Saturday, January 31, 2009

Mavericks 3, Gophers 1 - final

The Mavericks score their first-ever weekend sweep of the Gophers and win in Mariucci Arena for the first time since 1999-2000. Zach Harrison sealed the win with an empty-net goal with 12.7 seconds remaining, and goalie Mike Zacharias finished with 29 saves.
A scoreless second period. The Mavericks failed to score during nearly three minutes of 5x3 after Minnesota's Nico Sacchetti and Ryan Stoa were each given a major penalty for checking from behind less than two minutes apart. Those were the fifth and sixth major penalties of the weekend.
Kurt Davis scored a power-play goal and James Gaulrapp had a short-hander as Minnesota State kept up the pressure on Minnesota. The Mavericks outshot the Gophers 12-11. At the 10-minute mark, the scoreboard read 11-3 in favor of Minnesota.
Greetings from Mariucci Arena, site of the series finale between the Mavericks and the Gophers. After Friday's 6-2 win by MSU, the teams are 1-1-1 against each other this season.

As expected, no Trevor Bruess no Channing Boe for the Mavericks. Justin Jokinen is also out. With Boe and Cameron Cooper out with an injuries, Baylor Dieter is in the lineup for the third time. No Brian Schack for the Gophers. Tony Lucia and Nick Larson are also out for Minnesota.

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







Check back often for regular updates from tonight's game.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Mavericks 6, Gophers 2, postscript

It was a crazy, crazy night at the Alltel Center. ... Record crowd of 5,201. ... A five-goal outburst by the Mavericks in the second period that included three breakaway goals, two by Kael Mouillierat and one by Jerad Stewart. ... Four major penalties and two game disqualifications (including one on Trevor Bruess that the referees changed from a game misconduct to a DQ after the game). ... Two rather disgruntled head coaches.

"Emotions were running pretty high," Mavericks junior forward Rylan Galiardi said. "Hockey is a pretty intense sport. I think teams were just trying to protect each other, protect their teammates. No one wants to see guys get hurt."

Jutting had no comment about the change in Bruess' penalty, an excessive roughness/elbowing major in the second period. Bruess will miss Saturday's rematch at Mariucci Arena. Minnesota's Brian Schack will also be out after he jumped Channing Boe from behind midway through the third period after Boe threw a check from behind. Boe, who also got a major, left the ice on a stretcher but was seen on crutches after the game, possibly with a broken ankle.

"The hits we had tonight, I don't know if that's part of hockey, but it was tonight," Gophers coach Don Lucia said. Later, he added, "That didn't look like college hockey out there to me."

About the physical play in general, Jutting said, "Those were two proud hockey teams out there. I thought both teams played pretty physical tonight for the most part."

Mouillierat, Galiardi and Jerad Stewart each had three-point games, and Mike Zacharias made 28 saves in net.

Mavericks 6, Gophers 2, final

That is not a misprint.

Minnesota State scored five goals in the second period, including a short-handed goal by Jerad Stewart with 16.2 seconds left as the Mavericks began killing off a five-minute major by Trevor Bruess.

Kael Mouillierat scored two breakaway goals in the period. Rylan Galiardi scored a power-play goal, and Mike Louwerse also scored for the Mavericks. Galiardi and Louwerse each have three points in the game.
Mick Berge scored a power-play goal at 5:46 -- with 27 seconds remaining in Jake Hansen's five-minute major -- to give the Mavericks a 1-0 lead, but Hansen made up for his mistake by tying the game with a power-play goal of his own at 14:56. It was a low-angle shot from below the left circle that Mike Zacharias probably should have stopped. He appeared to make the save but the puck leaked in behind him.

The Mavericks outshot the Gophers 16-7, although nine of their shots were during the major penalty. Goalie Alex Kangas robbed Kael Mouillierat of a back-door goal early in the penalty.

Mavericks-Gophers (updated)

Tonight's game is sold out. No tickets are available. Not even standing room. I can't wait to see the final tally.

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







Check back throughout the game for updates. The blog won't be live tonight, but there will be between-period updates and possibly others.


Update: Didn't get a chance to talk to him, but I just saw Mavs freshman defenseman Cameron Cooper in the arena. It appears he's out with an injury. I'm not sure if he was originally penciled into the lineup this week, as MSU is putting out its veteran D corps, including Ben Youds for the first time in six games tonight.

Poll results

Here are the results of this week's poll: What is the best road trip in the WCHA?

Madison 25%
Grand Forks 23%
Duluth 17%
Twin Cities 10%
Mankato 7%
Colorado Springs 5%
Houghton 4%
St. Cloud 3%
Denver 1%
Anchorage 1%

Thanks to everyone who participated. Check out the newest poll in the left column.

Friday-morning reading

It's Gopher Day in Mankato, the first time Minnesota has been here since last March's epic playoff series. PucKato thought that would be a good time to take a look at Mavericks junior forward Trevor Bruess, who scored a big goal that weekend, although he'd rather focus on the here and now. The story is not on our Web site, so be sure to grab a copy at your local newsstand or go to our e-edition.

Bruess is also a prospective NHL free agent who opted to return to MSU this season. He said he's not talking about his future right now: "I'm worried about this team (Minnesota State) and how we do. I'm on this team right now. ... I don't want any other distractions. I want to be dedicated to this team.

As for the Gophers, goaltender Alex Kangas has fond memories of last year's playoff series. Sophomore Mike Hoeffel has started to emerge. Minnesota coach Don Lucia, who missed four games earlier this season with an illness finally has a diagnosis: It's called sarcoidosis, and he did a Q&A with the Pioneer Press about it.

Looking around the rest of the WCHA, North Dakota is the league's hottest team but it's Pairwise ranking is still not high enough. The Sioux travel to St. Cloud State, which is getting great production from its freshman class.

In Madison, Wisconsin hosts Minnesota Duluth, which sits just three points behind the Badgers in a tight WCHA race. Badgers sophomore forward Patrick Johnson is trying to get his groove back. Like St. Cloud, Duluth is getting good production from its rookies, something Minnesota State found out last weekend.

In Denver, the Pioneers will be without their coach, George Gwozdecky, who has been suspended for tonight's game they host Alaska-Anchorage, which has been struggling on special teams.

Here are WCHA previews and notebooks from INCH, USCHO and This is the WCHA.

Be sure to check back throughout the day for more posts, including a new poll and in-game updates.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

So long, CHA

College Hockey America is all but dead. The conference, which has just four teams and got a reprieve from the NCAA to keep its automatic bid for one more year, is now seeing its final four teams planning for the future. 

On Wednesday, it was reported that two members, Robert Morris and Niagara, will join Atlantic Hockey in 2010. That leaves Bemidji State and Alabama-Huntsville looking for homes.

Bemidji announced its plans to apply for membership into the WCHA earlier this month when the conference voted to lift its moratorium on expansion. Huntsville said this week that it is applying to the Central Collegiate Hockey Association but also sent a letter of intent to the WCHA saying it will apply to that conference, too.

The WCHA currently has 10 teams, and the CCHA has 12. It will be interesting to see how these conferences might handle an odd number of teams, if there will be some other changes or if the conferences will even allow those schools in at all.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

DU suspends Gwozdecky

Upon further review, the University of Denver decided to suspend coach George Gwozdecky for one game following Saturday's incident in Grand Forks. As it turns out, Gwozdecky communicated with his team via a headset after being ejected from the game. Read DU's statement on the matter here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Gwoz walk

If you haven't seen this yet, it's worth watching. Denver coach George Gwozdecky, livid about a call on Saturday night, jumps up on the dasher boards in front of the bench (something I once saw him do in a game against MSU, by the way) and then takes a walk across the Ralph Englestad Arena ice to talk to a linesman after being penalized and tossed from the game. Here's another clip of it, with a better angle.

Neither the University of Denver nor the WCHA were amused by the stunt, but Gwozdecky was not suspended. Both released statements:

Read the WCHA's release, which also includes the DU statement, here.

Gwozdecky's ejection was his second as Pioneers coach. He was also kicked out of a game against the Sioux three years ago.

We've often seen coaches yell at officials, but Gwozdecky has a signature move of standing up on the boards. I saw it several years ago at Denver. If memory serves, the Mavericks were on a power play and there was Pioneers stick on the ice in the middle of a passing lane. It is/was an interference penalty to shoot an opposing team's stick away, and the Mavericks did just that to clear room for their power play (this seems perfectly reasonable to me -- if everyone on the ice indeed has a stick). There was no call, Gwozdecky appealed for a penalty and, yes, jumped up on the boards to make his case. He wasn't penalized either, but he did fire up the crowd.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Dogs 7, Mavs 4 - final

Mick Berge called it the most frustrating loss of the season. Minnesota State, which had a trend of holding onto third-period leads almost all season, allowed three Duluth goals in a span of 2:32 to blow an important WCHA game.

“That’s the most frustrating loss, yes,” Berge said. “Against a good team like that, to have a two-goal lead, you have to put them away. It’s definitely frustrating. It makes me sick to my stomach.”
0:00 - Mavericks have 32 seconds left on the power play
1:00 - Penalty over
1:55 - MSU penalty ... Canzanello (cross-checking)
5:42 - MSU penalty ... Mouillierat (high stick)
11:32 - UMD goal ... Carroll from Connolly after turnover in the neutral zone, 4-4
12:25 -UMD goal ... Greer rebound in front, 5-4 Dogs
14:04 - UMD goal ... Mike Connolly ... three goals in 2:32. Wow.
20:00 - More later

Mavs-Dogs: Live blog - second period

0:00 - 53 seconds left on MSU's power play
0:31 - MSU goal ... Mouillierat PPG ... slap shot after a UMD giveaway 2-2
1:19 - UMD's Sharp rang one off the post
1:19 - Now MSU penalty .. Bruess (holding)
3:31 - UMD penalty ... Montgomery (interference)
5:52 - Penalty over ... MSU is 2 for 3 on the PP
6:03 - Another chance for the Mavericks as Cascalenda goes off for interference
6:53 - MSU goal ... third PPG ... Galiardi from Berge and Louwerse after a made scramble ... 3-2 Mavs
6:53 - UMD penalty ... Aikens (10-minute misconduct) no power play
7:25 - MSU penalty ... Cooper (holding)
8:49 - MSU goal ... Mouillierat from Irwin ... short-handed ... Irwin took it away from Montgomery in the neutral zone, took in on a 2-on-1, dished to Mouillierat who faked a shot to get Stalock out of position and tucked the puck in from a low angle ... 4-2, Mavs
9:33 - MSU penalty ... Galiardi (goalie interference)
10:10 - Irwin and Fontaine go off (slashing and unsportsmanlike)
11:06 - UMD goal ... PPG ... Montgomery 4-3, Mavs
14:00 - UMD penalty ... Huttel (tripping)
16:51 - No goal but an impressive power play by the Mavs
18:33 - UMD penalty ... Carroll (hooking)
20:00 - End of period ... Shots are 23-20 in favor of UMD

Mavs-Dogs: Live blog - first period

0:00 - Let's play hockey.
3:13 - Berge and Galiardi on a 2 on 1 ... Berge kept it but Stalock poked it away before he could take a shot. Nice play by the goalie.
4:29 - UMD goal ... Jack Connolly (his third of the weekend) ... at the left post after Justin Fontaine shoved the puck over to him as he was falling down. Connolly was left open for the easy goal ... 1-0 Bulldogs
5:03 - UMD penalty... Huttel (holding)
5:37 - And the shutout streak is over: MSU goal ... Louwerse from the left circle through traffic ... PPG from Berge ... 1-1
8:22 - MSU penalty ... Thompson (interference)
9:30 - UMD goal ... PPG ... Meyers (Mike Connolly, Sharp) ... pass skipped across slot to left circle where Meyers, a defenseman moved in for the shot ... Tormey wasn't quick enough getting across ... 2-1, Dogs
14:24 - UMD is outshooting MSU 13-4 ... Bulldogs are blocking a lot of shots
18:53 - UMD penalty ... Cascalenda (tripping)
19:34 - Couple of chances for the Mavs
20:00 - End of period ... 2-1 UMD ... shots are 14-10 in favor of UMD

Mavericks, Bulldogs - Game 2 (updated)

It's mid-afternoon, but I got tonight's lines, and thought I'd post them. Since I had a travel tip for Colorado Springs a couple of weeks ago, I'd better do one for Duluth. If you get a chance to hit Fitger's Brewhouse, it's a must-stop. Mankato needs a place like this. Plus, there's great shopping and people watching at the whole Fitger's complex. Today, there was a cutest puppy contest in honor of the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon that begins up here on Sunday. All in all, it was a good place to be on a frigid January afternoon.

Anyway, on to tonight's MSU lineup: Forward James Gaulrapp and defenseman Baylor Dieter are out, replaced by Andy Sackrison and Nick Canzanello, respectively. It also appears that Dan Tormey will get the nod in net.




M. Connolly-Sharp-Kemp
Fulton-J. Connolly-Fontaine



Friday, January 23, 2009

Bulldogs 4, Mavericks 0

Minnesota Duluth goaltender Alex Stalock stopped 39 shots to shut out Minnesota State 4-0 Friday night at the DECC. It was the sixth consecutive Friday night that the Mavericks went without a win. Unlike a week ago against Alaska-Anchorage, however, they put up a fight this time.

Still, it was the first time the Mavericks had been blanked this season and broke a streak of 54 games with at least one goal.

“We put up a good effort, but we need a win,” said junior forward Kael Mouillierat, who had four shots stopped by Stalock. “We feel better about our game tonight, but it’s the same result. We can’t be satisfied.”

The Mavericks fell a point behind the Bulldogs and back into seventh place in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association standings. Their last series-opening win was Nov. 21 at Michigan Tech.

“Obviously, we’re disappointed in losing, but I thought the kids’ effort was good,” MSU coach Troy Jutting said. “Anytime you get 39 shots on net, you’re doing something right. But you gotta score when you get 39 shots on net.”

MSU-UMD, semi-live blog - third period

0:00 - The Mavericks have a 25-23 shots-on-goal advantage but haven't been able to put anything past Alex Stalock so far.
0:00 - MSU is on its was to its sixth consecutive Friday-night game without a win.
0:00 - We're underway
1:50 - Stalock makes a sprawling save on Mouillierat on a 2-on-1 with Irwin ... UMD takes a penalty on the play
4:03 - Penalty over ... MSU had some good chances
5:36 - UMD goal ... crazy play ... the puck was wrapped around the boards and Zacharias went back to play it ... before he could get to it, the puck took a bad bounce off the Zamboni door and out to the slot where Michael Gergen shot it into an open net ... 4-0, UMD
5:36 - We're in a delay because of a rink problem (not the Zamboni door)
7:14 - Back to live action
9:58 - Bruess penalty (holding)
15:48 - Working on the game story for Saturday's Free Press. Will check back later.

MSU-UMD, semi-live blog - second period

0:00 - And we're underway
4:22 - Zacharias makes a nice save with Jack Connolly right on
4:39 - More scuffling ... Mouillierat (roughing) and Cascalenda (grabbing the facemask) 4x4
5:50- UMD goal ... Jack Connolly ... 3-0, UMD
6:52 - On Connolly's goal, his second of the game ... it appeared he tried to shoot or pass from the left circle, got the shot blocked, got the puck back and went in alone and shot a backhander through Zacharias' legs
7:52 - UMD penalty ... Montgomery (interference)
13:30 - MSU penalty ... Friesen (cross checking)
20:00 - Pretty quiet period ... MSU outshot UMD 14-11 ... Stalock solid again

MSU-UMD, semi-live blog - first period

0:00 - And we're underway
1:53 - We have a scrum in the corner. Penalties coming ...
1:53 - Mouillierat, MSU (roughing), Irwin (charging), MSU and Aikens, UMD (hooking), Huttel, UMD (roughing)
4:05 - MSU penalty ... Harrison (holding)
5:34 - UMD goal, Jack Connolly, PPG ... skated in around Galiardi and Kilburg and fired over Zacharias' shoulder on the near (stick) side ... 1-0, UMD
6:27 - UMD penalty ... Greer (cross-checking)
7:30 - And there goes the final minute of MSU's PP, as Bruess goes to the box for interference in the attacking zone
7:49 - And now UMD goes back to the box ... 4x3 for MSU
8:37 - MSU doesn't score 4x3, now it's 4x4
9:40 - Both teams miss great scoring chances ... MSU on a short PP
10:00 - Penalties are over; shots are 9-1 MSU according to the scoreboard
12:00 - UMD goal, Fulton (unassisted) after the Mavericks turned over the puck trying to clear the zone ... 2-0, UMD
14:39 - We have another skirmish: Cooper for MSU and Fulton for UMD ... double minors for both
15:39 - Shots are now 10-9, UMD
20:00 - End of the period ... 2-0, UMD ... Shots are 12-11 for UMD ... Stalock's been real solid

Greetings from the DECC

Here are tonight's lines:




Extra players: Canzanello, Sackrison

M. Connolly-Sharp-Kemp
Fulton-J. Connolly-Fontaine



Poll results

For the record, here are the results of last week's first PucKato poll: If Bemidji State joins the WCHA, who else would you like to see in the league?

Nebraska-Omaha 54%
Air Force 20%
Northern Michigan 16%
Other 4%
Alabama-Huntsville 2%

Thanks to the 101 people who voted. Of course, Omaha and Air Force don't appear to be interested in joining the WCHA. Those of you who voted "other," who do you like?

Check out PucKato's latest poll at left.

Friday-morning reading

Good morning. PucKato is getting ready to hit the road north to Duluth. In the meantime, here are some notes on this weekend's series between MSU and UMD, as well as some news on what else is happening around the WCHA. Be sure to check back during tonight's game for some of PucKato's almost-famous plausibly live blogging.

First of all, the Mavericks will be without defenseman Ben Youds and forward Jason Wiley this weekend, coach Troy Jutting said. As for the players who were benched last Saturday, only Mike Louwerse is back in the lineup tonight, although Andy Sackrison and Nick Canzanello are on the trip. Sackrison spent some practice time playing defense this week, as MSU nursed some bumps and bruises on the blue line.

In today's Free Press, you can read about the Mavericks' (true) freshman class, which hasn't made a huge splash this season but got a big boost last week when all six rookies were in the lineup in a must-win against Alaska-Anchorage. While that group has its future ahead of it, Duluth senior Nick Kemp is realizing that his career is winding down.

St. Cloud State is at Colorado College this weekend, which means Huskies defenseman Chris Hepp is returning to Colorado Springs, where his career started (at Air Force). For CC, goaltender Richard Bachman goes through his gameday routine with The Gazette.

If it's the second half of the season, it must mean North Dakota is ratcheting things up. The Sioux have a big series at home against first-place Denver. If the teams' last meeting in Grand Forks is any indication, the Sioux and the Pioneers don't like each other very much.

At the bottom of the WCHA, Alaska-Anchorage hosts Michigan Tech. For the Seawolves, goaltending has not been as consistent as in years past. For the Huskies, they have been devastated by injuries this season and will take all 21 healthy bodies to Alaska this weekend.

Minnesota and Wisconsin are off this weekend.

Here are league previews by INCH (including a look at MSU's goaltending situation), USCHO and This is the WCHA.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Could another 'C' be in Backes' future?

Former MSU captain David Backes has stepped up his game over the last couple of weeks for the St. Louis Blues, and some of his teammates are wondering if he'll be a team captain someday.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Top 20

The Mavericks received votes in this week's poll, but remained out of the top 20. Here are this week's rankings (WCHA teams in bold). College Sports Division I rankings
1. Notre Dame (38)
2. Boston University (7)
3. Cornell (5)
4. Denver
5. Northeastern
6. Minnesota
7. Vermont
8. Michigan
9. Princeton
10. Miami
11. New Hampshire
12. Ohio State
13. Colorado College
14. Boston College
15. North Dakota
16. Wisconsin
17. Minnesota Duluth
18. Dartmouth
19. Alaska
20. Air Force
Others receiving votes: Nebraska-Omaha, Yale, Minnesota State, Quinnipiac, RIT, Maine, Union, Michigan State, St. Lawrence, St. Cloud State, UMass, Niagara

Get your boot on!

It was a good morning in Mankato. Members of the MSU athletic department put on their annual Martin Luther King Day boot hockey game at Thomas Park near Mankato East High School. About 20 people were out on the ice, slipping and sliding and trying to score goals. It reminded me about something the comedian Denis Leary said about people who get depressed in the winter months: "That's why we invented hockey and skiing." Everyone, myself included, needs to get outside more in the winter and enjoy it, whether it's boot hockey, skiing, snowshoeing, sledding or just getting a little cold, fresh air in your lungs for a bit.

By the way, PucKato had two goals, one assist and a near-concussion when I fell and banged my head on the ice. I'm OK, and I'll be back next year.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

1,000 words

Free Press photo by Pat Christman

Here are about 600 more.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

MSU 7, UAA 1 - final

0:00 - MSU starts with 48 seconds of 5x3
0:30 - MSU goal, Mouillierat 5x3 PPG from Galiardi and Davis
6:49 - MSU penalty, Kilburg (hooking)
8:32 - MSU penalty, Boe (slashing)
13:12 - The Mavericks are trying hard to get Harrison another hat trick
13:20 - MSU penalty, Stewart (holding)
14:07 - Attendance 4,965. Wow, nearly 5,000 for an Anchorage game and after last night's performance to boot
15:07 - UAA goal, Crowder PPG, no shutout for Zacharias. He stopped the first 24 shots ... 5-1 MSU
17:02 - Some frustration out there, and a bunch of guys are going to the box. This one's over, folks. Unless something weird happens, I'll be writing tomorrow's story for The Free Press the rest of the way and will try to check back later.
20:00 - Tyler Thompson and James Gaulrapp add PPGs late. Harrison gets another assist for a four-point game

MSU-UAA live blog - second period

0:00 - MSU will start the period with 45 seconds of PP time
1:00 - Power play over ... no chances
5:43 - MSU penalty ... Berge (hooking)
6:10 - Harrison and Gaulrapp miss short-handed chances
6:48 - MSU penalty after a UAA chance ... Cooper (holding) ... 5x3 for 55 seconds
8:07 - One penalty over
8:49 - MSU goal ... Harrison (unassisted) ... shot into empty net after Olthius had played the puck out of the corner ... 2-0 MSU
9:59 - UAA penalty ... Crowder (tripping)
11:10 - That was a pretty good segment for MSU - kill of a 5x3, then get a goal on a UAA mistake
11:57 - Nice chance by Bruess on PP
11:57 - Now a skirmish with several players ... Stewart has his helmet off as he goes with Clark
11:57 - Sorting off the penalties: for MSU, Stewart and Bruess ; for UAA Clark and Backstrom; all get unsportsmanlike conduct
13:57 - MSU goal ... Berge from Mueller and Harrison ... shot from the left wing, quick shot to the far post, 3-0 MSU
14:16 - Bruess and Lunden go to the box 4x4
15:22 - MSU goal, Harrison from Kilburg and Friesen, 4-0, MSU
16:10 - UAA penalty ... Backstrom (slashing the goalie)
18:47 - UAA penalty ... Aiken (hooking)
20:00 - UAA penalty LaFranchise (cross-checking) ... that could have been a check from behind
20:00 - MSU 4, UAA 0 ... Where was this team last night?


MSU-UAA live blog - first period

0:00 - And we're underway
3:55 - No shots on goal so far. Yawn.
5:56 - Baylor Dieter's first shift as a college player
7:44 - UAA penalty ... Haddad (interference)
8:57 - MSU penalty ... Davis (hooking) ... on a short-handed chance
10:00 - UAA on the PP
11:00 - Penalty killed
11:56 - UAA penalty ... Crowder (hooking)
13:17 - Great chance for MSU ... Thompson off the post
13:29 - MSU penalty ... Stewart (interference)
14:20 - UAA on the PP
15:38 - Penalty killed ... now there's a little scuffle behind the net ... Harrison and Haddad off for roughing
17:36 - MSU goal ... Irwin, rebound of a Davis shot ... 1-0, MSU
18:45 - MSU buzzing now ... UAA penalty ... Clark (slashing)
19:20 - Zacharias makes a save on SH chance
20:00 - Olthius one-ups Zacharis, diving across the crease to stop a Mouillierat one-timer on the PP
20:00 - 1-0, MSU end of one

Sweeping changes

Mike Louwerse, Andy Sackrison, Jason Wiley and Nick Canzanello are out. Joe Schiller, Justin Jokinen, Tyler Thompson and Baylor Dieter are in. The Mavericks coaching staff made about as many lineup changes as possible for tonight's game after Friday's less-than-enthusiastic effort. Mike Zacharias will start in goal.

With Ben Youds still out with an injury, Dieter, a freshman defenseman from Bloomington, is making his collegiate debut. He wears No. 8. The Mavericks will have six true freshmen in the lineup, including Jokinen, Schiller, Thompson and Adam Mueller up front and Dieter and Cameron Cooper on D.

Here are tonight's lines:







Keep checking the blog throughout the night for more on tonight's game.

UNO won't make it a dozen

Despite an overwhelming endorsement by PucKato readers (see poll at left), Nebraska-Omaha won't be the WCHA's 12th team if the league indeeds lets in Bemidji State and another team in the future. Sounds like the school was approached by the WCHA, however, and, perhaps Northern Michigan, which was a league member until 1997, was, too.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Seawolves 4, Mavericks 2

Not a good night for the Mavericks, who didn't play with any urgency in the third period when the game was tied 2-2. James Gaulrapp, who worked hard to get an assist on the Mavericks' second goal, said Anchorage played like they might be satisfied with a tie when, suddenly, Josh Lunden redirected a pass over Dan Tormey's shoulder with 3:38 to goal. That was it. Game over.

"We were a step too late," Gaulrapp said. "The urgency wasn't quite there."

A win would have put Minnesota State into sixth place in the league standings and within striking distance of fourth, maybe third. Instead, they're stuck in a tie for seventh with just a two-point edge over Anchorage and perhaps watching a season of great expectations start to slip away. They have just one victory in their last seven conference games.

"Obviously, these are important games," coach Troy Jutting said. "It's one of those games that you're either going to learn from or you're going to be in trouble."

Anchorage not only snapped a five-game losing streak for the season but it broke a six-game winless streak against Minnesota State.

"That was a great win for our guys," Seawolves coach Dave Shyiak said. "I think our league is so tight; there's such an ebb and flow. Tonight, we finally got some bounces, and the guys were rewarded for their efforts."

For more, please check out Saturday's edition of The Free Press.

Plausibly live blogging, third period

0:00 - And we're underway
6:14 - Pretty quiet period so far ... MSU has one SOG
8:52 - UAA 2-on-1 foiled when Lunden broke his stick
15:09 - Does anyone want to win this?
16:22 - UAA goal ... Lunden, pass from Clark ... 3-2 UAA
20:00 - Sorry for the delay ... Grant adds an empty-net goal ... 4-2 Seawolves

Plausibly live blogging, second period

0:00 - and we're underway
1:00 - Bruess is back
4:23 - MSU goal ... Bruess from Berge and Gaulrapp ... 2-1 MSU
5:30 - Tormey tough save on Clark
6:04 - That was Bruess' 10th goal of the year ... He cut down the middle alone and Berge fed him a perfect pass from behind the net
6:23 - MSU penalty ... Cooper (hooking)
7:24 - UAA penalty ... Robinson (slashing) ... after a short-handed chance by Galiardi
7:58 - MSU penalty ... Friesen (slashing) ... during a breakaway
8:32 - UAA goal ... Hunt during a 4x3 PP ... 2-2
10:30 - UAA penalty ... too many men
11:20 - MSU gets some good chances on the PP ... 1:10 left
11:24 - MSU penalty ... Bruess (tripping)
13:29 - Penalties over
14:49 - Well, not really ... MSU penalty ... Kilburg (checking from behind)
20:00 - end of period ... SOG 10-5, MSU

Plausibly live blogging, first period

0:00 - And we're underway.
3:56 - Shots are 3-0 MSU ... not a lot of action so far.
4:00 - And just as I say that, MSU penalty ... Canzanello (slashing)
6:27 - Penalty killed ... two SOG
7:53 - Tormey makes a nice save on Tommy Grant (13 goals this season) all alone in front
8:47 - UAA goal Josh Lunden, walks in all alone after an MSU turnover in the D-zone ... 1-0 UAA
11:45 - Shots are 6-4, UAA ... MSU looks like they're lacking energy
17:13 - Looking for Trevor Bruess ... injured perhaps
19:00 - UAA penalty ... Wiles (hooking)
19:32 - MSU PP goal ... Louwerse, easy tap-in on rebound of Davis shot ... 1-1
20:00 - Mouillierat also assisted on the goal ... it's Louwerse's 10th goal of the season
20:00 - end of period ... 1-1 ... SOG 9-7 MSU

Mavericks-Seawolves, pregame

Keep checking back for PucKato's plausibly live blogging during tonight's game. For now, here are tonight's lines:







I want answers

Check out PucKato's latest poll in the column at left. If you answer "other" or have any other comments on WCHA expansion, please put them in the comments section of this post.

Friday-morning reading

The Mavericks will host Alaska-Anchorage tonight. A couple of notes: Dan Tormey will start in goal again, giving him back-to-back starts for the first time since early in the 2006-07 season. Defenseman Ben Youds remains out with a knee injury, but forward Mike Louwerse, who had to leave last Saturday's game at CC, is back in the lineup. Full lines will be posted during tonight's plausibly live blog.

In today's Mankato Free Press, you can read about senior defenseman Blake Friesen, who, like the other four seniors, knows that the end is near. Can Friesen be this year's R.J. Linder? Also in the Freep, MSU athletic director Kevin Buisman comments on Thursday's WCHA moratorium vote.

As for the Seawolves, sophomore forward Tommy Grant is on pace to be the team's first 20-goal scorer in five years and its second in the last 12.

Minnesota and St. Cloud State will play a home-and-home series this weekend, and Don Lucia will be back behind the Gophers' bench. He does not have cancer, but something is squeezing a nerve in his head and he's still waiting for an exact diagnosis. St. Cloud Times writer Kevin Allenspach says Lucia's health reminds us that it's just a game. The Times also tells the secret to forward John Swanson's smooth skating. By the way check out the sweet throwback jerseys St. Cloud State will be wearing (fixed) Saturday night, which will be part of Hockey Day Minnesota (once again, Mankato is left out).

North Dakota, which thumped Minnesota last week will now face a different challenge, going to last-place Michigan Tech, which beat the Sioux in a nonconference game during a holiday tournament. The Huskies certainly remember that, too, although they continue to suffer injuries like no other team.

This weekend's best matchup might be in Wisconsin where the second-place Badgers will host third-place Colorado College. Wisconsin, which may be one of the WCHA's most perplexing teams, looks like it has a favorable schedule for the stretch run. Capital Times writer Todd Milewski discovered a Pairwise "ifs and buts" machine (if I did it right, changing MSU's four losses to St. Cloud State and Denver into series splits puts the Mavericks into 15th in the Pairwise instead of out of the rankings completely). Meanwhile, this series is always a homecoming for CC coach Scott Owens, a Madison native.

Slumping Minnesota Duluth is playing a nonconference series, but its opponent, Bemidji State, will be trying to prove more than ever that it belongs in the WCHA.

Here are WCHA previews from, INCH and This is the WCHA.

All of my time in hockey arenas have led me to ponder what the best hockey songs are. There's "The Good Ol' Hockey Game," a staple at the Alltel Center and, of course the "Ole" song adopted by the Mavericks. Every rink seems to play "Welcome to the Jungle" or "Enter Sandman." What do you think? What are your favorites? What should be played? What shouldn't? If you're in need of an example, you just might hear an interesting version of the "Zamboni Song" or get several other ideas tonight at McGoff's where friends of PucKato, Fish Frye, will be playing, I'm told, before and after the game. It will be the season's second Fish Frye Hockey Show. What that means, well, you'll have to stop down to find out. I'm guessing, since the Mavericks are playing the Seawolves, that the Frye will pull out their extraordinary verion of Michelle Shocked's "Anchorage." (How many other hockey blogs out there are going to give you a Michelle Shocked reference? Only PucKato.)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Door opened for Bemidji?

Representatives from the WCHA voted to lift the moratorium on expansion Thursday, which will allow schools to apply for membership. Undoubtedly, this means Bemidji State will make a pitch to join the league during the conference meetings this April in Florida. Minnesota State was the last school to join the league, becoming a full member in 1999. MSU athletic director Kevin Buisman was at today's meeting, which was held in conjunction with the NCAA Convention in Washington, D.C. I'm hoping to reach him today and should have more on the blog later or in Friday's Free Press.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Dorr chooses MSU (updated)

Just thought I'd add a link to today's Free Press story, which includes quotes from Dorr and Mavericks coach Troy Jutting.

It's great to see some comments here but am surprised that this move seems so controversial. It's not common, but it's also not unusual to see transfers within the league for multiple reasons. One of Colorado College's best players, Eric Walsky, transferred to CC from Alaska-Anchorage. St. Cloud State has three players who started their college careers at different schools, including Brent Borgen, who played two years with the Gophers.

It happens; this is just the first time that MSU has been the destination. Dorr, I think, saw the writing on the wall at Minnesota and decided it would be best to go elsewhere if he wanted to play hockey. It happens. Seems like a nice pickup for the Mavericks right now, too. As for his original commitment to Minnesota Duluth, he did that as a high school junior and, frankly, I'm stunned that kids who do that at that age don't change their minds more often.
Former Minnesota player Michael Dorr has enrolled at Minnesota State and was at All Seasons Arena dressed in a Mavericks hoodie Wednesday afternoon. Dorr, a freshman, played just two games (including one against MSU) for the Gophers and opted to transfer during the semester break. While he'll be able to practice with the Mavericks, he can't play games for one calendar year, meaning he'll be eligible in January, 2010.

Dorr, a Roseville High School graduate, played on the same line as current MSU freshman and "best buddy" Adam Mueller. They grew up near each other and played together since they were in Squirts. During his senior season (2006-07), Dorr earned all-state honors, was a Mr. Hockey finalist and was the Star Tribune's Metro Player of the Year. The 5-foot-10, 175-pound forward played junior hockey for the Des Moines Buccaneers in the United States Hockey League last season.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Bruggeman makes Fargo debut

Dan Tormey wasn't the only Mankato goalie to have some patience pay off over the weekend. Former Mankato West High School goaltender Tyler Bruggeman made his debut for the United States Hockey League's Fargo Force Saturday night in Lincoln, Neb.

Bruggeman, who opted to forgo his senior year at West for the chance to play Junior A hockey, waited more than half a season before getting a chance to get in a game. He stopped 37 of 41 shots in a 4-3 loss to the USHL West Division's first-place team.

In an e-mail from Bruggeman's dad, Dave, it was a tough, racuous atmosphere at the Icebox with "4,610 rowdy fans in an old barn." "(Tyler) was pretty disappointed after the game, but still excited. Said he absolutely loved the taunting he got throughout the game. Might be one of the best hockey atmospheres I have experienced."

The return of Dan Tormey

Associated Press photo

As promised ...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

MSU 3, CC 1 - final

Here is the story that will run in Sunday's Free Press, with a few extra comments that weren't able to get in the paper. Also, look for more on Dan Tormey's return to the nets in Monday's paper.

By Shane Frederick
Free Press Staff Writer

COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO. – Remember all of that grit and heart the Minnesota State men’s hockey team thought went missing Friday night? Perhaps the airline lost it with a little luggage somewhere between Mankato and the Rocky Mountains.

If so, it was delivered to the Mavericks on Saturday at the World Arena, as they defeated No. 10 Colorado College 3-1 to snap a five-game Western Collegiate Hockey Association skid.

“That’s the way we need to play,” Mavericks coach Troy Jutting said. “From start to finish.”

Rylan Galiardi had two assists and scored the game-clinching empty-net goal, and goaltender Dan Tormey stopped 27 of 28 shots for his first win since Nov. 3, 2007.

“I think we just said, ‘Enough is enough,’” Galiardi said. “We really brought it tonight. We know we have the potential and the talent, but that’s not enough. You have to bring it.”

The Mavericks (10-10-3, 6-8-2 in WCHA) killed off six of seven Colorado College penalties by blocking shots, clearing rebounds and winning battles along the boards.

“I can honestly say every guy stepped up tonight and played the way they needed to play,” Galiardi said.

Mick Berge and Jason Wiley each scored a goal off Galiardi passes, giving the Mavericks a 2-0 lead through two periods.

Tormey, who was starting for the struggling Mike Zacharias for the second time this season and the second time in four games, was rock solid, and had a shutout bid going until about 7 1/2 minutes remained in the game.

“Whey my teammates are playing well, it elevates my game, and when I’m playing well, I think it elevates their game,” Tormey said.

Tormey showed that his glove hand didn’t have any rust when he swiped a Chad Rau tip-in try early in the second period.

“He made all the stops he’s supposed to stop and made a couple he’s not supposed to get,” Jutting said. “He’s a good goaltender.”

The Mavericks allowed three power-play goals in Friday’s 5-2 loss to the Tigers. But they killed off five penalties, including a minute-long 5-on-3, over the first 40 minutes Saturday and added a sixth kill early in the third period before Stephen Schultz finally scored.

"Last night, we didn't do the little, extra things," Jutting said. "Tonight we did. ... The difference between tonight and last night is we had every guy play that way."

Berge, the Mavericks’ senior captain, scored a power-play goal at 5:20 of the first period for a 1-0 lead. Berge, who snapped a nine-game goalless streak, fired in Galiardi’s pass out of the corner from the high slot. Nick Canzanello also assisted on the goal.

At 3:47 of the second period, Wiley shot in a Galiardi centering pass past goalie Richard Bachman, who ended up with 28 saves. Defenseman Kurt Davis also assisted on Wiley’s goal, giving him a team-high 18 helpers on the season.

Galiardi sealed the win, the Mavericks’ first since Nov. 22 at Michigan Tech, with 40.2 seconds remaining in the game.

Earlier in the game, Galiardi had a potential power-play goal waved off after it was ruled he played it with a high stick. On Friday, Bachman made two top-notch saves against him.

"I felt a little scared on the empty-netter," Galiardi said. "But it felt good. The night before, I had a lot of chances. Tonight I had a disallowed goal. It felt really good, not because it was a goal but because it ended the game. It felt good to clinch it like that."

Notes: Freshman Mike Louwerse went hard into the boards and was banged up late in the second period and did not return.

Game 2 semi-live blogging - third period

0:00 ... MSU is 5-1-1 when leading after two periods
00:05 ... MSU penalty, Stewart (tripping)
3:18 ... Good kill
4:29 ... I think the Mavericks would be more comfortable with one more goal right now
8:30 ... Tormey takes a shot off the mask
8:37 ... CC penalty, Gannon (roughing)
10:24 ... Couple chances on PP; Gaulrapp missed a wide-open net
12:18 ... MSU penalty, Davis (tripping)
12:36 ... CC goal PP Schultz tip-in on the back door from Connelly - 2-1 MSU
18:30 ... CC calls timeout; will have a faceoff in the MSU end
18:30 ... CC net empty
19:19 ... MSU goal, Galiardi, empty net 3-1, MSU

Game 2 semi-live blogging - second period

0:00 ... CC starts the period with 1:28 to go on Bruess' penalty
1:28 ... Penalty killed
3:47 ... MSU goal, Wiley from Galiardi, nice pass across for a one-time shot, 2-0 MSU
6:40 ... Good shift by Galiardi, Stewart and Gaulrapp
6:59 ... Tormey big glove save on a tip-in try by Chad Rau
8:28 ... CC penalty, Dineen (holding)
9:11 ... MSU PP goal, Galiardi redirect from Davis
9:11 ... Under review -- no goal, high stick
11:02 ... Penalty over; good PP
11:04 ... Another chance -- CC penalty DeBoer (slashing)
13:58 ... MSU really buzzing now
13:58 ... Canzanello and CC's Tyler Johnson go to the box for roughing
14:14 ... Both guys get double minors
15:19 ... MSU penalty, Mueller (tripping)
16:38 ... Tormey makes a nice save, on Testwuide tip-in try
17:26 ... Penalty killed, but MSU iced the puck so there are some tired bodies out there
18:44 ... The semi-live blogging will slow a bit in the third due to writing for the paper
19:38 ... MSU ices the puck; faceoff in their own end
20:00 ... end of the period; MSU leads 2-0; shots are 20-18, MSU

Game 2 semi-live blogging - first period

Pregame warmups have begun. See the previous post for tonight's lines.

MSU-Tormey, Davis, Kilburg, Mueller, Bruess, Stewart
CC-Bachman, Proser, Fredheim, Schultz, Vlassopoulos, Walsky

0:00 ... and we're underway.
3:30 ... Jake Gannon big hit on Trevor Bruess
3:30 ... CC penalty, Walsky (interference)
4:59 ... Couple shots on PP so far; lots of color out on the ice -- Mavs in purple, Tigers in gold
5:20 ... MSU PP goal -- Mick Berge one-timer from Rylan Galiardi and Nick Canzanello, 1-0 MSU
6:44 ... MSU penalty, Canzanello (holding the stick)
8:44 ... Penalty killed -- couple of blocked shots; Tormey big save on Mike Testwuide
10:00 .. Shots 5-4, MSU
12:43 ... MSU penalty, Gaulrapp (holding)
13:44 ... MSU penalty, Bruess (charging); CC has a 5x3 for 59 seconds
15:59 ... MSU kills the penalties, allows just one SOG
16:45 ... CC penalty, Overman (tripping)
17:09 ... Mike Louwerse hurts himself missing a check, comes off the ice on his own power
18:09 ... Penalty over; terrible PP, no SOG
19:18 ... I'll be on KTOE with Mike Sullivan between periods
19:27 ... MSU penalty, Bruess (holding)
19:35 ... CC goal; no goal hand pass
20:00 ... Mavericks avoid near disaster at the end of the period. MSU leads 1-0; SOG 9-7 CC

Mavericks-Tigers, Game 2 (updated)

Here are tonight's lines:




Not dressed: Youds, Sackrison




Getting ready to head on over to the World Arena, but here are a few rumblings from today ...

Dan Tormey will get the start in goal tonight in place of Mike Zacharias. Could this mean we're going to a platoon system for a spell? ... Defenseman Ben Youds (knee) is out tonight; freshman Cameron Cooper will take his place. ... Another rookie, forward Justin Jokinen, will be in the lineup, likely in place of Andy Sackrison.

Check this posting later for tonight's lines. PucKato will be semi-live blogging again tonight.

MSU women swept

Bemidji State completed a series sweep of Minnesota State on Saturday afternoon, winning 4-1. The Beavers won Friday's game 2-1. Those were the Mavericks' first two games since coach Jeff Vizenor stepped down as coach and was reassigned in the athletic department, and they were the first two wins in conference play for Bemidji this season. The Mavericks are now winless in their last 10 games.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Tigers 5, Mavericks 2 - postmortem

Here is Friday's game story for The Free Press, with some additional reaction that was not able to make it into Saturday morning's paper:

By Shane Frederick
Free Press Staff Writer

COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO. -- Frustration is beginning to set in for the Minnesota State men’s hockey team.

“More than ever,” senior defenseman Blake Friesen said after Friday’s 5-2 loss to No. 10 Colorado College at the World Arena. “For a team with this much potential, it makes no sense for us to lose seven out of eight games. ...

"We have to figure it out soon, very soon."

The Mavericks (9-10-3, 5-8-2 in WCHA) have lost five consecutive conference games in that stretch.

“We’re not playing as hard as we can,” said Friesen, a defenseman, who scored the Mavericks’ second goal. “We’re not playing the Maverick style that we’ve played in the past that’s wore down teams.”

Instead, it was Colorado College that wore down the Mavericks, thanks to three power-play goals. The Tigers have scored eight power-play goals in three games against MSU this season. But they finally scored an even-strength goal Friday, getting two from junior forward Brian McMillin.

McMillin’s first goal, at 12:32 of the second period, stood as the game-winner, and it was a killer.

With the game tied 2-2 after Friesen first goal of the season at 5:10 of the second period, McMillin finished off a play that started after the Mavericks’ Andy Sackrison partially fanned on an open shot at the other end of the rink. McMillin scored his other goal in the third period.

“We miss a wide-open shot in the middle of the zone, and they end up with a 3-on-1 on it,” Mavericks coach Troy Jutting said.

Five minutes after that goal, Tigers winger Stephen Schultz blew a power-play shot by goalie Mike Zacharias from the hash marks for a 4-2 lead.

Zacharias stopped 24 of 29 shots. At the beginning of the game, he looked like he had returned to the form that helped the Mavericks beat the Tigers 2-1 back on Oct. 14. He kept the Mavericks in the game early with a trio of amazing saves, including two on Eric Walsky and one on Mike Testwuide who was trying to finish off a short-handed 2-on-1 rush with Chad Rau midway through the period.

That led to a Kael Mouillierat power-play goal at 11:59 that put the Mavericks up 1-0.

But a pair of back-to-back hooking penalties by Mouillierat and Mike Louwerse led gave Colorado College life, and it scored on both power plays, first by Andreas Vlassopoulos at 15:25 and then by Tyler Johnson exactly one minute later to take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission.

Zacharias appeared to get a piece of both shots, but the pucks trickled in over the goal line behind him.

"Mike's better than that," Jutting said. "He's played better than that."

But Jutting wasn't happy with the entire penalty-killing unit.

"On two of their power-play goals, we cheated and they caught us on it," he said. "You gotta stay sound, and we cheated."

Meanwhile, Tigers goalie Richard Bachman was solid, as usual, making 31 saves, including a top-notch save on Rylan Galiardi in the first period after Galiardi coaxed him about 10 feet out of his crease. Geoff Irwin also put a breakaway shot "right in his breadbasket."

"You gotta out-wit him on your shot," Irwin said.

The Mavericks penalty problems didn't just result in power-play goals. A Zach Harrison interference penalty behind the net midway through the second period was called just as James Gaulrapp shot in a puck that would have put MSU up 3-2.

Notes: Minnesota State athletic director Kevin Busiman is on the trip. He said he did some skiing on Wedneday and Thursday and will be at an MSU alumni event during today’s game. … Mavericks defenseman Ben Youds (knee) left the game early in the second period with an injury. Jutting said he wasn't sure the extent of the injury. "It hurt losing Ben Youds early in the game," Jutting said. "It's hard with five defensemen, especially with the speed (the Tigers) have got." … The Tigers (12-6-5, 8-5-2) snapped a stretch of Friday-night futility with the win; they had not won a series opener since Oct. 17, a stretch of nine games (0-5-4). At the end of the game, the arena's PA announcer annouced that the jinx was over.

It's been a long day folks. I left Mankato around 8 a.m., checked into the hotel around 5 p.m. local time and now it's nearly midnight in Minnesota. Time for a Fat Tire and a good night's sleep.

Semi-live blog - third period

0:00 ... By the way the MSU women's team, playing without coach Jeff Vizenor for the first time in 7 1/2 years, lost to Bemidji State 2-1 Friday. It was Bemidji's first win in WCHA play this season.
4:52 ... another McMillin even-strength goal, 5-2 CC
16:08 ... It's been a pretty quiet period. No penalties. Now they're reviewing a potential goal by the Mavericks' Jerad Stewart
16:08 ... No goal
16:08 ... If the score stands, this will be CC's first Friday-night win since Oct. 17. They've gone 0-5-4 in series openers since then.
16:43 ... The period's first penalty. MSU's Canzanello, holding
19:40 ... Harrison and Irwin have been booted from the rink
19:40 ... Harrison gets a 5-minute major and a game misconduct for a check from behind; Irwin and a CC player for cross-checking
20:00 ... Game over

Semi-live blog - second period

0:00 ... And we're underway
2:07 ... Bachman great save on Irwin
2:53 ... CC penalty, Lampl (tripping); Youds hurt and left the rink
5:10 ... penalty killed; then MSU goal Friesen big shot from the right point, 2-2
7:29 ... Just heard a cover of Cameo's "Word Up" during a break. Not good.
9:28 ... MSU had a would-be goal taken away because of a penalty by Harrison (interference) behind the play; here comes the CC power play
11:00 ... Johnson hits the crossbar
12:32 ... CC goal McMillin, finishes the rush that started after Sackrison fanned on a shot at the other end 3-2, CC
12:32 ... Under review ... actually the Johnson crossbar shot was under review, no goal; still 3-2
13:47 ... The goal was McMillin from DeBoer and Dineen. It's the first even-strength goal that CC has scored against MSU this season.
16:50 ... MSU penalty, Bruess, holding the stick
17:35 ... CC scores its third PPG, this one by Stephen Schultz, 4-2 CC
20:00 ... The live blogging will slow down in the third period as I concentrate on the story for the print edition

Semi-live blog - first period

Keep checking this posting for regular updates on tonight's MSU-CC game.

-25:20 ... Tonight's referees are Don Adam and Pete Friesema. Linesmen are Greg Rockenback and Scott Staudte
-14:00 ... It's a pretty quiet World Arena right now. We'll see if this can fill up by gametime.
-6:00 ... Team introduction time. Zacharias and Bachman in goal, of course.
-5:00 ... MSU starters: Zacharias, Boe, Youds, Galiardi, Bruess, Stewart
-3:40 ... CC starters: Bachman, Guentzel, Gannon, Schultz, Rau, Testwuide

First period
0:00 ... And we're underway
1:30 ... MSU hasn't had the puck in the CC end yet.
1:42 ... MSU penalty, Gaulrapp interference
1:58 ... CC penalty, Connelly, holding, prevented a Kael Mouillierat short-handed chance
4:00 ... We're at full strength
4:38 ... Zacharias nice glove save on Walsky in on open shot
5:50 ... Another great save on Walsky, this time on a 2-on-1 with Hall
6:49 ... Harrison has a chance, but Bachman saves the slap shot
7:41 ... Shots are 7-4 in favor of CC
10:45 ... CC penalty, Dineen, boarding, a hit on Ben Youds
11:18 ... Zacharias big save on Testwuide, short-handed 2-on-1 chance with Rau
11:59 ... MSU goal, Mouillierat on the power play, wrist shot over Bachman's glove, 1-0
12:30 ... Canzanello on the assist; the PA announcer called him Karl Mouillierat
14:32 ... Irwin looked like he had a goal, but it was ruled off the pipe, Mouillirat gets called for hookiing
15:25 ... CC scores on the PP. Zacharias got a piece of it and it trickled in, 1-1
15:52 ... Vlassopoulos from Connelly and Guentzel
15:52 ... MSU penalty, Louwerse, hooking
16:25 ... CC scores another PPG. Zacharias again got a piece and it squirted in under his arm, 2-1 CC
16:25 ... Under review
16:25 ... And it's a goal; Johnson from Walsky and Lampl
17:42 ... Bachman makes an amazing save on Galiardi
20:00 ... CC leads 2-1; shots on goal are 12-11 in favor of MSU; live blogging's stressing me out

Hello again

It's about an hour before game time. Here are tonight's lines:




Extra players (not dressed): Cooper, Jokinen




Greetings from the Springs

Hello from snowy Colorado Springs, Colo. I'll be heading over to the World Arena in just a bit. First, here's a travel tip: If you're staying in the hotels around the rink -- either this week or in the future (WCHA playoffs, perhaps?) and don't want to eat at the vast assortment of chain restaurants, may I recommend Old World Bagel & Deli. I'm now enjoying a spicy Reuben and potato salad right now. Outstanding. The place reminds me of the now-defunct Bagel Bros. in Mankato, which was on Cherry St., just across from Free Press World Headquarters. I miss that place.

Game-day reading (updated)

The roads weren't too bad, and I made it to the airport with plenty of time to spare. So I'm adding to the hockey reading list. Check for the additions below.
Getting ready to leave Mankato for the MSP airport but needed to get a couple of things on the blog before departure.

One thing to keep in mind: PucKato will be updated regularly tonight -- call it almost-live blogging, maybe -- during this weekend's games. Look for the first posts about an hour before gametime (provided I get into Colorado Springs on time), and I'll plan on doing more than just the usual between-period posts.

Now, on to this morning's papers ...

First, the Mavericks are hoping the same kind of second-half surge they've been known for over the last few years. Meanwhile, Colorado College is still mixing and matching its lines as it tries to improve its offense, and Gazette columnist David Ramsey ponders whether the Tigers hit bottom during December.

Updated: Minnesota is at North Dakota without coach Don Lucia, although fab freshman Jordan Schroder is back. As for the Sioux, their well-decorated captain Ryan Duncan has always been surrounded by good hockey people, including Sidney Crosby.

Minnesota Duluth is at St. Cloud State. In Duluth, Kevin Pates writes about the WCHA's recent struggles, while St. Cloud scribe Kevin Allenspach says the Huskies need a sweep this weekend.

Alaska-Anchorage hosts Wisconsin, and the Seawolves haven't played a game in 34 -- that's right, thirty-four -- days. As for the Badgers, they -- especially goalie Shane Connelly -- are trying to overcome last Saturday's meltdown against Northern Michigan.

Finally, Denver, perhaps the best team in the WCHA will host 10th-place Michigan Tech. While the Huskies having just one conference win they have won three of their last six games. Meanwhile, folks around the Pioneers want their old mascot back.

Here are league previews and notebooks from USCHO, INCH and This is the WCHA.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

More on Vizenor

Here's some Wednesday reaction to Jeff Vizenor's departure as MSU's women's hockey coach. The closely monitored players who did agree to speak seemed to be in no mood to talk about the coaching change.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Vizenor out as MSU women's coach (updated)

Jeff Vizenor is out as coach of the Minnesota State women's hockey team. Per his request, he will be reassigned in the athletic department for the rest of his contract, which expires in June. He will take an administrative role in the deparment, which will include fundraising. Vizenor was in his eighth season with the Mavericks and had a record of 80-148-24. He was the WCHA's coach of the year in 2003-04 after leading MSU to its only winning record.

Assistant coach Paul Willett will lead the team this weekend at Bemidji State. The Mavericks' other assistant, Mandy Krause-Rideout is on a recruiting trip in Germany. Athletic director Kevin Buisman said either Willett or Krause-Rideout will be named full-time interim coach next week and a search for a permanent replacement will begin in the spring.

The Mavericks are 6-10-2 and in seventh place in the WCHA, but they were winless in their last eight games going into the winter break.

"It's such a weird feeling; I've never had it before," Vizenor said. "Honestly, I reached a p oint where I couldn't recharge and get back to where I needed to be and where the team needed me to be. ...

"I thought I had recharged my batteries this summer. I thought my batteries were pretty full, but they weren't full enough. Coming back (after break), it wasn't what was beset for the players or for anybody."

Minnesota State's press release on Vizenor's resignation can be found here.

Out of the rankings

The latest poll came out yesterday, and MSU fell out of the top 20 (they were receiving votes, but fell completely out of the USA Today poll): CollegeSports Poll:
1. Notre Dame (47)
2. Boston University (2)
3. Minnesota
4. Northeastern
5. Denver
6. Miami
7. Princeton
8. Cornell (1)
9. Boston College
10. (tie) Colorado College
10. (tie) Michigan
12. Vermont
13. New Hampshire
14. Air Force
15. Dartmouth
16. Ohio State
17. Wisconsin
18. Nebraska-Omaha
19. Alaska
20. Minnesota Duluth
Others receiving votes: Quinnipiac, North Dakota, Minnesota State, Yale, Maine, UMass, St. Cloud State, Michigan State, Niagara

USA Today/USA Hockey
1. Notre Dame (32)
2. Boston University (1)
3. Minnesota
4. Northeastern
5. Princeton
6. Cornell (1)
7. Denver
8. Miami
9. Boston College
10. Vermont
11. Michigan
12. Colorado College
13. New Hampshire
14. Air Force
15. Ohio State
Others receiving votes: Quinnipiac, Dartmouth, Maine, Nebraska-Omaha, Wisconsin, Yale, North Dakota, Alaska, Michigan State.

Both polls have Cornell getting a first-place vote yet sitting at eighth and sixth, respectively. Likely, that's because Cornell is No. 1 in the Pairwise Rankings and someone is voting straight down the Pairwise. That's really not a bad idea, since those are the only rankings that count for anything.

Monday, January 5, 2009

New power rankings

Since the second half of the season is now upon us, there are some new power rankings up (see the lefthand column). No rising/falling this week, just a new stab in the dark. While there is some temptation just to go with the Pairwise Rankings (they are the only rankings that matter, afterall), that does take some of the fun and challenge out of doing a weekly opinion poll. PucKato, however, will likely use the Pairwise to refer to a team's national ranking in stories and posts from now on, as in: Unranked Minnesota State will head to No. 19 Colorado College this week.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

MSU 4, UNO 3 final

The streak is snapped. ... More later.
Defenseman Channing Boe scored his first career goal at 6:50 put MSU up 3-2.
Omaha came back in the second with a power-play goal by New Prague's Matt Ambroz at 3:47 and an even-strength goal by Jeric Agosta at 10:12. Shots were 11-9 in favor of UNO.

Let's see if MSU can get to three goals, something it hasn't done since Thanksgiving weekend.
The two quick goals were not a team record. In 1973-74, MSU scored two goals in seven seconds against St. Olaf. In 2006, the Mavericks scored two goals eight seconds apart in a home game against Wisconsin.

MSU started the game like a team ready to break out of a losing streak. The Mavericks outshot UNO 7-3 and scored a pair of goals just nine seconds apart to take a 2-0 lead. Trevor Bruess and Kael Mouillierat had the goals.

MSU will begin the second period on the power play with 1:55 seconds left on the only penalty of the first period.

By the way, the crowd is small but not too bad, all things considered.
I'll be curious to see what tonight's crowd is like. No students. An ice storm outside. It's an hour before gametime and pretty quiet in the Alltel Center right now.

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





Von Bokern-Bernier


Check back regularly for updates on tonight's game.

Saturday morning reading

It's game day in Mankato, with MSU taking on UNO in the first leg of this year's Spirit of the Maverick Trophy series. While there has been some scrutiny about Minnesota State's defense and even goaltending of late, it has had trouble scoring, too, getting just two goals in each loss during the six-game losing streak.

I'll put the lines up later today, but coach Troy Jutting said Mike Zacharias will start in goal tonight after missing his first start in 49 games Tuesday at Yale.

Omaha, meanwhile, is off to its best start in program history. Last year, they broke MSU's 11-game unbeaten streak in the series. "We're definitely not getting Mankato at what you'd call an ideal time," coach Mike Kemp told the Omaha World-Herald. "I'm sure they're upset after not having any success out East, and I know they're going to be very hungry to get things turned around back on their own rink."

In other WCHA news ...

Minnesota defeated Brown Friday night, but the Gophers' bigger concern is the health of coach Don Lucia, who missed the game with an undisclosed illness.

North Dakota squeaked by Bemidji State to improve to 10-10-1. Denver advanced to the championship of the Denver Cup, but Friday's 3-2 shootout win over Holy Cross technically goes down as a tie. Wisconsin wasn't quite so fortunate, as it had its seven-game unbeaten streak snapped by Northern Michigan. Duluth defeated UMass.-Lowell 2-1 at the Shillelagh Tournament near Chicago. Perhaps the best part of that story is the Bulldogs' chance to go see Thursday's NHL Winter Classic at Wrigley Field. Senior Matt Greer wrote an account of the exprience for the Duluth for the Duluth News-Tribune.

PucKato got to see an outstanding women's hockey game Friday between the sixth-ranked Gustavus Adolphus women's team and No. 1 Amherst. The Gusties looked like the top-ranked team in the country, though, with a 3-0 win over the Lord Jeffs. Gustavus outshot Amherst 37-17, including a dominant 22-2 advantage in the second period.

On Thursday, the Freep had a story about ex-Mankato West and future Minnesota State forward Corey Leivermann, who is playing for Fargo of the United States Hockey League. The story was written before the Force's game Wednesday night. Leivermann scored two goals on New Year's Eve and had an assist on Friday. Both were wins. By the way, former Scarlets goalie Tyler Bruggeman was on the road trip and dressed for both games but did not play.