Which brings us to today's reading ...
Minnesota State senior center Zach Harrison is arguably having his best season. He's tied atop the Mavericks' scoring chart with a career-high 20 points and he leads MSU with a +10 rating. But he relishes his No. 1 task, and that's to defend the opponents' best offensive weapon. The NFL has its shut-down corners; Harrison considers himself a "shut-down center." That story is only available on The Free Press' e-edition, but here's a sampling:
"It's like a corner back in the NFL," Harrison said. "A great player wants to shut down the big wide receiver who puts up huge numbers. That's a big thing for a team, and it's a big part of our team. It's not just scoring, and it's not just the goalies."
"It's like, 'I either want to cover Randy Moss,' or 'I'm looking for (the coach) to hide me,'" coach Troy Jutting said. "I think the really good hockey players, they want him -- 'Give me the best guy on the team.'"
Jutting said the big key to slowing down the Bulldogs big guns will be staying out of the penalty box. More than half of that trio's points in WCHA play have come on the power play, and the Duluth PP is clicking at a league-best 29.5 percent against conference opponents (MSU's is at 17.5 percent). Minnesota State's penalty minutes have gone down. In league play, the Mavericks rank seventh with 15.9 minutes per game.
As for the Bulldogs, their defense is starting to move out of the shadows of the high-powered offense. Duluth News-Tribune hockey guru Kevin Pates' preview and other info can be found on his blog.
Going around the WCHA ...
North Dakota at Minnesota: This is a big series for both teams, as North Dakota is trying to find a permanent spot in the top five of the WCHA, and Minnesota is hoping to climb back in there. The Grand Forks Herald takes a look at some of the Sioux freshmen who hail from the Twin Cities and also has some series preview notes. ... As for the Gophers, their newest player, Jacob Cepis, is learning all about the UM-UND rivalry.
Wisconsin at Colorado College: In a battle between two of the better teams in the WCHA, the Badgers head west to take on the Tigers. UW coach Mike Eaves has enjoyed the depth that his team has -- except when he has to fill out his travel roster. For the Tigers, defenseman Gabe Guentzel is getting a lot of ice time is just his second season.
Alaska-Anchorage at Michigan Tech: The conference's cellar dwellers will take each other on in Houghton, Mich. The series will pit the nation's worst power play (Anchorage) against the nation's worst penalty kill (Tech). Something's got to give. Tech tied nonconference rival Northern Michigan on Tuesday, ending a 12-game losing streak.
St. Cloud State at Quinnipiac: The Huskies will step out of league play to take on one of Division I's surprising teams, the No. 17 Bobcats. So who is that team? Kevin Allenspach takes a look.
Don't forget to check out PucKato's live blog during tonight's games.