Friday, February 29, 2008

Tigers 5, Mavs 2, final

Minnesota State thought it had freshman goaltending sensation Richard Bachman figured out when it took a 2-0 lead on No. 4 Colorado College. But Bachman stopped 20 shots in the second period and finished with 33 to allow his team to score five unanswered goals.

The Tigers scored three power-play goals, including Scott McCulloch's game-winner with 3:07 remaining in the second period.

The Mavericks had a prime chance to take that 3-2 lead during a 5-on-3 power play with about five minutes left in the second, but Bachman nearly did a cartwheel to kick away Kael Mouillierat's open shot below the right circle.

"I was stunned," Mouillierat said.

Minnesota State 2-0-0--2
Colorado College 1-2-2--5

Scoring: 1. MSU-Mouillierat 8 (unassisted) :48; 2. MSU-Berge 17 (Kalinski 6, Harrison 11) 13:42; 3. CC-Rau 23 (Hillen 26, Kilpatrick 14) ppg 16:54
Penalties: Gannon, CC (tripping) 3:04; Harrison, MSU (holding) 14:07; Kalinski, MSU (slashing) 15:38; Friesen, MSU (interference) 18:41
Scoring: 4. CC-Hillen 4 (Vlassopoulos 20, Testwuide 7) ppg :25; 5. CC-McCulloch 12 (Connelly 15, Hillen 26) ppg 16:53
Penalties: Sweatt, CC (boarding) 13:16; Bruess, MSU (roughing) 13:41; Prosser, CC (roughing) 13:41; McMillin, CC (tripping) 14:06; Berge, MSU (hooking) 15:23
Scoring: 6. CC-Hillen 5 (Walsky 6, McCulloch 7) 13:26; 7. CC-Rau 23 eng shg 19:37
Penalties: Harrison, MSU (goaltender interference) 7:10; Lowery, CC (tripping) 13:53; Sweatt, CC (high-sticking) 18:51
Shots on goal: MSU 7-20-8--35; CC 14-10-7—31. Penalties: MSU 6 for 12 minutes; CC 6 for 12 minutes. Power-play opportunities: MSU 0 for 5; CC 3 for 5. Goalie saves: MSU-Zacharias 13-8-5--26 (4 GA); CC-Bachman 5-20-8--33 (2 GA)
MSU called its timeout at 18:51 of the third period.
Referee: Marco Hunt. Assistant referees: Greg Rockenback, Scott Staudte.
Attendance: 7,052

Greetings from Colorado Springs

It's an hour till the puck drops between the No. 9 Mavericks and No. 4 Tigers. Here are the lines:

MINNESOTA STATE (16-12-4, 10-10-4)



Extra players: Gaulrapp, Boe

COLORADO COLLEGE (23-8-1, 18-5-1)



Thursday, February 28, 2008

West to state

The Mankato West boys hockey team earned its first trip to the state boys hockey tournament Thursday with a 3-1 win over top-seeded Rochester Lourdes at the Rochester Recreation Center.

The Scarlets, who were the No. 2 seed, joined the 2006 Mankato East/Loyola team as the only Mankato teams to go to the state boys hockey tournament.

"It's just the heart this team has," said senior Ryan Anderson, who had two assists. "This is unbelievable."

Lourdes outshot West 41-19, but junior goaltender Tyler Bruggeman was outstanding, stopping 40 shots, including 17 in the first period and 14 in the second when the Scarlets had to kill off four penalties.

"It's amazing; it's surreal," Bruggeman said. "We don't know what's going on. It's the greatest feeling ever."

Matt Campbell, Ricky Litchfield and Corey Leivermann scored West's goals. For a full story, see Friday's Free Press.

Photo by Pat Christman

Linder to play

I went to MSU's practice Wednesday to get some pre-series information before the Mavericks left town for Colorado Springs. One thing I wanted to get was some reaction from coaches and players on the death of Ron Linder, father of senior defenseman and assistant captain R.J. Linder. 

But who do I see skating as soon as I walk into the rink area? R.J. Linder.

Less than 24 hours after his dad died, Linder was back in practice because, he said, that what his dad would have wanted. Linder, who missed Tuesday's game against Nebraska-Omaha in order to be with his dad and his family at the end, said he will play against Colorado College this weekend. Ron Linder's funeral will be March 9.

"I think he would be upset up there if I missed a game or a practice because of his funeral," Linder said.

You can read more on R.J.'s decision as well as a full preview of this weekend's series in Friday's edition of The Free Press.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Linder's father loses battle with cancer

Minnesota State played without its emotional leader during Tuesday's 4-2 loss to Nebraska-Omaha, and perhaps some of the Mavericks' emotions were with him.

Senior defenseman and assistant captain R.J. Linder was out of the lineup for family reasons, having returned to his hometown of St. Cloud Monday to be with his ailing father. According to the St. Cloud Times website this morning, Linder's father, Ron Linder, died of cancer Tuesday. He was 51.

R.J. Linder has been open about his father's illness this season, and talked about it for a story before his final trip home to face St. Cloud State.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Red Mavs 4, Purple Mavs 2, final

Minnesota State's Pairwise ranking suffered a blow Tuesday night as Nebraska-Omaha scored a 4-2 upset. UNO swept the series, captured the Spirit of the Maverick Trophy for the first time since 2002 and knocked MSU from a tie for seventh in the Pairwise to a tie for 11th.

"We didn't come out with any fire," MSU captain Joel Hanson said, "like it was a must win."

While the traveling trophy meant little to the Mankato Mavericks, who just wanted a win, it was special for the Omaha Mavs, who snapped an 11-game winless streak against MSU during their meeting in December.

"I have two assistants who are former players, and they were on the last team that won it," UNO coach Mike Kemp said. "That tells you how long it's been. This was hard-fought for the seniors."

Omaha was without its top scorer Bryan Marshall, who has missed the last five games with a knee injury. Marshall was second in the nation in scoring and first in assists when he got hurt. UNO also started sophomore goalie Jeremie Dupont, who made 28 saves for his first win of the season. It was Omaha's final regular-season game.

Nebraska-Omaha 0-2-2--4
Minnesota State 0-1-1--2

Scoring: None.
Penalties: Agosta, UNO (checking from behind) 14:12
Scoring: 1. UNO-Ambroz 3 (Goulet 7, Martin 9) ppg 2:11; 2. UNO-Goulet 6 (Koehler 6) ppg 4:53; 3. MSU-Hanson 8 (Irwin 9, Sackrison 13) ppg 19:54
Penalties: Bruess, MSU, major (kneeing) 1:44; UNO (bench minor) 4:53; Kilburg, MSU (cross-checking) 11:42; Goulet, UNO (tripping) 18:08
Scoring: 4. UNO-Lawrence 21 (Fanto 5, Von Bokern 4) 9:24; 5. MSU-Berge 16 (Davis 10, Kalinski 5) 18:37; 6. UNO-Koehler 5 (unassisted) eng 19:49
Penalties: Klempa, UNO (hooking) 4:02; DelGrosso, UNO (cross-checking) 15:
Shots on goal: UNO 6-12-7--25; MSU 6-12-12--30. Penalties: UNO 5 for 10 minutes; MSU 2 for 7 minutes. Power-play opportunities: UNO 2 for 4; MSU 1 for 5. Goalie saves: UNO-Dupont 6-11-11--28 (2 GA); MSU-Zacharias 6-10-5--21 (4 GA)
MSU called its timeout at 18:17 of the third period.
Referee: Derek Shepherd. Assistant referees: Jarod Moen, C.J. Beaurline.
Attendance: 3,967

Tuesday night at the rink

It's 30 minutes until game time between the MSU Mavericks and the UNO Mavericks. The Spirit of the Maverick Trophy is on the line, but, more importantly, so is MSU's No. 7 Pairwise ranking. A win by four goals keeps the trophy in Mankato. A win, period, will suit the home team just fine. A loss, though, could be crushing.

Here are the lines (starters in italic):





Del Grosso-Bernier
Von Bokern-Goulet


Notes: MSU defenseman R.J. Linder is out for personal reasons. UNO starter Jeremie Dupont has been his team's top backup this season. The sophomore is 0-6-0. ... UNO is missing senior forward Bryan Marshall, who was one of the nation's top scorers before suffering a knee injury a couple of weeks ago. ... UNO defeated MSU 6-3 in December, so MSU must win by four goals to keep the traveling trophy that goes with this nonconference series. A three-goal win will result in a shootout for the hardware.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Fighting the Sioux

The Minnesota State and North Dakota women's hockey teams got into quite the melee Friday night with the two teams combining for 140 minutes worth of penalties, including an 11-player skirmish at 8:29 of the third period that caused four players to be tossed from the game.

Yes, there is video:

No. 9 ... No. 9 ... No. 9

Despite being idle last weekend, Minnesota State moved up in the rankings, jumping up from 11th to ninth. I believe this is their highest ranking as a Division I team. Just before their 17-game unbeaten streak came to an end in 2002-03, they were ranked 10th. Following is this week's poll. I'll update this later with the USA Today/USA Hockey rankings. Division I Men's Poll
Minneapolis, Minn./February 25, 2008

Team (First Place) Record Pts Last Week
1 Michigan (35) 26- 4-4 963 1
2 North Dakota (10) 21- 8-2 931 2
3 New Hampshire ( 5) 21- 7-2 899 3
4 Colorado College 23- 8-1 862 4
5 Miami 27- 6-1 821 5
6 Michigan State 21- 9-5 737 6
7 Denver 21-10-1 693 8
8 Boston College 16- 9-7 614 7
9 Minnesota State 16-11-4 561 11
10 Clarkson 18-10-4 542 12
11 Notre Dame 21-11-4 505 9
12 St. Cloud State 16-13-3 417 16
13 Wisconsin 14-13-7 410 10
14 Princeton 17-10-0 383 17
15 Minnesota-Duluth 12-12-6 293 13
16 Boston University 14-14-4 163 NR
17 Minnesota 13-13-8 147 NR
18 Northeastern 14-13-3 115 14
19 Providence 13-13-4 101 14
20 Harvard 13-11-3 96 NR

Others Receiving Votes: Quinnipiac 54, Vermont 50,
Niagara 39, Cornell 30, Union 27, Air Force 11,
Mass.-Lowell 11, Michigan Tech 8, Army 6,
Bemidji State 5, RIT 4, Bowling Green 1,
Ferris State 1

Friday, February 22, 2008

Carter hurt in "freak (hockey) accident"

The Anaheim Ducks placed ex-Maverick Ryan Carter on injured-reserve Thursday after Carter suffered a fractured right wrist in Wednesday's game against Colorado. Carter, who has four goals and eight points, got his hand caught in one of the cutouts in the glass that photographers use to shoot games. You can read more about it here. Earlier in the week, Carter was being praised for being one of the Ducks' best rookies season.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

You want answers, 2/21/08

Without further ado, lets get to your questions ...

Who is the odd-man out of the defensive corps come playoff time? Jutting has insisted all season that he has seven trustworthy defensemen and has shown that all year. Who sits that first playoff game may depend on the matchup, where the game is played and how those seven players were the previous weekend and in practice. Judging by the last eight games, the safest defensemen appear to be Linder, Youds, Davis and Kilburg, while Friesen, Boe and Canzanello have done more rotating.

What are the chances the Mavs pull the goalie with a two-goal lead Tuesday to try to keep the Spirit of the Maverick trophy? That trophy doesn't mean nearly as much as the Pairwise ramifications of Tuesday's game against Nebraska-Omaha, so winning, whether by one goal or four goals, is most important. But Omaha did beat Mankato 6-3 in December, so I expect MSU to try to score goals early and often in order to try and keep what some like to call the Maverick Cup. If MSU gives up the trophy but makes the NCAA tournament, I doubt the players will even notice the empty spot in their lounge.

How does the Mavericks' power-play rank? The reader said he cringes every time the Mavericks get a power play because they haven't scored many one-timers and have only one real sniper in Mick Berge. MSU ranks eighth in the WCHA in power-play success at 12. 9 percent right now (St. Cloud State leads at 21.2 percent). I know they want that number to go up, and I'd like to see them get more traffic in front of the goaltender. However, consider this: I was talking to former Wisconsin coach Jeff Sauer Saturday and he watched the Mavericks on consecutive Fridays (home vs. Anchorage and at Wisconsin); he said their PP is the best he's seen this year. While it hasn't scored a ton of goals, he said, the Mavericks move the pucks as well as anyone.

Can you provide some of the specifics as to what those upgrades to the Alltel Center will be and where the proposed additional sheet of ice will be? The proposal to the bonding committee is for a new building tentatively called the Southern Minnesota Women's Hockey Exposition Center to be constructed across Riverfront Drive from the Alltel Center. The hope is that it will be a building that could permanently house both MSU hockey programs, including women's home games. The men's games would remain in the main arena, which certainly needs some upgrades. Although I don't know what specifically is in the works, I think the Alltel Center needs the following: improved locker-room space, a training room, a modern scoreboard with video for replays, a press box and purple seats.

What are the chances of early departures after this season? I'm not sure if anyone from this team will leave early, but it would surprise me if NHL teams aren't keeping a close eye on the Mavericks' program. They'd be crazy not to, since the last two years have produced free-agent players who made quick leaps to the show, including defenseman Steve Wagner last year and center Ryan Carter the year before. The Mavericks have only two draft picks on their roster in Jon Kalinski and Andrew Sackrison. The team's top scorers, Trevor Bruess, Mick Berge and Joel Hanson (a senior) are all free agents.

Why hasn't Matt Tyree played lately? I would guess Matt will play at least one of the final three home games, whichever one is deemed senior night. The Mavericks haven't made many changes to their forward rotation, especially when they've had such success of late, going 7-1-0 in their last eight games.

If the Mavericks end up making the national tournament, where would you expect them to play in the regional? It's so early, they could wind up in any of the four regions. The NCAA prefers to keep teams close to home, but other factors, like avoiding intraconference matchups in the first round, will force some flip-flopping. I think everyone in Mankato would like to see the Mavericks go to Madison, as it makes for a pretty easy road trip.

After finishing tops in the state in scoring, what do you expect Mankato West's Ricky Litchfield's next hockey move to be? His next move, of course, is to try to get the Scarlets to the state tournament. After that, I think it's to try to hook up with a junior team and get/keep his name out there. Having teammate Corey Leivermann already committed to Minnesota State, I think, has inspired him to become a better two-way player this season. He has speed and scoring skill, no doubt. Will he be able to do that at the junior level? The college level? I think that's all up to him and how hard he wants to pursue that dream.

That's all for now. There was another question about the Mavericks' WCHA playoff scenarios. I'm going to let their bye week play itself out and see where things stand going into next week's series at Colorado College before I speculate on that. There are way too many variables right now.

But let's hear from you. Who do you want to see the Mavericks draw for the WCHA playoffs? If they're at home? If they're on the road? What are your predictions?

Rink of dreams

Since it's a bye week for the Mavericks, I had a good chance to focus on some other hockey things. Mankato West will open Section 1A tournament play tonight at home against Faribault. Also, Free Press photographer Pat Christman and I finally got a chance to get out to the Schulz farm in Madison Lake and see the "Rink of Dreams."

You can read the story here and see an audio slide show with more pictures here.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Movin' on up

The Mavericks jumped up to No. 11 in the latest rankings and No. 10 in the USA Today/USA Hockey poll Monday, following their weekend split at Wisconsin. Minnesota State rose as high as No. 10 in the USCHO poll in 2003. Division I Men's Poll
Minneapolis, Minn./February 18, 2008

Team (First Place) Record Pts Last Week
1 Michigan (48) 25- 3-4 998 1
2 North Dakota ( 2) 19- 8-2 952 3
3 New Hampshire 19- 7-2 876 4
4 Colorado College 21- 8-1 843 5
5 Miami 25- 6-1 828 2
6 Michigan State 20- 8-5 715 8
7 Boston College 16- 7-7 685 7
8 Denver 19-10-1 663 6
9 Notre Dame 21-10-3 557 9
10 Wisconsin 14-12-6 504 10
11 Minnesota State 16-11-4 484 13
12 Clarkson 17-10-3 469 11
13 Minnesota-Duluth 12-10-6 424 12
14 Northeastern 14-11-3 259 15
14 Providence 13-11-4 259 14
16 St. Cloud State 14-13-3 255 19
17 Princeton 15-10-0 251 17
18 Mass.-Lowell 13-11-4 139 18
19 Quinnipiac 17- 9-4 116 16
20 Niagara 16- 8-4 62 20

Others Receiving Votes: Minnesota 48, Michigan Tech 24,
Harvard 16, Massachusetts 11, Army 10, Ferris State 10,
Cornell 8, Boston University 7, Union 7, Nebraska-Omaha 6,
Bemidji State 4, Air Force 2, Bowling Green 2, Colgate 2,
RIT 2, Yale 2

USA Today/USA Hockey:
1. Michigan (34)
2. North Dakota
3. New Hampshire
4. Colorado College
5. Miami
6. Michigan State
7. Boston College
8. Denver
9. Notre Dame
10. Minnesota State
11. Clarkson
12. Wisconsin
13. Minnesota Duluth
14. Providence
15. Princeton
Others receiving votes: St. Cloud State, Northeastern, Niagara, Army

Question time!

The Mavericks are off this week. They will return to action Feb. 26 with a home game against Nebraska-Omaha and close out the regular season with conference series at Colorado College and home against Michigan Tech. Minnesota State is coming off a series split at Wisconsin that saw a winning streak extend to seven games with a 3-0 win Friday and snapped with a 4-2 loss Saturday. Sounds like a perfect time to take your questions. So submit your questions in the comment section, and PucKato try to answer them later this week.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Badgers 4, Mavericks 2 - final

Minnesota State 0-1-1--2
Wisconsin 1-3-0--4

Scoring: 1. UW-P. Johnson 7 (Street 15) 4:58
Penalties: MSU bench (too many on ice) 2:37; Davis, MSU (roughing) 3:19; Davies, UW (roughing) 3:19; Friesen, MSU (interference) 9:21; Drewiske, UW (hooking) 9:45; Stewart, MSU (roughing) 11:44; Goloubef, UW (roughing) 11:44; UW bench (too many on ice) 12:48; Linder, MSU (interference) 16:14
Scoring: 2. UW-Mitchell 6 (Bendickson 4, Klubertanz 14) 6:51; 3. UW-Davies 9 (McBain 14, Geoffrion 17) ppg 11:59; 4. UW-Drewiske 2 (McBain 15, Davies 6) ppg 13:10; 5. MSU-Irwin 9 (Wiley 6, Linder 7) 18:06
Penalties: McDonagh, UW (slashing) :55; Galiardi, MSU (slashing) 11:40; Kalinski, MSU (obstruction-hooking) 12:42; P. Johnson, UW (tripping) 19:00
Scoring: 6. MSU-Kalinski 8 (unassisted) shg 7:15
Penalties: Geoffrion, UW (interference) 4:33; Mouillierat, MSU (holding) 5:27; Wiley, MSU (unsportsmanlike conduct) 9:21; Turris, UW (unsportsmanlike conduct) 9:21; Mouillierat, MSU, double-minor (roughing) 20:00; Geoffrion, UW, double-minor (roughing) 20:00
Shots on goal: MSU 6-12-14--32; UW 9-10-10--29. Penalties: MSU 11 for 22 minutes; UW 10 for 20 minutes. Power-play opportunities: MSU 0 for 5; UW 2 for 6. Goalie saves: MSU-Zacharias 8-7-10--25 (4 GA); UW-Connelly 6-11-13--20 (4 GA)
MSU called its timeout at 13:10 of the second period. UW called its timeout at 19:10 of the third period.
Referee: Derek Shepherd. Assistant referees: Dan Carey, Ed Moberg.
Attendance: 15,237

A couple of changes

It was a beautiful day in Madison today: boot hockey, Badger-Gopher basketball, a stroll on State St. and a meeting with a few of the 50-plus fans who bused over from Mankato this afternoon. We'll cap it off with the Mavericks vs. the Badgers at the Kohl Center in about an hour.

The lines are out and coach Troy Jutting made a couple of changes after last night's 3-0 win. Ryan Gunderson is in at forward for James Gaulrapp and Channing Boe is in at defense for Nick Canzanello. Not sure if there are injuries or not, but I suspect that the play of both Gunderson and Boe of late gives the coaches good reason to put them back in. Both players played the last five games before sitting out Friday.

Here are the lines:







Friday, February 15, 2008

Mavericks 3, Badgers 0 - final

Goaltender Mike Zacharias tied Minnesota State's school record with his fourth shutout of the season, stopping 32 shots in the Mavericks' 3-0 win over Wisconsin Friday at the Kohl Center. It was the seventh consecutive victory for the Mavericks (16-10-4, 10-9-4 in WCHA), giving them their first seven-game winning streak since the program turned Division I in 1996.

Minnesota State 1-2-0--3
Wisconsin 0-0-0--0

Scoring: 1. MSU-Mouillierat 7 (Berge 5, Wiley 5) ppg 10:12
Penalties: Drewiske, UW (tripping) 9:19; Turnbull, UW (10-minute misconduct) 9:19; Klubertanz, UW (cross-checking) 10:01; Wiley, MSU (hooking) 11:36; McBain, UW (hooking) 17:18
Scoring: 2. MSU-Harrison 6 (unassisted) 13:02; 3. MSU-Irwin 8 (unassisted) 16:37
Penalties: Galiardi, MSU (hooking) 3:42; Irwin, MSU (tripping) 14:28
Penalties: Bruess, MSU (hooking) 1:25; Drewiske, UW (slashing) 1:50; Kalinski, MSU (cross-checking) 9:52; Friesen, MSU (roughing) 16:15; Geoffrion, UW (roughing) 16:15
Shots on goal: MSU 17-6-5--28; UW 9-11-12--32. Penalties: MSU 6 for 12 minutes; UW 6 for 20 minutes. Power-play opportunities: MSU 1 for 4; UW 0 for 5. Goalie saves: MSU-Zacharias 9-11-12--32 (0 GA); UW-Connelly 16-4-5--25 (3 GA)
Referee: Derek Shepherd. Assistant referees: Dan Carey, Ed Moberg.
Attendance: 14,833

Greetings from Madison

The Mavericks and the Badgers are warming up. Here are tonight's lines (starters in italic):




Extra players: Gunderson, Boe

Changes from last Saturday include Stewart back in (Gunderson out) and Canzanello returning (Boe).




On (to) Wisconsin

PucKato will be leaving for Madison in a couple of hours. But here's some Friday reading for you between now and my pregame post:

My game preview, which points out the mirror images that are the Mavericks and the Badgers is not on The Free Press' free portion of the website but it is on the e-edition. Long story short: MSU and UW are tied for fourth in the conference with identical records. Both teams have scored 54 goals, while giving up 59 and 51, respectively, and they rank sixth and fifth, respectively in the WCHA in overall scoring offense and scoring defense. "We're very similar teams," coach Troy Jutting said. "That's why I say it's going to come down to whoever gets the bounces, whoever buries the opportunities they get ... because I don't think there are going to be a lot of them."

The sentiment seems to be the same in Madison, where Badgers coach Mike Eaves talked about his team's bumpy start and the road to consistency. ... Senior Josh Engel has handled the transition from defenseman to forward smoothly. ... And freshman Patrick Johnson doesn't play like a 152-pounder.

And in case you're wondering if anyone else has noticed the Mavericks' recent surge, well, they have. Minneapolis Star-Tribune columnist Patrick Reusse was in Mankato this week to compare MSU to the slumping Gophers, while Inside College Hockey leads off its Friday WCHA preview by pointing out that the Mavs' success goes back further than the last six games.

Finally, I have a correction: In today's preview, I pointed out that Mavericks goalie Mike Zacharias is 2-1-1 all-time against Wisconsin. He's 3-1-1. For some reason I forgot to go back two seasons ago when he started the first game of Minnesota State's surprising sweep of the soon-to-be national champions in Mankato. Zacharias stopped 33 shots in the 6-4 win. The next night, Dan Tormey stopped 27 shots in a 7-3 win. Sorry for the mess-up.

I'm off to Madison.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Books and pucks

Twelve members of the MSU men's and women's hockey teams were among 78 WCHA scholar-athletes, the league announced Thursday. Those who earned the award must have completed at least one year of residency at their present institution prior to the current academic year and must have a GPA of at least 3.50 on a 4.0 scale for the previous two semesters or three quarters or an overall GPA of at least. 3.50. Here are MSU's winners:

Minnesota State University, Mankato:
***Kristina Bunker (Sr., F, Blaine, MN); Nick Canzanello (So., D, Rochester, MN); **Joel Hanson (Sr., F, Elk River, MN); ***Jodi Helminen (Sr., F, Brighton, MI); *Jenna Hewitt (So., F, Ramsey, MN); Britni Kehler (Sr., G, Mitchell, MB); *Lindsay Macy (Sr., F, Owatonna, MN); Kathleen Rosso (So., D, Rogers, MN); Amanda Stohr (Sr., F, South St. Paul, MN); Andreanne Thibault (Sr., D, L'Orignal, ON); Jason Wiley (So., F, Bloomington, MN); Ashley Young (So., F, South St. Paul, MN).

* denotes previous winner.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Jutting Q&A

Mavericks coach Troy Jutting did an online Q&A on CSTV's Web site today. You can read the transcript here.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Mavericks get a bump

After its sweep of Alaska-Anchorage, Minnesota State moved to No. 13 in both the and USA Today/USA Hockey polls Monday. The Mavericks, who have won six games in a row, were No. 15 last week. Division I Men's Poll
Minneapolis, Minn./February 4, 2008

Team (First Place) Record Pts Last Week
1 Michigan (48) 23- 3-4 995 2
2 Miami 25- 4-1 939 1
3 North Dakota 17- 8-2 875 3
4 New Hampshire ( 2) 18- 7-1 854 5
5 Colorado College 21- 8-1 813 4
6 Denver 19- 8-1 747 7
7 Boston College 14- 6-7 685 9
8 Michigan State 18- 8-5 634 6
9 Notre Dame 20-10-2 536 8
10 Wisconsin 13-11-6 493 11
11 Clarkson 16- 9-3 477 13
12 Minnesota-Duluth 11- 9-6 475 10
13 Minnesota State 15-10-4 403 15
14 Providence 13-10-3 333 12
15 Northeastern 13- 9-3 298 14
16 Quinnipiac 17- 7-4 296 16
17 Princeton 14- 9-0 233 19
18 Mass.-Lowell 12-10-4 103 17
19 St. Cloud State 12-13-3 96 NR
20 Niagara 16- 8-3 67 NR

Others Receiving Votes: Massachusetts 48, Minnesota 40,
Union 14, Michigan Tech 13, Bemidji State 10,
Nebraska-Omaha 8, RIT 7, Cornell 3, Air Force 2,
Army 1, Bowling Green 1, Harvard 1

2007 USA TODAY/USA Hockey men's poll

Feb. 11, 2008

School (first-place votes)
Last week
Michigan (33)
Miami (Ohio)
North Dakota
New Hampshire (1)
Colorado College
Boston College
Michigan State
Notre Dame
Minnesota State Mankato
Others receiving votes: Quinnipiac University, 37; Princeton University, 21; Niagara University, 6; Rochester Institute of Technology, 1; St. Cloud State University, 1.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Mavericks 4, Seawolves 2 - final

Kael Mouillerat scored two goals as No. 15 Minnesota State, Mankato defeated Alaska-Anchorage 4-2 Saturday.

Joel Hanson added two assists for the Mavericks who won their sixth game in a row, their longest winning streak in five years. The last time Mankato swept three consecutive WCHA opponents was at the end of the 2002-03 season, the last time it finished in the top half of the conference and earned a bid to the NCAA tournament.

Minnesota State is currently in a tie with Wisconsin for fourth place in the WCHA standings, and the two teams will play each other next weekend.

Zach Harrison and Mick Berge also scored goals for Mankato (15-10-4, 9-9-4 in WCHA), which built a 4-0 lead. Anchorage cut the deficit down on back-to-back gols by Craig Parkinson and Josh Lunden midway through the third period.

The Mavericks outshot the Seawolves (7-14-7, 3-14-5) 42-24.

Mike Zacharias got the win in goal. Freshman goalie Bryce Christianson, making his third career start, took the loss.

Alaska-Anchorage 0-0-2--2
Minnesota State 1-1-2--4

Scoring: 1. MSU-Harrson 5 (Irwin 8) 17:37
Penalties: MSU bench (too many on ice) 3:55; Gunderson, MSU (hooking) 15:10; Tasson, UAA (hooking) 19:07
Scoring: 2. MSU-Berge 15 (Kalinski 4, Friesen 3) 2:59
Penalties: Carlson, UAA (cross-checking) 3:36; Galiardi, MSU (roughing the goaltender) 9:53; Beaverson, UAA (tripping) 12:22
Scoring: 3. MSU-Mouillierat 5 (Hanson 12, Youds 9) 4:24; 4. MSU-Mouillierat 6 (Linder 6, Bruess 18) 6:47; 5. UAA-Parkinson 7 (Tassone 7) 8:16; 6. UAA-Lunden 13 (Vidmar 5, Waldrop 6) ppg 10:05
Penalties: Kilburg, MSU (holding) 9:34; Wiley, MSU (hooking) 10:20; Kalinski, MSU (boarding) 14:55
Shots on goal: UAA 6-5-13--24; MSU 16-14-12--42. Penalties: UAA 3 for 6 minutes; MSU 6 for 12 minutes. Power-play opportunities: UAA 1 for 6; MSU 0 for 3. Goalie saves: UAA-Christianson 15-13-10--38 (4 GA); MSU-Zacharias 6-5-11--22 (2 GA)
Referee: Jon Campion. Assistant referees: Brad Shepherd, C.J. Beaurline.
UAA called its timeout at 6:47 of the third period.
Attendance: 4,442


It's the fourth meeting of the season between the Mavericks and the Seawolves. MSU made a couple of changes, including putting forward Rylan Galiardi in for Jerad Stewart and defenseman Blake Friesen in for Nick Canzanello. Anchorage mixed up its lines a bit, and, freshman goalie Bryce Christianson will be playing for the third time this season. In his debut, he suffered a pair of 3-1 losses at North Dakota Jan. 25-26.

Here are the lines (starters in italic):







Great to be a Maverick

It wasn't a bad night for Mavericks past and present Friday.

In Mankato, the Minnesota State won its fifth game in a row with a 3-1 victory over Alaska-Anchorage. The hot stayed hot as Trevor Bruess (eight points in the last five games) had a goal and an assist, and Joel Hanson (six-game scoring streak) and Jason Wiley (six points in the last five games) scored the other goals. Goalie Mike Zacharias stopped 20 of 21 shots and had an amazing, outstretched save early in the third period to maintain the two-goal lead.

The win moved the Mavericks up to a tie for fourth place in the WCHA. However, in those wacky Pairwise rankings, they dropped from 10th to 11th.

Meanwhile, in New Jersey, ex-Maverick Ryan Carter scored the first two goals of his NHL career. Highlights are available on Earlier in the week, Carter and the Ducks visited the White House in honor of last summer's Stanley Cup championship. Carter is one of three U.S.-born players on championship roster.

"It's my first time in D.C., let alone the White House," he said. "It's been interesting and cool at the same time. To get a view from this angle is nice. To be on that stage and see how everything works around here, it's all really cool. To shake hands with the President was intimidating but neat at the same time."

Friday, February 8, 2008

Mavericks 3, Seawolves 1 - final

It may not have been as compelling as that come-from-behind win over St. Cloud State a couple of weeks back, and it may not have been the work of art on display last week against Denver.

Nonetheless, Minnesota State won its fifth game in a row Friday night, defeating Alaska-Anchorage 3-1 before 4,010 at the Alltel Center.

Alaska-Anchorage 1-0-0--1

Minnesota State  1-2-0--3


Scoring: 1. UAA-Lunden 12 (Vidmar 4, Clark 16) 7:00; 2. MSU-Wiley 9 (Mouilierat 11, Berge 4) ppg 8:44

Penalties: Lunden, UAA (hooking) 7:00


Scoring: 3. MSU-Hanson 7 (Bruess 17, Youds 6) 15:01; 4. MSU-Bruess 7 (Davis 9, Sackrison 12) ppg 18:50

Penalties: Beaverson, UAA (hooking) 3:36; Wiley, MSU (tripping) 6:57; Tassone, UAA (unsportsmanlike-diving) 13:04; Kilburg, MSU (hooking) 13:04; Cartwright, UAA (hooking) 18:14.


Scoring: None.

Penalties: Crowder, UAA (hooking) 8:32


Shots on goal: UAA 4-9-8--21; MSU 5-13-3--21. Penalties: UAA 5 for 10 minutes; MSU 2 for 4 minutes. Power-play opportunities: UAA 0 for 1; MSU 2 for 4. Goalie saves: UAA-Olthuis 4-11-3--18 (3 GA); MSU-Zacharias 3-9-8--20 (1 GA)

UAA called its timeout at 18:32 of the third period.

Referee: Jon Campion. Assistant referees: Brad Shepherd, C.J. Beaurline.

Attendance: 4,010

Here are tonight's lines (starters in parenthesis):

Gaulrapp-Gunderson Stewart






You want answers? 2/8/08

Just a few questions this week (and, apparently, few answers). Feel free to keep them coming, and I'll do another one next week:

What is the status of the proposal for the So MN Hockey Center where the Lady Mavs would play? Was it presented to the house/senate and is it something that might get a vote in an upcoming session? I'm going to be honest here and tell you that this is on my to-do list of things to look into in the next week or so. Stay tuned.

Is Galiardi going to return to the lineup this weekend? When was the last time the Mavs were nationally ranked ahead of the Gophers? What is the Mavs highest ever national ranking? Jutting said that he's sticking with the same lineup tonight as he did in last weekend's games against Denver. However, he did say he'd like to get Galiardi and Friesen in the lineup Saturday if he can.

What happened to Brock Trotter? Why is he done at Denver? Check the post below. Also, here' a good column about the situation by the Denver Post's Terry Frei. Interesting that this is the weekend Denver and Minnesota play each other and each had players leave mid-season for the NHL.

I know it may be a bit soon to ask this question, but I figured I'd throw it out there anyway. I noticed Mick Berge has a little brother playing juniors with the Tri-City Storm in the USHL. Any idea if he might follow in his big brother's footsteps and eventually make his way to Mankato? Has Berge mentioned anything about his brother's hockey career? I actually talked to Mick about his brother a few weeks ago. Mick says Josh is a pretty good player and is interested in college hockey. Mick said he'd love to see him in Mankato but that, of course, it's his brother's decision. I believe Josh is only a junior in high school right now. He's also 5-foot-8, 150 pounds. Here is his USHL profile.

Any prognostications on how many WCHA teams will make the NCAA tournament this year? Perhaps an over/under? If the Pairwise remains the same, there will be five teams in the tournament. Including MSU at No. 10, there are five teams in the top 14. Wisconsin is 15th, which would be on the outside looking in since two conferences with automatic bids -- College Hockey America and Atlantic Hockey -- are not in the top 16. There is still a lot of hockey to be played, but I can't imagine there being fewer than four WCHA teams in the tournament.

Trotter turns pro

Denver leading scorer Brock Trotter, who mysteriously did not make the trip to Mankato to play Minnesota State last weekend, has signed a contract with the NHL's Montreal Canadiens. Nearly a week of speculation ended with the school and coach George Gwozdecky announcing the signing on Thursday, although there was nothing released about why exactly Trotter was choosing now to leave town. Denver's in third place in the WCHA and ranked fiftth in the Pairwise with 10 regular-season games remaining. Needless to say, there are plenty of rumors out there.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Bring 'em on!

The Mavericks are hosting Alaska-Anchorage Friday and Saturday. They've won four games in a row. They're ranked 15th in the country in two polls and 10th in the Pairwise. They've had WCHA award winners in back-to-back weeks. That must mean ...

It's time for another installment of "You Want Answers?" 

So, go ahead, click on the comments section and ask PucKato a question about the Mavericks or, really, anything else on your mind, and I'll post the answers sometime Friday (if there are enough) before the puck drops at the Alltel Center.

A couple of things to ponder:

College Hockey News has named the Mavericks its team of the week, and U.S. College Hockey Online, in its weekly "Bracketology" feature has MSU vs. MSU (Minnesota State against Michigan State) playing each other in Madison, Wis., in the first round of the NCAA tournament -- if the season ended today.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Sackrison named rookie of the week

Minnesota State freshman center Andrew Sackrison, who produced four scoring points in the Mavericks' series sweep over visiting Denver last weekend, has been named WCHA rookie of the week.

The 6-1, 195-pound forward from St. Louis Park had a goal and two assists for his first collegiate three-point game and was named the game's first star in Friday's 5-1 win. In Saturday's 3-2 victory, Sackrison scored the game's first goal on a power play. He was also plus-3 for the weekend.

A St. Louis Blues draft pick, Sackrison has three goals, seven assists and 10 points in his last 10 games and has four goals and 11 assists to lead all MSU freshmen with 15 points.

Sackrison wasn't the only MSU hockey player honored this week. Maverick women's goaltender Britni Kehler was named WCHA defensive player of the week after stopping 52 of 54 shots in a sweep of St. Cloud State. The wins snapped Minnesota State's seven-game losing streak

I thought it was Hockey Day IN Minnesota

On Saturday, FSN North will broadcast 16 hours of hockey for its "Hockey Day in Minnesota" effort with the Minnesota Wild. PucKato thinks this is a pretty cool venture, as it features a couple of outdoor high school games played on Baudette Bay in Lake of the Woods.

The TV schedule goes like this:

10 a.m., Eveleth High School vs. Lake of the Woods High School on Baudette Bay
1 p.m., St. Thomas Academy vs. Hill-Murray at Xcel Energy Center
5 p.m., Minnesota Wild vs. New York Islanders at Xcel Energy Center
8 p.m., University of Minnesota vs. Denver at Magness Arena
11 p.m., Roseau High School vs. Blaine High School on Baudette Bay (tape delay)

Timeout. What's that fourth game? Minnesota AT Denver? Colorado? That's is part of this? Isn't this supposed to be Hockey Day IN Minnesota? There's only one Division I hockey team playing in the state that day, and that's Minnesota State, which is hosting Alaska-Anchorage.

Why not add the Mavericks to the in-state game to the coverage?

Better yet, get all of the in-state college teams involved in HDIM. Make sure that Minnesota State, Minnesota, St. Cloud State and Minnesota Duluth are all playing against each other that weekend. That shouldn't be too hard to do within the WCHA schedule, should it? Get some coverage from Bemidji State, too.

This would also be a perfect place to institute a Minnesota version of the Beanpot, which began last night in Boston -- something a little more intriguing than the DQ Cup, anyway.

Monday, February 4, 2008

North Dakota coach suspended

Breaking news from the AP wire:

University of North Dakota men's hockey coach Dave Hakstol has been suspended for two games for his actions during a heated Saturday night game with Minnesota.

During the second period of game, which ended in a 1-1 tie, a television camera showed Hakstol sticking up his middle finger at referee Don Adam after the two discussed a penalty call.

Acting UND athletic directors Betty Ralston and Steve Brekke announced the suspension on Monday, saying "We expect our coaches to keep themselves and their teams in control at all times. Profane language and poor behavior on the part of our coaches and student-athletes is unacceptable." The Western Collegiate Hockey Association issued a release saying it endorsed the school's decision.

The Sioux have this week off before playing host to Denver on Feb. 15-16. Hakstol will not coach that series.

Hakstol issued an apology on Sunday, saying, "I would like to sincerely apologize to our fans, players and entire program, as well as all college hockey fans, the WCHA and Don Adam for my actions during the second period of last night's game versus the University of Minnesota. I'm disappointed in myself for allowing my emotions and frustrations to get the better of me. I pride myself in not allowing this type of thing to occur. Most importantly, I am a parent before I am a coach, and I understand the responsibility that we carry as coaches within the WCHA to young hockey fans and families everywhere. I have evaluated and feel terrible about my actions and can assure everyone that such a thing will never happen again."

North Dakota and Minnesota combined for 160 penalty minutes in Saturday night's game, and Sioux forward Darcy Zajac and Gopher forward Tony Lucia were given game disqualifications for fighting at the end of overtime.

Mavs ranked 15th

The Mavericks got a lot of love from the rankers this week, as they re-entered the poll at No. 15 and made their debut in the USA Today/USA Hockey poll at No. 15. What Minnesota State likes more, however, is its spot in the Pairwise where it is tied for 10th. Here is this week's (and official Associated Press) poll: Division I Men's Poll
Minneapolis, Minn./February 4, 2008

Team (First Place) Record Pts Last Week
1 Miami (50) 25- 3-0 1000 1
2 Michigan 22- 3-3 902 2
3 North Dakota 17- 8-2 887 3
4 Colorado College 20- 7-1 874 6
5 New Hampshire 16- 7-1 790 7
6 Michigan State 18- 6-5 764 5
7 Denver 18- 8-0 695 4
8 Notre Dame 20- 9-1 628 8
9 Boston College 12- 6-7 577 9
10 Minnesota-Duluth 11- 9-6 460 12
11 Wisconsin 12-11-5 440 11
12 Providence 12- 9-3 426 14
13 Clarkson 15- 9-2 418 10
14 Northeastern 12- 8-3 407 13
15 Minnesota State 13-10-4 244 NR
16 Quinnipiac 15- 7-4 218 16
17 Mass.-Lowell 12- 9-4 197 16
18 Massachusetts 10- 9-6 186 15
19 Princeton 12- 9-0 111 19
20 Minnesota 12-12-6 107 18

Others Receiving Votes: St. Cloud State 50, Union 31,
Niagara 30, Cornell 25, Michigan Tech 18,
Air Force 6, RIT 4, Bowling Green 2, Army 1,
Bemidji State 1, Nebraska-Omaha 1

Backes on a roll

Life seems good for ex-Maverick David Backes. He has a house in St. Louis. He's getting married. He's skating on a line with all-stars Keith Tkachuk and Paul Kariya. Well, about a month ago, things weren't so good. The word "Peoria" even came up. Read more about it in a story in today's St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Meanwhile, teammate Steve Wagner seems to know the route between St. Louis and Peoria, Ill., all too well.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Mavs 3, Pios 2 - final

The Mavericks not only pulled off the upset sweep over the fourth-ranked Pioneers, but, as of 11 p.m. they were in a four-way tie for 10th place in the Pairwise rankings.

"Without a doubt, they're on a roll," Pioneers coach George Gwozdecky said. "They're vastly improved."

Here is tonight's box score:


Scoring: 1. MSU-Andrew Sackrison 4 (Geoff Irwin 7, Nick Canzanello 9) ppg 17:38
Penalties: Boe, MSU (kneeing) 10:47; Testwuide, DU (holding) 14:21; Butler, DU (high sticking) 16:41; Rakhshani, DU (holding) 19:38; Mouillierat, MSU (holding) 19:38
Scoring: 2. MSU-Joel Hanson 6 (R.J. Linder 5, Trevor Bruess 16) 1:11; 3. DU-Tyler Bozak 12 (Rhett Rakhshani 10, Chris Butler 12) 6:19; 4. MSU-Jon Kalinski 7 (Zach Harrison 10, Kurt Davis 8) 15:50
Penalties: Wiley, MSU (high-sticking) 4:10; Stewart, MSU (slashing) 7:44; Thomas, DU (tripping) 17:49
Scoring: 5. DU-Ostrow 10 (Testwuide 4, Mannino 4) ppg 13:46
Penalties: Kilburg, MSU (holding) :13; DU (bench minor) 1:31; Jackson, DU, double-minor/10-minute misconduct (roughing) 10:05; Youds, MSU, double-minor/10-minute misconduct (roughing) 10:05; Boe, MSU (interfernce) 12:08
Shots on goal: DU 5-7-8--20; MSU 5-10-7--22. Penalties: DU 1 for 5 minutes; MSU 1 for 4 minutes. Power-play opportunities: DU 1 for 5; MSU 1 for 4. Goalie saves: DU-Mannino 4-8-7--19 (3 GA); MSU-Zacharias 5-6-7--18 (2 GA)
Denver called its timeout at 18:27 of the third period.
Referee: Bill Mason. Assistant referees: Jarod Moen, Jerome Krieger.
Attendance: 4,234


It's an hour until the Mavericks -- alone in 16th in the latest Pairwise rankings -- try to get their second sweep in as many weekends. Minnesota State made no line changes from last night, while Denver switched things around. Here are tonight's lines (with Friday night's scoring totals in parenthesis and starters in italic):

Hanson (1G)-Bruess (1A)-Mouillierat (1A)
Irwin (1G, 1A)-Sackrison (1G, 2A)-Wiley (1G)

Davis (1A)-Kilburg
Youds (1G)-Boe
Linder (2A)-Canzanello


Rakhshani (1G)-Bozak-Ruegsegger
May-Martin-Mullen (1A)

Butler (1A)-Thomas


The right mix

Minnesota State coach Troy Jutting has mixed and matched his forward lines all season, experimenting with matchups and looking for the right chemistry.

A week ago, he put freshman center Andrew Sackrison between sophomore wings Geoff Irwin and Jason Wiley.

It's been a combustible combination.

The trio was responsible for the Mavericks' first four goals in a 5-1 Western Collegiate Hockey Association victory over No. 4 Denver Friday at the Alltel Center.

"It's a good combo," said Wiley, who scored his first collegiate game-winning goal. "When it's working it's working."

Before a crowd of 4,102, Wiley had one goal, Irwin had a goal and an assist and Sackrison had a goal and two assists.

Over Minnesota State's last three games -- all wins -- the three forwards have combined for seven goals and 14 points.

"They've got confidence," Jutting said, "and when the puck starts going in the net it's good for everybody."

The win moved the Mavericks up to a tie for 16th in the all-important Pairwise rankings and into sixth place in the WCHA standings.

Irwin gave the Mavericks a 1-0 lead in the first period, and Wiley broke a 1-1 tie at 9:21 of the second. Less than four minutes later, Sackrison scored. Both goals came off R.J. Linder assists.

 "It just seems like the whole team's pretty confident," said Sackrison, who leads all MSU rookies with 14 points. "It started when we came back last week. We're feeding off last week. If something doesn't go your way, just keep your head up and keep going."

In the third period, freshman defenseman Ben Youds scored his first career goal on assists from Irwin and Sackirson at 7:14. Joel Hanson scored the Mavericks' final goal for their third five-goal game in a row.

Mavs goalie Mike Zacharias finished with 22 saves for his 11th win. Denver's Peter Mannino stopped 24 of 29 shots.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Mavericks 5, Pioneers 1, final


Scoring: 1. MSU-Geoff Irwin 7 (Andrew Sackrison 10) 11:39

Penalties: Ryan Gunderson, MSU (hooking) 9:09; Tom May, DU (slashing) 15:24; Trevor Bruess, MSU (interference) 16:15; Kyle Ostrow, DU (hooking) 16:54


Scoring: 2. DU-Rhett Rakhshani 9 (Patrick Mullen 13, Chris Butler 11) ppg 4:01; 3. MSU-Wiley 8 (R.J. Linder 3, Davis 7) 9:21; 4. MSU-Sackrison 3 (Linder 4) 13:12

Penalties: Andrew Thomas, DU (interference) 1:19; Irwin, MSU (slashing) 2:44; J.P. Testwuide, DU (cross-checking) 4:15; Ben Youds, MSU (hooking) 7:53; Tyler Ruegsegger, DU (goaltender interference) 8:22; Tyler Bozak, DU (holding) 18:06


Scoring: 5. MSU-Youds 1 (Irwin 6, Sackrison 11) 7:14; 6. MSU-Joel Hanson 5 (Bruess 15) 18:15

Penalties: Zach Harrison, MSU (high sticking) :46; Mick Berge, MSU (slashing) 4:27; DU (bench minor) 8:58; Nick Canzanello, MSU (interfernce) 14:30; Ruegsegger, DU (cross-checking) 18:31

Shots on goal: DU 23, MSU 29

Gameday, part II (updated)

About an hour before the puck drops. Here are the lines (starters in italic):







You want answers? 2/1/08

Taking a stab at some of your questions this week:

Is Adam Mueller playing minor hockey anywhere right now? If so what kind of numbers does he have? Also without any major injuries(hopefully) can we also assume that this will be a red shirt year for Brett Peterson? Mueller is playing for Roseville High School and has 24 goals and 17 assists in 20 games. Thursday night against Hastings, he had a hat trick and five assists. It was his second game in a row with at least three goals and fourth of the season. As for Peterson, if he doesn't play the rest of the year I'm sure he'll be eligible for a redshirt season. I'm not sure if that's the plan or if he just hasn't worked his way into the lineup yet. Below, there are some more questions on incoming recruits, and, we're finding out, there will be plenty of competition for roster spots, much less playing time, next season. There was a related question from an e-mailer who wondered about redshirts' eligibility academically. They wondered if a player was done with his degree in four years what happens in the fifth. As long as they have athletic eligibility remaining and stay enrolled in school they can play. In the past, some have taken graduate-level classes, while others will just take an elective or two.

What is the thinking behind Berge never killing penalties or rarely playing 4 on 4? Goal scoring is at such a premium in WCHA and you think you would want your goal scorers on the ice as much as possible especialy 4 on 4. Other teams goal scorers get tons of ice time. I wrote about Mick Berge in today's Freep, and one thing coach Jutting told me was that Berge was recruited as "a points guy," meaning he's offense first. I think the coaching staff would rather give Berge a breather during a penalty rather than put him out there to do something that's not one of his strengths. Keep him fresh for the third period. Although the Mavericks have given up more power-play goals of late, they do have forwards who are excellent killers (Hanson, Kalinski, etc.). To be honest, I haven't charted 4-on-4 ice time to see who's out there every shift but will try to pay more attention to that.

What sort of jump might the Mavericks make in the polls/pairwise rankings should they find a way to split or, dare I say, sweep the Pioneers this weekend? I think it's safe to say this is going to be a huge weekend for our hockey team. A sweep would indeed be huge for the Mavericks, both for the WCHA standings and the Pairwise. They're ranked 20th in the Pairwise now and need to get up to 14 or higher by the end of the year. I'd need to sit down and figure out all of the comparisons and how they work to guess how far they'd move up with a sweep or split. Just how important are the Pairwise rankings? Well, one WCHA writer has decided that, from now on, he only uses those rankings when referring to where a team is ranked nationally. For example, he'd call this weekend's matchup No. 3 Denver vs. No. 20 Minnesota State, as opposed to No. 4 Denver vs. unranked MSU. He, like me, votes in one of the national polls but admits that it is completely meaningless compared to the Pairwise. He probably has something there, and I might consider doing the same now that we're in the final five weeks of the regular season.

Do you think with the amount of defensmen MSU will have next year that Cameron Cooper or Baylor Dieter will have an immediate impact on the team? Also Adam Mueller and Joe Schiller for the forwards? One impact those players will bring is depth. The Mavericks will only lose three players to graduation: Joel Hanson, R.J. Linder and Matt Tyree. Tyree doesn't play much, and the other two will leave one opening each at forward and defense. Up front, the Mavs will also have Mike Louwerse back from injury, so there should be good depth and competition there. Same with defense. The Mavs already have seven D -- all of whom they seem to like -- for six spots; they'll have eight next year. Players are going to have to earn their playing time, that's for sure.

Staying on the topic of incoming recruits, can you give us anymore info. on Tyler Thompson, the Mavs latest recruit? I noticed he appears in the NHL's Central Scouting Mid Term Rankings and is 15th in the USHL in scoring. What sort of impact might he have on this up-and-coming Maverick hockey program? Again, the Mavericks could be very deep at forward, not only with the players they're bringing in but with the maturation of their current players, especially the sophomores: Trevor Bruess, Zach Harrison, Kael Mouillerat, Jason Wiley, Geoff Irwin and Jerad Stewart. I don't know much about Thompson, other than he's made a huge jump in scoring from last year to this year. I wish the MSU coaches could talk about him but we'll have to wait until he signs for to get their take. With so few roster spots opening up, I'll be curious to see how many of the freshmen actually come in next year and who might stay back for another season of junior hockey.

What are the chances of Kalinski staying for his senior season? I would guess pretty good. As a mid-level draft pick, the Flyers probably don't have to throw a ton of money at him, and if the organization likes and respects college hockey (which some NHL teams don't), having him play in the WCHA should be as good for his development as playing in the minors would be. I might have thought differently about this if Kalinski was putting the numbers he put up last year. That's what got him noticed. Right now, he has six goals and three assists; last year he broke out with 17 goals and 10 assists. I don't think he's having a bad season, though. He's been tremendous on the kill and is second on the team in shots on goal. He just doesn't have the points right now.

Thanks for your questions this week. Sorry to get to them a few days late and sorry if I didn't get to one of yours. Keep them coming for the future and enjoy this weekend's games against the Pioneers.

Gameday, wee hours edition

There will be a couple of changes in Minnesota State's lineup tonight. Defenseman Brian Kilburg and forward James Gaulrapp will return after being benched last Saturday. Kilburg will go in for Blake Friesen, and Gaulrapp will go back to the fourth line in place of freshman Rylan Galiardi. Coach Troy Jutting put both moves in the "coach's decision" category.

That means the Mavericks' lines should look like this (I'll post any changes during a pregame blog):




The Mavericks practiced Thursday at the Alltel Center, and Denver arrived just as practice was beginning. Coach George Gwozdecky and a few players stood outside the glass for a few minutes before leaving the arena. As for Denver, according to the Denver Post, leading scorer Brock Trotter is not on the trip.

As for the Mavericks, junior forward Mick Berge has been on a good roll, and you can read about him in Friday's Free Press. Berge is fourth in the WCHA and first on the Mavericks with 14 goals. His 26 goals over the last two seasons is the best on the team.

For those of you Mankatoans (Mankatoites?) who can't get enough of your hockey fix, the Shattuck-St. Mary's prep team will take on Benilde-St. Margaret's at 2:15 p.m. at the Alltel Center.

A couple more non-MSU hockey notes:

Mankato West and Rochester Lourdes, the sixth- and 12th-ranked teams in Class A squared off in what might have been a Section 1A semifinal or even final preview Thursday night at All Seasons Arena. Lourdes won a great game 4-3. Other top teams in the section include Red Wing, New Prague and Albert Lea, who beat West earlier in the year and will play the Scarlets again next Thursday in Mankato.

A three-bus contingent of Mankato Area Hockey Association folks -- including my 7-year-old son and I -- attended Wednesday's game between the Wild and the Ducks. The Wild put on a great show with a 5-1 win. It was a chance for Mankato fans to see ex-Maverick Ryan Carter play for the Ducks, too. Although he was scoreless, Carter won eight of 10 faceoffs and got significant time on the penalty kill.