Friday, December 30, 2011

Mavericks 3, Team USA 3 (OT)

Freddy's Three Thoughts of the Game ...

1. Late-game heroics: After the Mavericks fell behind 3-2 with 2:37 to play in the third period, it took a short-handed goal with an extra attacker on the ice to force overtime. Eriah Hayes scored the game-tying goal with 51.7 seconds left in the third period, firing back the rebound of a Zach Lehrke shot. Michael Dorr also assisted on the play. Other goal scorers for the Mavericks were Corey Leivermann and Matt Leitner (power play) both in the second period to give MSU a 2-1 lead.

2. No slouch: The U.S. team might not have been as dynamic as the Phil Kessel-led one that played here several years ago, but it was nothing to sneeze at. Miami recruits Ryan Hartman (two) and Riley Barber scored the goals, and Ohio State-bound Collin Olson was solid in goal, with 33 saves, including six in overtime. Remember: that team beat Vermont earlier this season and lost to Michigan 3-1 and Denver 3-0. It was a good start-of-the-second-half test for the Mavericks.

3. Cook & Co.: All three MSU goalies played, combining for 27 saves. Austin Lee got the start and allowed one goal. Evan Karambelas finished, giving up two goals in the third period and stopping one shot late in overtime. But it was nice to see Phil Cook play the second period and bounce back from a couple of very rough outings. He stopped all 10 shots he faced in the second period, including a tough one moving across the crease on an open put-back try after giving up a fat rebound.

Deep thought: You thought the Mavericks would come out of a weekend unscathed? Not this year. Sophomore forward J.P. Burkemper was hit hard into the boards on his first shift and came off holding his wrist. He did not return. Sounds like it might be broken. We'll find out more this week.

Check out my game story here.

Around the WCHA: Boston College 2, Michigan Tech 1 ... Minnesota 5, Niagara 1 ... Western Michigan 2, St. Cloud State 1 (OT) ... Bemidji State 4, Bowling Green 1 ... Harvard 4, North Dakota 4 (OT) ... Quinnipiac 2, Nebraska Omaha 2 (OT) ... Air Force 2, Colorado College 1 ... Denver 3, Union 1

Happy new year, everybody!

MSU vs. U.S. Under-18 National Team — live blog

Lines are posted below the live blog ...



MINNESOTA STATE
23-Dorr     19-Lehrke     25-Hayes
6-LaFontaine     18-Leitner     8-Gaede
15-Burkemper     29-Zuck     14-Jokinen
24-Mueller     26-Schiller     22-McInnis
11-Leivermann     20-Thauwald

17-Mosey     16-Elbrecht
7-Palmquist     2-Nelson
3-Cooper     10-Knoll

1-Lee
31-Karambelas
30-Cook

Scratches: Grant, Heath, Stern, Louwerse

TEAM USA
21-Lane     14-DiPauli     22-Barber
9-Osterberg     17-Kerdiles     19-Darcy
13-Vatrano     27-Shore     18-Hartman
11-Olsson     12-Koules     20-Silk
26-Copp

10-Sieloff     6-Wade
16-Skjei     3-Pesce
7-Grzelcyk     24-Carrick
5-Stoick

29-Olson
1-Rutledge

Friday Morning Skate

There's hockey tonight in Mankato. Minnesota State will play the U.S. Under-18 National Team in an exhibition game. For the Mavericks, they believe it's a good way to kick off the second half of the season.

Like the exhibition at the beginning of the season, MSU can dress everyone for this game. That means the only players who won't be in uniform will be Mike Louwerse (upper body), Brett Stern (upper body), Danny Heath (upper body) and Chase Grant (hip surgery).

Coach Troy Jutting said each of the team's three goalies will play one period. But that's just to give them all some playing time. Austin Lee remains the No. 1 goaltender right now and should be the starter next Friday at St. Lawrence.

The U.S. team is loaded with Division I prospects but is missing defenseman Jacob Trouba, who is playing in the World Junior Championships. Against other college teams this year, the Under-18s are 1-4-0 against D-I schools, losing to Michigan (3-1), Colorado College (5-0), Denver (3-0) and Maine (6-4) and beating Vermont (2-1). They are also 3-2-0 against D-III schools.

The last time MSU played the national team was in 2005, and that game ended in a 5-5 tie. That year, the Under-18s featured Phil Kessel and Jack Johnson.

Several WCHA teams are in action this weekend ...

Minnesota will host the Mariucci Classic and will play Niagara then Northeastern or Princeton. Gophers goalie Michael Shibrowski is ready to play — even if it's not until next year.

Michigan Tech is in the Great Lakes Invitational. After losing to Michigan State on Thursday, the Huskies will play Boston College today.

St. Cloud State upset Western Michigan on Thursday, and those teams will play the second game of the series today.

Bemidji State hosts Bowling Green in a nonconference series. For the Beavers, it marks the second time this season they're playing a future WCHA team.

North Dakota hosts Harvard, and the Sioux are hoping to help the WCHA improve its not-so-dominant nonconference record. That mark could limit the number of league teams that make the national tournament. Currently, just two — maybe three — teams would be in.

Nebraska Omaha hosts Quinnipiac and has the same designs on the weekend as North Dakota. Like a few other teams in the WCHA, Omaha is without a player who is skating in the World Junior Championships. However, the red Mavericks are also without their coach, Dean Blais, who is coaching the U.S. team.

Colorado College hosts Air Force and Union, and Denver will play the same two teams this weekend. The Colorado Springs Gazette takes a look at Air Force and its lack of success against CC and DU. Perhaps the Falcons will be aided by those teams losing Jaden Schwartz and Jason Zucker to the Junior tournament.

Wisconsin will play the Under-18s on Saturday night, and Madison will get a peek at recruit Nic Kerdiles, who leads the U.S. team in goals.

USCHO takes a look at the second half of the WCHA season here.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Break time's over (updated)

After getting a little rest around the holiday break, PucKato is back!

I'm writing this from the Verizon Wireless Center where the Mavericks are practicing in preparation for Friday night's exhibition game against the U.S. Under-18 National Team.

A few observations from practice:

• Mike Louwerse, who left the Friday game against Colorad College in the first period with an upper-body injury is not skating today. He said he's out for a couple more weeks.

• Defenseman Brett Stern (upper body) is skating but is wearing a white helmet with red crosses on it. This is a new thing for MSU, I believe. I've heard of other teams incorporating red-cross jerseys or ones designated for no contact. Not sure how long Stern will remain out.

• Defenseman Danny Heath is skating but with a track suit similar to ones the coaches wear. Good to see him back on the ice, but I believe he remains out indefinitely with an upper-body injury.

UPDATE: Coach Troy Jutting is clearly tired of talking about injuries, since they began happening on the first game of the season. He did not give a timeline to any of the players' return to action. "Until they're out there," he said. Louwerse, Stern, Heath and Chase Grant, who is out for the season after having hip surgery earlier this month, are all out for Friday's game.

• Staying on the subject of defensemen, Joe Schiller is skating as a forward today. Injuries have put him on the blue line most of the season. I wonder how long he'll stay up front. Speculation here, but I"m guessing he's playing forward tomorrow so the coaches can get a look at freshman Mat Knoll back on D. Knoll has played in 11 games this season. Or they're preparing for Stern's eventual return. With Louwerse out, the Mavericks need  a boost at center. Remember: Schiller began the season as the team's No. 1-line center.

UPDATE: Jutting said Schiller likely will play both F and D throughout the rest of the season, whether that's during games or within games. "It gives us the opportunity to have seven defensemen if we need it because of injury or whatever," Jutting said, "and we'll still have the ability to play 12 forwards. It's great when you have the flexibility of a guy like Joe."

More to come Friday morning in the Friday Morning Skate.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Tigers 6, Mavericks 2

Freddy's Three Thoughts of the Game ...

1. Playing from behind: Colorado College scored two power play goals in the first 10 minutes of the game, and Minnesota State simply couldn't play well from behind the rest of the night. The Tigers finished 3 for 6 on the power play and outshot MSU 44-26 for the game. The Mavericks might have thought they deserved better in Friday's 2-1 overtime loss, but they earned Saturday's loss.

2. A highlight (or two): MSU didn't give the small crowd of 2,622 much to cheer about, but there were two nice moments. The Mavericks made a pretty play for a power-play goal that made it 2-1 at 15:13 of the first period. Zach Lehrke and Max Gaede each made a spinning pass, with the latter skimming across the crease before Jean-Paul LaFontaine slammed it into the net at the right post. It was LaFontaine's 10th goal of the year. The other highlight was Michael Dorr's short-handed breakaway at 10:04 of the third period. But that made it a 5-2 game.

3. Looking for a win: Sure, the Mavericks beat Alabama Huntsville handily a week ago, but they have not won a WCHA game in their last nine tries, going 0-8-1 in that span. They are 2-11-1 at the midway point of the league schedule, the worst 14-game start since they joined the league in 1999-2000. They're last in the WCHA, two points out of 11th place and five points out of 10th. With an exibition game on Dec. 30 and a nonconference series at St. Lawrence on Jan. 6-7, the Mavericks won't play a WCHA series again until Jan. 13-14 when they host Wisconsin.

Deep thought: LaFontaine's uncle, Hockey Hall of Famer Pat LaFontaine, attended Saturday's game, as did MSU recruit Teddy Blueger of Latvia via Shattuck-St. Mary's in Faribault, who signed with the Mavs last month.

Quote of the night: "Stick penalties, not good penalties." — MSU coach Troy Jutting on his team's three tripping penalties committed in the game's first 8 1/2 minutes.

Around the WCHA: St. Cloud State 5, Denver 1 ... Bemidji State 5, Alabama Huntsville 0 ... North Dakota 5, Russian Red Stars 1 (exhibition)

MSU vs. CC — Game 2 live blog

Lines are posted below the live chat. The only change for MSU is on the fourth line where Corey Leivermann will play in the place of Mike Louwerse, who was hurt in the first period on Friday.



MINNESOTA STATE
23-Dorr     14-Jokinen     22-McInnis
15-Burkemper     19-Lehrke     25-Hayes
12-LaFontaine     18-Leitner     8-Gaede
24-Mueller     29-Zuck     11-Leivermann

3-Cooper     26-Schiller
7-Palmquist     16-Elbrecht
17-Mosey     2-Nelson

1-Lee
31-Karambelas
30-Cook

Scratches: Grant, Heath, Knoll, Louwerse, Stern, Thauwald

COLORADO COLLEGE
12-Skalbeck     13-Schwartz     27-Rapuzzi
16-Krushelnyski     22-Dineen     15-Hamburg
9-Eveland     11-Civitarese     21-Collett
18-Wamsganz     23-Hall     19-Morin

10-Guentzel     7-McDermott
5-Harstad     4-Marciano
6-Stoykewych    28-Bovin

39-Thorimbert
31-Howe

Friday, December 16, 2011

Tigers 2, Mavericks 1 (OT)

Pat Christman/The Free Press
Freddy's Three Thoughts of the Game ...

1. No Howe, no matter: Colorado College goalie Joe Howe has scored 1-0 victories over Minnesota State in Mankato (the town of his birth) in each of the last two seasons. But he was on the bench Friday night, as Josh Thorimbert got the nod. Thorimbert did a pretty good impression of Howe, holding a 1-0 lead until 4:34 remained in regulation. Mavericks freshman Matt Leitner tied the game then and that eventually forced overtime where CC's David Civitarese scored the game-winning goal at 1:28. Thorimbert stopped 37 shots for the win, including 15 of 16 in the third period.

2. Slowing CC: The Tigers went into the series as the nation's top-scoring team but dropped to second after Friday's game after being held to their lowest offensive output of the season. Jeff Collett scored on a back-door play from Dakota Eveland at 12:51 of the second period, and Civitarese walked out of the corner dangling the puck and ripped a wrister for the game winner in OT. Mavericks goalie Austin Lee was rock-solid, making 27 saves. Minnesota State simply couldn't cash in on its opportunities — just six days after putting nine goals on the board against Alabama Huntsville.

3. Quick whistle? The Mavericks very nearly scored their first goal of the game with about three minutes remaining in the second period. That's when Zach Lehrke made a nice move cutting to the inside and firing a tricky shot on Thorimbert from the slot. Lehrke must have seen the puck not yet secure and darted toward the goalie. But the referee behind the net lost sight of the puck and blew his whistle. Moments later, Lehrke was tapping the puck into the goal, but it was clearly after play was blown dead.

Deep thought: Want a better idea of how small a crowd 2,395 is at the VWC? Well, about an hour or so after the game, the arena's clean-up crew found a puck that had been shot into the stands and tossed it on the ice. Apparently, there wasn't anyone in that area around during the game to grab it four a souvenir.

Quote of the night: "I definitely wish we would have won the game for as well as our team played. Tomorrow we have to play the same game but execute on our chances." MSU senior forward Justin Jokinen.

Around the WCHA: Northern Michigan 4, Michigan Tech 1 ... Bemidji State 3, Alabama Huntsville 0 ... Denver 3, St. Cloud State 2 (OT)

MSU vs. CC — Game 1 live blog

Lines are posted below the live blog ...


MINNESOTA STATE
23-Dorr     14-Jokinen     22-McInnis
15-Burkemper     19-Lehrke     25-Hayes
12-LaFontaine     18-Leitner     8-Gaede
24-Mueller     29-Zuck     9-Louwerse

3-Cooper     26-Schiller
7-Palmquist     16-Elbrecht
17-Mosey     2-Nelson

1-Lee
31-Karambelas
30-Cook

Scratches: Grant, Heath, Knoll, Leivermann, Stern, Thauwald

COLORADO COLLEGE
12-Skalbeck     13-Schwartz     27-Rapuzzi
16-Krushelnyski     22-Dineen     15-Hamburg
9-Eveland     11-Civitarese     21-Collett
19-Morin     23-Hall     17-Taft

10-Guentzel     7-McDermott
5-Harstad     4-Marciano
6-Stoykewych     28-Boivin

39-Thorimbert
31-Howe

Referees: Tom Sterns, C.J. Beaurline. Linesmen: Chris Olson, Sterling Egan

Friday Morning Skate

The Mavericks will close out the first half of their WCHA schedule this weekend when they host seventh-ranked Colorado College (last weekend marked the halfway point of the regular season). Minnesota State is hoping that injuries were indeed the biggest factor to their slow start (even a sweep of the Tigers ensures of them of no better than equalling their worst first-half conference record) and that they can build off a solid outing at Minnesota and a sweep of Alabama Huntsville.

The lineup shouldn't be much different than last Saturday against the Chargers, with the exception of Eli Zuck's return from injury. More from the Freep's gameday package: MSU might have caught a break with CC's Jaden Schwartz and Scott Winkler out to play in international competition. But goalie Joe Howe will be here. Born in Mankato, he has a pair of 1-0 shutouts at the Verizon Wireless Center, one in each of the last two seasons.

From the Tigers side, however, it looks like goaltender Josh Thorimbert might have the edge over Howe right now after Howe struggled last weekend in a home loss to Alaska Anchorage. Check out The Gazette's series preview here. Also, like many coaches, CC's Scott Owens says Minnesota State is much better than its record shows.

Going around a quiet weekend in the WCHA ...

Denver at St. Cloud State: The Pioneers will have Jason Zucker in the lineup tonight before heads off to practice with Team USA before the World Junior Championships. For the Huskies, Nick Oliver is starting to score, and St. Cloud hopes that can help it separate itself from a clump of teams in the middle of the WCHA.

In nonconference action, Bemidji State hosts Alabama Huntsville for two games, and Michigan Tech will play at Northern Michigan tonight.

Meanwhile, Nebraska Omaha is off this weekend and before coach Dean Blais headed out to coach the U.S. junior team, he had to dismiss senior and one-time captain Alex Hudson.

More coverage from USCHO and a midseason WCHA review from Inside College Hockey.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Another D commits to MSU

According to Minnesota Hockey Hub on Thursday, Eagan High School defenseman Eli May has committed to Minnesota State. The senior is a 6-foot-1, 190-pound blue liner on a team purportedly loaded with Division I talent. May played two seasons in the fall Elite League, too.

According to the Hub's story, May is sold on the MSU coaches, saying: "I like the coaching staff. I just really liked the environment. They say you should go with your gut feeling, and I went with my gut."

May is a co-captain on the state's fourth-ranked team.

The story doesn't say when May is coming to Mankato. I'm speculating it will be after a year of junior hockey, considering he's a current high school player (there just aren't many who are making the direct leap these days) and the fact that MSU has two D coming in next season and is losing just one, Cameron Cooper — well, two, if we count Joe Schiller, which I suppose we should be doing now.

Answering your questions

Thanks to everyone who sent in questions. So without further ado ...

From crossjcek: Do you see Phil Cook getting playing time this season to gain some confidence back or do we see Karambelas get time to prep for next year? I am excited about Williams but I was also about Murdock. Hopefully we will get to see Murdock play in the building when LSSU join the WCHA.

Crossjcek, the line chart last week listed Karambelas as the backup to Lee, and Karambelas also went to Minnesota as the No. 2. I’m really not sure right now what the Mavericks will do if Lee struggles or needs a break. Jutting has said all the right things in regards to Cook, that he’s a good goalie, that he needs to get back on track mentally, etc. Games are too important to simply test a goalie’s confidence, so they’ll have to be convinced from practice and in talking to him that he’s good to go. As for Stephon Williams, I’ve heard good things about him. Currently, he has a league-leading .924 SV% as well as a 2.46 GAA for Sioux Falls of the USHL. Meanwhile, one-time Mav Kevin Murdock is now at Lake Superior. He’s played just two games behind fellow sophomore Kevin Kapalka, but he stopped 51 of 54 shots in those games and is 1-1.

From Dave: I like the way the guys have been playing lately, how much does being healthy have to do with that or is just growing into college hockey? Also, other than CC this weekend and UMD, UND at the end, the remaining schedule looks favorable. How do you see the boys finishing?

Dave, I think health is huge. Getting Tyler Elbrecht helped the team in so many ways. Besides providing depth on defense, he’s the team’s vocal and emotional leader. It’s hard to be that guy while wearing a suit and a cast. You could see what he brought in those Minnesota games. But I also think that you’re seeing a team that is led by young players. They have a lot of talent and have showed it, but the next step is figuring out how to win games. We’ll see if the Huntsville games can carry over into conference play. As to predicting how they’ll finish, I think with a more favorable second-half schedule, especially with a lot of home games, they have a good chance to climb out of the cellar. How many teams they’ll pass, though, I’m not sure yet.

From MSU Grad 97: Who do you see as the next Maverick to play in the NHL, and how many Mavericks are out there professionally not in the NHL right now? It would be good to get updates on who is still out there playing either in the minors or in Europe.

MSU Grad, Of the current players, I think the next MSU player to get a banner up in the VWC for playing in the NHL is probably Eriah Hayes. I think there’s some intrigue about him as a free agent, whether it’s after this season or next. Then there’s Tyler Pitlick, who is one of the Oilers’ top prospects. Who knows? Maybe Ben Youds will get a cup of coffee for the Blackhawks. He’s playing for their top minor-league team right now. As for how many pros are out there, the latest MSU weekly press release shows 24 alums playing in the NHL, the minors and Europe. I’ll try to put an update on the blog about them next week.

From MSU Grad 97: Another question - is there any real plans of action they have to help get people back in the Wireless after this season? The schedule, as you have mentioned, with weekends without students and having to go at the same time as basketball, is killing the atmosphere there. I am hoping there is a plan for making sure that they're leagues do not intertwine this much again and a plan to get people back interested in the team and the Civic Center other than better performance.

UMD women's coach suspended

Minnesota Duluth women's coach Shannon Miller has been suspended by the WCHA for one game due to a violation of the league's Code of Conduct. She will miss Friday's game here in Mankato against Minnesota State.

According to a league press release, the suspension comes after the executive committee reviewed "an incident that occurred following a game versus Ohio State on Nov. 26."

The Duluth News-Tribune confirmed that the incident involved an official.

This is the second time that Miller has been suspended by the league and the second time that the suspension affects a game in Mankato. Miller was reprimanded for an incident at the 2003 women's Final Five, and the punishment took place during the next season's opener against MSU.

Strangely, Miller opted to skip the entire trip to Mankato to start the '03-04 opener, not just the game for which she was suspended. The Mavericks upset the Bulldogs both nights, as goalie Shari Vogt (now one of the MSU assistant coaches) stopped 72 shots in the series.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A column (and a correction)

In my Free Press column today, I went after the NCHC a little but. But, really, it was a call to the WCHA to start getting its own message out before it becomes the Island of Misfit Hockey Teams, as some (at least around Kato town) are fearing it will become.

Anyway, one issue I had with the NCHC was the fact that it was sending out weekly press releases, similar to that the WCHA does, touting the play of its teams. North Dakota sports information director and good guy Jason Hajdu told me via Twitter this morning that those releases were discontinued a few weeks ago. Thanks for the clarification. Consider this a correction.

But I'm going to ask my readers: What do you think the WCHA/Minnesota State need to do over the next year and a half to prepare for 2013-14? Any thoughts?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Mavs get D commit

Minnesota State recently received a verbal commitment for next season from defenseman Nick Buchanan of the Penticton Vees of the British Columbia Hockey League. Buchanan is a 6-foot-3, 205-pound defensive defenseman from the BCHL's top team. He has seven assists in 31 games.

Buchanan, a Victoria, B.C., native, is teammates with another future Maverick, forward Bryce Gervais, who was traded to the Vees from the Salmon Arm Silverbacks. Gervais has 28 goals and 15 assists in 31 games.

The Vees are loaded with future college players, including Minnesota-bound Connor Reilly, Mike Reilly and Ryan Reilly (three brothers from Chanhassen); St. Cloud State-bound Joey Benik of St. Francis; and Notre Dame-bound Mario Lucia, son of Gophers coach Don Lucia.

You want answers?!?!?

It's been awhile since I've offered up a Q&A. But with the season nearing its midway point, it's probably a good time to get your questions. Here are the rules: Post a question about MSU hockey or, really, anything you want, in the comment section of this post, and, probably Thursday, I will put up a blog post answering said questions. Looking forward to hearing from you!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Mavericks 9, Chargers 1

Pat Christman/The Free Press
Freddy's Three Thoughts of the Game:

1. Check the record book: The Mavericks haven't swept anyone for awhile, but you only had to go back to last season (Jan. 7-8 against American International) to find that. As for scoring nine goals, well, that took some work. That hasn't happened since March 6, 2004 when they beat Nebraska Omaha 9-1. This game was all MSU, and it really didn't matter what the situation was. The Mavericks scored three short-handed goals and two power-play goals. Huntsville's only goal came in a 5x3 situation.

2. Everybody's scoring: Michael Dorr scored two short-handed goals, and Zach Lehrke had the other. Lehrke also had another goal and an assist for a three-point game (he was the No. 1 star). Eriah Hayes had a goal and an assist, and Josh Nelson finished with two assists. Other goal scorers included Matt Leitner, J.P. Burkemper, Johnny McInnis and Corey Leivermann. That was Leivermann's first goal and first point of the year. In all, 13 players had at least one point for the Mavericks.

3. Confidence before CC: So what does MSU get out of beating up a 1-17-1 team that just found out this week that it won't be eliminated as a program at the end of the season? Well, confidence. The Mavericks got a lot of guys on the score sheet and really took it to the Chargers from the get-go on Saturday. For Dorr, who had just one goal going into the night, two shorties certainly seemed to give him a lift. "A lot of guys have been frustrated with the lack of scoring, myself included, so a blowout really helps with confidence," he said. Next week will be a little tougher, as the Mavericks will host No.6 Colorado College.

Deep thought: Lehrke's first goal, which made it a 2-0 game, was a thing of beauty. He jumped over the boards for a shift and picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone, then he skated it in and fired on net. He got his own rebound and skated around the back of the net and back out to the left circle and took another shot through traffic. That one went in for the unassisted goal.

Quote of the night: "It was a great weekend, and we still had to work hard to do it. Four goals last night and nine tonight. Obviously, something was working. Our forecheck. We were shooting pucks, getting on rebounds, so that's good. Hopefully, we can carry the momentum to next weekend."

Read the game story here.

Around the WCHA: Bemidji State 2, Denver 1 ... North Dakota 1, Nebraska Omaha 0 ... Minnesota Duluth 4, Wisconsin 2 ... Colorado College 4, Alaska Anchorage 3 ... Minnesota 6, Michigan Tech 2

MSU vs. UAH — Game 2 live blog

A couple of changes for the Mavericks tonight. J.P. Burkemper is back in the lineup. Lines can be found below the live blog ...



MINNESOTA STATE
15-Burkemper     19-Lehrke     25-Hayes
12-LaFontaine     18-Leitner     8-Gaede
23-Dorr     14-Jokinen     22-McInnis
24-Mueller     9-Louwerse     11-Leivermann

3-Cooper     26-Schiller
7-Palmquist     16-Elbrecht
17-Mosey     2-Nelson

1-Lee
31-Karambelas
30-Cook

Scratches: Grant, Heath, Knoll, Stern, Thauwald, Zuck

ALABAMA HUNTSVILLE

12-Roy      26-Cseter      27-Lysaght
22-S. Geoffrion      7-Easton      19-Pierce  
5-B. Geoffrion     18-Creppin      16-Reid
13-Webley      8-Allan      15-Kotlarz

2-Strukoff      23-deBruyn
28-Reinhardt      24-Durnie
20-Uusivirta      14-Gatt

33-Saunders
32-Groh
31-Griggs

Referees: Pat Britt, Brett Klosowski
Linesmen: Matt Anderson, Nick Bradshaw

Friday, December 9, 2011

Mavericks 4, Chargers 2

Pat Christman/The Free Press
Freddy's Three Thoughts of the Game

1. Much-needed win: The Mavericks snapped a seven game winless streak on Friday by beating Alabama Huntsville before 2,421 at the Verizon Wireless Center. Minnesota State's last win came on Nov. 11 against St. Cloud State. "It's great to get a win," MSU coach Troy Jutting said. "I thought we played well, but we needed to win."

2. Suddenly, a power play: Minnesota State finished 3 for 5 on the power play and also held Huntsville scoreless on three power-play chances. Eriah Hayes (pictured), Johnny McInnis and Zach Lehrke all scored power play goals. Lehrke's was an empty-netter to seal the win with 30 seconds remaining. McInnis' goal stood up as the game-winner. He has proven in his year-plus as a Mavericks that he can shoot the puck, but the goals haven't come. That was his second of the season and the third of his career. Read more about McInnis in The Free Press' game story.

3. 15 yards or 5 minutes: Late in the second period, there was a scuffle around the MSU net after a Chargers scoring chance. Officials took at least 10 (maybe 15?) minutes to sort out the penalties, and they doled out four 5-minute majors for facemasking, including one each to the Mavs' Tyler Elbrecht and Zach Palmquist. Huntsville's Jeff Vanderlugt also got a game DQ during the altercation. Neither team ended up on the power play after the situation. The refs also ended up reviewing the scoring chance and determined that no goal was scored. Weird.

Quote of the night: "Everyone wants to score big goals. But to lose seven in a row and finally get the W, as a hockey player you want to contribute to that." — MSU forward Johnny McInnis (the Mavs actually went 0-6-1 in their last seven games)

Around the WCHA: Minnesota Duluth 3, Wisconsin 3 (OT) ... Michigan Tech 3, Minnesota 2 (OT) ... Denver 3, Bemidji State 2 ... Nebraska Omaha 2, North Dakota 1 ... Alaska Anchorage 6, Colorado College 3

MSU vs. UAH — Game 1 live blog

Lines can be found below the live blog ...



MINNESOTA STATE
24-Mueller     9-Louwerse     23-Dorr
11-Leivermann     19-Lehrke     25-Hayes
12-LaFontaine     18-Leitner     8-Gaede
22-McInnis     14-Jokinen     20-Thauwald

3-Cooper     26-Schiller
7-Palmquist     16-Elbrecht
17-Mosey     2-Nelson

1-Lee
31-Karambelas
30-Cook

Scratches: Burkemper (inj.), Grant (inj.), Heath (inj.) Knoll, Stern (inj.), Zuck (inj.)

ALABAMA-HUNTSVILLE
12-Roy      26-Cseter      27-Lysaght
19-Pierce      7-Easton      21-Vanderlugt
5-Geoffrion      18-Creppin      16-Reid
13-Webley      8-Allan      15-Kotlarz

2-Strukoff      23-deBruyn
28-Reinhardt      24-Durnie
20-UUsivirta      14-Gatt

33-Saunders
32-Groh
31-Griggs

Referees: Pat Britt, Brett Klosowski
Linesmen: Matt Anderson, Nick Bradshaw

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Friday Morning Skate

The Mavericks are back in Mankato this weekend and are taking on Alabama Huntsville, whose players surely have spring in their step after their program appeared to get a reprieve this week.

More on the Chargers in a sec ...

As for Minnesota State, it is looking to break a seven-game winless streak after playing Minnesota pretty tough, only to get swept, a week ago. The Mavericks got some bad injury news this week, as Eli Zuck and J.P. Burkemper are out with minor injuries. They will be replaced by recent healthy scratches Mike Louwerse and Charlie Thauwald. Louwerse will center Adam Mueller and Michael Dorr. Thauwald will play on the fourth line, with Corey Leivermann moving up to Burkemper's spot with Zach Lehrke and Eriah Hayes.

Staying on the subject of Lehrke, he is the subject of today's feature in The Free Press. He is the third of three Lehrke brothers from Park Rapids, all of whom went on to play college hockey. Derek attended D-III Northland in Ashland, Wis., and Tyler played at Bemidji State.

For more on the Mavericks, see today's gameday preview.

Meanwhile, The Huntsville Times has plenty of coverage on the effort to save hockey, including this story on UAH's new president and a rather scathing column on the old interim president and current University of Alabama system chancellor Malcolm Portera, the man who gave hockey the ax a couple of months ago. Meanwhile, coach Chris Luongo has been given the go-ahead to schedule games for next year (Troy Jutting told me that MSU had Huntsville on the schedule for next year already and that those games have not been changed).

Going around the WCHA ...

Michigan Tech at Minnesota: Fresh off their sweep of the Mavericks the Gophers will host the much-improved Huskies, whose first-year coach, Mel Pearson, played against Minnesota's Don Lucia when the two were in high school. Tech is in the meat of its schedule right now, having been swept for the first time this season a week ago against defending national champion Minnesota Duluth.

Minnesota Duluth at Wisconsin: The Bulldogs are No. 1 in the country and riding a 12-game unbeaten streak into Madison, and some are wondering if this will be UMD's last trip to the Kohl Center. For the Badgers, much has been made about all-star defenseman Justin Schultz, but what about his partner, Frankie Simonelli?

Denver at Bemidji State: Apparently, you can't discuss anything Denver-related right now without mentioning Tim Tebow, and DU hockey is no exception. The Beavers, meanwhile, are expecting a tough matchup with the Pioneers in town.

Nebraska Omaha at North Dakota: It's the Blais bowl as Omaha coach Dean Blais returns to Grand Forks. But the UND's old coach won't be the only familiar name to fans in The Ralph tonight. As for the team formerly known as the Fighting Sioux (TFKATFS — put that on the jersey!), junior Corban Knight seems to do it all.

Alaska Anchorage at Colorado College: The Seawolves are tied for last place in the WCHA with MSU and are trying to grab some points before the first half of the season ends against a good CC team. As for the Tigers, superstar Jaden Schwartz is excited to get a second chance at playing in the World Junior Championships later this month. An injury derailed the opportunity to play for Team Canada a year ago. (His selection to the team, by the way, will force him to miss next weekend's series in Mankato — a nice break for the Mavs.)

More WCHA coverage at USCHO.

Be sure to stop back on the blog later today for tonight's lineups and PucKato's world-famous live blog.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Huntsville coming with good news

Don't bury the Alabama Huntsville Chargers just yet. On the eve of their trip to Mankato for this weekend's nonconference series against Minnesota State, the program just might have been saved, according to The Huntsville Times.

Plans have not been put in place, but after a Tuesday meeting, school officials announced:
"Members of The University of Alabama in Huntsville administration met this evening with hockey supporters, following discussions with Chancellor Malcolm Portera, and came to a consensus to work closely together to pursue institutional and community support to continue UAH hockey at the Division I level.
"Several scenarios were discussed to ensure recurring support is in place, and the two groups will continue to meet in the coming days to finalize a workable plan."
This comes nearly two months after it was announced that the team would be dismantled as an NCAA Division I program after this season be reverted to club status. However, there has been a grass-roots effort to save the program, and the group says it has raised $500,000 in pledges, according to the Times' story.

It will be interesting to see what happens going forward, as Chargers players have already begun looking into transferring (it was reported earlier this week that goalie Clarke Saunders is headed to North Dakota), and the issue of remaining an independent program amid all of the upcoming conference changes has yet to be resolved (the WCHA could use a 10th team, no?).

Huntsville and MSU will play on Friday and Saturday at the Verizon Wireless Center.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Post, post, spin, save

Here's that Austin Lee save from Saturday night at Mariucci Arena:

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Minnesota 3, Minnesota State 2

Freddy's Three Thoughts of the Game:

1. Digging a hole: Minnesota State fell behind 3-0 in the first period Saturday, and it tried to mount a comeback from there. But this wasn't Alaska-Anchorage. The Gophers made the Mavericks work. Zach Lehrke scored two power play goals — one in the second period and one in the third — but that was as close as MSU would get. Jean-Paul LaFontaine assisted on both MSU goals.

2. Can't make it up: Lehrke probably needed a hat trick to make up for his first-minute penalty, one that Mavericks coach Troy Jutting called "stupid," "dumb" and "selfish" in separate statements. Forty seconds into the game, Lehrke hit Minnesota's Erik Haula after the whistle and was called for unsportsmanlike conduct. Seth Ambroz scored on the power play to give the Gophers the early lead. "I just got frustrated, I guess, with Haula," Lehrke said. "Even last night he was getting in my head a little bit. I just gotta control that."

3. Breaking away: The Mavericks missed out on two breakaway chances Saturday and ended up 0 for 5 for the weekend in that category. With the game 1-0, Gophers goalie Kent Patterson gloved a shot by Justin Jokinen, and when it was 3-1 late in the second, Patterson made a nice play to get his blocker on Matt Leitner's open rush. Patterson finished the game with 26 saves.

Deep thought: MSU goaltender Austin Lee (37 saves) played much better than he did on Friday, and made an amazing save in the second period, as Kyle Rau fired a shot that hit the right post then the left before Lee reached behind his back while spinning around to swat the puck away. Good stuff.

Quote of the night: "I'm worried about the next game. The winless streak, with the things that have gone on with our hockey team this year, don't bother me. We just played an excellent hockey team two nights in a row in their building and battled them to the end both nights. We're getting better." — MSU coach Troy Jutting on the Mavericks' seven-game winless streak.

Around the WCHA: Nebraska Omaha 6, Alabama Huntsville 2 ... Minnesota Duluth 5, Michigan Tech 3 ... Bemidji State 3, St. Cloud State 1 ... North Dakota at Alaska Anchorage (late)

Minnesota State at Minnesota - Game 2 live blog

Minnesota State's lineup is the same tonight as last night. Lines can be found below the live blog ...




MINNESOTA STATE
15-Burkemper     19-Lehrke     25-Hayes
24-Mueller     29-Zuck     23-Dorr
12-LaFontaine     18-Leitner     8-Gaede
22-McInnis     14-Jokinen     11-Leivermann

3-Cooper     26-Schiller
7-Palmquist     16-Elbrecht
17-Mosey     2-Nelson

1-Lee
31-Karambelas

Scratches: Cook, Grant (inj.), Heath (inj.), Knoll, Louwerse, Stern (inj.), Thauwald

MINNESOTA
16-Condon     9-Matson     17-Ambroz
7-Rau     27-Bjugstad     24-Budish
14-Serratore     22-Boyd     18-Larson
11-Warning     19-Haula     21-Isackson

4-Helgeson     12-Holl
10-Marshall     20-Alt
6-Parenteau     29-Schmidt

35-Patterson
1-Shibrowski
30-Kremer

Friday, December 2, 2011

Gophers 4, Mavericks 2 (updated)

Freddy's Three Thoughts of the Game:

1. Ten-second turning point: A close game hinged on a Minnesota power play early in the third period. Minnesota State senior (and one-time Gopher) Michael Dorr had a short-handed breakaway but fired his shot wide. Minnesota came right back down to the other end of the ice, and Erik Haula blasted a shot past goalie Austin Lee (26 saves) from the right point. Not sure if Lee was screened on the play. Replay seemed to show that defenseman Josh Nelson was in front of his teammate, but coach Troy Jutting suggested that there was no screen. Either way, it was the difference in the game.

2. Long goals: Haula wasn't the only player with a long goal that the opposing goaltender would have liked back. MSU defenseman Evan Mosey scored the Mavericks' first goal, tying the game at 1-1 at 8:04 of the first period with a skipping shot from just inside the blue line that beat goalie Kent Patterson (26 saves). Lee also gave up a low, far-side shot from the right circle on the game's opening goal by Taylor Matson and didn't cover the near post enough on Nick Larson's goal that made it 2-1 at the start of the third period. Minnesota's other goal was an empty-netter by Jake Hanson.

3. Youngsters step up again: The Mavericks tied the game at 2-2 with a power-play goal at 9:28 of the second period. Freshman Jean-Paul LaFontaine scored it for his eighth goal of the season, but the play started with a heady play by rookie defenseman Zach Palmquist. Palmquist kicked the puck near the blue line to keep the puck in the zone. Then he gathered it up, beat a defender and charged hard to the net. He was checked into the goal, creating a pile-up in the net on top of Patterson, and LaFontaine fired in a loose puck. Zach Lehrke also assisted on the play.

Deep thought: It's got to be frustrating for MSU right now. They played the country's fifth-ranked team toe to toe only to extend their winless streak to six games. They've also had a six-game losing streak already this season.

Quote of the night: "That's a 10-second difference that could have been the exact opposite, a huge momentum for us at obviously a key point in the hockey game." — Troy Jutting on the turning point of the game.

See the box score here. Read my gamer here. More coverage from the Star Tribune, the Pioneer Press, USCHO and College Hockey News.

Around the WCHA: Minnesota Duluth 5, Michigan Tech 3 ... Alabama-Huntsville 3, Nebraska Omaha 1 ... Bemidji State 6, St. Cloud State 6 - OT ... Colorado College 4, Denver 3 - OT (CC wins on penalty shot in OT) ... North Dakota 5, Alaska Anchorage 2

Minnesota State at Minnesota

Tonight's lines can be found below the live blog ...



MINNESOTA STATE
15-Burkemper     19-Lehrke     25-Hayes
24-Mueller     29-Zuck     23-Dorr
12-LaFontaine     18-Leitner     8-Gaede
22-McInnis     14-Jokinen     11-Leivermann

3-Cooper     26-Schiller
7-Palmquist     16-Elbrecht
17-Mosey     2-Nelson

1-Lee
31-Karambelas

Scratches: Cook, Grant (inj.), Heath (inj.), Knoll, Louwerse, Stern (inj.), Thauwald

MINNESOTA
11-Warning     19-Haula     21-Hansen
16-Condon     9-Matson     17-Ambroz
7-Rau     27-Bjugstad     24-Budish
14-Serratore     22-Boyd     18-Larson

4-Helgeson     12-Holl
10-Marshall     20-Alt
6-Parenteau     29-Schmidt

35-Patterson
1-Shibrowski
30-Kremer

Friday Morning Skate

It's Gopher weekend!

The Mavericks will head to No. 5 Minnesota today in hopes of keeping some recent history going against that team. They are 5-1-0 in their last six games against Minnesota, but the two teams appear to be going in separate directions right now.

For Minnesota State, junior forward Eriah Hayes is on a six-game point-scoring streak and has that look about him over the last three weekends. There aren't a lot of players in the league like Hayes, who came from a small town on the outskirts of the State of Hockey.

The Mavericks will be healthier than they were last Saturday, as defenseman Tyler Elbrecht makes his return to the rink. Forward Adam Mueller also will be back after missing a game. Austin Lee is expected to go in goal, and he'll have to be good against the high-scoring Gophers. Read more in The Free Press' preview here.

As for Minnesota, the Star Tribune takes a look at freshman defenseman Ben Marshall, who is learning on the fly. The Strib also has a preview here. Remember that the Gophers had risen to No. 1 in the nation but have slipped recently. The Pioneer Press looks at one of the reasons why.

Want more about the series? Jess Myers writes about Michael Dorr's return to Mariucci Arena for ESPN Twin Cities. And back to the Strib for a bit, beat writer Roman Augustoviz challenged me to a pick 'em contest with this weekend's WCHA schedule.

Time to go around the rest of the WCHA ...

Minnesota Duluth at Michigan Tech: The champs enter this series riding a 10-game unbeaten streak. As well as their big guns from last year are playing, Duluth is getting other contributions, too, including senior defenseman Scott Kishel, who played in just seven games a year ago. ... For Michigan Tech, it has doubled its win total from a year ago and now takes on a team that beat Michigan in the national title game last spring. Why is that significant? Huskies coach Mel Pearson was an assistant coach on that team

Nebraska Omaha vs. Alabama Huntsville: Huntsville may be winless and on its way out as an NCAA program, but the red Mavericks aren't looking past the Chargers after getting upset by them 10 months ago. This series will be played in Nashville.

Bemidji State at St. Cloud State: The Beavers head south to take on the Huskies and will have to play on that dreaded Olympic ice. Bemidji State is 8-33-3 on the big ice since 1999 (I'm pretty sure a couple of those wins have taken place in Mankato). Lots more on BSU on that link. ... For St. Cloud, injuries have hampered its start to the season, but the development of the defensemen is one reason why the Huskies have stayed near the .500 mark.

Denver at Colorado College: The Gold Pan series continues with just one game tonight, and all eyes seem to be on CC super sophomore Jaden Schwartz, who has four hat tricks this season (he'll be in Mankato in two weeks!). Schwartz scored two of those hat tricks a week ago at North Dakota, but the Tigers were outscored 11-9 and swept. 

North Dakota at Alaska Anchorage: North Dakota might have turned the corner last week against CC, but now it heads to Anchorage where its record hasn't been very Sioux-like. By the way, we're nearing the end of the Fighting Sioux era. This week UND officials requested that all media stop using the nickname and logo as they will be retired on Jan. 1. ... For the Seawolves, their freshman have been picking up their play of late, including during last weekend's three-point series in Mankato.

More WCHA coverage from USCHO, INCH and College Hockey News (here and here).

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Programming note

The Minnesota State vs. Minnesota series will be broadcast on Fox Sports North this weekend. However, there is a conflict with the Minnesota Wild game, so you might have to do some sleuthing to find the Mavericks on TV, as it will be on an alternate channel.

Read more and see the entire state alt-channel lineup here, but in the Mankato area, you should be able see the game on the following channels:

• Charter 890 (fixed) 980
• Hickory Tech 1
• DirecTV 675 (675-1 for HD)
• Dish Network 450 (9573 for HD)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Elbrecht likely to play against Gophers

Minnesota State junior defenseman and co-captain Tyler Elbrecht survived his first full-contact practice since early October on Monday, as well as the rest of the week, and it appears he'll be in the lineup Friday against fifth-ranked Minnesota.

The Gopher series was Elbrecht's target weekend since breaking his arm in the first game of the year against RPI, even if doctors, trainers and coaches were a little skeptical that it might happen.

Even Wednesday, coach Troy Jutting said he would have liked to have given Elbrecht another week of practice to get his legs ready for game action. But 1) the Mavericks need him in the lineup (see below) and 2) this is a pretty important WCHA weekend.

Elbrecht's return will be a huge boost for the Mavericks. For one thing, it will be the return of the team's emotional leader. But also all still is not rosy on the injury front as defenseman Brett Stern re-aggravated  his upper-body injury and likely is out until after Christmas, and defenseman Danny Heath remains out indefinitely with an upper-body injury.

As for other injuries, forward Adam Mueller practiced this week and appears set to play again after missing Saturday's game against Alaska Anchorage.

A few other items ...

Minnesota's hockey sports information guy Paul Rovnak asked me to contribute to a little Q&A about this weekend's series. You can read that here.

Later today or tomorrow you should check out Star Tribune beat writer Roman Augustoviz's blog where, once again, he has challenged me in a WCHA pick-'em contest. Currently, Roman has some notes on this weekend's series from Wednesday's media session at the U.

Monday, November 28, 2011

More from Karambelas

Follow this link to read my Monday notebook from this weekend's Minnesota State-Alaska Anchorage series. It features some of Saturday's postgame comments from goalie Evan Karambelas, who made his collegiate debut, entering the game in the middle of the second period with a 5-1 deficit.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Mavericks 5, Seawolves 5 - OT

John Cross/The Free Press
Freddy's Three Thoughts of the Game ...

1. Call it a comeback: There were some shades of that crazy come-from-behind win over Denver back in 2003-04 on Saturday night. The four unanswered goals, the power-play goals, the goalie change (and going to the rookie third-stringer, to boot, with Evan Karambelas getting his first collegiate action) and the sheer craziness of the game. But I wouldn't rank it above that 8-7 win. Really, Saturday's game should have been a victory, with MSU outshooting Anchorage (not a future national champion, like that DU team) 46-13 and pretty much dominating all phases of the game.

2. Cook's confidence: Not sure what to make of goalie Phil Cook after this one. Not only did he give up five goals on seven shots before being pulled 7 1/2 minutes into the second period, but if you go back to the second period of last Saturday's game in Duluth, he has given up nine goals on the last 11 shots he's faced. "I think probably a lack of confidence," MSU coach Troy Jutting said. "We've got to get him back to where he's capable of being. He's a very good goaltender who's kind of fighting the puck right now." Among the goals he allowed were two power play goals and a breakaway out of the penalty box.

3. Young guns: Senior defenseman Joe Schiller scored the game-tying goal at 10:24 of the third period. Just a blast on a deflected puck that ended up in open ice above the slot. And Eriah Hayes also had a goal — the power play goal that sparked the comeback. But the young Mavericks really stole the show. Jean-Paul LaFontaine scored twice and had several chances to complete a hat trick. Matt Leitner had a goal and two assists. Max Gaede showed great improvement as part of that all-rookie line. Sophomores Johnny McInnis and Zach Lehrke each had two assists.

Deep thought: Will the Mavericks ever get healthy? While Tyler Elbrecht tweeted this week that he's been cleared for contact and should practice in full starting Monday, Brett Stern left Saturday's game with an undisclosed injury, and Adam Mueller sat out the game after taking hard hit along the boards on Friday.

Quote of the night: "I thought we played pretty dang good defensively all night. We gave up 13 shots on goal to a WCHA hockey team. I don't know if you can do it much better than that." — Troy Jutting

Around the WCHA: Michigan Tech 3, St. Lawrence 1 ... Minnesota 4, Michigan State 4 - OT ... North Dakota 4, Colorado College 3 ... Nebraska-Omaha 4, St. Cloud State 3 ... Miami 4, Denver 2 ... Wisconsin 5, Mercyhurst 2

Up next: The Mavericks (3-10-1, 2-7-1 in WCHA) will travel to Minneapolis next weekend to take on the Gophers.

Read Sunday morning's Free Press game story here.

MSU vs. UAA - Game 2 live blog

A few changes for the Mavericks tonight (lines can be found below the live blog). Phil Cook will start in goal. F-Adam Mueller, F-Mike Louwerse and D-Josh Nelson are out; F-Corey Leivermann, F-Charlie Thauwald and D-Mat Knoll are in.



MINNESOTA STATE
22-McInnis     29-Zuck     23-Dorr
15-Burkemper     19-Lehrke     25-Hayes
12-LaFontaine     18-Leitner     8-Gaede
11-Leivermann     14-Jokinen     20-Thauwald

3-Cooper     26-Schiller
27-Stern     17-Mosey
7-Palmquist     10-Knoll

30-Cook
1-Lee
31-Karambelas

Scratches: Elbrecht, Grant, Heath, Louwerse, Mueller, Nelson

ALASKA ANCHORAGE
29-Allen     17-Kwas     7-Cameron
10-Spencer     30-Scheid     19-Mellor
23-Roy     21-Bailey     12-Bruijsten
16-Pettitt     26-Currier     18-Crowell

4-Docken     15-Gorham
8-Warner     5-Coldwell
13-Sproule     11-Leinweber

33-Gunderson
35-Kamal

Friday, November 25, 2011

Seawolves 5, Mavericks 4

John Cross/The Free Press
Freddy's Three Thoughts of the Game ...

1. Health didn't help: Defensemen Cameron Cooper and Brett Stern returned to the lineup on Friday, but it didn't help MSU's defensive-zone play. Coach Troy Jutting said "unforced" turnovers and miscommunication were huge issues in the loss, and indeed, the Seawolves scored some momentum-killing goals, including a blue-line steal and breakaway by Brett Cameron midway through the second period. We knew going into the season that defense was going to be a potential weakness with so many shifts to replace — and that was before everyone was injured.

2. To kill or not to kill: The Mavericks went to the box just three times and there were goals on each. Alaska Anchorage scored two power-play goals, and MSU had a short-handed goal. The Mavs' kill was good, holding the Seawolves to just three shots. Jordan Kwas' goal in the first period was one Austin Lee (19 saves) certainly would like to have had back and it tied the game with 1:40 left in the first period. Curtis Leinweber made a nice move around a D and beat Lee in tight to give UAA its first lead midway through the second period. In between, Zach Lehrke and Justin Jokinen put on a short-handed clinic, giving each other a scoring chance before they finally scored. Jokinen's pull move and shot hit Rob Gunderson (23 saves), and Lehrke was there to cash in on the rebound.

3. Good lines: It will be interesting to see if there will be any lineup changes on Saturday. Lehrke finished the game with two goals, and his linemates — Eriah Hayes (goal, assist) and J.P. Burkemper (two assists) — were very good all night. Jokinen had a solid game adding a goal. The freshman line of Matt Leitner, Jean-Paul LaFontaine and Max Gaede didn't score but made a lot of noise. Adam Mueller showed speed to get around a defenseman and put a great shot over Gunderson's shoulder in the closing moments of the first period, only to hit the crossbar.

Deep thought: This was the Mavericks' fourth loss in a row this season and the third home loss in a row to Alaska Anchorage.

Read The Free Press game story here.

Around the WCHA: St. Lawrence 3, Michigan Tech 2 ... Michigan State 4, Minnesota 3 ... Wisconsin 7, Mercyhurst 2 ... North Dakota 7, Colorado College 6 ... Denver 3, Princeton 0

MSU vs. Anchorage - live blog

Lines are posted below the live blog. In a bit of a surprise (to me, anyway), Cameron Cooper will play. Brett Stern is also in on D. Austin Lee will start in goal for the Mavs.



MINNESOTA STATE
24-Mueller     29-Zuck     23-Dorr
15-Burkemper     19-Lehrke     25-Hayes
12-LaFontaine     18-Leitner     8-Gaede
22-McInnis     9-Louwerse     14-Jokinen

3-Cooper     26-Schiller
27-Stern     17-Mosey
7-Palmquist     2-Nelson

1-Lee
30-Cook
31-Karambelas

Scratches: Elbrecht (inj.), Grant (inj.), Heath (inj.), Knoll, Leivermann, Thauwald

ALASKA ANCHORAGE
12-Bruijsten     21-Bailey     16-Pettitt
10-Spencer     17-Kwas     7-Cameron
29-Allen     29-Scheid     19-Mellor
9-Pustin     23-Roy     26-Currier

4-Docken     1-Gorham
8-Warner     25-Karl
13-Sproule     11-Leinweber

33-Gunderson
35-Kamal

Referees: Matt Ulwelling, Craig Welker. Linesmen: Chris Olson, Sterling Eagan

Friday Morning Skate

Happy Black Friday. No late-night or early-morning shopping for me. I'm still full of stuffing and gravy. But tonight the Mavericks take on the Seawolves at the Verizon Wireless Center and will attempt to break a three-game losing streak along the way.

Amid some of MSU's struggles, we're seeing some growth and maturity from a few players, notably junior forward Eli Zuck.

I'll post official lines later (I had Thanksgiving off so did not get to practice), but earlier this week coach Troy Jutting said Brett Stern should be available this weekend. That should be a boost for the defensive corps. Read more in the gameday preview.

Colorado College at North Dakota: North Dakota may be off to a slow start but the Tigers aren't looking past them. As for the Sioux, captain Mario Lamoureux believes they can turn things around even against a high-scoring team like CC.

St. Cloud State at Nebraska Omaha (Saturday-Sunday series): The Huskies' top Twitterer, Nic Dowd might be immortalized in bobblehead next season in a promotion by his junior team, the Wenatchee Wild (What? not Evan Mosey?!?!). For the red Mavericks, they are looking for a goalie to step up this season, and Dean Blais sounds a lot like Troy Jutting with his 90 percent rule.

Minnesota at Michigan State: The Gophers head east to take on a future Big 10 foe. Minnesota has had great success this season, especially when leading or tied in the second intermission. It helps when you have a player like Nick Bjugstad, who is tied atop the national scoring race.

Mercyhurst at Wisconsin: The Badgers host a nonconference series against the Lakers, and freshman Brendan Woods will see some time on the top line after getting shuffled around throughout the first quarter of the season.

Denver in Denver Cup with Princeton, Miami and Providence: Going into their annual tournament, the Pioneers are hurting, as it was repoted this week that defenseman John Ryder and goalie Adam Murray are out indefinitely with injury. Denver, like Wisconsin, has a freshman on the top line.

In another series involving a WCHA team, Michigan Tech is at St. Lawrence, a place MSU will be going in January.

Check out more coverage from USCHO.

Come back later for the live blog — hopefully one with a little more decorum than last week :)

Monday, November 21, 2011

A look at the 'Oil Can'

Here are some pictures from last weekend's series between Minnesota State and Minnesota Duluth at Duluth's new Amsoil Arena. What a beautiful building. But I couldn't help but think about what could be done in Mankato to improve the Verizon Wireless Center, which is nearly 17 years old (and looking like it). I've tackled some of that subject in Wednesday's column in The Free Press. More later ...
The Mavericks warming up at Amsoil Arena on Friday.
Everything about the arena is UMD, UMD UMD, starting with the seats.
A modest but effective video scoreboard hangs above center ice.
The student section uses portable seating that goes up to the  glass.
The Bulldog Shop is built into the arena concourse.
The outside of the club room gives outsiders a peek at the fireplace.
A view of the club area, which is open to the rink.
Above and to the left is the suite level.
Even the advertising signage is UMD-related. (Verizon wasn't alone.)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

UMD 7, MSU 3

Freddy's Three Thoughts of the Game ...

1. First-period scoring woes: The Mavericks didn't put 21 shots on goal in the first period like they did on Friday but certainly had chances to score. With wide-open nets to shoot at, a deflected shot went under Mike Louwerse's stick and Matt Leitner didn't get all of his shot and flipped one over the net during power plays. Later, Adam Mueller got a beautiful breakout pass from Michael Dorr for a short-handed chance, and Mueller clanked it off the post. After the first period the game was 0-0.

2. Second-period explosion: The Bulldogs scored four goals in a span of 1 minute, 36 seconds early in the period and had the Mavericks on their heels. Justin Crandall and J.T. Brown scored 17 seconds apart, and Caleb Herbert and Joe Basaraba had goals 24 seconds apart. Duluth also did it on just four shots, and, while there were odd-man rushes and a power-play goal in there, it was enough to get goalie Phil Cook pulled for Austin Lee. Cook was making his first start since Oct. 22 and had seven saves in the first period, none in the second.

3. Third-period penalties: Despite the quick 4-0 deficit, the Mavericks made it a two-goal game. Matt Leitner scored at the 5:19 mark of the second period, and Max Gaede netted a power-play goal just 43 seconds into the third, and it was 4-2. But MSU, which had already lost Joe Schiller to a checking-from-behind major/game misconduct in the second period, went to the box seven times in the third period. Duluth scored two power-play goals and an even-strength goal, and grabbed a 7-2 lead by the 8:11 mark. Along the way, Louwerse was also booted from the game for a contact-to-the head penalty. Coach Troy Jutting called all the penalties "stupid."

Deep thought: Not to keep harping on MSU's depth on defense, but once Schiller and Louwerse — forwards-turned-defensemen for the series — were out of the game, the Mavericks had just four D left. At one point, Evan Mosey was in the box, leaving just freshmen Zach Palmquist and Mat Knoll and sophomore Josh Nelson available to kill the penalty. "We did it to ourselves," Jutting said, "but we wore down."

Quote of the night: "We were in the same position we were last night. We weren't bent out of shape yet." — MSU freshman Max Gaede, about being down 4-1 after two periods.

Around the WCHA: North Dakota 5, Bemidji State 2 ... Minnesota 5, St. Cloud State 0 ... Denver 3, Nebraska Omaha 3 OT ... Colorado College 4, Wisconsin 1 ... Michigan Tech at Alaska Anchorage (late)

MSU at Minnesota Duluth - Game 2

Tonight's lines can be found below the Cover It Live box. Phil Cook will start in goal for the Mavericks for the first time since Oct. 22.



MINNESOTA STATE
24-Mueller     29-Zuck     23-Dorr
15-Burkemper    19-Lehrke     25-Hayes
12-LaFontaine     18-Leitner     8-Gaede
22-McInnis     14-Jokinen     11-Leivermann

9-Louwerse     26-Schiller
7-Palmquist     17-Mosey
2-Nelson     10-Knoll

30-Cook
1-Lee

Extras on trip: Cooper (inj.), Thauwald

MINNESOTA DULUTH
17-Seidel     12-Connolly     18-Basaraba
21-Herbert     11-Oleksuk     23-Brown
25-Crandall     15-Hendrickson     27-Grun
26-Krause     19-Tardy     14-Flaherty

28-Bergman     2-Lamb
6-Kishel     5-Casto
8-Olson     22-McManus

35-Reiter
31-Crandall
30-Gaffy

Friday, November 18, 2011

Duluth 5, Minnesota State 2

Freddy's Three Thoughts of the Game:

1. Reiter not wrong: The game hinged on the first period in which the Mavericks did everything right except score. They outshot the defending national champions 21-9 but trailed 1-0 at intermission, thanks to Kenny Reiter, who is off to a great start to the season. Reiter appeared to have found some good puck at times, notably when it looked like he left his net open a couple of times, but he made some key saves, too.

2. Cupboard not bare: If you thought the defending champs would take a step back without the likes of Justin Fontaine, Mike Connolly and Justin Faulk around anymore, well, think again. Besides Reiter, Jack Connolly (one goal, one assist), Travis Oleksuk (one goal) and J.T. Brown (one goal, one assist) are still around and are racking up the points. Connolly has 19 points this season, and during his four-year career now has 17 points in nine games against MSU. Oleksuk scored his WCHA-leading 12th-goal of the season. Freshman forward Caleb Herbert is also emerging. He scored two of UMD's first three goals and assisted on a later goal.

3. Put in on the board: Eriah Hayes and Adam Mueller scored third-period goals for the Mavericks. Hayes' 4x3 power-play goal made it 3-1, but Connolly scored just 90 seconds later, sapping almost all momentum away from MSU. Mueller had a snipe over Reiter's glove with about 7 minutes left to make it 5-2. Defenseman Joe Schiller and forward Michael Dorr each assisted on both MSU goals.

Deep thought: A quick report on Duluth's new Amsoil Arena (I'll be writing more down the line) ... They did it right with this mini-X — open concourses, nice suites, huge club/VIP area. Even though it is a city arena (like the Verizon Wireless Center), everything is UMD, UMD, UMD — maroon and gold seats, Bulldog-themed ads by Verizon and others all over the building. The hockey team has its own private area with coaches offices, locker and training rooms and player areas. Not sure what the rent is, but it was done first class.

Quote of the night: "This league is ver good and we'res hort our two best guys back there. (Tyler Elbrecht and Cameron Cooper) are our two most-experienced (defensemen), they're two leaders and they're two veterans back there." — Troy Jutting on Cooper's game-day scratch due to injury.

Note: More on Cooper below in Friday's earlier post, but he will not play on Saturday.

Around the WCHA: St. Cloud State 4, Minnesota 3 ... Denver 7, Nebraska-Omaha 3 ... Colorado College 4, Wisconsin 2 ... Alaska Anchorage 3, Michigan Tech 1

MSU at Duluth - live blog

Greetings from snowy Duluth and the gorgeous new Amsoil Arena. Tonight's lines can be found below the Cover It Live box.



MINNESOTA STATE
24-Mueller     29-Zuck     23-Dorr
15-Burkemper    19-Lehrke     25-Hayes
12-LaFontaine     18-Leitner     8-Gaede
22-McInnis     14-Jokinen     11-Leivermann

9-Louwerse     26-Schiller
7-Palmquist     17-Mosey
2-Nelson     10-Knoll

1-Lee
30-Cook

Extras on trip: Cooper (inj.), Thauwald

MINNESOTA DULUTH
17-Seidel     12-Connolly     18-Basaraba
21-Herbert     11-Oleksuk     23-Brown
25-Crandall     15-Hendrickson     27-Grun
10-DeLisle     19-Tardy     14-Flaherty

28-Bergman     2-Lamb
6-Kishel     5-Casto
8-Olson     4-Johnson

35-Reiter
31-Crandall
30-Gaffy

Injury bug strikes back?

Just rolled into Duluth a bit ago (it's snowing!) and saw that Paul Allan posted the Mavericks' lineup on Twitter. Turns out, MSU is down another defenseman.

Senior D Cameron Cooper is not in the lineup. He sat out of Wednesday's practice with an undisclosed injury but said he'd be good to go this weekend. Apparently that's not the case tonight.

So the Mavericks will put Mike Louwerse on the blue line with Joe Schiller, a pairing of two senior forwards. Schiller has been playing D the last four games, and coach Troy Jutting said he's done a very good job there. He is +2 with two assists in that stretch. Louwerse was listed as a D the second game against UMass-Lowell but lasted less than a period before getting the gate for checking from behind. At the time, Jutting said Louwerse was chosen for that spot because he had the ability to break out the puck from the D zone.

The Mavericks' three other defensemen — Tyler Elbrecht, Brett Stern and Danny Heath — are back in Mankato nursing various ailments. It sounds like Stern is close to returning. Elbrecht should return sometime in December. Heath might be out for awhile.

Meanwhile, with Louwerse on defense, Corey Leivermann will play wing on the fourth line, with Justin Jokinen moving to center.

The Mavericks

Here are Minnesota State's lines tonight:

Adam Mueller - Eli Zuck - Michael Dorr
J.P. Burkemper - Zach Lehrke - Eriah Hayes
Jean-Paul LaFontaine - Matt Leitner - Max Gaede
Johnny McInnis - Justin Jokinen - Corey Leivermann

Mike Louwerse - Joe Schiller
Zach Palmquist - Evan Mosey
Josh Nelson - Mat Knoll

Austin Lee
Phil Cook

Be sure to come back later for tonight's live chat. We'll see how those D hold up against the champs.