Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Grant named WCHA rookie of the week

Minnesota State freshman forward Chase Grant was named WCHA rookie of the week for his performance in last weekend's series sweep at UMass-Lowell. Grant had a four-point weekend and scored his first game-winning goal as a Maverick.

You can read more about Grant's award here and here.

You want answers?!?!?

It's Gopher week. There's home hockey in Mankato. Must be time for another edition of YWA?!?! Post your question in the comments section of this blog post, and I'll try to answer them in a Thursday afternoon/evening post.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Sweet Lou coming to Mankatoo

I had a chance to talk to Minnesota hockey legend Lou Nanne today for a story that will appear in Thursday's edition of The Free Press. Nanne -- known as "Sweet Lou from the Soo" will be in Mankato on Friday, promoting his autobiography, "A Passion to Win."

The former Gophers, Olympic and North Stars player and North Stars coach, general manager and president  will sign books at Barnes & Noble from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.and again at the Verizon Wireless Center for an hour before Minnesota State's hockey game against Minnesota. Nanne said he will also be making a donation to the MSU hockey program that night.

"They've done a great job down there in Mankato," Nanne said of the Mavericks. "It's exciting to see that kind of hockey. ... Those guys battle. It's fun."

Nanne said he has some connections to Mankato, as it was part of his territory when he first went into sales. He also attended Vikings training camp from time to time since he was friends with Vikings players back in his North Stars playing days. A few years ago, Nanne was in town to promote his book on the Stars: "Minnesota North Stars History and Memories with Lou Nanne."

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Mavericks 3, River Hawks 2 (updated)

It was a little tighter this time, but the Mavericks won again, scoring their first series sweep of the season. Chase Grant's goal at 5:48 of the third period broke a 2-2 tie and stood as the game-winner. Grant, who missed the Denver series with an injury also had an assist on Saturday for a four-point weekend.

UPDATE: Apparently, Grant's goal came on a Lowell clearing attempt that hit the freshman in the shin and rolled into the net between goalie Doug Carr's legs. "Good bounce, fortunate bounce for us," Mavericks coach Troy Jutting told USCHO.com

Kurt Davis and Zach Lehrke scored the other goals for Minnesota State, which ended its long road swing on a positive note. When the Mavericks return to Mankato, they will have put on 11,600 miles. But they went 3-4-1 (1-4-1 in WCHA) and are now 4-6-4 for the year.

"Anytime you can win a game on the road is a good thing," Jutting told The Free Press in a phone interview afterwards. "To sweep on the road, obviously, it's a good weekend. It's something to build on."

The Mavericks outshot the River Hawks 36-28, including a 20-11 advantage in the second period. Carr held MSU to just one goal in the second, however and the game was tied 1-1 going into the third.

The two teams traded three goals in the first six minutes with Davis putting MSU up 2-1 at 55 seconds, Riley Wetmore tying the game with a short-handed goal at 2:48 and Grant getting his fourth goal of the season after that.

Goalie Phil Cook stopped 26 shots for the Mavericks. Eriah Hayes also had an assist. Lehrke's goal was the first of his career. He had two assists on Friday for a three-point weekend.

The Mavericks went into the weekend hoping to improve its power play but didn't have a lot of chances. They went 1 for 3 on Friday and 0 for 2 on Saturday. Jutting said he liked what he saw, though.

"We moved it around well and got opportunities," he said. "It was better. It looked better."

Read the box score here. The USCHO recap can be found here. Read the Lowell Sun account of the game here, and The Free Press story here.

MSU at UMass-Lowell - Game 2

PucKato is not in Lowell but is working today. I'll be keeping tabs on the series finale between the Mavericks and River Hawks. You can check my Twitter page (I'm always looking for more followers!) or the Twitter feed at right for regular updates once the game begins at 3 p.m. (CST), and I'll put up a blog post after the game.

Here's what I know about today's game so far: Senior defenseman Ben Youds is out with an upper-body injury, and Evan Mosey will take his spot in the lineup. ... As expected, Phil Cook will start in goal (coach Troy Jutting said he likely was going to play both Lee and Cook this weekend). ... Otherwise, it sounds like the rest of the lineup is the same as it was during Friday's eight-goal outburst.

Meanwhile, here are some highlights of Friday's game, courtesy of the Lowell website:

Friday, November 26, 2010

Mavericks 8, River Hawks 3 (update)

The Mavericks exploded for a season-high eight goals to break their five-game winless streak and four-game losing streak on Friday night at UMass-Lowell.

Junior forward Justin Jokinen had a hat trick in the second period, and senior captain Rylan Galiardi scored his first two goals of the season in the victory. Ben Youds, Michael Dorr and Andrew Sackrison also had goals for Minnesota State.

Jokinen now has a team-high six goals. Galiardi (one assist) and Dorr (two assists) each finished with three-point games. Eleven players had points for the Mavericks (3-6-4) with Youds (one assist), Eli Zuck (two assists), J.P. Burkemper (two assists) and Zach Lehrke (two assists) each getting two points.

Austin Lee, who was making his first start in goal since Oct. 16 got the win, stopping 23 shots and a penalty shot in the process. The Mavericks outshot the River Hawks 35-26.

The Mavericks were 1 for 3 on the power play. Lowell was 2 for 5.

The series will continue at 3 p.m. Saturday.

Read the box score here.

UPDATE: Read the Lowell Sun account of the game here.

(Black) Friday-morning skate

The Mavericks are out east for a nonconference series against UMass-Lowell. Both teams have two wins and are trying to get out of a losing funk. Minnesota State has lost four in a row, while Lowell has lost seven of its last eight games.

Minnesota State is coming off its first idle week of the season, and it's hoping that the break can give it a boost. "We needed it bad," junior defenseman Cameron Cooper said.

After going 0 for 14 on the power play at Denver, the Mavericks are changing things up, just as coach Troy Jutting promised. Jutting wouldn't go into too many details but said defensemen Ben Youds and Kurt Davis will be placed together on the power play (each usually ran his own), while Cooper and Justin Jokinen will get their chance.

"And we're changing the kind of power play we're running," Jutting said. "It hasn't been working the way it was, so we're going to try a couple different things."

Also, freshman defenseman Josh Nelson is in the lineup, replacing Evan Mosey. Mosey is on the trip and available but the coaches clearly want to see more from him. Zach Lehrke is the extra forward on the trip. Players not on the trip include: Leivermann, Peterson, Heath and Karambelas. After practice Wednesday, Jutting said he hadn't decided on his starter in goal. He did suspect that both would play in the series, though.

Read more on the series here and here.

A few other interesting items from around the WCHA:

• This will be the last year of the College Hockey Showcase, which features Minnesota and Wisconsin vs. Michigan and Michigan State ever year. It appears this is setting the stage for the Big Ten hockey conference. The real news of this story is that the WCHA is already planning for the loss of its Big Ten members and will be helping those schools out with their schedules. Meanwhile, Madison's Andy Baggot opines that the Big Ten won't kill college hockey.

• North Dakota will host Notre Dame this weekend but it's the WCHA's UND that features one of the country's top goal scorers.

• There is only one WCHA series this weekend, as Alaska Anchorage goes to Colorado College. For the Tigers, seniors Stephen Schultz has been on a roll.

• In nonconference play, Denver will host Lake Superior and Bemidji State will host Northern Michigan.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

The Mavericks left Mankato this morning for their series at UMass-Lowell. Unfortunately, PucKato is not on the trip but should be well-rested in time for the team's long-awaited return home. Here are a few notes going into the nonconference series:

• MSU is fully healthy for the first time since the first night of the season, as freshman forward Chase Grant is back in the lineup.

Grant missed the last two games with a lower-body injury. Team captain Rylan Galiardi missed five games before that, and defenseman Evan Mosey was injured on opening night and missed the next five games.

"This might be the first time we've had everybody," coach Troy Jutting said. "It's tough, especially when we went with a 26-man roster this year, versus 27 or 28. Twenty-six is the perfect number -- if everybody's healthy."

Said Grant: "I feel incredible. I've been itching to get back out there. I feel good."

• MSU freshman forward John McInnis is a Boston native and will be in the lineup Friday at Lowell, which is located a little more than 30 miles north of Massachusetts' capital. McInnis said he hasn't played near home in about three years. He spent the last two seasons in Canada, playing for the Okotoks Oilers of the Albert Junior Hockey League. McInnis was the Oilers' team MVP last year, scoring 42 goals and 73 points. He has two assists in five game this year. "I'm pretty pumped," said McInnis, who expects to have several family members at the two games.

• Minnesota State is 1-2 all-time against Lowell, but all three of those games took place in the late 70s/early 80s when the two schools were Division II powers. All of those meetings took place in the national tournament, with the Mavericks' lone win coming during the 1980 NCAA semifinals. They would go on to win the national championship.

Carter traded to 'Canes

Former Minnesota State standout Ryan Carter was traded from the Anaheim Ducks to the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday. The Ducks put Carter on waivers earlier in the week, and after he cleared the wire was shipped to Raleigh for a pair of minor-league prospects.

Carter had been with the Ducks since leaving MSU in 2006. He became the first and only Maverick to get his name on the Stanley Cup, helping Anaheim in the playoffs in 2007.

Carter had one goal and two assists and 22 penalty minutes in 18 games for the Ducks while averaging 10:44 in ice time. Carolina officials said Carter will help his new teams on faceoffs and by killing penalties. This season, he has won 50 percent of his faceoffs.

"He has the experience of being on a winning team," 'Canes general manager Jim Rutherford said. "He's played in the league a few years. He's not necessarily a fourth-line guy player. He can play in the top nine if injuries come up."

Friday, November 19, 2010

Off today

PucKato has the day off today (much needed, like the Mavericks!), so there's no Friday-morning skate on the blog. May I suggest you check out Brad Scholssman's blog for links to news around the WCHA this weekend. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thinking back three years

In my column today for The Free Press, I went back three years ago today, when the Mavericks were blown out 7-0 at Denver. It was hard not to think about that game when I was facing deadline after Saturday's 6-1 loss to the Pioneers.

That game three years ago was a low spot but one the Mavericks climbed out of. They went on a six-game unbeaten streak after that and lost just one of their next eight games. Later in the year they had a seven-game winning streak, and they went from last place in the WCHA that night in Denver to a fourth-place finish and home ice in the conference playoffs. They probably should have made the NCAA tournament, if not for a fluke in the formula of the Pairwise rankings.

Interestingly, there were many players from this year's team involved in that game. Seniors Rylan Galiardi, Ben Youds, Channing Boe and Andrew Sackrison were all freshmen. Mike Louwerse even played in that game, one of four he played in that year before being shut down with an injury and getting a medical hardship year. Goalie Austin Lee was not in Denver but he was on the roster being redshirtted.

Can this year's team bounce back the way that one did? Who knows? It's hard to see it right now, but there couldn't have been many signs of it three years ago. In fact, MSU was competitive for stretches of this year's game, including the first 12 minutes of the game when it controlled play and in the second period when it cut the lead to 3-1. I don't recall that back then. I only recall plays like this.

What I do wonder is: Do the Mavericks have the pieces to mount that comeback? Three years ago, Mick Berge ended up scoring 20 goals, Trevor Bruess had 30 points, four other players (including Sackrison) had 20 points, Mike Zacharias (who didn't play in the 7-0 loss) ended up with a .924 save percentage, R.J. Linder (who watched that game from the press box) emerged as an inspirational leader and players like Bruess and Jon Kalinski led a hard-nosed gritty group.

"I know we have it," Youds said on Saturday. "It's there. With each individual it's there. It's just a matter of building on that and competing. You know hockey -- it's one-on-ones all over the ice and taking care of business. ... We have it in the locker room; it's just a matter of putting the pieces of the puzzle together.

Minnesota State is off this weekend but is practicing three days this week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) before preparing for its Thanksgiving weekend trip to UMass-Lowell.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Denver 6, MSU 1

Freddy's three thoughts of the game ...

1. Magness-itis: Minnesota State hasn't won in Denver since Jan. 18, 2003. The Mavericks are 0-10-2 at Magness Arena since then, suffering some heartbreaking losses (like Friday's 3-2 defeat) and some real stinkers (like Saturday's game). After a strong 10-12 minutes to start the game, everything fell apart for the Mavericks, as Denver scored three times in the final five minutes of the period. For the game, MSU allowed two 5x3 power-play goals, a short-hander, a goal in the final minute of the first period and a goal in the first minute of the third. The loss might not have been as bad as the 7-0 loss in Denver in 2007, but the mood was similar. "Yeah, this is about as frustrated as I've ever been in four years," Ben Youds said. "I can't remember the last time it stung this bad. ... It's definitely not a feeling you want to feel too often."

2. Break time: The Mavericks are idle next weekend and it probably couldn't come at a better time. They are now 1-4-1 on this crazy road trip, but winless in the last five games. They have two more road games coming -- at UMass-Lowell over Thanksgiving weekend -- but at least they get a break this week. "We need it," coach Troy Jutting said. "We need it bad. With this travel, it's time for us to get a break." Jutting said he hadn't decided on this week's practice schedule yet. Said Youds: "We need to have a good week of practice and regroup. ... We need to get back to basics."

3. Look out for DU: This wasn't all on Minnesota State, of course. There was another team out on the ice -- one that actually did take advantage of its power plays (MSU was 0 for 7 and 0 for 14 for the weekend) and scoring chances. Denver was motivated after suffering its worst loss since 1997 a week ago (9-2 to Colorado College). Luke Salazar and Anthony Maiani each scored two goals on Saturday, and freshman defenseman David Makowski had a four-point game (one goal, three assists), likely securing WCHA rookie of the week honors by adding that performance to Friday's game-winning goal.

Read the box score here.

MSU at Denver, Game 2 live blog

Tonight's lines are posted below the Cover It Live box when available.

Dorr - Galiardi - Hayes
Sackrison - Lehrke - Louwerse
McInnis - Schiller - Jokinen
Mueller - Zuck - Leivermann

Elbrecht - Youds
Boe - Davis
Cooper - Mosey


Scratches: Burkemper, Nelson

Zucker - D.Shore - Salazar
Maiani - Ostrow - Bennett
Kowlton - N.Shore - Ostrow
Mermis - Dewhurst - Cook

Donovan - Nutini
Ryder - Makowski
Phillips - Wrenn


Denver 3, MSU 2

Freddy's three thoughts of the game ...

1. Old demons: The Mavericks played straight up with No. 15 Denver most of the game but a few things came back to haunt them as they lost their third game in a row. 1) They continued to struggle on the power play, going 0 for 7, including failing to score with 72 seconds of 5x3. 2) MSU was pretty disciplined on the penalty front for the first two periods, but Cameron Cooper was called for interference and hooking seven minutes apart in the third period when the Mavericks need to stay out of the box. Denver scored on the second one for the game-winning goal. 3) That goal was a low slap shot from the left point. Unless it hit traffic or the otherwise brilliant Phil Cook (35 saves, some awesome) was screened, that can't go in. "It was a typical WCHA game where a couple of plays decide the hockey game," MSU coach Troy Jutting said. "Tonight, they made them and we didn't."

2. Purple Hayes: Eriah Hayes had as pretty a goal as you'll see to tie the game 2-2 with 38.8 seconds remaining in the second period. Hayes intercepted a pass in the neutral zone and made a beeline toward the Denver net. A right-handed shot, Hayes had to keep the puck on his backhand to protect it from a Pioneers defender who was backchecking hard. But he gave himself enough room to fire a backhander over goalie Sam Brittain's shoulder, just under the crossbar. Last season in Magness Arena, Hayes had another pretty goal. The building's been kind to him. He now leads the Mavericks with four goals. "Eriah, the last four, five games has played well for us," Jutting said. Justin Jokinen scored the Mavericks' first goal, his third of the year.

3. Great plays: One play you don't see too often in college hockey anymore is a fake shot. But Denver stud defenseman Matt Donovan pulled one off for the Pioneers' second goal of the game. Donovan set up a slap shot and started to fire. But when Cook went down to stop the shot, Donovan dished it across the slot to streaking right winger Luke Salazar who had an easy tap-in goal behind Cook. Another great play by the Pioneers came in the final minute when Cook was off the ice for an extra attacker. Denver iced the puck, but with the new hybrid icing rule in effect, DU captain Kyle Ostrow beat the last MSU defensemen to the faceoff dots and the game continued on.

See the game's box score here.

Friday, November 12, 2010

MSU at Denver, Game 1 live blog

Tonight's lines can be found below the Cover It Live box.




Scratches: Leivermann, Nelson. Back in Kato: Grant (inj.), Heath, Peterson, Karambelas


Phillips (extra D)


Referees: Bill Mason, Matt Ulwelling. Linesmen: Tim Swiader, Scott Staudte

Backes signs contract extension

Former Minnesota State great David Backes signed a five-year, $22.5 million contract extension with the St. Louis Blues. The MSU athletics blog has several links regarding the signing, which the Blues got done rather than letting the 26-year-old Backes became an unrestricted free agent after the season.

Said Blues general manager Doug Armstrong: "He's a Blue for the next five years and I'm hoping much past that to end his career here."

Backes, an alternate captain for the Blues this season, has been called St. Louis' future captain. This extension certainly backs up that idea. Last week in Omaha, WCHA commissioner Bruce McLeod was raving about the Blues, since three of their best players are alumni of the conference. North Dakota's T.J. Oshie (now injured) leads the team in scoring, Backes is considered the "heart and soul" of the team, McLeod said, and Minnesota's Erik Johnson plays the most minutes and is the Blues' top defenseman.

Backes, an All-American for the Mavericks, has two goals and four assists this season as the Blues have started 9-2-3. Now in his fifth NHL season, Backes has 73 goals, 89 assists and 439 PIMs in 296 games.

Friday morning skate

This will be an abbreviated edition of FMS since I'll be leaving for Denver shortly. ...

Minnesota State will have its captain, Rylan Galiardi, back in the lineup tonight. He has missed the last five games with a lower-body injury and has missed being on the road: "It's not just that I wanted to play, but it was the first time I haven't made a road trip. I really missed being around the boys and being part of the team."

The Mavericks went 1-3-1 without Galiardi, whom coach Troy Jutting considers to be the team's best defensive forward.

Galiardi will skate between Michael Dorr and Eriah Hayes. Other forward line combos include Andrew Sackrison with Mike Louwerse and J.P. Burkemper, Joe Schiller with Justin Jokinen and John McInnis and Eli Zuck with Adam Mueller and Corey Leivermann. The defensive pairings remain the same, and Phil Cook is expected to get the start in goal. Zach Lehrke and Josh Nelson are the extras on the trip.

As for the Pioneers, they are ranked 15th in the country but are having some of the same issues as the Mavericks, namely that they're scoring just 2.6 goals a game and struggling on the power play. Sophomore Drew Shore is leading the way, and they're getting healthier, too. Meanwhile, Jesse Martin's surgery went well earlier this week. You can read more about Martin here.

In other WCHA action this weekend: Michigan Tech is at Minnesota Duluth, North Dakota is at Wisconsin, Nebraska-Omaha is at St. Cloud State and Alaska-Anchorage is at Bemidji State. Colorado College is out of conference, playing Air Force and Yale.

Be sure to check back on the blog tonight for PucKato's live blog from the Mavs-Pios game.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

You Want Answers, Rocky Mountain edition

Sorry this is a little late, folks. Just getting ready to head to Denver in the morning. But there's always time for your questions.

From Nation: Injuries?
Short and sweet, Nation. I like those kinds of questions. Galiardi is back in the lineup, and Joe Schiller bounced back from his injury Saturday to return. Zach Lehrke is on the trip but is one of the extras (Josh Nelson is the other). However, Chase Grant is out with a lower-body injury and did not make the trip. Jutting said that he hopes this week and next week's bye week will be sufficient time for him to heal. I'm wondering if they'll hold him out of the UMass.-Lowell series, too.

From BIGhkyfan: With the injuries the way they are and coach moving up Heath and Davis last week to fill in, what about Mosey? His bio had him as a F and converted to D in JR's. He has speed, shots well and strong in the corners? Of all our D men, he would seem more likely to be a good option. Just thinking of Schiller.
BIG, Heath was practicing as a forward for the previous two weeks, and Davis only moved up for a couple of shifts in the third period on Saturday. You're right that Mosey was a forward and probably would have been capable of playing up front like Davis did for a shift or two. Obviously, they didn't plan on those kinds of injuries and had to adjust on the fly. Davis is a senior and a leader, and they're going to give him more responsibilities, especially late in games like that. I don't recall this off-hand, but I'll bet Davis was playing up front when Mosey was on the ice.

From Teamworker: OK... Has the season even begun? Besides the team seeming flat, the MOJO around town and Verizon Center is FLAT. Could it be the terrible music they play which certainly would keep the students away. Or cause it is played way to loud and not even the players can think. Change is GOOD and the mood around the arena is FLAT. So please pass this on to the arena tech committee who simply needs a student with an iPod and they will rock that place. They have 3 weeks until we return, surely enough time to make some changes.
Teamworker, I didn't think the atmosphere was that bad at the VWC during the Colorado College series. But I'm with you on the music (I know, I know ... I usually don't like to get into too much of a discussion on the music selections). I think it tends to drown out good crowd participation rather than boost it. I'd love to hear a different variety of songs, but the VWC plays the same stuff every hockey arena plays. Mankato is no different in that department.

More from Teamworker: Continuing with my musical questions. Are there any plans, talks about getting a Jumbo Vision on the Verizon wall for replays and live action? Is there an alum out there that could donate or spearhead a group to fund such an item. You look at venues around the college ranks and all of a sudden, MSU is looking a little tired and it shows with the crowds (lack of). I said it last year. A live pep band would be HUGE...
I think the city's always looking to upgrade things at the arena, but costs are a big factor. A big video screen would be ideal for many reasons (not the least of which is my ability to see some replays for MSU home games), however, I don't see it at the top of the arena improvement list right now (hopefully I'm wrong). ... As for a pep band, MSU used to have one there but there wasn't a lot of pep. They also put the band in some of the best student-section seats, which irked many folks (see below). If I was in charge, I'd set up portable bleachers for a pep band and put them in the open area behind the south end of the rink. Then I'd send the musicians to Michigan Tech to see how good a small-school pep band can be. 

From Mavfan4life: Just a comment, not a question. No pep band. They drive me nuts, and they take away student seats, so the student would not be as loud. Maybe I can just bring my Ipod for them to play.
There's nothing like a great band. See Badgers, Wisconsin; and Gophers, Minnesota. Those are Big Ten bands in Big Ten buildings. But Michigan Tech and even Minnesota Duluth also prove what a band can provide to a hockey game. As for taking away student seats, see my suggestion above. I think you can find a place for a good band.

From Alex: 1. What have the coaches had to say about 2012 commitment Dylan Margonari? 2. Why is the schedule so imbalanced this year? 3. Do teams like mass lowell and alaska help pay for travel costs?
Alex, the coaches can't talk about recruits until they have signed national letters of intent. I'm guessing Margonari won't sign until a year from now. Actually, the early signing period for '11 started on Wednesday, so once that class has signed, I'm looking forward to talking to the coaches about them. That group includes J.P. Lafontaine, Brett Stern, Max Gaede and Zach Palmquist. ... As for the schedule, who knows? It is brutal. The WCHA schedules conference games, and the teams schedule nonconference opponents. I'm guessing this is just a fluke this year. The good news for the Mavs is that they have lots of home games in the second half of the season. ... Finally, Anchorage used to pay for opponents' travel cost -- but not MSU's. As part of their entry to the WCHA way back when, MSU offered to pay its own way to Alaska. One thing's for sure: this is a costly travel month for the Mavs, with flights to Anchorage, Denver and Massachusetts.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Denver week ... any questions?

Denver Post hockey guy Mike Chambers is reporting on his blog that DU center Jesse Martin's surgery to repair the fractures in his C2 vertebra went well on Monday in Minneapolis. However, it does appear that Martin's hockey career is over after the hit by North Dakota's Brad Malone.

Minnesota State will travel to Denver this week as part of its crazy October-November road swing. While MSU got swept at Nebraska-Omaha, Denver split a series with rival Colorado College, winning 4-1 and losing 9-2.

This seems to be as good a time as any to do a You Want Answers?!?!!? blog post. So go to the comments section below this post and ask away. I'll get the answers up on Thursday. (Note: Please no questions about the lineup/travel party. As always, that stuff will get reported on the blog Thursday or Friday. Just best to keep it out of the YWA?!?! Thanks.)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

UNO 5, MSU 2

Freddy's three thoughts of the game ...

1.  Short bench: Minnesota State was already missing Rylan Galiardi, who was back in Mankato with an injury. Then, before the game, coach Troy Jutting scratched Mike Louwerse for poor play and gave freshman J.P. Burkemper his first night off. Freshman John McInnis was playing for just the third time this season, and Danny Heath, a freshman D, got moved up to center (he had been playing up front in practice since Galiardi went down) for his second collegiate game. Once Joe Schiller, Chase Grant and Zach Lehrke went out with injuries, that left a pretty small group of forwards to choose from during a one-goal game. "That's as short a bench as I've ever had as a coach," Jutting said. There was a lot of mixing and matching late in the game. Even senior D Kurt Davis played a couple of shifts as a forward.

2. Signs of life: The Mavericks scored two power-play goals in the game, just the second time in 10 games that they have gotten more than one goal with the man advantage. Davis and Eriah Hayes had the goals. Davis fired a slap shot from the center point, and Hayes deflected in a Sackrison shot from the wall. McInnis collected his first collegaite point on Hayes goal. However, UNO coach Dean Blais insisted that Hayes' goal was played with a high stick. It was reviewed -- twice! -- but the overhead camera angle could not confirm a high stick. "We have to get better technology all over the league," Blais said. Jutting said his power play still needs work. "I thought we did a better job with our puck movement at times," he said. "But there are still times when it makes you want to pull your hair out."

3. A little love: Blais had kind words for Minnesota State's play throughout the weekend, echoing words he often said when he was the coach at North Dakota. "Troy Jutting's teams play their hockey just like we do," the UNO coach said. "That's aggressive and honest. There's not one player on their team that cheats or looks for shortcuts." Blais also praised MSU freshmen Chase Grant and Corey Leivermann, both of whom played for Blais when they were with the Fargo Force of the USHL two seasons ago. Blais said Grant from a mucking, grinding player under him to a 30-goal scorer in his second year at Fargo. Leivermann "scored some outstanding goals for me and more last year." Later, "I was surprised with the year they had last year; I'm not surprised by the way they're playing in Mankato.

Read The Free Press story here. Read the Omaha World-Herald story here. See the box score here.

MSU at Nebraska-Omaha, Game 2 live blog

Tonight's lines are posted below the Cover It Live box. There are some changes on the MSU side. Louwerse and Burkemper are out McInnis and Heath are in. It appears that Cook will start in goal or MSU.

Grant -Sackrison - Jokinen
Dorr - Lehrke - Hayes
Zuck - Schiller - Leivermann
Mueller - Heath - McInnis

Elbrecht - Youds
Boe - Davis
Cooper - Mosey


Scratches: Louwerse, Burkemper

Purslow - Martin - White
Broadhurst - Hudson - Ambroz
Walters - Montpetit - Raubenheimer
Searfoss - Willert - Gwidt

Skarica - Sustr
Young - Olimb
Smith - Aneloski


Friday, November 5, 2010

UNO 5, MSU 1 (updated)

UPDATE: Read The Free Press' game story here and the Omaha World-Herald story here.

Freddy's 3 thoughts of the game ...

1. Welcome to the WCHA: Minnesota State didn't give Nebraska-Omaha or its fans much of a taste of WCHA hockey on Friday. The game was the first WCHA game at the Qwest Center since Omaha joined he league, and the eighth-ranked home team cruised. The red Mavs, who are 3-0-0 in their new league, are now 19-3-2 at their home rink under coach Dean Blais after the milestone victory. MSU was credited with 27 shots on goal but just didn't seem to test goalie John Faulkner a heck of a lot. The visitors were 0 for 7 on the power play, averaging just one shot on goal per chance. "It felt like UNO wanted it more than we did tonight," MSU coach Troy Jutting said. You can see the box score here.

2. Interesting move: MSU goalie Phil Cook was yanked after two periods and Austin Lee played the third period. It seemed like a move designed to spark a much-needed fire under the rest of the team, but Jutting said Cook gave up a "horrible" rebound on UNO's third goal and would have pulled more players from the game if he could have. Kurt Davis, who was minus-2 for the game was beaten badly to the loose puck, which was sitting around the crease practically begging to be scored. "Everybody has to do their part," the coach said. The goal was indeed a backbreaker, coming with 69 seconds remaining in the second period. Cook finished with 18 saves on 21 shots, and Lee stopped 9 of 11 shots with the goals coming 29 seconds apart. Both goals came on the power play, with the first being a 5x3 (corrected). I'll be curious not only to see who starts in goal on Saturday but if any other changes are made to the lineup. Freshmen John McInnis and Danny Heath are the others on the trip.

3. Emptying the notebook: A few things of interest that didn't get in the game story: MSU forward Eriah Hayes was elbowed by Pasko Skarica early in the game at center ice. The shot appeared to be at Hayes' head (is elbowing ever called otherwise?) and Hayes missed the rest of the first period before returning. Skarica received a 2-minute minor for the hit. (Comment: Considering the events of last weekend at North Dakota, I'm surprised it wasn't a major.). ... Mavs defensean Tyler Elbrecht did something to rile up the fans. After a skirmish around the MSU net in the third period and some jawing with UNO players on a later faceoff, Elbrecht was booed by the crowd of 7,232 every time he touched the puck the rest of the game. ... Word around Omaha is that the Spirit of the Maverick, the traveling trophy between the two teams, is still on the line. In order to get it back, though, MSU must win Saturday's game by at least five goals.

MSU at Nebraska-Omaha, Game 1 live blog

Lines are posted below the Cover It Live box ...

Chase Grant - Andrew Sackrison - Mike Louwerse
Michael Dorr - Eli Zuck - Eriah Hayes
J.P. Burkemper - Joe Schiller - Justin Jokinen
Adam Mueller - Zach Lehrke - Corey Leivermann

Tyler Elbrecht - Ben Youds
Channing Boe - Kurt Davis
Cameron Cooper - Evan Mosey

Phil Cook
Austin Lee

Scratches: Danny Heath, John McInnis. Back in Kato: Rylan Galiardi, Brett Peterson, Josh Nelson, Evan Karambelas.

Rich Purslow - Joe Martin - Matt White
Terry Broadhurst - Alex Hudson - Matt Ambroz
Ryan Walters - Brock Montpetit - Zahn Raubenheimer
Johnnie Searfoss - Jordan Willert - Brent Gwidt

Pasko Skarica - Andrej Sustr
Michael Young - Eric Olimb
Matt Smith - Bryce Aneloski

John Faulkner
Mike Taffe
Fredrik Bergman

Referees: Todd Anderson, Tom Sterns. Linesmen: Nathan Stanton, Brandon Schmitt.

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.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

MSU gets first '12 commitment

The United States Hockey League announced on Thursday that Dylan Margonari of the Youngstown Phantoms has committed to Minnesota State for the 2012 season. You can read the release here.

Margonari, 18, a Greensburg, Pa., native, is a 6-foot, 178-pound forward who is in his second season with Youngstown. He has one goal and one assist in 10 games. Last year, he played in 23 games, compiling six points.

In the release, Phantoms coach Curtis Carr said: "The Olympic size rink fits Margonari perfectly. He is a great skater and a blue collar hockey player.  He is the total package on both sides of the puck. I have worked with Dylan since he was 15 and it is great to see him secure his hockey future."

WCHA suspends Malone

North Dakota's Brad Malone, whose hit caused three fractures in Denver center Jesse Martin's C2 vertebra, was suspended by the Western Collegiate Hockey Association for Friday's game against Minnesota Duluth, the league announced on Thursday.

You can read the release here, but there aren't many details, other than to say the suspension "was determined after a review of the incident under the WCHA's Supplementary Discipline Policy and Procedures." Martin's name is not mentioned in the release.

A few more details can be found on Grand Forks Herald writer Brad Schlossman's blog.

Thursday ramblings

Minnesota State has received some good news on the injury front. Team captain Rylan Galiardi will miss this weekend's games at Nebraska-Omaha with his lower-body injury but, according to both Galiardi and coach Troy Jutting, that might be it (he has missed the last three games). Both are hoping that the senior center will return to the lineup next week when MSU goes to Denver. ...

The Mavericks will practice in Mankato at 1 p.m. Thursday before heading to Omaha. Normally, they travel first and get a Thursday workout on the home team's ice. However, looking at the Qwest Center's website, it appears that there's a college basketball game being played in the arena that night between Creighton (it's the Jays' home court) and Northern State, so the ice isn't available. ...

Next Wednesday (Nov. 10) begins the early signing period for hockey recruits, and MSU likely will ink their committed players: forwards J.P. Lafontaine and Max Gaede and defensemen Brett Stern and Zach Palmquist. There was a question on the blog (call this a mini-You Want Answers?!?!) about the Mavericks having just four commitments at present. Remember: MSU has just five seniors on the roster (forwards Galiardi and Sackrison and defensemen Boe, Davis and Youds). They also have Matt Leitner waiting in the wings. As for the year after that, the coaching staff is working hard on that right now. Considering the current climate of recruiting, I'm a little surprised they don't have a verbal or two for 2012 yet, but I'll bet they start trickling in soon. ...

I had a column in The Free Press earlier this week about Mavericks goalie Phil Cook and his somewhat surprising rise to top of the goalie rotation. One year ago, Cook was seen, at least by outsiders, as a third-stringer/emergency guy, but by playoff time was MSU's No. 1 goalie. That column has sparked a couple of interesting comments on the blog, and I wanted to clarify a couple of things: 1) This was a column about Cook and, especially, his stellar play over the last two weeks; it was not an overall assessment of the MSU goalie corps. 2) The column was not an indictment of any of the other goalies on the MSU roster. ...

In Thursday's Free Press, I have a college hockey notebook that takes a look at some of the other teams in the area, including the Gustavus Adolphus women's team, which opens the season this weekend at Concordia (Wis.). The Gusties are ranked fifth in the country and will be going for their seventh consecutive MIAC regular-season championship this year. ...

The Minnesota State women's team will host winless St. Cloud State this weekend and are hoping that will be a reprieve in what's been a brutally tough schedule to start the season. The Mavericks are coming off two losses at No. 1-ranked Wisconsin. They appeared to play the Badgers tough, falling 3-2 in the first game and trailing 2-1 after two periods in the second game before allowing four more goals in a 6-1 loss. "We just ran out of gas," MSU coach Eric Means said. The Mavericks are 1-5-0 in WCHA play, dropping two games at Minnesota Duluth, splitting a home series against North Dakota and then falling twice at Wisconsin. "No question we played probably the three toughest teams in the league," Means said. ...

The eighth-ranked Gustavus men's team won a pair of 2-1 games in the MIAC showcase last week in Blaine. They will play a pair of home games this weekend, hosting Wisconsin-Eau Claire and Wisconsin-River Falls.