Some good questions this week as we enter the last couple of weeks of the regular season. Hard to believe the season is coming to a close already. Anyway, let's get to your concerns ...
From LetsGoMavs: With the popularity of this year's alternate jersey, is there any talk of a permanent alternate for next year and years to come? It seems that the Mavs are one of the only teams to not have a third jersey, which is a shame since they seem to be a hit with fans and players.
LetsGo, I'm not sure how many teams have third jerseys in the WCHA. I know North Dakota has its famous road blacks that seem to come out when the Sioux desperately need a win. MSU seems to have an alternate every few years. My favorites were the gold, 1980-style sweaters with MAVERICKS spelled out in the shape of a bull. Others really liked the old-timey gray ones that had numbers on the front. Years ago, they had this truly awful design. I'm not sure where they're at in terms of unis for next year. I know they're auctioning off this year's game-worn alternates. I like them, too, though. Very sharp.
One a somewhat unrelated note, I think it's a shame that they don't have those for sale at games. Not only those but when you go to North Dakota, for example, their arena store has NHL T-shirts for sale with their alumni's names and numbers on the back -- for example Zach Parise New Jersey Devils shirts. I think it's too bad that you can't get a David Backes Blues (or Team USA) shirt or a Ryan Carter Ducks shirt anywhere in Mankato.
From Nation: 1) Any word on Joe Schiller? Has he been a healthy scratch these last few weeks? 2) What is your view with the whole "no fighting allowed in college." I saw a video on YouTube of two weekends ago where a North Dakota and St. Cloud State player had their gloves dropped and had agreed to fight, but the res would not let them. I think in that circumstance you should just let them go and let them take their suspensions. 3) Who do you think is the Mavericks' most important player coming down the stretch and into the playoffs? For me, I think it is Mouillierat; scoring is something this team definitely needs.
Nation, once again you come with a whole bag of questions.
1) Interesting that you bring up Schiller. This week, he's skating with the forwards again and it appears that the defenseman experiment might be over.
2) In general, I'm against fighting in hockey. However, I get caught up in it just like the next guy and can buy the argument, from time to time, that it's the best policing you can do in hockey, especially to curb "tough-guy" hits from behind and dirty stickwork. In the situation you're referring to, there was a lot of talk going into that series that St. Cloud's Aaron Marvin was going to "have to answer" for his hit that knocked out UND captain Chay Genoway early in the season (Genoway suffered a bad concussion and still has not returned). All eyes were on Marvin. When the Sioux's Mario Lamoureux challenged him to a fight and Marvin agreed, the action was stopped before it started, but Lamoureux was still suspended one game by the WCHA for instigating. The following weekend, Marvin laid another vicious hit on a team captain, this time Wisconsin's Blake Geoffrion. Geoffrion is out for this weekend's series against Michigan Tech. Marvin got a one-game suspension for his hit on Genoway and I'm curious to see if he gets one for the hit on Geoffrion (nothing so far). After what happened to MSU's Trevor Bruess and his suspensions for rough play late last season, the WCHA needs to have a consistent stance and suspension policy on this kind of action.
3) I think the most important player is whoever is in goal, be it Phil Cook (Friday's likely starter) or Austin Lee. However, next come the goal scorers. Kael Mouillierat is resurrecting his season of late and scoring some key goals. The Mavericks and their fans have been waiting all season for a three-point game/four-point weekend like he had last week against Anchorage. As Jutting said last weekend, the No. 1 line (Mouillierat-Stewart-Irwin) has to be a No. 1 line in the WCHA. The PhD line (Pitlick-Hayes-Dorr) has to keep doing what it's been doing, too.
From Nation: One more thing. Is there any relation between Evan Mosey and the Mosey that plays for St. Cloud?
Couldn't resist one more question, eh Nation? Not that I'm aware of, but I'll check. Evan Mosey is from Downers Grove, Ill., while St. Cloud's Tony Mosey is from Prior Lake, Minn.
From Ian: Our next two series are against potential playoff (likely?) opponents. Unless we pull some wins out in a hurry and have UAA and UM fall flat, we'll have that ninth spot. Who do you want to be matched up against in the playoffs?
If the season ended today, MSU would go to St. Cloud for the playoffs. The race for the McNaughton Cup is still alive, although Denver has a three-point lead on St. Cloud and two games in hand. Wisconsin trails St. Cloud by two points and has Michigan Tech this weekend, while SCSU sits idle (the WCHA has to find a way to get all of its teams playing each other over the last month of the season). I would not be shocked to see the Mavericks take on St. Cloud State in back-to-back weekends. Having not seen the Huskies play, I'm not sure about that matchup. I have written that I don't think MSU wants to go to Denver or Wisconsin. Duluth might not be a bad matchup, even though the Mavericks were swept in the season series. Three were one-goal games, and one was overtime.
From Matt: The new Free Press website makes it hard to find your blog. I have to use Google to get to your blog.
Matt, yeah, sorry about that. I sure appreciate all of the readers who have gone through the Freep site to access PucKato. If you're having trouble but you're on it now, just bookmark this page.
From Zeb: Who is your favorite between the pipes for the '10-11 season?
Zeb, that's a long way away, isn't it? Shouldn't you be asking who's the favorite for this week or next or the playoffs? If Cook goes on a late-season run here, he should be the early favorite. But since no one grabbed it and ran with it this season, I wouldn't be surprised if the competition was wide-open again. I think there's a lot invested in Kevin Murdock and with his resume, I would think he would get a chance to get back into the groove next fall. As we've seen in the past, both with the Mavericks and other teams, nothing is set in stone when it comes to goaltenders. Dan Tormey looked like he'd be a four-year guy after his outstanding freshman season and Mike Zacharias looked like the odd man out. Three years later, Zacharias was a two-time team MVP.
From Sam (I'll skip your uniform question since I addressed that earlier): Do the Mavericks still intend on having Danny Heath on the team next season? I saw that he's out for the season, once again. That's two years in a row now. He's played a grand total of 59 USHL games.
Sam, I haven't heard otherwise. I know he's had a rough go with injuries in the USHL, missing almost all of last season and, this year, being out since the end of December. The Mavericks lose just one defenseman to graduation, Nick Canzanello, so it's not like Heath has to step right in and play (unless he can, of course). If one thing's been consistent this year, it's the top two sets of D (Youds-Elbrecht, Davis-Boe) and the third pair will be some combination of Mosey, Cooper and Heath, unless the Mavericks bring in a late recruit at that position, which is certainly possible. From the sounds of it, though, Heath was playing pretty well before he got hurt.
From hockey25: While watching the Mavs out in Wisconsin a couple of weeks ago, a few people told me that MSU is going to be in a holiday tournament next year that includes Notre Dame. Is there any truth to that? How come we don't have more Canadians on the team? Two of the three All-Americans (Joseph and Stevenson) and other quality players such as Mouillierat, Kalinski, Peto, Irwin, etc., are from Canada. Don't get me wrong, I love having Minnesota-born players on the squad. It's great to see hometown talent.
Hockey25, first of all, yes, the Mavs are playing in the Notre Dame tournament next winter. I think that tournament is in the Chicago area. I don't really have other details right now.
As for the Canadians ... As it stands now, Rylan Galiardi will be the only Canadian on the Mavericks roster next season. He will have to console with MSU sports info director Paul Allan and team equipment manager Scott Rideout. I know all of the coaches have been to Canada on recruiting trips this year, so it's not like they've stopped scouting those areas. All of MSU's committed recruits for next year and the year after are in the USHL or will be in the USHL. There was a time when the Mavericks weren't getting a lot of USHL players, so that's one reason why there's been a shift. Another reason is that I think fewer top-end Canadians are going the college route. That's one of the reasons why college hockey has hired Paul Kelly to promote the game against competing major junior leagues. Looking at Chris Heisenberg's recruiting site, only about 20 percent of committed WCHA players right now are from Canadian junior leagues.
That's it for now, folks. Keep checking around the blog for more. On Friday, look for a "morning skate" and, of course, the always-entertaining, sometimes-enlightening live blog during the Denver game at night.