Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday-morning skate

I'm hitting the road to Omaha in a bit but not before checking the morning papers ...

Minnesota State and Nebraska-Omaha are old rivals -- and word out of the red Mavs' camp is that the Spirit of the Maverick is still on the line -- but this is the first time they will be playing as WCHA opponents. 

This weekend will mark the first conference games for UNO in Omaha. It's such a big deal, that NFL Hall of Famer and Chicago Bears great Dick Butkus will drop the ceremonial first puck tonight.

For MSU, senior center Andrew Sackrison is showing signs of life after a slow start to the season. After a rock-solid freshman year, Sackrison has struggled with injuries, including a broken leg that kept him out of of the lineup for almost three months last year. Then, this summer, he broke his other leg in an off-ice accident. The last two weekends have been pretty good for Sackrison. Said coach Troy Jutting: "It's no coincidence that Andy's best games of the year are our two wins in the league."

Minnesota State freshmen Chase Grant and Corey Leivermann played for UNO coach Dean Blais two years ago while with the Fargo Force (read about that and more in The Free Press' gameday preview). Omaha freshman Johnnie Searfoss did too.

Mavericks against Mavericks has been a pretty good college-hockey rivalry, Going around the rest of the WCHA, there are some other pretty good ones, too ...

Wisconsin at Minnesota: This isn't just the Big-10, border-battle rivalry. This year, it pits brother against brother, as the Badgers' Jake Gardiner will play against the Gophers' Max Gardiner. ... Meanwhile, the Gophers' Taylor Matson seems to be having the same issues with injuries as Andy Sackrison, if not worse.

Colorado College vs. Denver (home and home): The Gold Pan is on the line when the Tigers and Pioneers square off, starting to night in Denver. This series also features two of the top freshmen in the WCHA: CC's Jaden Schwartz and DU's Beau Bennett. Denver will be playing for Jesse Martin, who remains hospitalized in Minneapolis and, it appears, will have surgery on the broken vetereba in his neck.

Bemidji State at St. Cloud State: The Huskies' Cam Reid, who scored his first collegiate goal last week, shares his experience of playing in the Nashville Predators' prospect camp over the summer. Not a bad place to go for a country-music fan. ... Meanwhile, the Beavers are making their first WCHA road trip.

Minnesota Duluth at North Dakota: The second-ranked Bulldogs will try to stay unbeaten when they head to Grand Forks to take on the ninth-ranked Sioux. For Duluth, the Bulldogs feel like this is a good time for their toughest test of the young season. The Sioux, meanwhile, will be playing without Brad Malone tonight and are down a couple of more players, too. But they do have Dillon Simpson, a 17-year-old defenseman, who has made a good first impression.

Check out WCHA previews from USCHO, INCH and This is the WCHA.

Be sure to come back to PucKato later today for some live blogging from tonight's MSU-UNO game.

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