Friday, October 31, 2008

Mavericks 3, Gophers 3, OT final

There was yet another overtime between Minnesota State and Minnesota as they played to a 3-3 tie Friday.

Goalie Mike Zacharias made 47 saves for the 12th-ranked Mavericks (3-1-1, 1-1-1 in WCHA), and freshman defenseman Cameron Cooper knotted the game at 10:27 of the third period.

When the two teams last met last March, they battled through a three-game conference playoff series that featured two double-overtime games and a single-overtime contest. The Gophers won that series to advance to the WCHA Final Five and end the Mavericks' season.

Jay Barriball and Ryan Stoa had a goal and an assist, and freshman Jordan Schroeder had three assists for the fifth-ranked Gophers (3-0-2, 3-0-2), who remained unbeaten on the season..

Barriball broke a scoreless tie at 4:54 of the second period. Mavericks defenseman Kurt Davis tied the game at 9:13 with a long shot from just inside the blue line that deflected off the ice and beat goalie Alex Kangas (26 saves).

Cade Fairchild and Stoa gave Minnesota leads of 2-1 and 3-2, but the Mavericks answered each time, first with Jason Wiley early in the third period, then with Cooper's first career goal.

The two teams will play again today at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul in the WCHA Minnesota College Hockey Showcase. The game will be the nightcap of a doubleheader, with St. Cloud State and Minnesota Duluth playing in the opener.


Minnesota opened the scoring at 4:54 with a goal by Jay Barriball. The Mavericks tied the game on defenseman Kurt Davis' long shot from just inside the blue line that deflected off the ice and past goalie Alex Kangas. The Gophers took back the lead with the game's first power-play goal. Defenseman Cade Fairchild shot the puck in through traffic from the point. The Mavericks are getting outshot 29-14 through two periods. The Gophers will start the third period wtih 1:16 of power-play time.

There's no band here tonight. Which is weird. And disappointing.


Picking up where they left off last March, Alex Kangas made seven saves and Mike Zacharias made 15 in a scoreless first period. There was plenty for the box score though, as the two teams were called for 11 penalties. MSU's Jerad Stewart got a five-minute major for "grabbing the facemask."


Greetings from Mariucci Arena. One item of note, Minnesota has suspended freshman forwards Jake Hansen and Nico Sacchetti for violation of team rules. They had played in all of the Gophers' games so far.

Check back regularly for updates.

Here are the lines (starters in bold):







Friday-morning reading

Just because it's Gopher night doesn't mean Troy Jutting won't practice a little tough love again this season. Defenseman Ben Youds and forward Mike Louwerse will sit out tonight's game against Minnesota because of some bad penalties taken in MSU's last game against North Dakota. The practice seemed to work last season, as the Mavericks slashed their penalty minutes. Currently, they lead the country in PIMs per game. Both Youds and Louwerse are expected to play on Saturday. MSU will get forward James Gaulrapp back from injury.

For more on the series, you can read my preview in The Free Press, which chronicles how the Mavericks just can't forget last year's playoff series against the Gophers.

Here's what others are saying about the series and the Showcase:

The Star Tribune and Pioneer Press take a look at Saturday's WCHA Minnesota College Hockey Showcase, which needs a better name but won't get one until the league and participating teams figure out a way to do it every year. One nugget of concern: an Xcel Energy Center official is expecting just 10,000 fans. The PiPress also says that the Gophers are a different team with the return of Ryan Stoa.

The Duluth News-Tribune also looks at the Showcase, and the St. Cloud Times' Kevin Allenspach wonders if the fans will turn out for the event, too.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Gustavus player gets blog

I haven't done a ton here on Gustavus Adolphus hockey in the past, but the Gusties do deserve some attention. The Gustavus men's team opens the season Friday night when it hosts defending national champion and No. 1-ranked St. Norbert. The Gusties were the only team to beat St. Norbert last season. That game and Saturday's game against Lake Forest will be played at All Seasons Arena in Mankato while the Don Roberts Ice Rink gets a facelift in St. Peter.

Meanwhile the Gustavus women's team is ranked No. 4 in the country and will open the season next week. Gusties senior Jessie Doig, meanwhile, will be blogging for the NCAA on the life and times of a college athlete. She is one of a select group chosen by the NCAA. Her blog, which she says will be updated twice a week, can be found here. I'll also post a permanent link to it in the sidebar.

More on Harrison

Zach Harrison's short-handed hat trick continues to draw attention. The Western College Hockey blog explored Harrison's rise with the Mavericks, as did the sports blog Deadspin.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Mavs in the pros

Thanks to MSU's sports information department, here are the Mavericks alumni playing professional hockey:

David Backes, St. Louis
Ryan Carter, Anaheim
Steve Wagner, St. Louis

Tim Jackman, Bridgeport (NHL rights: NY Islanders)
Jon Kalinski, Philadelphia (NHL rights: Philadelphia)
Grant Stevenson, Chicago (NHL rights: Atlanta)

Joel Hanson, Augusta
R.J. Linder, Augusta
Travis Morin, South Carolina (NHL rights: Washington)
Kyle Peto, Florida

Austin Sutter, Amarillo
Brad Thompson, Wichita

Jake Brenk, Netherlands
Aaron Fox, Austria
Lucas Fransen, Netherlands
T.J. Guidarelli, Germany
Andy Hedlund, Germany
Shane Joseph, Germany
Rob Rankin, England

Monday, October 27, 2008

MSU gets bump (updated)

The Mavericks moved up one spot to No. 12 in the latest poll and two spots to No. 11 in the USA Today poll. Here are today's rankings (first-place votes in parenthesis): College Sports
1. Colorado College (37)
2. Boston College (7)
3. Boston University (1)
4. Denver (3)
5. Minnesota (2)
6. New Hampshire
7. Miami
8. Michigan
9. Northeastern
10. Princeton
11. Michigan State
12. Minnesota State
13. Notre Dame
14. Vermont
15. Clarkson
16. Cornell
17. Air Force
18. North Dakota
19. St. Cloud State
20. Harvard
Others receiving votes: Northern Michigan, Alaska-Anchorage, St. Lawrence, Nebraska-Omaha, UMass, Minnesota-Duluth, Colgate, UMass-Lowell, Union, Wisconsin, Niagara, Bemidji State, Dartmouth, Ohio State

USA Today/USA Hockey
1. Colorado College (30)
2. Boston College (3)
3. Boston University
4. Denver
5. Minnesota (1)
6. Miami
7. New Hampshire
8. Michigan
9. Northeastern
10. Princeton
11. Minnesota State
12. Michigan State
13. Notre Dame
14. Clarkson
15. Vermont
Others receiving votes: Air Force, Nebraska-Omaha, Cornell, Alaska-Anchorage, St. Lawrence, St. Cloud State, Colgate, UMass, UMass-Lowell, Harvard, North Dakota, Northern Michigan, Union.

FYI, PucKato and The Free Press generally use the rankings as the official rankings for two reasons: 1. They're the rankings released weekly by the Associated Press, and 2. Shane votes on the poll (the power rankings at right are what I submit).

Friday, October 24, 2008

Hat-Trick Harry

You want answers, 10.24.08

No games this weekend, so it's been a little quiet on the blog. But you had a few questions that I'll try to answer. Here we go:

Will the Real Troy Jutting please stand up. That was no coach of the year performance on Saturday. A chance to sweep the Sioux for the first time ever. This is not a great Sioux team. Galiardi on the PK couldn't cover the points if his life depended on it. (2 ND Power play goals with him up top with no pressure). Louwerse taking penelties in his own offensive zone (2). The real Louwerse shows his worth. What does Jutting see in him and Galardi? Jokinen? No excuses on the power play unit giving up the shorty. Davis quit on that one. Can't imagine where MSU would be without Zacharias. Maybe 1-3. We haven't faced a tough goalie yet. This seemed to be quite harsh for four games in, especially when the Mavericks were 10 minutes away from a 4-0-0 start. I can certainly understand fans' frustration from that game, though. As I commented earlier, it would not have been MSU's first sweep of North Dakota. They did it at the end of the 2002-03 season in front of crowds that, despite the stats, might have been the two biggest, certainly the wildest I have ever seen at the civic center. As for the PK, those killers were dead tired at the end of the game. The Mavericks had been killing the entire game, it seemed, and the Sioux were bound to put one in. Of course, one goal and the Mavericks immediate return to the penalty box changed the entire course of the game. But you have to give the kill credit for what it did up until that point, including Zach Harrison's three short-handed goals in Friday's game. You're right about the game-winner on Saturday and about Zacharais. Davis, who seems to make smart decisions most of the time, made a bad play on that one. Zacharias has been excellent so far.

I wish the Alltel Center was filled with that kind of passion on a weekly basis and not just against the Gophers and UND. It sucks that they gave up a two-goal lead in the third and that shortie at the end really hurt. I was speechless walking out of the building. Actually, I'm still bitter. I think fans like you are starting to become the rule rather than the exception. I think we're starting to see some real passion from Minnesota State fans and that has made the Alltel Center a fun place every weekend. The Mavs drew 4,000 a game for Bemidji State. That was almost unheard of a couple of years ago. Both UND games were sellouts. I think you started to see that passion before the Minnesota playoffs series last year, but the three games against the Gophers took it to a new level.

How do you think we will rebound going up against a Gopher team that seems to always handle the Mavericks no matter where the game is played? Do you think the Gophers handled the Mavericks in the playoffs last year? They won in double-OT, lost in OT and lost in double-OT. That series was about as even as you could get. Even the total shots/saves were virtually even. Minnesota's off to a good start, and I wouldn't be surprised if they sweep Wisconsin this weekend. Those are two teams going different directions right now. The Mavericks need to put that UND loss in the rear-view mirror. The good news was that it took place early in the year, so it shouldn't be too devastating. I suspect the Mavericks feel there is some unfinished business to take care of against the Gophers. I expect those to be two close games. Maybe more overtime?

I know the new rules have caused an increase in the penalties, but many of the Maverick penalties had nothing to do with the rule changes. Do you see this being the Mavericks downfall this year? Or can they turn it around and maybe play with a little more discipline the rest or the year? If it keeps up, it will be their downfall and the downfall of any team that doesn't figure this out. Not only do they have to adjust to the rule changes, but they have to eliminate the other -- call them dumb, selfish, whatever -- penalties in order to keep the penalty killers fresh. Last year, one of the reasons I felt Jutting was deserving of coach of the year was that he cracked down on penalties for maybe the first time in his career. The minutes dropped significantly. I think that was a big reason, among many, for MSU's good season. I suspect they'll learn from last Saturday's third period.

What is up with the lack of recognition by you on this blog and in the paper...and by MSUM letting fans know that RJ Linder is playing on a ECHL team? Both MSUM and yourself have reported on every other player to play at the next level (including Joel Hanson who was added to the Lynx roster just a little before RJ) but skip over reporting this. I guess we can wait for Kevin Allenspach at the St. Cloud times to cover it. First off, let me say that Kevin does a great job covering the Huskies up there in St. Cloud. Actually, I think the WCHA has many excellent writers covering it. As for Mr. Linder, that's just an oversight on my part. It's certainly nothing against him, whom I really enjoyed covering throughout his career. I'll admit, I haven't delved into the minor leagues too much in search of MSU alumni. When Hanson signed, MSU put out a press release. I'll try to track down a few guys and give an update in the coming weeks. I know that several players are in Europe too. Rob Rankin is playing in England, and Shane Joseph and Andy Hedlund are playing together in Germany.

Thanks for your questions. Keep them coming.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Harrison in the Hall (updates throughout)

MSU forward Zach Harrison is heading to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

At least his stick is.

The Hall contacted Minnesota State and wants a memento of Harrison's short-handed hat trick from Friday night. The the sixth short-handed hat trick in D-I history, it will be displayed as part of a 2008 year in review display and then archived and brought out for traveling exhibits as well as a college-hockey display.

As it turns out Harrison's wasn't the first natural short-handed hat trick. Check out what C.J. Young did 20 years ago (thanks, CHN).

Meanwhile, Harrison was named WCHA defensive player of the week for his feat.

Check back later for more information as well as my column in Wednesday's Free Press.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Mavs move up (updated)

Despite the split with North Dakota, Minnesota State moved up two spots in the latest USCHO and USA Today rankings, to No. 13. Meanwhile, the Sioux fell to No. 16 and No. 15, respectively.

USA Today/USA Hockey poll:
1. Colorado College (31)
2. Denver (1)
3. New Hampshire (1)
4. Boston College (1)
5. Michigan
6. Minnesota
7. Boston University
8. Notre Dame
9. Princeton
10. Miami
11. Northeastern
12. Vermont
13. Minnesota State
14. Michigan State
15. North Dakota
Others receiving votes: St. Cloud State, Cornell, Air Force, Clarkson, Minnesota Duluth, Northern Michigan, Harvard, UMass-Lowell. College Sports XXL poll.
1. Colorado College (39)
2. Denver (5)
3. Boston College (3)
4. New Hampshire (2)
5. Michigan (1)
6. Boston University
7. Minnesota
8. Notre Dame
9. Princeton
10. Miami
11. Vermont
12. Michigan State
13. Minnesota State
14. Northeastern
15. St. Cloud State
16. North Dakota
17. Cornell
18. Northern Michigan
19. Clarkson
20. Harvard
Others receiving votes: Minnesota Duluth, Air Force, Colgate, Nebraska-Omaha, UMass.-Lowell, Wisconsin, St. Lawrence, UMass, Alaska-Anchorage, Maine, Niagara, Alaska, Dartmouth, Providence, Union.

Idle chatter

The Mavericks are off this week. Although it's early in the season, that might be a good thing after Saturday night's third-period collapse against North Dakota. Check PucKato later today for the latest power rankings, updated national polls and any other happenings.

Meanwhile, this is your place to ask your questions for You Want Answers. Ask your questions in the comments section of this post, and I'll get to them later in the week (Thursday or Friday).

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Sioux 4, Mavericks 3, final

Chris VandeVelde's short-handed goal with 8.6 seconds remaining gave No. 13 North Dakota a 4-3 comeback victory over No. 13 Minnesota State, Mankato Saturday.

North Dakota scored three third-period power play goals before VandeVelde scored his unassisted goal.

It was the first win of the year for the Sioux (1-3-0, 1-1-0 in WCHA.) and the first loss of the season for the Mavericks (3-1-0, 1-1-0).

Mankato led 2-0 on goals by Jason Wiley and Trevor Bruess, and goaltender Mike Zacharias looked to be well on his way to a shutout by the midway point of the third period.

But the Sioux stormed back with a pair of power-play goals 69 seconds apart from seniors Andrew Kozek and Ryan Duncan. Then, at 14:42, Ryan Martens gave UND the lead for the first time in the game with another power-play goal.

That lead lasted just 36 seconds, as Bruess tied the game with a rocket shot from the slot.

Duncan was called for a penalty with 18:34 remaining in the game, and the Mavericks were trying for a game-winning power-play goal when VandeVelde got the puck. Instead of clearing it, he went in on net and pushed the puck past Zacharias for the winner.

In Friday's game, Minnesota State scored three short-handed goals in a 5-1 win.

Zacharias finished with 37 saves. Sioux freshman goalie Brad Eidsness got his first win of the season with 25 saves.
MSU finally scores with the man advantage on a pretty, tic-tac-toe play from Mick Berge to Kael Mouillierat to Trevor Bruess at the left post at 9:31 to go up 2-0. Berge had an assist taken away from him last nght, so this was No. 6, equalling last year's total.

The Mavs thought they had a 3-0 lead at 13:51, but the review showed that a man was in the crease and hit Eidsness before the puck went in. Looked like probably the right call. Of course, the 5,000 strong her at Alltel Center didn't think so.

MSU killed off five penalties in the period, and Zacharias stopped 12 shots.
The Mavericks scored at 1:31 on a pretty play from Andy Sackrison to Jason Wiley. Sackrison carried the puck all the way down to the goal line, spun around and backhanded a soft pass over to his linemate for an easy tap-in goal.

The Mavericks failed to score on two 5x3 power-plays, including a full 2-minute one. They also killed off a 5x3. Nine penalties were called in the period.

The Sioux outshot the Mavericks 14-9, with Mike Zacharias playing steady as usual.
Ch-ch-ch-ch changes ...

The Mavericks made a couple of lineup changes, taking out freshman forward Tyler Thompson and putting in Adam Mueller. On defense, freshman Cameron Cooper will play for the first time this season, taking the spot of junior Nick Canzanello, who struggled.

The Sioux also made some changes, starting with their uniforms. Last night they wore green; tonight they have on the blacks. (How many teams bring two sets of uniforms on road trips?) Freshman Brad Eidsness will go in goal. Up front, freshman Mario Lamoureux and senior Brad Miller are in for Matt Watkins (UND's lone goal scorer last night) and David Toews.

Here are the lines (starters in bold):







Rare company

An Alltel Center crowd of 5,004 saw Zach Harrison pull off a rare feat Friday night, as the junior forward scored three short-handed goals in MSU's 5-1 win over North Dakota. This had only been done by five other Division I players in recorded history.

Thanks to MSU athletic communications guru Paul Allan, here are the others:

Zach Harrison, Minnesota State vs. North Dakota, 2008

George Awada, St. Cloud State vs. Michigan Tech, 1998
Jayson Greyerbiehl, Colgate vs. Yale, 1989
C.J. Young, Harvard, vs. Dartmouth, 1988
Greg Dreschel, Colgate vs. Rensselaer, 1987
Norm Cherrey, Wisconsin vs. Minnesota Duluth, 1973

Not only was it a short-handed hat trick, but it was also a natural hat trick (three consecutive goals).

Read more about the game here and here.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Mavericks 5, Sioux 1 -- final

Zach Harrison scored three short-handed goals Friday as No. 15 Minnesota State, Mankato, opened the WCHA season with a 5-1 victory over No. 13 North Dakota.

The win snapped the Mavericks' 10-game winless streak against the Sioux, who are now 0-3 for the first time since the 1994-95 season.

The Mavericks, meanwhile, are 3-0 for the first time since 1998-99 when they were a Division I independent and a year away from joining the WCHA.

Goaltender Mike Zacharias made 32 saves, including 13 in the second period, for the win. Aaron Walski stopped 16 shots for the Sioux.

North Dakota led 1-0 on Matt Watkins' unassisted goal at 4:36 of the first period.

But the Mavericks came back with goals by Geoff Irwin and Kael Mouillierat just 67 seconds apart. Irwin's goal, his third of the year, came during a delayed penalty. Mouillierat's goal was a power-play goal. Mavericks captain Mick Berge assisted on both plays. With six assists in the Mavericks' first three games, Berge has already matched his total from a year ago (he had 20 goals).

Harrison scored his first two short-handed goals at 8:25 of the second period and 53 seconds into the third. The third goal was an empty-netter with 1:41 to play.


MSU's Zach Harrison scored the period's lone goal, a short-handed tally at 8:25. The junior scooped up a loose puck and raced in 1-on-1 against Darcy Zajac before firing over goalie Aaron Walski's glove. Jerad Stewart got an assist on the play.

Zacharias was solid again as UND outshot MSU 13-4!


The Mavericks killed off nearly two minutes of 5x3 power play in the first four minutes of the game, but North Dakota struck first when Matt Watkins fired in a Ben Youds giveaway at 4:36 for an unassisted goal.

The Mavericks tied the game less than two minutes later when Geoff Irwin scored his third goal of the season. The goal took place during a delayed penalty, and Mick Berge, who came on as the extra attacker assisted on the play, along with Brian Kilburg. Just 67 seconds later, Minnesota State took the lead on a power-play goal by Kael Mouillierat. Berge assisted on that play to, and with six assists, has already matched his total from a year ago. Kurt Davis got his fourth assist of the season on the play.

North Dakota outshot MSU 11-10. Mike Zacharias was made one great save during a Sioux power play late in the period.


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







Gameday reading

Here's some Friday-morning headlines college hockey fans might be interested in:

In Mankato, the Mavericks' Mick Berge has become one of the top goal scorers in the country, although he was an assist guy last weekend. The Free Press' MSU-North Dakota series preview is also there. ... According to the Grand Forks Herald, the Sioux spent a lot of practice time on special teams this week. .. The Herald also featured Berge, whose dad played at North Dakota in the late '70s.

Another big series in the WCHA's opening weekend will be the Minnesota-St. Cloud State matchup. The St. Cloud Times' Kevin Allenspach wonders if it will be a goaltenders dual, although the Huskies did score a lot last weekend (Garrett Roe's not going to score 150 points, is he?). ... The Times also focused on the return of Minnesota captain Ryan Stoa, while the Star Tribune looked at the Gophers' young guns. Minnesota has 12 freshmen on its roster. ... The Pioneer Press featured Gophers goalie Alex Kangas, whom MSU fans remember quite well from last March.

Denver will host Wisconsin this weekend, and the Badgers, like everyone else, are trying to cope with the new rules. ... Recent on- and off-ice events have turned this series into quite the rivalry. ... In the Denver Post, DU freshman David Carle is a "scholarship volunteer assistant coach" after being diagnosed with a rare heart condition that forced him to give up hockey.

Down the road in Colorado Springs, the CC Tigers aren't looking past Michigan Tech, a team that has been a thorn in their side for the last few years. ... Still, the Huskies know they have a tough matchup for the conference opener.

Duluth is facing Western Michigan for the first time and senior MacGregor Sharp is hoping his new training program pays off. ... Alaska-Anchorage will be playing in the Alaska (Fairbanks) tournament minus two players who have left the program.

Here are some of the WCHA weekend previews: Inside College Hockey, USCHO and This is the WCHA.

Finally, here's an interesting developing story. The NCAA wants to make its regionals true regionals in order to minimize travel. Let's just say the WCHA, which often has five or, in last year's case, six teams in the national tournament, isn't happy about it.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

You want answers, 10/16

It's time for the season's first installment of YWA, where you, the hockey fan ask a question, and I try to give you an answer. There wasn't a lot of participation this week. Hopefully, you'll have more questions as the season goes on. Away we go (questions are paraphrased, by the way) ...

Do you think the Mavericks have the right mix of talent on their power play to at least make the upper half of the conference in power-play success? The Mavericks scored only two power play goals on 17 chances last weekend and both of those were 5x3 goals. They'll have to do better than that, obviously. I think they do have the right people. Mick Berge is a goal scorer. Kael Mouillierat's return this weekend ought to boost productivity. I liked what I was seeing from Mike Louwerse around the net against Bemidji. I think Kurt Davis runs the power play very well at the point and showed it last weekend. Last year, former Wisconsin coach Jeff Sauer, who sees a lot of games throughout the year, said MSU moves the puck on the PP as well as anybody. Most of those players are back. The question is: Can they finish? Can they score goals?

What are the chances we'll see Austin Lee at some point this season? Next year he'll be the lone returning goalie. I'm sure coach Troy Jutting would like to see Lee get his feet wet before next season, since Mike Zacharias and Dan Tormey are graduating. But I don't see him potentially sacrificing games in order to prepare for next season. This is not to say that Lee would lose games -- actually, he looked very good in practice as a redshirt last season -- but the Mavericks, maybe more than anybody, have found out that every game is important for the Pairwise rankings. That doesn't mean that Zacharias is going to play 36 games this year, but it might. Next season is next season.

You mentioned that the Mavs had officially practiced for only one week prior to the Bemidji State games. Did this go for every team or was this just a decision made by MSU? One week doesn't seem like a whole lot. It's not a lot of time, but it's how they do it in college hockey. The NCAA sets a start date -- in this case, Oct. 4, and the teams go from there. Last year, the Mavericks went two weeks before playing Michigan Tech. Tech had played two games the weekend before and looked more polished as they swept MSU. But the first day is really just the first full day. Players skated almost daily in "captains practices" for three or four weeks. Also, over the last couple of weeks, coaches were allowed two hours of on-ice time each week to practice with their teams.

Jury is still out on our penalty kill? Probably. It was good last weekend, allowing two goals on 21 chances, including a 4x3, but 25 shots. Zacharias was their best penalty killer, although I thought Rylan Galiardi did a fine job. He blocked several shots. The Mavericks ought to know much more about their PK after this weekend.

Thoughts on the updates to the Alltel Center? I was going to do a post on this, but then I thought most people don't care about the press accommodations. However, since you asked, the new media area(s) at the civic center are a very nice upgrade from the temporary tables we've used over the last several years. I never complained about my seat before; it was one of the best site lines of any of the arenas in the WCHA. But it could a difficult place to work, especially during crowded, SRO games. Now, it's one of the best places in the league to work and watch a game. There are nicer press boxes with worse views of the ice. But this might be the best combination of view and work space, with maybe the exception of Denver. And I like still being somewhat in the crowd and getting a feel for what the atmosphere is like.

Now if we could just get that center-ice scoreboard with video replay. ...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Movin' on up (updated)

The Mavericks moved up to No. 15 in both the and USA Today men's hockey polls Tuesday. North Dakota, MSU's opponent this week, dropped from No. 5 to No. 13 after going 0-2 last weekend. Here are the latest polls (sorry they're a little late) with WCHA teams in bold: College Sports XXL poll
1. Boston College (45)
2. Michigan (2)
3. Colorado College (3)
4. Denver
5. Boston University
6. New Hampshire
7. Miami
8. Notre Dame
9. Minnesota
10. Princeton
11. Michigan State
12. St. Cloud State
13. North Dakota
14. Clarkson
15. Minnesota State
16. Cornell
17. Vermont
18. Harvard
19. Northern Michigan
20. Wisconsin
Others receiving votes: Northeastern, Air Force, UMass, Minnesota-Duluth, UMass.-Lowell, Bowling Green, Alaska, Ferris State, Niagara, Yale, Dartmouth, Quinnipiac, RIT, St. Lawrence.

USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine coaches poll
1. Boston College (32)
2. Michigan (1)
3. Colorado College (1)
4. Denver
5. Boston University
6. New Hampshire
7. Miami
8. Notre Dame
9. Minnesota
10. St. Cloud State
11. Michigan State
12. Princeton
13. North Dakota
14. Clarkson
15. Minnesota State
Others receiving votes: Northeastern, Cornell, Northern Michigan, Vermont, Harvard, Wisconsin, Air Force, Minnesota Duluth.

Finally, Inside College Hockey put out its Great 58, a power ranking of all 58 Division I teams and put MSU 16th.

Monday, October 13, 2008

You want answers?

Back by popular demand, PucKato will be answering your questions about MSU hockey -- hot off that season-opening sweep of Bemidji State and with North Dakota on the horizon -- and any other rink-related topics in the Mankato area that you might have.

This is the first call for your questions, and I'll answer them once we get a good bunch or by the end of the week -- whichever comes first.

Just post your questions in the comments area of this posting.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Mavericks 4, Beavers 2 final

Defenseman Kurt Davis scored a goal and assisted on another and Mick Berge had three assists as No. 18 Minnesota State, Mankato, held off a hard-charging Bemidji State 4-2 and finished off a series sweep Saturday.

The game was scoreless until 5:20 remained in the second period when Mankato's Zach Harrison scored his first goal of the season.

The Mavericks (2-0-0) built a 3-0 lead on goals by Davis and Jason Wiley in the third period. Berge assisted on both goals.

Goaltender Mike Zacharias (29 saves) appeared to be on his way to his seventh career shutout, but the Beavers (0-2-0) stormed back with goals by Shea Walters and Tyler Scofield with 2:12 and 1:45 remaining in the game, respectively.

The Mavericks finally sealed the win on Geoff Irwin's empty-net goal with 24 seconds to go. Berge got his third assist of the game on the play.

Midway through the second period, Irwin was awarded a penalty shot but was stopped by goalie Orlando Alamano (33 saves).

It was Mankato's fourth consecutive win over Bemidji.
The Mavericks broke nearly 35 minutes of scoreless hockey when junior center Zach Harrison scored his first goal of the season. Rylan Galiardi, who was a shot-blocking force in Friday's opener assisted on the goal. ... Earlier, MSU's Geoff Irwin was awarded a penalty shot after Ben Kinne dragged him down during a short-handed breakaway. Irwin made a nice move to get goalie Orlando Alamano down and open the left side of the goal. But he didn't lift the puck, and Alamano saved the shot with a flail of his glove.
The first period was scoreless with neither team getting great scoring chances. The Mavericks outshot the Beavers 11-9, and there were six penalties called between them. MSU did kill off 45 seconds of 5x3 power play.

MSU-BSU, part 2

We're about an hour away from Game 2. Minnesota State is going with the same lineup as last night. Bemidji State is making just two changes, including in goal where senior Orlando Alamano will start. Here are the lines (starters in bold):







Friday, October 10, 2008

Mavericks 5, Beavers 2 -- final

Redshirt freshman Mike Louwerse scored two goals as No. 18 Minnesota State, Mankato, defeated Bemidji State 5-2 in the season-opening game for both teams.

Louwerse sat out all but four games last season with a sports hernia and was given an extra year of eligibility for medical reasons. He scored the game's opening goal during a 5-on-3 power play at 4:16 of the first period and added an even-strength goal in the second period.

Geoff Irwin, Justin Jokinen and Trevor Bruess also scored goals for the Mavericks (1-0-0). Jokinen, a true freshman, netted the game-winning goal at 11:41 of the second period. Kurt Davis and Ben Youds each had two assists for Mankato. Goalie Mike Zacharias made 16 saves in the win.

Bemidji State got power-play goals from Travis Winter and Brad Hunt. The game was filled with penalties (26 minors in all), as the NCAA has gone to a two-referee system and is emphasizing rules to limit obstruction. Goalie Matt Dalton finished with 24 saves.

The win was the first season-opening win for Mavericks coach Troy Jutting, who is beginning his ninth season.


The penalties didn't stop in the second period, with nine more calls. And the teams made each other pay for their mistakes. Scoring went like this:

3:44, BSU-Winter (Marino, Bostock) 5x4 ppg ... rebound goal, Winter was open at the right post

7:01, MSU-Irwin (Wiley, Youds) 4x4 ... a pretty play in which Irwin turned as he crashed the net and backhanded Wiley's rebound in

9:38, BSU-Hunt (Marino) 4x3 ppg ... off a faceoff

11:41, MSU-Jokinen (Mueller) 5x5 ... yes, this was an even-strength goal!

18:53, MSU-Louwerse (unasssted) 5x5 ... second goal of the game; this guy looks good


Redshirt freshman Mike Louwerse got things started with a 5-on-3 power play goal at 4:16, getting assists from Mick Berge and Kurt Davis. The score easily could have been 3-0 or 4-0, but Beavers goalie Matt Dalton made several outstanding saves.

Anyone predicting that the two-referee system and some rule changes would increase penalties was right on the money. The first period featured nine penalties, including four on the Mavericks.

Shots were 12-6 in favor of MSU.

Lots of excitement

Nearly 90 minutes before the opening faceoff, MSU students were lined up outside the Alltel Center, queuing all the way to Mankato's Intergovernmental Center waiting to claim their seat. On Wednesday, the university distributed 1,100 free student tickets at the Taylor Center. The line snaked all the way to the Myers Field House, and tickets were gone within 15 minutes. Students unable to get one of the free tickets aren't completely left out in the cold; they're able to buy them for $6.

The players skated out for warmups 40 minutes before gametime, and the student section was packed and cheering wildly for the Mavericks (and, of course, booing the referees and Beavers).

As for the game, here are tonight's lines (starters in bold):







Read all about it (updated)

Forget about your stock portfolio for a few minutes. As promised here some of the storylines surrounding the first weekend of college hockey:

Minnesota State goalie Mike Zacharias is coming off a record-setting season.
The Freep's Minnesota State-Bemidji State preview can be found here.
Bemidji State is embarking on one of its toughest early season schedules.
Like MSU Minnesota Duluth is counting on its MVP goalie, too.
Staying in Duluth, here's a peek at what the new DECC, slated to open on New Year's Eve, 2010, will look like.
The Capital Times' Todd Milewski has five questions about the Badgers then breaks down the roster.
Staying in Madison, the Wisconsin State Journal looks for the Badgers' offensive leader.
In St. Cloud, the Huskies will face Mercyhurst for the first time, although it almost happened last year.
North Dakota's biggest question mark is in goal where it will have a new starter this year.
Goaltending is the theme in Anchorage, Alaska, this weekend, too.
The WCHA's highest-scoring team last season, Colorado College, thinks rule changes will help it score more goals this year.
The coaches at Michigan Tech and Lake Superior State, who will face each other tonight, are old friends.
When it comes to college hockey, The Denver Post says Colorado, not Minnesota, is the real "state of hockey."

Here is some additional late-afternoon reading ... has put out its WCHA preview (the Mavericks are picked fourth).
This is the WCHA released the results of its beat writers poll (the Mavericks are fifth).
College Hockey News previewed the WCHA in two parts, here and here.
Inside College Hockey put its preview out earlier this week.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

It's game day

Just about, anyway.

Minnesota State and Bemidji State will get underway at 7:07 p.m. Friday night. I'll add some links as the day goes on, including my feature in The Free Press on Mavericks goalie Mike Zacharias.

The Mavericks will have a somewhat young forward lineup with five freshmen in the lineup. Three juniors are out, including Kael Mouillerat (suspended for the weekend for violating team rules), Jerad Stewart (mononucleosis) and James Gaulrapp (injury).

So the lines are likely to look like this: Bruess-Berge-Wiley, Sackrison-Irwin-Thompson*, Harrison-Louwerse*-Galiardi, Mueller*-Jokinen*-Schiller* (* denotes freshman).

No surprise, Mike Zacharias will start in goal, and the six defensemen who finished the season in the lineup -- Kilburg, Davis, Boe, Youds, Canzanello, Friesen -- will take the ice.

More later ...

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Pro players

Three ex-Mavericks are starting the NHL season this week with their big clubs. Forward David Backes and defenseman Steve Wagner are with the St. Louis Blues, and forward Ryan Carter is on the Anaheim Ducks' opening-day roster.

Meanwhile, forward Tim Jackman is starting with Bridgeport, the New York Islanders' American Hockey League affiliate. Also in the AHL are forward Grant Stevenson, who was assigned to Chicago by the Atlanta Thrashers, and forward Jon Kalinski, who was assigned to Philadelphia by the Philadelphia Flyers. Finally, the Washington Capitals signed forward Travis Morin to South Carolina of the East Coast Hockey League.

By the way the St. Louis Post-Dispatch had a good article on Backes today.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Mavericks ranked 18th

The first men's college hockey poll was released Monday, and Minnesota State is starting the season ranked 18th in the country. The Mavericks finished last season ranked 14th in the poll. Defending national champion Boston College is No. 1, and Colorado College is the highest-ranked WCHA team at No. 3. Seven WCHA teams are in the top 20, and two others also received votes.

Here's the list (first-place votes in parenthesis; WCHA teams in bold):

1. Boston College (36) 969
2. Michigan (5) 922
3. Colorado College (7) 874
4. Notre Dame (1) 829
5. North Dakota (1) 789
6. Denver 704
7. New Hampshire 648
8. Miami 613
9. Boston University 565
10. Minnesota 503
11. Michigan State 440
12. Princeton 427
13. Clarkson 375
14. Wisconsin 358
15. St. Cloud State 299
16. Northern Michigan 257
17. Cornell 186
18. Minnesota State 170
19. Harvard 134
20. Vermont 90
Others receiving votes: Northeastern, Air Force, Niagara, Ferris State, UMass-Lowell, UMass, Minnesota Duluth, Providence, Yale, Maine, Bowling Green, Dartmouth, Quinnipiac, Rensselaer, Union, Bemidji State, RIT, Robert Morris, St. Lawrence, Mercyhurst, Michigan Tech

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Practice begins

Minnesota State officially kicked off the 2008-09 season Saturday morning with a two-hour practice at All-Seasons Arena. Although the team has been working out with captains practices and limited workouts with coaches for a few weeks, Saturday was the real deal.

"We're six days away (from the first game), so it's full go," coach Troy Jutting said afterward. "It's different than most other sports in college. We get to start and, in six days, we're playing. There's a lot to make sure everybody understands so we're ready to go in six days."

The Mavericks will have two practices on Sunday.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Seventh sign

Apparently the WCHA coaches and media think a lot alike. Both the Grand Forks Herald preseason coaches poll and the brand new Capital Times (Madison) media poll were released Wednesday with the exact same results, including Minnesota State in seventh place and a tie for fourth between Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Here are the polls with the Herald's first-place votes and points first, followed by the Cap Times' numbers:

1. Colorado College (8) 78 ... (22) 247
2. North Dakota (2) 67 ... (3) 210
3. Denver 62 ... 192
4. (tie) Minnesota 53 ... 156
4. (tie) Wisconsin 53 ... 156
6. St. Cloud State 48 ... 133
7. Minnesota State 38 ... 124
8. Minnesota Duluth 24 ... 78
9. Michigan Tech 14 ... 51
10. Alaska-Anchorage 13 ... 32

Three coaches picked Colorado College goalie Richard Bachman as preseason player of the year, with Denver forward Tyler Bozak, St. Cloud forward Ryan Lasch and Duluth goalie Alex Stalock each getting two votes, and CC forward Chad Rau getting one. North Dakota freshman forward Jason Gregoire and Duluth's Jack Connolly each received three votes for preseason rookie of th year, with two Minnesota players, defenseman Aaron Ness and forward Jordan Schroeder each getting two.

The media picked Rau (14 votes) for player of the year, followed by Bachman (4), Bozak (2), North Dakota's Tyler Bozak (2) and Lasch (2). Rookie honors went to Denver's Joe Colborne (7 votes), followed by Ness (5), Schroeder (5), Wisconsin's Jake Gardiner (2), Gregoire (1), Wisconsin's Derek Stepan (1) and North Dakota's David Toews (1).

The media also picked an all-league team, which ended up: forwards-Rau, Lasch, Duncan; defensemen-Jamie McBain (UW) and Chay Genoway (UND); goalie-Bachman.

In interest of full disclosure, PucKato participated in the media poll, and here was my stab in the dark:

1. Colorado College
2. Denver
3. North Dakota
4. Minnesota State
5. Minnesota
6. St. Cloud State
7. Wisconsin
8. Duluth
9. Michigan Tech
10. Anchorage

Player of the year: Rau ... rookie of the year: Gardiner ... all-conference: Rau, Lasch, MSU's Trevor Bruess up front, Genoway and McBain on D and Bachman in goal (with strong consideration for MSU's Mike Zacharias, but it was hard not to vote for the reigning player of the year).

So what do you think of the Mavericks' seventh spot? I can't say I'm surprised. When you look at the league and last year's finish, it would be hard for most observers to think that Minnesota and Wisconsin would both finish in the lower half of the conference two years in a row.

CC, DU and UND appear to be the strongest teams (although the Sioux must replace Jean-Philippe Lamoureux in goal), and you could probably put MSU, UM, UW and SCSU in a hat and pull them out to fill out a ballot. This seems to be the first year voters haven't overrated Duluth. I just don't see Tech and Anchorage getting out of the cellar.