Saturday, March 29, 2008

Kalinski flies (updated)

Minnesota State junior forward Jon Kalinski has opted to forgo his senior season and is signing with the Philadelphia Flyers. Reached via cell phone on his way to the airport for a flight to Philly, Kalinski said he had every intention of returning to the Mavericks.

"Actually, I was pretty excited for the team next year," he said. Obviously, it's a big dream of mine to go to the NHL. When I got the offer, I had to take it."

While Kalinski didn't want to discuss terms of the deal, coach Troy Jutting said he's getting a contract worthy of a first-round draft pick. Kalinski was selected in the sixth round of last summer's NHL draft, his second year of draft eligibility.

"I'd like to think that means we're doing something right," Jutting said. "That's three kids in three years that the NHL didn't think could play when they got here."

Last season, junior defenseman Steve Wagner signed a free-agent contract with the St. Louis Blues. A year earlier, sophomore forward Ryan Carter signed a free-agent contract with the Anaheim Ducks. That same offseason, forward David Backes, who was drafted before he arrived at MSU, also left school early.

"Like I've said before," Jutting said. "It's what these kids dream of. It's their goal. I'm extremely happy for Jon, to get the kind of deal he got. I wish him well."

Thursday, March 27, 2008

A Maverick signs

Minnesota State senior captain Joel Hanson inked a professional contract with the Columbia (S.C.) Inferno of the East Coast Hockey League on Thursday. Columbia is an affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Inferno's next game is today against the Augusta (Ga.) Lynx.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Pohl press conference

Injured Gophers player Tom Pohl is home and met with media members Tuesday at his home in Red Wing. Pohl said he's made a new friend in Jason Wiley, the MSU player who hit him into the boards.

"I do not think it was a cheap shot," the Associated Press reported Pohl saying of Wiley. "It was just an unfortunate fluke. I felt bad for him. He was going through some really tough things, too, being made out to be a villain. And he is a nice kid. I wish him nothing but the best."

Wednesday's Free Press had the AP story. Here are a couple more:

Star Tribune
Pioneer Press

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Clear as mud

College Hockey News' Adam Wodon does a great job all season long, but his real expertise comes into play at tournament time. He spends a lot of time trying to explain the Pairwise and debunking conspiracy theories. Today he tackled the Minnesota State-Wisconsin controversy.

Once again -- with feeling

Well, the season is over. It was a good one for the Mavs, and PucKato, too. 

I see there have been some questions worth answering over the last few posts, so there will be another edition of "You Want Answers" this week. Please submit your questions regarding the Mavericks, the NCAA tournament, the WCHA or whatever else is on your mind later this week.

This won't be the end of the blog for the season, either. Keep checking back for more MSU news, recruiting updates, NHL and pro reports (I'm long overdue on one of those) and other fun stuff.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Player reaction

Had a chance to talk to a few MSU players Monday before their team meeting at All Seasons Arena. Needless, to say it was a somber bunch, still reeling a bit from the sting of not getting into the NCAA tournament. Some reaction:

"I thought there might be a shot. (The selection show) didn't announce Wisconsin until three-fourths of the way through the show, so I thought we had a chance." -- Mick Berge

"I still don't understand how a team under .500 (Wisconsin) and who we're 2-1-1 against gets in the tournament and we don't." -- Berge

"I don't understand how it happened, how a sub-.500 team makes it over us." -- Mike Zacharias

"As soon as Princeton won, I knew the year was over. ... I knew pretty early Saturday night, about 9, 9:30. That was a pretty disappointing night." -- Zacharias

"I was hoping the committee would find a way to get us in. I don't know how we dropped two spots in one night. I don't know how Wisconsin came up so fast." -- Joel Hanson

Sunday, March 23, 2008

It's official: MSU is out

No conspiracies, folks, the committee went right by the Pairwise, meaning MSU was the first team out. Six WCHA teams are in, but the fourth-place team will be at home.

What would have gotten MSU in? Havard winning Saturday? Northern Michigan losing Saturdayd? A double-overtime win over Minnesota? A season-ending sweep of Michigan Tech? A win or two over Nebraska-Omaha?

"I don't look back," coach Troy Jutting said shortly after the selection show ended. "We had a lot of big wins, too. It's unfortunate. I thought the kids had a great season. They accomplished a lot. Unfortunately, we fell just a little bit short of where we wanted to be."

On Sunday's selection show, they called it a "disappointment for Minnesota State," although they didn't explain the Pairwise very well for the viewers.

Here are the tournament matchups ...

MIDWEST (Madison, Wis.)
1-North Dakota vs. 4-Princeton
2-Denver vs. 3-Wisconsin

WEST (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
2-Colorado College vs. 3-Michigan State
1-New Hampshire vs. 4-Notre Dame

EAST (Albany, N.Y.)
1-Michigan vs. 4-Niagara
2-St. Cloud State vs. 3-Clarkson

NORTHEAST (Worcester, Mass.)
1-Miami vs. 4-Air Force
2-Boston College vs. 3-Minnesota

More later, as well as in Monday's Free Press.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Counting on a miracle

Asked on Thursday if his team was getting together for Sunday morning's NCAA tournament selection show, Mavericks coach Troy Jutting said no and that he was letting his players go home for Easter. "They can go to church and pray for a miracle," Jutting said with a laugh. 

He's not joking now. It will take a miracle to get in, it appears.

The Mavericks are tied with Notre Dame for 13th in the Pairwise -- the final spot. But they lose the comparison with the Irish. According to College Hockey News, Notre Dame wins two of three comparisons against MSU, including RPI (.5298-.5272) and record against common opponents (ND is 6-2, MSU is 7-5-1). Minnesota State has the better record against teams under consideration (11-14-3 to 5-10-1). 

Notre Dame also "clinched" its spot in the tournament by losing twice this weekend in the CCHA tournament.

What really stands out in the common opponents section is Nebraska-Omaha. Notre Dame was 2-0 and MSU wasn't just 0-2 but suffered their most disappointing loss of the season to the red Mavericks. 

Where fans will have the biggest argument in all of this is with Wisconsin moving up to 12th in the Pairwise. They have 11 comparisons won, where MSU and Notre Dame each have 10. MSU has the comparison against Wisconsin, including head-to-head and RPI, and the Badgers have a record below .500.

Scoreboard watching -- MSU out of tourney?

PucKato has the day off -- sort of. That can't keep me away from the college hockey scoreboard though. Right now, things are looking bleak for Minnesota State's NCAA chances. With championships just underway, it appears MSU needs wins by Harvard (playing Princeton) and Boston College (playing Vermont)  in order to get in or at least in close consideration. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: BC gets the job done; Harvard doesn't. That appears to put Minnesota State on the outside looking in no matter what happens in the WCHA and CCHA. What's crazy is that Wisconsin (15-16-7 overall record, 11-12-5 in WCHA, 1-2-1 record against MSU) and Notre Dame (five wins against Pairwise teams -- MSU has 11) will get in ahead of the Mavericks. The Mavericks even beat Princeton 6-1, although the Tigers were an automatic qualifier. What might ultimately be knocking the Mavericks out are the two losses to Nebraska-Omaha, especially the 4-2 loss at Mankato late in the season.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Mavericks-Gophers at the X

Next Nov. 1, that is. 

The WCHA, Minnesota State and Minnesota Duluth announced today that they are moving a pair of regular-season games to the Xcel Energy Center for what is currently being called the State of Minnesota College Hockey Showcase (they're looking for a new name). Duluth will host St. Cloud State in the first game, and Minnesota State will host Minnesota in the nightcap.

MSU and UMD are splitting the profits from the event, with the Xcel getting a cut and the WCHA getting broadcasting rights.

The event will be a home game for the Mavericks, meaning the Gophers will play just one regular-season game in Mankato next season.

In 2004, Minnesota State moved one of its regular-season games against Minnesota to the Xcel Energy Center and drew a crowd of more than 17,000.

That game made more than $130,000 for Minnesota State. The proceeds of this venture will be split between MSU and UMD. The Xcel Energy Center will also get a cut, while the WCHA will get broadcast and advertising rights.

"I think we're in a position to have the same kind of financial windfall," Minnesota State athletic director Kevin Buisman said.

Two-game ticket package prices will be $40, $35 and $30. No single-game tickets will be sold.

The last time Minnesota State moved a home game to St. Paul, it was met with backlash in the Mankato community. Buisman said this time there have been preliminary discussions with boosters and business leaders that didn't take place before.

"We're bringing the financial aspect out to the forefront," Buisman said. "I think people understand when they realize that the money made is reinvested into the hockey program. And the long-term goal is to improve the program. … 

"We're a program that ranks eighth, ninth or 10th in terms of resources in this league, but people have expectations to outperform our resources."

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Jutting gets WCHA honor

One year ago, Minnesota State coach Troy Jutting was given a two-year contract extension -- not the strongest endorsement the university could give him. But today, he got a huge nod from the WCHA, as the conference named him coach of the year.

"A lot of the credit goes to the kids," Jutting said. "I think, and I've always believed this, that coaches get too much credit when their teams are successful and too much blame when they're not. The kids worked extremely hard this year."

Also, Joel Hanson was named WCHA student-athlete of the year. Other league award winners can be found here. More later.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Wiley, Jutting visit Pohl

MSU forward Jason Wiley visited injured Gophers player Tom Pohl on Wednesday, and Mavericks coach Troy Jutting visited him Tuesday, Jutting said after practice Wednesday. Wiley was not available for comment, but Jutting said he was relieved to see Pohl's condition improving.

"Nobody plays this game expecting to get hurt or to hurt someone else," Jutting said.

Jutting confirmed that MSU coaches and players were concerned about Wiley, who couldn't be reached for a long stretch Monday.

"He wasn't returning anybody's phone calls," Jutting said. "He just needed some time. ... No matter what anybody says sometimes, it's not going to make you feel any better."

Jutting said Wiley talked to Pohl on the phone on Tuesday.

Head east?

A couple of experts are predicting the NCAA field, and, right now, they have the Mavericks in the tournament. 

Jayson Moy of U.S. College Hockey Online is putting MSU in the Worcester regional, taking on New Hampshire, with Minnesota and Boston College also there. A couple of upsets there and could there be another multiple-overtime game between the Mavericks and the Gophers? Inside College Hockey's Mike Eidelbes also puts MSU in the Northeast against UNH, but with Denver and Clarkson. Finally College Hockey News managing editor and apparent PucKato reader Adam Wodon has MSU as likely in the tournament.

I'm wondering what scenarios would put the Mavericks in Madison, making for easy travel for fans (and media members).

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Mavs land state's top goal scorer

The Mavericks recently got a commitment from Park Rapids forward Zach Lehrke. Lehrke, a top-10 Mr. Hockey finalist, finished second in scoring in Minnesota high school hockey with 54 goals and 45 assists for 99 points. The state's leading goal scorer, he finished one point behind Mankato West's Ricky Litchfield in the regular-season scoring race. After the playoffs and the state tournament Lehrke was one point behind Beau Hanowski of Little Falls. It appears likely that Lehrke will play some junior hockey before coming to Mankato. MSU coach Troy Jutting cannot comment on committed or potential recruits until the have signed national letters of intent.

Pohl out of intensive care

It's been reported today that Minnesota forward Tom Pohl is out of intensive care and in fair condition at St. Marys Hospital in Rochester after emergency surgery on a skull fracture and bleeding on the brain.

Pohl suffered the injury during the second period of Sunday's playoff game against Minnesota State after he was hit by Mavericks forward Jason Wiley. Wiley received a five-minute major penalty and a game disqualification, although Pohl's helmet came off before his head hit the boards and the ice.

During today's Final Five media conference call, both Gophers coach Don Lucia and WCHA commissioner Bruce McLeod addressed Pohl's condition and the play. Neither thought Wiley intended to injure Pohl with the hit.

Said Lucia: "I don't think there was any ill will on the part of the Mankato player. Tom was in a vulnerable position. I do think the major cause of the injury is because his helmet came off. He was unconscious when he hit the ice. It is very unfortunate and it was a very scary situation and I'm glad he's in good medical care right now."

Said McLeod: "(Wiley) feels just terrible about the situation. You can see by the tape there was no maliciousness or degree of intent at all. We feel for everybody that's been involved in this situation. It's been a tough situation for everybody."

Neither Wiley nor MSU coach Troy Jutting could be reached for comment Monday or Tuesday. The Mavericks had the day off but are scheduled to practice Wednesday afternoon.

Monday, March 17, 2008

More Pairwise: Go Big Red?

The Mavericks dropped to 14th in the nation in both the and USA Today polls. But all that matters now is the Pairwise, where they are tied with Wisconsin for 13th.

After doing some more playing around with on the You Are the Committee site (seriously, you could lose yourself for hours on this thing), Minnesota State won't be practicing in vain this week.

If all of the favorites win in the the four conference championship weekends, the Mavericks will move up to 12th. Amazingly, Minnesota State can get back up to 11th under several scenarios, provided Cornell wins the ECAC championship.

As for my Notre Dame comment earlier today, the Mavericks, it appears, do want the Irish to take third in the CCHA.

If you find other interesting scenarios, please post them in the comments section.

Pohl in intensive care (updated)

From the Associated Press:

ROCHESTER, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota hockey player Tom Pohl is in intensive care at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester with a skull fracture after being hurt in Sunday’s game against Minnesota State.

The University of Minnesota says Pohl’s head hit the boards in the second period against The injury resulted in bleeding on the brain.

Pohl was flown from Mankato to St. Marys Hospital, where surgery stopped the bleeing and stabilized the fracture. He remains in the hospital for further observation. Gophers coach Don Lucia is in Rochester. He says the team’s thoughts and prayers are with Pohl and his family.

MSU forward Jason Wiley was ejected for an elbow to Pohl’s head on the play the resulted in the Minnesota senior’s injury.

UPDATE: A statement from MSU athletic director Kevin Buisman: "On behalf of Maverick hockey, Minnesota State Athletics, and the entire University, we want to express our deepest care and concern for Tom Pohl and his family. They will be in our thoughts and prayers as we continue to monitor his medical progress and we want to extend our best wishes for a complete and full recovery."

Pairwise picture

After getting some much needed rest after playing what amounted to more than four games this weekend, the Mavericks will be doing some serious scoreboard watching and, more importantly, rankings watching this weekend. 

With Clarkson getting beat by Colgate in the ECAC tournament Sunday, there will be one less at-large berth available for the NCAA tournament. That means teams have to be in the top 13. Minnesota State is the ultimate bubble team right now. It's tied for 13th with Wisconsin but with Madison hosting a regional, I think MSU has to move up or have the Badgers, who are also home this weekend, move down.

College Hockey News has an interactive You Be the Committee page set up. And after a little messing around on it this morning, Maverick fans should be rooting for Colorado College and Denver in the WCHA Final Five this weekend and against anyone below them in the Pairwise, especially Notre Dame in the CCHA tournament.

While the NCAA committee supposedly goes straight off the numbers, it does have have the authority add bonus points to a team's RPI ranking for good wins. While those numbers are a mystery, that could help the Mavericks in the long run with road wins at Colorado College, St. Cloud State and Wisconsin. 

Gophers 3, Mavericks 2 - 2OT

After 262 minutes, 8 seconds (corrected) of hockey over three days, Minnesota will be going to the Final Five. Tony Lucia's goal at 16:59 of double overtime gave the Gophers a 3-2 win over the Mavericks.

It was the third overtime game in the three-game series and the second double-overtime game of the weekend. Gophers goalie Alex Kangas stoped 44 saves for the win. MSU's Mike Zacharias stopped 47 shots. Each goalie stopped 22 shots in extra time.

As for what's next for the Mavericks, they're at the mercy of the Pairwise rankings and the NCAA tournament selection committee. The loss dropped them to a tie for 13th in the rankings, which puts them on the bubble. They have to hope for no major upsets in next week's conference tournaments and that some of the results give them an extra boost in some of the comparisons.

A few quotes from tonight's games:

"It's a shame that one of those teams had to lose. From Friday night at 7 o'clock through tonight's game, I don't know if I've seen a better weekend of college hockey." -- MSU coach Troy Jutting.

"There was no loser this weekend. My heart goes out to Minnesota State after how well they played." -- Minnesota coach Don Lucia.

"I've never scored a bigger goal in my life." -- Gophers wing Tony Lucia.

"In overtime, you didn't see a ton of fatigue. You saw a lot of adrenalin." -- Jutting

"I've never played so much hockey in my life. I went to bed last night wondering if we'd have anything left for tomorrow." -- Tony Lucia.

"It's obviously disappointing, but when you look back at the weekend ... it's going to go down as one of the best three-game series of all time." -- Mavericks goalie Mike Zacharias

"Hopefully, we get to play again. This team has shown a great deal of improvement all season. They played their hearts out. If there's any justice, we'll play again." -- Jutting

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Mavericks-Gophers, Game 3

The Mavericks' lineup has a few changes. Ryan Gunderson is out, and James Gaulrapp is back in, but the lines have also been shuffled, with Rylan Galiardi and Zach Harrison switching lines, presumably to bolster the scoring.







Saturday, March 15, 2008

Gophers 2, Mavericks 1 - Final, OT

This time, overtime belonged to Minnesota.

A night after losing a double-overtime game, No. 15 Minnesota defeated No. 10 Minnesota State, Mankato 2-1 in overtime, winning on Mike Carman's goal 7:33 into the extra session. The win forced a decisive third game in the best-of-three playoff series.

Mankato (19-15-4) won Friday's game 1-0 after more than 97 minutes of scoreless hockey.

On Saturday, Minnesota (16-15-9) wasted little time starting Saturday's scoring, as Justin Bostrom gave the Gophers a 1-0 lead at 6:07 of the first period.

Both Mankato goalie Mike Zacharias (35 saves) and Minnesota's Alex Kangas (26 saves) continued their stellar play from the series opener. The two goalies have stopped 140 of 144 shots for a .972 save percentage.

Mavericks freshman forward Andrew Sackrison finally tied the game with a power-play goal at 11:09 of the third period to send the game to overtime, the third extra session of the weekend.

Notes: Minnesota State will be playing its first Game 3 at home. The Mavericks are 0-3 in third games. They lost 10-0 to North Dakota in 1999 when they were an affiliate member of the WCHA, 6-5 to Minnesota Duluth in 2004 and 3-0 to North Dakota in 2006. In all three instances, the Mavericks won Game 1. ... The two teams ended up tied for 11th in the Pairwise rankings at the end of the night. ... Game 3 will be at 7:07 p.m. Sunday. Tickets went on sale immediately after the game. The Alltel Center box office will open at noon Sunday.

Mavericks-Gophers, Game 2

The Mavericks made one change to their lineup, putting Rylan Galiardi on the fourth line in place of James Gaulrapp. Here are the lines:







Friday, March 14, 2008

Mavs 1, Gophers 0 - 2OT

The Alltel Center never sounded so loud. With 2:24 remaining in the second overtime, Minnesota State's Trevor Bruess broke a scoreless tie to lift the Mavericks over Minnesota in the first game of the WCHA playoff series. The goal came after 97 minutes, 36 seconds of scoreless hockey. Mike Zacharias recorded his school-record fifth shutout of the season, stopping 34 shots. The Gophers' Alex Kangas stopped 44 shots.

Greetings from the Alltel Center

It's a half hour until the puck drops on Mankato's first playoff game in five years. Here are tonight's lines:




Pohl-White -Bostrom



Thursday, March 13, 2008

WCHA playoff coverage

Here is some gameday reading for the start of the the WCHA playoffs:

In the Free Press, the Mavericks' leading scorer, Trevor Bruess, is also their Mr. Hustle. Also, coach Troy Jutting is doing his best to keep this week as normal as possible, despite the extraordinary circumstances of the weekend.

The Strib tracks down ex-Maverick and West boys coach Ken Essay to break down the importance of the series for MSU and Mankato. They also look at the series' goaltending matchup between MSU's Mike Zacharias and the U's Alex Kangas.

Freshman Mike Hoeffel tells the Pioneer Press that this weekend might be a last gasp for the Gophers.

Check back for more later.

You Want Answers? playoff edition

Without further ado ...

Do the Mavs have to win this series to make the national tournament?
I wish I was a little more savvy with my Pairwise knowledge. Just guessing, but I think they might. There are lots of games between now and Selection Sunday, though, so there could be a lot of movement in the rankings. I asked Troy Jutting this question Wednesday and he said, "I don't know if we lose if we're going home, and I don't know if we win if we're getting in. We're going to worry about Friday night first."

Does it appear that this weekend's games against Minnesota will be the highest attended Maverick hockey games ever? At last check, general admission tickets were being sold for the unsold student tickets. Otherwise, there are just standing-room-only tickets left for Friday and Saturday. The Mavericks had their highest-attended game earlier this season when the Gophers were here, along with their best average attendance ever. So, if it's not the highest attended games in program history, it will be close.

Can we expect to see R.J. Linder in action this weekend? Our defense seems so much more sound with him on the ice. Linder is out again with a leg injury. He said today that he hopes it can be ready for the Final Five, if the Mavericks can get there. The Mavericks' defense has been solid this season, and Linder has been a big reason why. Certainly one thing he brings is experience, as both a senior and as a veteran of more than 100 games. Channing Boe, who will take his place, is a freshman, meaning there will be three freshmen defensemen in the lineup. But that was the case last weekend and many other times this season.

This series couldn't of come at a worse time. All the students are on spring break and all the die hard gopher fans are buying up all the tickets. I don't know if the Gopher fans are buying all the tickets or not. They went on sale at noon last Saturday -- before the Mavericks knew who their opponent would be. If Minnesota fans are buying them, well, that's how the free market works. As for students on break, as some of you already responded, that's true at a lot of schools. But I'll be not everybody is going south this week. As of Tuesday, half of the student tickets were sold to students. Those tickets didn't turn over to general admission seating until today.

Do you think Kangas will start on Friday? He's played in 17 consecutive games and has started the last 14, so, yeah, he'll be in goal for the Gophers.

What are the chances Jutting gets coach of the year? I think there is a very good chance that he wins. Jamie Russell, Michigan Tech's coach, told me that he voted for Troy. The Mavericks were picked to finish ninth and finished fourth with a team that lost its best offensive player (Travis Morin) to graduation and its best defenseman (Steve Wagner) to the NHL. They played two or three freshman defensemen and had a load of sophomores in the lineup every night. I think the award comes down to Jutting and Scott Owens of Colorado College.

I have been listening to KFAN and they aren't giving the Mavericks a lot of love to make the final five. In fact I heard (them) say this is the best match up that the Gophers can ask for or get. History shows that it is the best matchup for Minnesota. The Gophers haven't lost to the Mavericks in their last 20 meetings, and the one and only time the Gophers swept a WCHA series this season is when they played MSU. On the flip side, the Mavericks are a much better team than they were in November. They scored big wins at Wisconsin and at Colorado College and swept St. Cloud State and Denver. If the team that won those games shows up, I think the Mavericks play in St. Paul next week. This is going to be a close series. With the exception of the Anchorage-CC series, I think they could all go three games, and that might have been the case no matter how the matchups shook up.

We only have three seniors and Tyree has been scratched for most games this year. How does this compare for other teams in the WCHA as far as how things will stack up next year? If everyone else is back and healthy, the Mavericks should be right back in the mix for an upper-division finish. You know Minnesota and Wisconsin will be hungry to get back there, too, so it will be a battle. The Mavericks' sophomore class took a huge stride this season and should be better next year. The senior class will include Zacharias, who proved he's a top-flight goalie this year; Berge, who has 19 goals; as well as Kalinski, Kilburg, Friesen and Tormey. Andy Sackrison has had a solid freshman season, too, along with the rookie defensemen. Youds could be an all-rookie pick this year, perhaps Davis, too.

Who are the Mavs recruiting either for next year or the following year? Really, I just know the committed guys right now: F-Thompson, D-Cooper, F-Schiller, D-Dieter and F-Mueller for next year; D-Heath and G-Murdock for 2009 and F-Leivermann for '09 or '10. Obviously, they're looking down the line, too, but they don't need a lot (provided there are no unexpected departures) the next two seasons. They only graduate three from this year's team, and Tyree doesn't play much. Perhaps some of the incoming players will spend an extra year in junior hockey. After that, they'll need another goalie, while losing two forwards and two defensemen. Remember, they also have F-Mike Louwerse back next season. He was a medical redshirt this year and just underwent sports hernia surgery. They also have freshmen F-Brett Peterson and D-Peter Lompado on the roster this year.

But that's down the line. Now it's the WCHA playoffs, Gopher week. A trip to the Final Five is on the line, as is a secure spot in the Pairwise. Enjoy the weekend.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Any questions?

If you have some questions about MSU heading into the playoffs, ask away in the comment section below, and we'll do a "You Want Answers?" post Thursday or Friday.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Mavs slip to 10th, 11th in polls

Here are this week's rankings:

1. Michigan (19)
2. North Dakota (20)
3. Colorado College (9)
4. Miami (2)
5. New Hampshire
6. Michigan State
7. Clarkson
8. Denver
9. St. Cloud State
10. (tie) Minnesota State
10. (tie) Boston College
12. Notre Dame
13. Wisconsin
14. Boston Universtiy
15. Minnesota
16. Princeton
17. Harvard
18. Minnesota Duluth
19. Vermont
20. Providence
Others receiving votes: Niagara, Ferris State, Army, UMass, Michigan Tech, Cornell, Northeastern, Quinnipiac, Air Force, Union, Bemidji State, RIT, Bowling Green, Nebraska-Omaha, UMass-Lowell

1. Michigan (15)
2. North Dakota (9)
3. Colorado College
4. New Hampshire
5. Miami
6. Michigan State
7. Clarkson
8. Denver
9. Boston College
10. St. Cloud State
11. Minnesota State
12. Notre Dame
13. Boston University
14. Wisconsin
15. Minnesota
Others receiving votes: Princeton, Minnesota-Duluth, Harvard, Ferris State, Niagara, Vermont, Army

1. (tie) Colorado College
1. (tie) Michigan
3. New Hampshire
4. (tie) North Dakota
4. (tie) Miami
6. Denver
7. Clarkson
8. (tie) Boston College
8. (tie) St. Cloud State
10. Michigan State
11. Minnesota State
12. Minnesota
13. Wisconsin
14. (tie) Boston University
14. (tie) Minnesota Duluth
16. (tie) Notre Dame
16. (tie) Vermont
16. (tie) Harvard
19. UMass
20. (tie) Providence
20. (tie) Princeton
22. (tie) Quinnipiac
22. (tie) Michigan Tech
24. Cornell
25. Northeastern

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Mavs fall but finish fourth

Michigan Tech defeated Minnesota State 3-2 Saturday. The Huskies, who took three of four games from the Mavericks this season, including two on opening weekend way back in October, led 3-0 and held off a late charge as the Mavericks got goals from Jason Wiley and Kael Mouillierat.

The night's most telling stat? Tech blocked 23 shots. Many of those were simply pucks shot and passed into players legs, skates and sticks.

"The rink's 100 feet wide, and a shin pad is only 8 inches wide," MSU coach Troy Jutting said. "Those are scoring opportunities, and then we've got a battle in front of the net."

The loss sent the Mavericks back to 11th place in the Pairwise rankings. They jumped up to a tie for eighth after Friday's win.

Now, MSU will host Minnesota in the first round of the WCHA playoffs, starting Friday. Minnesota State is hosting a first-round series for the first time since 2002-03, and Minnesota is on the road for the first round for the first time since 1999-2000.

Other matchups include Alaska-Anchorage at Colorado College, Michigan Tech at North Dakota, Minnesota Duluth at Denver and Wisconson at St. Cloud State.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Huskies 3, Mavericks 0 - end of 2

Michigan Tech 2-1-0--0
Minnesota State 0-0-0--0

Scoring: 1. MTU-Kattelus 2 (Foote 3, Kinrade 12) 14:24; MTU-Gagne 5 (Shelast 10, Vlaisavljevich 3) 15:35
Penalties: Boe, MSU (tripping) 4:43; Bunger, MTU (double minor-rouging) 6:24; Royer, MTU (double minor-rouging) 6:24; Kivisto, MTU (double minor-rouging) 6:24; Bruess, MSU (double minor-rouging) 6:24; Harrison, MSU (double minor-rouging) 6:24; Youds, MSU (double minor-rouging) 6:24; VanWagner, MTU (tripping) 9:28; Mouillierat, MSU (cross-checking) 17:22
Scoring: 3. MTU-Kinrade 5 (Dobson 15, Rouleau 16) ppg 13:22
Penalties: VanWagner, MTU (double minor-roughing) 2:43; Stewart, MSU (double minor-roughing) 2:43; Dobson, MTU (unsportsmanlike-diving) 4:34; Hanson, MSU (obstruction-hooking) 4:34; Tyree, MSU (major, game misconduct-checking from behind) 12:44; Angelow, MTU (goalie interference) 17:21

Mavericks-Huskies, Part II

It's senior night. Although R.J. Linder remains out with an injury, forward Matt Tyree is in for the first time since Jan. 19. Tyree has played in 29 games in two seasons with the Mavericks and has two goals -- both game winners. Here are tonight's lines:

MINNESOTA STATE (18-13-4, 12-11-4)



MICHIGAN TECH (12-18-5, 8-15-4)



Friday, March 7, 2008

Mavericks clinch home ice

Minnesota State clinched an upper-division WCHA finish for the first time since 2002-03 with a 5-2 victory over Michigan Tech Friday at the Alltel Center.

Michigan Tech 0-1-1--2
Minnesota State 1-4-0--5

Scoring: 1. MSU-Bruess 8 (Kilburg 8, Davis 11) shg 8:30
Penalties: Gwilliam, MTU (hooking) 1:04; Kalinski, MSU (kneeing) 4:36; Youds, MSU (slashing) 6:34; Bunger, MTU (slashing) 14:03; Malekoff, MTU (hooking) 16:00; Kalinski, MSU (hooking) 16:17; Bunger, MTU (high-sticking) 19:50
Scoring: 2. MSU-Hanson 9 (Bruess 19, Davis 12) 3:58; 3. MTU-Gwilliam 5 (Kinrade 11, Rouleau 15) ppg 10:21; 4. MSU-Berge 18 (Kalinski 7, Harrison 13) 12:44; 5. MSU-Berge 19 (Youds 10, Kalinski 7) ppg 15:07; 6. MSU-Sackrison 5 (Wiley 7, Irwin 10) 15:45
Penalties: Gunderson, MSU (holding) 9:16; VanWagner, MTU (hooking) 17:20
Scoring: 7. MTU-Malekoff 1 (unassisted) 14:59
Penalties: Bruess, MSU (high sticking) 5:14; Harrison, MSU (hooking) 9:51
Shots on goal: MTU 12-10-11--33; MSU 10-18-13--41. Penalties: MTU 6 for 12 minutes; MSU 6 for 12 minutes. Power-play opportunities: MTU 1 for 6; MSU 1 for 6. Goalie saves: MTU-Teslak 9-14-x--23 (5 GA), Nolan x-x-13--13; MSU-Zacharias 12-9-10--31 (2 GA)
Referee: Brian Thul. Assistant referees: Jarod Moen, Jerome Krieger.
Attendance: 4,201

Tonight's lines

MINNESOTA STATE (17-13-4, 11-11-4)



MICHIGAN TECH (12-17-5, 8-14-4)



Linder out

Minnesota State senior defenseman R.J. Linder is likely out for this weekend's series against Michigan Tech due to a lower-body injury suffered last Saturday at Colorado College. Linder did not practice this week and whether he'll be ready to go for next week's WCHA playoffs is not known. 

Freshman Channing Boe will take Linder's spot in the lineup; otherwise the Mavericks' lines are expected to be the same as they were last Saturday. More from the game tonight!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

You want answers, 03.04.08

How are the WCHA tiebreakers determined? According to a league press release, the following procedures will be used to break ties: a) If two or more teams are tied, head-to-head competition during the regular (conference) season will be used to break the tie. b) If two or more teams are still tied after that, the highest seed will go to the team with the most conference wins. c) If the teams played a four-game series during the regular season and the teams have the same number of WCHA wins, the team having the least number of goals scored against it in the series shall have the higher rank. d) If the teams are still tied or played a two-game series, the team with the greatest winning margin during the regular season will have the higher rank.

So who holds the tiebreakers? Head to head, Minnesota State holds tiebreakers over Wisconsin and St. Cloud State. Minnesota has the tiebreaker over MSU. St. Cloud State has the tiebreaker over Minnesota. Wisconsin has the tiebreaker over St. Cloud. If Minnesota sweeps Duluth this weekend, it will be tied with Wisconsin and have a 1-1-2 record, but the Badgers, who have wrapped up the regular season, will have more conference wins. (I hope that's all correct.)

The Scarlet Gopher has been dying for my prognostications for a couple of weeks. Here goes: I really think the Mavericks will end up fourth and host the Gophers in the first round of the WCHA tournament. How crazy will that be in downtown Mankato for two or three nights? That means St. Cloud State will play Wisconsin, and the Huskies need to take two points from No. 1 North Dakota to get that series at the National Hockey Center.

What's wrong with the Mavs' penalty kill? This question was posed after MSU allowed three PPGs each in losses to Nebraska-Omaha and Colorado College. The next night, the Mavericks stopped CC on five power-play opportunities, including a third-period kill Saturday in which they allowed no shots. I think the biggest factors were: a) UNO had the best power play in the country, and the Mavericks were simply flat all night last Tuesday and b) Colorado College has an outstanding power play with Chad Rau and Jack Hillen, both of whom showed why they're first-team all-WCHA players Friday.

What about the power play? The Mavericks have been moving the puck well lately, just not scoring. That has to get better in the playoffs. But I like what Kael Mouillierat's been able to do around the net lately. He was very good both 5-on-5 and on the PP against Colorado College.

A few questions about the Alltel Center: 1. Did Mankato's request for money for a new ice sheet/women's rink get shut down? and 2. Will this year's improved attendance give the Alltel Center reason to expand seating to the north end of the arena? First, I haven't found where the Senate committee recommended funding for the project that was proposed last summer, but I was told today that it is currently in the Senate bill but not the House. Not sure what that means at the moment, but I do understand the argument for getting state funding when Duluth, St. Cloud and Bemidji are getting more. ... As for expanded seating, I doubt that would be at the top of the priority list when it comes to improving the existing arena. There has been talk of a suite/Blue Line Club room with windows overlooking the north end of the rink. But I also think it needs a scoreboard, expanded locker rooms and a press box.

Any word on R.J. Linder's injury Saturday night? Not sure right now. He wasn't at the rink at the end of practice Monday and the team had Tuesday off. We should know more about his status Wednesday or Thursday. As for Saturday, Linder skated out of the rink under his own power in the second period and was on the bench to watch the comeback in the third and OT.

Finally ... Who will be covering Mankato West at the state tournament this week? I will. PucKato will try to get an update or two on the blog tomorrow.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Ask away

This might be a little short notice, but I've seen a few questions/comments I'd like to get to, so send in your questions tonight and tomorrow and I'll get at them Tuesday night for the last regular-season installment of You Want Answers?!

By the way, I eliminated a comment that appeared to be a link to some kind of virus or something equally strange or troubling. If anyone has seen other comments like that on other blogs or know if that is a growing problem, please let me know. It may force me to change the comments section.

Mavericks hold their ground

Minnesota State remained at No. 9 in the rankings and at No. 10 in the USA Today/USA Hockey poll this week after their loss to Nebraska-Omaha and split with Colorado College. Here is the USCHO poll: Division I Men's Poll
Minneapolis, Minn./March 3, 2008

Team (First Place) Record Pts Last Week
1 North Dakota (37) 23- 8-2 982 2
2 Michigan (12) 27- 5-4 952 1
3 New Hampshire ( 1) 22- 7-3 895 3
4 Miami 29- 6-1 839 5
5 Colorado College 24- 9-1 820 4
6 Michigan State 23- 9-5 739 6
7 Denver 22-11-1 679 7
8 Clarkson 20-10-4 648 10
9 Minnesota State 17-13-4 568 9
10 Boston College 16-10-8 554 8
11 St. Cloud State 17-14-3 468 12
12 Notre Dame 22-12-4 437 11
13 Wisconsin 15-14-7 420 13
14 Minnesota 14-13-9 257 17
15 Princeton 17-12-0 246 14
16 Boston University 15-15-4 202 16
17 Providence 14-13-5 195 19
18 Minnesota-Duluth 12-14-6 194 15
19 Harvard 14-11-4 154 20
20 Niagara 19- 9-4 57 NR

Others Receiving Votes: Vermont 51, Mass.-Lowell 31,
Northeastern 21, Ferris State 18, Michigan Tech 16,
Army 15, Cornell 11, RIT 11, Bemidji State 8,
Air Force 6, Union 4, Quinnipiac 2

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Mavericks 3, Tigers 2 -OT

Kael Mouillierat's goal 16 seconds into overtime lifted MSU to a 3-2 win over Colorado College. it was the Mavericks' first win at the World Arena since 2003. The Mavericks trailed 2-0 after two periods and scored three unanswered goals to take two important points for the WCHA standings.

Minnesota State 0-0-2-1—3
Colorado College 0-2-0-0—2

Scoring: None.
Penalties: Bruess, MSU (tripping) 3:55; Thauwald, CC (interference) 16:06
Scoring: 1. CC-Walsky 12 (Johnson 6, Prosser 16) 8:06; 2. CC-Rau 25 (McCulloch 7, Kilpatrick 15) 18:34
Penalties: Hillen, CC (cross-checking) 1:48; Linder, MSU (holding) 5:05; Irwin, MSU (hooking) 14:24; Sweatt, CC (10-minute misconduct) 18:15
Scoring: 3. MSU-Wiley 10 (Sackrison 14) :37; 4. MSU-Stewart 3 (Gunderson 1, Canzanello 10) 5:13
Penalties: Harrison, MSU (roughing) 1:05; Prosser, CC (hooking, roughing) 1:05; MSU bench (too many on ice) 2:18; Stewart, MSU (hooking) 10:18
Scoring: 5. MSU-Mouillierat 9 (Hanson 13, Harrison 12) :16
Penalties: None
Shots on goal: MSU 10-12-12-1--35; CC 13-9-8-0--30. Penalties: MSU 6 for 12 minutes; CC 5 for 18 minutes. Power-play opportunities: MSU 0 for 3; CC 0 for 5. Goalie saves: MSU-Zacharias 13-7-8-0--28 (2 GA); CC-Bachman 9-13-10-0--32 (3 GA)
MSU called its timeout at 19:17 of the third period
Referee: Marco Hunt. Assistant referees: Greg Rockenback, Scott Staudte.
Attendance: 7174

Mavs-Tigers, Part II

Minnesota State will try to prevent Colorado College from clinching at least a share of the MacNaughton Cup tonight in the second game of their series. The Mavericks, who have lost three games in a row, have not won at Colorado Springs since 2003. There are a few lineup changes from Friday. Here are the lines:

MINNESOTA STATE (16-13-4, 10-11-4)



COLORADO COLLEGE (24-8-1, 19-5-1)