Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Get your tickets!

Minnesota State announced Wednesday morning that student tickets for next week's men's hockey game against the Minnesota Gophers will be distributed at 8 a.m. tomorrow (Thursday) morning on campus at the Taylor Center Hall of Champions.

This is the first time in several years that all MSU men's hockey home games, including those against the Gophers, will be free for students.

Students will need a current, valid Mavcard to get their tickets, and 1,100 are available for the Nov. 9 game, which will be MSU's first home game of season.

Revenge of the nerds

Ex-Mavs David Backes and Steve Wagner will return to their home state Thursday night when the St. Louis Blues take on the Minnesota Wild. The Blues are 6-4-0 with a little help from a couple of engineering students from Minnesota State University.

The self-described nerds are interviewed in this story in the Belleville (Ill.) News-Democrat, which covers the Blues.

Wagner is tied for sixth in scoring among all NHL rookies with four points, including one goal against the Wild, and also has a plus-6 plus-minus rating. According the above story, Blues coach Andy Murray doesn't think Wagner's going away anytime soon.:

"I don't see Steve Wagner going anyplace other than where he is right now, which is one of our leading defensemen," Murray said. "He moves the puck well; he's going to be on our power play, we use him killing penalties. He skates extremely well and his game is suited to the new style of hockey that's being played."

Backes, meanwhile, has two goals and two assists on the season.

It doesn't appear that PucKato will be able to make the game. If any readers go to the "X" Thursday, feel free to post a report on the comments section below.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Zacharias earns WCHA honor

Minnesota State goaltender Mike Zacharias was named the Western Collegiate Hockey Association's defensive player of the week for his play against Alaska-Anchorage last weekend.

Zacharias stopped 52 of 54 shots in a 2-2 tie Friday and a 2-0 shutout victory Saturday.

The 5-foot-10, 175-pound junior from Plymouth has played all but one period for the Mavericks this season and has a .933 save percentage and 1.87 goals-against average.

Other WCHA honors went to North Dakota junior forward T.J. Oshie (offensive) and St. Cloud State freshman forward Garrett Roe (rookie).

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Game of the name

Listening to a game on the radio can give you a new perspective on players' names. Some guys simply have names that are meant to be said aloud. For MSU, Jason Wiley has it, as do the four-syllable players: Zacharias and Canzanello. Anchorage has a couple great names in Winston DayChief and Shane Lovdahl. But their best is Kane Lafranchise because it sounds like he's being called, "The Franchise." With a name like that, it's too bad he's a defenseman and not a first-line center.

This time, a win

Minnesota State goaltender Mike Zacharias recorded his second career shutout Saturday night, making 25 saves in a 2-0 win over Alaska-Anchorage.

For Zacharias, this shutout might be more special than his first because it's his first shutout win. Last season, the junior shut out St. Cloud State on 29 shots but ended up getting a 0-0 tie on his record.

For the weekend, Zacharias stopped 52 of 54 shots to help MSU take three points from the Seawolves, who lost for the first time in six games.

Meanwhile, the Mavericks picked up their first win of the season, getting goals from James Gaulrapp and Mick Berge.

If there were any Mankato folks in Anchorage this weekend, PucKato would love to hear your report. Add your comments below.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

A lead and a power-play goal (updated)

Just filed a first-period brief at Free Press World Headquarters in downtown Mankato and got home just in time to hear the Mavericks score their first power-play goal of the season. Mick Berge gave MSU a 2-0 lead over Alaska-Anchorage and broke an 0 for 19 streak to start the season. The goal, at 10:34, was assisted by Geoff Irwin and Ben Youds.

The Mavericks jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a James Gaulrapp goal just 1:18 into the game.

Shots are 20-16 in favor of MSU after two periods. The Seawolves committed a 5-minute major for checking from behind at the end of the period.

Keep checking PucKato for more.

Mavericks-Seawolves, Part II

A few pregame notes:

Early indications are that Mike Zacharias will start in goal for the Mavericks again tonight. He stopped 27 of 29 shots in Friday's 2-2 tie. ... Only one change on the line chart. Junior defenseman Blake Friesen will take freshman Kurt Davis' spot. ... Although it appeared that freshman forward Brett Peterson was going to see his first action of the season, coach Troy Jutting is keeping his forward lines intact. Peterson likely would have fit in on the fourth line, but, judging by the radio broadcast, that was one of MSU's best lines last night. That group of Zach Harrison, Rylan Galiardi and Jason Wiley was responsible for the game-tying goal. ... On the subject of that goal, the official scoring will change, as Harrison apparently deflected defenseman Channing Boe's initial shot. Boe was originally credited with the goal.

One point

The Mavericks would certainly like to have the game's first 23 seconds back, but they did overcome a 2-0 deficit and tie Alaska-Anchorage 2-2 Friday night at Sullivan Arena.

Sophomore forward Kael Mouillierat and freshman defenseman Channing Boe scored MSU's goals. Boe's game-tying goal came with 7:46 remaining in the third period.

Listening to the radio call by Mike Sullivan, goalie Mike Zacharias made a couple of big stops en route to a 27-save performance. Certainly he'd like to have a redo on the first one as a dump-in from the blue line slipped past him just 23 seconds after the opening faceoff.

Notes: The Seawolves outshot the Mavericks 29-23, including an 11-4 advantage in the third period and overtime. ... Besides Boe, freshmen Andrew Sackrison, Kurt Davis and Rylan Galiardi got their first collegiate points. ... The Mavericks thought they were going on the power play in overtime when Joel Hanson was hooked, but Hanson also went to the box for unsportsmanlike conduct. Diving perhaps? ... MSU was 0 for 6 on the power play and 4 for 4 on the penalty kill.

The Mavericks will try for a three-point weekend at 10:07 p.m. Saturday night. PucKato will once again attempt to bring you some virtual coverage.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Wish we were there (updated)

Just getting set to tune in to the Mavericks-Seawolves game on the radio and heard this pregame nugget from coach Troy Jutting: Sophomore forward Jason Wiley is back in the lineup after being out with an injury.

UPDATE 1: According to a late-arriving line chart, Wiley is on the fourth line with Zach Harrison and Rylan Galiardi. Freshman forward Brett Peterson is also on the trip, which means senior Matt Tyree is back in Mankato.

UPDATE 2: Anchorage got on the board first, scoring just 23 seconds after the opening faceoff.

UPDATE 3: It's 2-1 Seawolves after two periods. The Mavericks cut a 2-0 deficit in half on a goal by Kael Mouillierat from Andrew Sackrison at 6:05.

UPDATE 4: I should probably acknowledge the big upset in Houghton, Mich., tonight as Michigan Tech defeated No. 1 North Dakota 3-1. What does that say about last weekend?

UPDATE 5: Minnesota State tied the game on a goal by freshman defenseman Channing Boe at 12:14 of the third period. Galiardi and Wiley assisted on the play.

UPDATE 6: Going to overtime ... MSU played in 10 overtime games last season, going 3-1-6. I'll have a new post when the game ends.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

North to Alaska

The rush is on to Anchorage, but PucKato won't be there (deadline and budget issues). However, I'll try to have some game-night blogs and links to other coverage on the blog. Meanwhile, here are a few things to know about this weekend's series:

As the Mavericks look for their first win of the season, they will have six freshmen in the lineup Friday. Forwards Jason Wiley and Mike Louwerse are out with injuries, and senior forward Matt Tyree and junior Blake Friesen are on the trip but out in the opener because of a few poor choices at Michigan Tech. Coach Troy Jutting said he is benching players who take bad penalties. He sat defenseman Nick Canzanello last Saturday; Tyree and Friesen are his next examples. "We need to do a good job staying out of the box," Jutting said. "That's why those guys aren't playing Friday."

Senior defenseman and regular penalty killer R.J. Linder says he likes his coach's policy: "I agree with it totally. For us to be successful and meet our goals, you can't be sitting in the box." You can read more about Linder in Friday's Free Press.

So the six freshmen in the lineup will include defensemen Ben Youds, Kurt Davis and Channing Boe and forwards Andrew Sackrison, Rylan Galiardi and Brett Peterson. Peterson, an Elk River native who played with Indiana of the USHL, will be making his college-hockey debut.

Other news and notes: Jutting said Mike Zacharias will start in goal Friday. Dan Tormey is also on the trip. ... Jon Kalinski is the Mavericks' active leading scorer against Anchorage with four goals and three assists. ... More to come.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Brownlee signs

Former Minnesota State defenseman Chad Brownlee signed with the ECHL's Idaho Steelheads Wednesday.

Several ex-Mavericks, meanwhile are playing in Europe, including Kyle Peto and Rob Rankin in England; and Shane Joseph, Andy Hedlund and Nate Metcalf in Germany.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Houghton's in the rear-view mirror

A few afterthoughts about the Michigan Tech series ...

Jon Kalinski, who is the subject of my Tuesday column, had three short-handed breakaways against the Huskies. "Three in a weekend," Mavericks coach Troy Jutting said Monday. "Most players don't get three chances in their career." The problem was, of course, that he didn't finish and the Mavericks ended up with one goal for the weekend. Kalinski scored four shorties last season, tying the school's single-season record and putting him two shy of the career mark.

The Mavericks appeared to be a faster team than the Huskies but struggled to take advantage of it on small ice against a strong defensive team. This week's opponent, Alaska-Anchorage, plays on Olympic ice, which MSU traditionally has been more comfortable on.

Jutting is cracking down on penalties to start the season. He said that sophomore defenseman Nick Canzanello was a scratch Saturday because of a late slashing penalty Friday. On Monday, he said that other players may face similar punishments this weekend. It's a move that's long overdue. Minnesota State has been the WCHA leader in penalty minutes for five years running.

While the 7-1 score doesn't show it, Jutting insists that the Mavericks played better Saturday than they did in Friday's 2-0 loss. The difference? Goalie Mike Zacharias bailed out his teammates Friday, and, Saturday, Dan Tormey struggled early while Tech's Rob Nolan made 35 saves, including 13 in the first period.

This week's rankings are out and eight WCHA teams are in the top 20, including No. 14 Michigan Tech, who was not ranked last week. St. Cloud State also got votes, which leaves the Mavericks as the only team not considered this week. Of the WCHA teams, North Dakota is No. 1, followed by Colorado College (4), Denver (6), Minnesota (10), Wisconsin (11), Michigan Tech (14), Minnesota Duluth (17) and Alaska-Anchorage (20).

Check back later for more ...

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Huskies sweep Mavericks

Sometimes change is good. Sometimes, well ...

Michigan Tech changed goalies Saturday and got an equally great performance from Rob Nolan, who had 35 saves, including 13 in the first period, in a 6-1 win.

Minnesota State changed goalies, and Dan Tormey allowed four first-period goals as the Mavericks were swept in the WCHA series.

The Mavericks outshot the Huskies 36-30.

It was the first time Tech has swept MSU since the 1996-97 season, the Mavericks' first as a Division I program.

Trevor Bruess scored the Mavericks lone goal and prevented the first back-to-back shutouts since 2001.

Mavericks-Huskies, Part II (updated)

Here are tonight's lines (updated with starters in bold):




The changes, besides Dan Tormey in for Mike Zacharias in goal, is freshman defenseman Channing Boe in for Nick Canzanello and senior forward Matt Tyree in for Mike Louwerse.

St. Louis*-Angelow-Lord



* change from Friday

Friday, October 19, 2007

Mavericks fall in opener

Michael-Lee Teslak outdid Mike Zacharias in goal as Michigan Tech defeated Minnesota State 2-0 Friday night. Teslak made 23 saves for his fifth career shutout. Zacharias had a strong start to the season, stopping 30 of 32 shots.

Both MSU coach Troy Jutting and Tech coach Jamie Russell noted the difference in game experience. The Huskies were already playing their third game of the year (fourth if you count exhibitions), while the Mavericks were playing their first.

"They're a very good defensive team," Jutting said. "We didn't get a lot of opportunities."

Still, Minnesota State had chances to score. Jon Kalinski, who had four short-handed goals last season, missed two shorties Friday. Nick Canzanello banged a shot off the post during a power play in the second period.

Both teams were 0 for 7 on the power play. The Mavericks, who had three rookies on the PP, looked like they were still learning. "We were a little tentative shooting the puck," Jutting said.

The series continues at 6:07 p.m. (CDT) tonight.

Greetings from Copper Country! (Updated)

We're less than minutes from the puck dropping on the Mavericks' 2007-08 season. Here are tonight's lines:

UPDATE: Starters in bold.




Extras: Tyree, Boe, Tormey




Observations: The Mavericks have five freshmen in the lineup tonight: Sackrison, Galiardi and Louwerse up front and Davis and Youds on defense. ... The fans are just starting to arrive and some of the first ones to come in from the rainy U.P. weather are a handful of MSU fans. ... This is just my second trip to Houghton. The last time I was here was late in the 2001-02. Let's just say I prefer the October rain over the November snow. ... Zacharias appears to have survived the pregame warmups. In last season's opener at Notre Dame, Zacharias was scheduled to start in net but suffered a groin pull in warmups. ... I'll try to have more later.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Almost there

The Mavericks left for Houghton, Mich., this morning for this weekend's season-opening series at Michigan Tech, and I won't be far behind (I'm leaving Friday morning, but in my mind, I'm already there).

All of the players I've talked to this week are itching to drop the puck. Minnesota State was the only WCHA team not in action last weekend, and they are getting tired of playing against themselves. Although official practice has been going on for only two weeks, the Mavericks were conditioning and going through captains practices basically since school started at the beginning of September.

A few things to know about this weekend:

Coach Troy Jutting said Mike Zacharias will start in goal Friday. "He's had a good fall," the coach said. "He deserves to play the first game." That's not a surprise. Zacharias was the best of the three goalies in the Purple-Gold game. Although Jutting was noncommittal about Saturday's starter, I wouldn't be shocked of Dan Tormey gets the nod.

The forward lines are basically the same as they were during the scrimmage (see below). The only exception is Matt Tyree moved up to the fourth line with Zach Harrison and Rylan Galiardi because Jason Wiley is out with an undisclosed injury.

I'm going to try my hand at pre- and postgame blogging for the first time this weekend, so I'll have all of the lineups tomorrow night. Who knows? There might even be some in-game posts, so keep checking. Also, be sure to read Friday's Free Press for a full preview, including a feature on senior captain Joel Hanson and a WCHA preview.

I'd love to hear your take on this season and, especially, this series. Thanks to everybody who's already posted comments.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Carter sent cross-country

Somehow, I missed this last week, but the Ducks sent Ryan Carter to their AHL affilate in Portland, Maine. He played four games for Anaheim before going to the minors.

Jeff Miller of the Orange County Register wrote some pretty funny stuff about Carter before the demotion:

It brings power, winning a championship does, power and recognition and an allure the depth of which can be difficult to grasp. Take the case of Ryan Carter, who, before last season's conference finals, never had appeared in the NHL.

Then he debuted against the Red Wings, played two more games in that series and one game in the finals. Carter was in for 24 shifts, totaling barely 12 minutes.

And this summer, there was a "Ryan Carter Day" in Mankato, Minn., and a "Ryan Carter Day" in White Bear Lake, Minn.

Had he actually registered a point, the entire state still might be celebrating "Ryan Carter Year." Who knows? Maybe Minnesota's new nickname will be "Land of 10,000 'Ryan Carter Days.' "

"I never thought about that till right now," said Carter, who had as many days named in his honor as Scott and Rob Niedermayer did combined. "I guess that's not something that happens all the time."

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Purple and Gold -- er, White

A few observations from Thursday's Purple-Gold game ...

The Mavericks unveiled their new uniforms during the intrasquad scrimmage and, no, there's no new logo. The sharp-looking sweaters are solid white for home and solid purple for the road (I guess that really makes it the Purple-White game, no?) with vertical striping on the sleeves similar to the jerseys many of last year's Olympic teams.

All Seasons Arena was nearly full for the first half of the event. The first 500 MSU students in the door got gold Maverick Hockey T-shirts. A good chunk of the crowd split during intermission; they missed nine of the night's 10 goals, including five penalty shots. Penalty shots were awarded for any penalty called. The Mavericks were five for seven on penalty shots. Jerad Stewart scored three of them, one against each goalie. You can read more about Stewart and the sophomore class in Friday's Free Press.

Here were the lines (goals-assists in parenthesis):

Team White 4
Kalinski (0-1) -- Sackrison -- Hanson (1-1)
Galiardi (1-1) -- Harrison (0-1) -- Wiley

Youds (0-1) -- Boe (1-0)
Canzanello (1-0) -- Linder

Team Purple 6
Irwin (0-1) -- Berge (0-2) -- Mouillierat (1-0)
Gaulrapp (1-0) -- Bruess (1-0) -- Stewart (3-0)

Davis (0-1) -- Friesen
Gunderson -- Kilburg

The line of Tyree-Peterson-Louwerse (0-1) and defenseman Lompado played a period with each team, and the three goalies rotated around.

As for the goalies, Dan Tormey allowed five goals, including three on penalty shots. Mike Zacharias allowed just one penalty-shot goal. And freshman Austin Lee allowed four goals, but stopped two of three penalty shots.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The lonely ones

Minnesota State junior forward Mick Berge said Tuesday that's he glad to be practicing for real after a month or so of captains practices and conditioning skates. But his Mavericks will be the odd team out this weekend as they're the only WCHA team that won't be playing games.

Minnesota will be in the Icebreaker Invitational at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul along with RPI, Michigan and Boston College. Wisconsin is at the Lefty McFadden tournament in Dayton, Ohio, with Notre Dame, Mercyhurst and Ohio State. Alaska-Anchorage will play Wayne State and Boston University in the Nye Frontier Classic. Michigan Tech and Minnesota Duluth are playing Lake Superior State and Northern Michigan in the Superior Showcase. St. Cloud State is hosting a two-game series with Canisius, Denver is hosting Maine for a pair and North Dakota is hosting Michigan State Saturday. Even Colorado College has an exhibition game, as it did last week, along with Anchorage, Tech and North Dakota.

The Mavericks will be playing themselves Thursday in the Purple-Gold Game. The event, at All Seasons Arena, is free and will feature two, 20-minute periods with 5-on-5, 4-on-4 and special teams work. Referees will be on the ice calling penalties, and, according to coach Troy Jutting, all infractions will result in penalty shots.

Monday, October 8, 2007

And away we go

Enough with these NHL guys (for now); the college season is officially underway. The Mavericks have two practices in the books -- starting with one early Saturday morning -- and are now off on their regular practice schedule.

I had a chance to talk to freshman forward Andrew Sackrison after practice and he's thrilled to be centering a line with the Mavericks' top returning scorers from last season, Joel Hanson and Jon Kalinski to start the year.

"It's a great opportunity," Sackrison said. "But it's a lot of hard work. I just hope I can add something to their success."

You can read more about Sackrison and the freshman in Tuesday's Free Press. I have a column about five big questions for the Mavericks this season. Here's a teaser (questions, no answers):

1. Is Kalinski an elite forward in the WCHA?
2. Can the sophomore class take the next step?
3. Who will win the No. 1 goaltending job?
4. Can Steve Wagner be replaced?
5. Can the Mavericks survive the early season schedule?

Check it out and tell me what you think. What are some other burning questions about this club?

A couple of other notes:

Hanson is the team's captain, while junior Mick Berge has been chosen as an alternate. Coach Troy Jutting said the team will also have a rotation set up for it's other assistant, which sounds something like what the Minnesota Wild does with it's captain.

The WCHA will be experimenting with a two-referee system this season, something the NCAA would like to see in place. Each team will play two nonconference and four conference series with two referees and two linesmen for a total of 60 games with the system. During last week's WCHA conference call, head of officials Greg Shepherd said the coaches prefer one referee. But that's not unanimous as Jutting said he likes the 2-2 system.

Finally, one more thought on Sackrison. He's a 2006 fifth-round draft pick of the St. Louis Blues. The Blues have to be thrilled that he's in Mankato after what they've seen out of Wagner and David Backes so far.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Hang another banner

Steve Wagner made his NHL debut Thursday night, playing more than 16 minutes in the St. Louis' loss to the Phoenix Coyotes. David Backes also played and assisted on one of the Blues' goals.

As far as St. Louis rookies went, all eyes were on 2006 No. 1 draft pick and ex-Gopher Erik Johnson, but coach Andy Murray made a point to including Wagner in the discussion, according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch:

"Something that's been lost here is Wagner and his impact here with our team," Murray said. "He's a first-year guy, too. He's a little older, so he's got more experience. But he's going to kill penalties, he's going to play on the power-play. I just think at this point we can use (Wagner) in more situations (than Johnson) because he's got more experience."

Minnesota State hung giant banners in what is now the Alltel Center last season honoring its two NHL players, Tim Jackman and Grant Stevenson. Backes and Ryan Carter should be added this year, but the Mavericks have until their home opener on Nov. 9 to add Wagner to the wall.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Three's company

Three ex-Mavericks are starting the season in the NHL. Ryan Carter has already played in a regular-season game for the Anaheim Ducks, and the St. Louis Blues set their opening-day roster with David Backes and the surprise of training camp, Steve Wagner making the club.

The New York Islanders sent Tim Jackman to their AHL affiliate in Bridgeport, Conn., Tuesday.

No MSU alum has ever been on an opening-day NHL roster before this year. Backes, Jackman and Grant Stevenson were all mid-season call-ups when they made their debuts, and Carter didn't get the nod until last season's conference finals.

Wagner was undrafted and signed with the Blues as a free agent last spring following an outstanding junior year. He becomes the first Mavericks defenseman to make an NHL club.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Purple vs. Gold

The Minnesota State men's hockey team announced Monday that it will play an intrasquad scrimmage at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11 at All Seasons Arena. The Purple and Gold game will be a free event, and the first 500 MSU students to arrive will receive T-shirts.

If memory serves, this is the first Purple and Gold game since 2002. The Mavericks usually don't play the scrimmage if they have an exhibition game scheduled.

The last four years, MSU has started the season with an exhibition game against a Canadian college team. This year, they'll go right into the WCHA schedule with a series at Michigan Tech.

London calling

Did you forget to flip over to the Vs. channel for a little NHL hockey in the middle of an NFL Sunday? Yeah, me too.

Well, Almost.

Checking the Ducks-Kings game live from London, there indeed was No. 52, Ryan Carter, on the ice. Carter, who was a scratch in Saturday's opener, played more than 10 minutes, was on the penalty kill and was 6-1 on faceoffs.