Here's the latest installment:
What sort of potential did Garry Nunn have? Did he have NHL potential? I'm not sure about his NHL potential. We'll find that out when the Central Scouting Lists come out later this year. He's small (5-9, 175) and young, having just turned 18 in November. All I know is, time and time again, Mavericks coach Troy Jutting told me that Nunn would remind people of Shane Joseph and probably be better. He scored 16 goals and 40 points in 28 games in the BCHL this season before moving to major junior. No matter what his future is, it's a big blow for Minnesota State.
Why was Andrew Sackrison out of the lineup Saturday? Simply, he needs to play better. What the Mavericks have right now is some depth and that allows the coaches to make some changes when they need to send a message, especially to young players. We'll see if the message got through this weekend.
Should Joel Hanson be benched? Jumping off the last question, I'm not sure if the coaches will sit their senior captain, though. For one thing, Hanson has played all right, he just hasn't scored (until his first goal/point of the season Friday). He's fourth on the team in shots on goal. Having him in the lineup still gives the Mavericks their best chance to win. But there's no question, that the Mavericks need to get more offensive production from him. As for the suggestion that Hanson be stripped of his "C," that's not going to happen. However, as I wrote about last Friday, R.J. Linder is being called upon to be more of a vocal, emotional leader. Perhaps that will take some pressure off Hanson as he tries to work out of this slump.
What are the chances we're going to see Brett Peterson soon? There were two Brett Peterson questions. Another related to benching of Hanson in favor of giving Peterson and Mike Louwerse more experience. I suspect Peterson, a freshman forward, might get a chance to play during some of the nonconference games that are coming up later this month (Bemidji State, Nebraska-Omaha, Yale and Princeton). Same with forward Louwerse, although he's suffered through some early season injuries. The best thing they can do is bust butt in practice and get the coaches to notice them and trust them. Then, when they do decide to sit down an Andy Sackrison or another player for a night, they'll get their shot. It worked for Ryan Gunderson last weekend.
What are the chances a player who verbally commits to MSU decides to renege and take a better offer? I guess it could happen. But what generally seems to take place is, once a kid tells a team he's coming and has, in essence, orally said he's accepting the team's scholarship offer (and told other teams he's doing the same), everyone else who's recruiting him backs off and respects the decision. Today, there are Web sites devoted to recruiting. High school and junior teams announce when players commit almost immediately after the decision's been made. No player will able to renege quietly, that's for sure.
Who would the coaches say are the most pleasant surprises this season? I'll get a firm answer on this later this week. But I'd have to say: 1. The play of the freshmen defensemen. Kurt Davis, Ben Youds and Channing Boe have stepped right in and played like veterans. Davis and Youds seldom get beat and, more importantly, they get the puck out of their own end and up the rink. I thought Davis had an outstanding weekend against Duluth. He didn't look like a freshman. He looked 21 (which he is), but he didn't look like a freshman. 2. The play of freshman forward Rylan Galiardi. He surprised the staff with his preseason play and earned a regular spot. He's one of eight players -- and the only freshman -- to have played in every game this season.
There were a few more questions/comments/debates about marketing and the Alltel Center atmosphere: Through three games, the Mavericks have drawn an average of 4,481. The all-time high is 3,860. Now, I know that number will go down over the holidays, but it's pretty good. I imagine it might even go up this weekend with Wisconsin in town. I was most impressed with Saturday night's crowd (3,919), which came out despite the lousy weather. They were rewarded with a 2-1 MSU win.
The blog is called PucKato. Will there be any coverage of the local high school teams? This blog is mainly devoted by MSU men's hockey, but it's certainly not limited to it.
We'll see what happens as the season goes on, but I suspect I throw up some posts about the prep teams. I'm covering West vs. Waseca tonight and looking forward to seeing the Scarlets in action. They had a nice season-opening win last week over section-foe New Prague, winning 7-1.