Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday morning skate

It's a big weekend for Minnesota State, which hosts No. 1-ranked Denver today and Saturday at the Verizon Wireless Center. If the Pioneers sweep the Mavericks, they will clinch the WCHA regular-season title and the MacNaughton Cup.

For the Mavericks, goalie Phil Cook is this week's featured player (although the story is only available on The Free Press' E-Edition).

Coach Troy Jutting said he likes the way the freshman competes during games. Indeed, the 6-foot-3, 190-pound is anything but robotic out there. Cook said his hates-to-lose mentality goes back to his days as a triathlete. Between the ages of 11 and 15 he competed in swim-bike-run races and rarely lost.

The Wheaton, Ill., native's hockey travels took him to Colorado back to Illinois to Alaska and, finally, Minnesota State. In 10 starts and 12 appearances this season, Cook is 6-3-1 and only 11 of the 23 goals he's allowed have been of the even-strength variety.

In other MSU notes, Jutting said that sophomore goalie Austin Lee may play this weekend too, as he wants both goaltenders fresh and sharp for the playoffs. ... The top two forward lines (Irwin-Stewart-Mouillierat and Dorr-Pitlick-Hayes) are set, while Zach Harrison will move to the middle of Rylan Galiardi and Mike Louwerse. There appeared to be open competition for the fourth line this week and added to the mix was forward-turned-defenseman-turned-forward-again Joe Schiller.

As for Denver, the Pioneers have two legitimate candidates for the Hobey Baker Award in goaltender Marc Cheverie and forward Rhett Rakhshani. The Pioneers can win the MacNaughton Cup with a split at MSU and some help from Michigan Tech against Wisconsin, but they won't get the trophy in Mankato. Rather, they'll wait until they return to Denver next week.

Said DU coach George Gwozdecky: "Your home town needs to see the trophy, not the opposing team and fans."

Going around the rest of the WCHA ...

Wisconsin at Michigan Tech: The Badgers' pool of defensemen is so deep that it took nearly all season to feature freshman Justin Schultz, who has become a force on the Badgers' great power play. Tech, meanwhile is buried in last place in the league standings and will travel to the top seed for the playoffs in two weeks.

Minnesota at Minnesota Duluth: The Gophers are still in the hunt for home ice and hope to exact revenge on the Bulldogs, who swept them earlier this season in Minneapolis. Eleven of the pat 12 games between these two teams have been decided by one goal. Meanwhile, Duluth, which has lost six of its last eight games is trying to hold on to a home-ice spot.

North Dakota at Colorado College: Speaking of home ice, perhaps no series has more implications than this one. The Sioux and the Tigers are tied for fifth place with 25 points, three more than Minnesota and four behind Duluth. North Dakota hasn't gone on the road for the playoffs since 2001. CC will be counting on gritty defenseman Nate Prosser to keep the team in the upper division.

Alaska vs. Alaska-Anchorage (home and home): The Seawolves have been dominant in this nonconference rivalry series of late, going 8-0-2 in their last 10 meetings with the Nanooks.

St. Cloud State is idle. The Huskies still have not heard whether or not Aaron Marvin will get suspended for his hit on Wisconsin's Blake Geoffrion. writer Todd Milewski wrote a good column on the WCHA's suspension policy -- or lack thereof. All PucKato can say (again) is: Remember what happened with Trevor Bruess last season.

Here are WCHA previews from INCH, USCHO (with more on hits to the head) and This is the WCHA.

Don't forget to check back during the game for PucKato's live blog.


BIGhkyfan said...

You tell us about the goalies and forwards, yet nothing on the D?

Last week Canzenello was in both games while Mosey sat for Cooper Saturday and Cooper never saw the ice? Whats that all abo

thegreatwallfan said...

History shows the talent Lee has and why he was recruited so heavily by many Division I teams. The most wins for a bantam tier I team at Shattuck St. Mary's (team 82 wins in 84 games) taking runner up national title, he holds the record for the most winning goalie in Bloomington Jefferson Hockey history (55 wins) taking the Lake conference title all 3 years he played. Frank Brimsick Award winner top senior goaltender state of Minnesota (playing varsity while being bantam eligible, the most wins in Fargo Jets NAHL Hockey history (Lee was drafted in the USHL since the age of 14 but chose to play in the NAHL since he would only be playing for one year) taking the central division title,ranked 28 by Central Scouting as the youngest player listed while still in high school. He continues to be highly scouted by the NHL and his competitive spirit continues to be strong. Also as a note to the e article the sweep of Bemidji was accomplished by his combined efforts. Lee has a clear history of being a winner.

Shane Frederick said...

Yes, my blunder on the Bemidji series sweep. I meant started the sweep and made it appear that Cook played in both games. He didn't. It was poorly worded, if not wrong. Lee stopped 29 shots to complete the sweep.

Shane Frederick said...

One more thing: The Cook feature was not meant to be a slight against Lee or Murdock, or even a comparison, for that matter.