a chance to make some hay. Also, they will be playing at home for two games for the first time this season. They have a chance to redefine their season in front of a home crowd, people who have seen just one of their games in a 3-6-1 start.
What are your thoughts on the new recruits? The Mavericks announced a four-player early recruiting class last week. It's small, but the team is only losing three seniors. The two forwards, Adam Mueller and Joe Schiller, certainly sound like guys who can score. Mueller is supposedly very fast, and Schiller has made a quick transition from high school to juniors. The defensemen are older, experienced guys from the USHL, and the Mavericks seem to have had decent success with those kind of players, including Channing Boe and Kurt Davis this year and Steve Wagner in the past. They also have forward Garry Nunn coming in next year, although he cannot play until 2009 and have verbal commitments from defenseman Danny Heath and goaltender Kevin Murdock for '09.
Is Mankato losing interest in Division I hockey? The team's lone game this season drew an all-time record crowd, breaking a record from five seasons ago, and last year's average of attendance of more than 3,800 was nearly 300 per game better than the previous year. Based on those numbers, I'd say no to the question. However, I do think more could be done in the Mankato area and south-central Minnesota to draw people to games. Nothing markets better than winning, but I also think the marketing efforts of both MSU and the city/civic center could be better and could try to reach a much larger audience. There's a rapidly growing population in the far-south metro, including Belle Plaine, Jordan, New Prague and just inside that ring. There are undoubtedly many hockey fans in those towns. Get them to a Maverick game. Tell them that its 45 minutes to Mariucci Arena and the Xcel Energy Center and you can't get into those buildings. Then tell them that it's 45 minutes to Mankato and there are plenty of good seats available for a WCHA game.
How do you mention the line of Berge-Bruess-Kalinski and not mention Trevor Bruess? At the time, I was referring to goal scorers and probably should have put in more about Bruess, the sophomore forward. At the time, that line was still together, too. Anyway, Bruess has had a very good start to the season. He's a hard-nosed, hard-working center who's a treat to watch when he's on the ice. There will be much more to write about him in the future, that's for sure.
That's about all for now. I hope everyone has a happy Thanksgiving. PucKato might be off a few days, but you never know when I'll find something to throw in, so keep checking in.