Without further ado ...
From DWebb: What up Shane? I was wondering if you could tell me why the Mavericks can't hold a lead late in a game when playing a ranked opponent? First they blew it against North Dakota and then again this weekend vs. Denver. What's with these hosers?
DWebb, the Mavericks are as frustrated as you are. Channing Boe told me this week that he'd almost rather get his butt kicked than lose the way they did on Saturday. I'm not sure if I totally believe that. The truth is that they had leads on arguably the two best teams in the country and couldn't hold them off. Five points were left on the table in the Friday loss to UND and the two games against DU. The second game against the Sioux was winnable, too. One thing to consider is who made the key plays for those top teams. They were guys like Matt Frattin, Brad Malone and Chay Genoway for UND and Jason Zucker and the Shore brothers for DU. Those are players are difference makers, players you're going to see on the all-WCHA teams at the end of the year.
From Sam: What are the chances MSU is, or will be, recruiting scoring-sensation Ville Rantanen of Mankato West? I haven't seen him play, but does he appear to have the talent to be successful at the D1 level?
Sam there's no question he can score. He leads the state with 37 goals and is in a three-way tie for the state points lead with 58. I don't know if MSU is recruiting him or not (although with Troy Jutting's son on the West team, the coach has no doubt seen him play). I'm told that he's gotten interest from some colleges. At the very least, coaches/recruiters have to see the numbers and find out about him. Some have said the numbers are inflated due to playing in southern Minnesota. That may be, but 37 goals is impressive. He has great hands and a knack for the net. If he does play D1, he'll have to play junior hockey somewhere first. He not only needs to further develop his game, especially defensively, but he has to bulk up a bit.
From Nation: What have the Mavericks been focusing on at practice this week in preparation for the Badgers? Anything specific they feel they did poorly that cost them against Denver?
Nation, I think they'd like to look at what they're doing and go with a glass-half-full attitude. After all, they are 8-3-1 in their last 12 games and the non-wins have come against the best two teams in the country. So they're not re-tooling too much. Boe told me this week that they've been doing some "Hockey 101" stuff, working on situational things, such as defending 6x5 with the goalie pulled, some of which cost them over the weekend. From there, though, they're moving on and trying to gameplan for another tough team in Wisconsin.
From Alex: Hey Shane, do you know if they are bringing in any more recruits for next year?
Alex, I know they're looking for another defenseman for next year. Other than that, though, I think their class is pretty well set.
From PM: Where have all the Canadians gone? What happened to that Alberta pipeline? The team used to be about half and half. Now, we're down to two and one of those is a goalie. What gives?
PM, it is interesting that the only Canadians on the roster include one who played junior hockey in Minnesota (Galiardi) and the third-string goalie, although Boston native John McInnis played juniors in Canada. I don't think the roster was ever half and half; it was and remains heavily Minnesotan. I'm not sure what the reason is but I do think one factor is that MSU is getting much more USHL players than they did back when they got more Canadians. While they have found some good players in the NAHL, too, including Galiardi and Phil Cook, you need to get USHL players. It's the best college development league out there. That said, I know the coaches have been to Canada on recruiting trips.
From Chad: Is there anyone signed or coming in that can play D? Been a season ticket holder for years but never been as frustrated with the D as I have been this year.
Chad, as a longtime season-ticker holder surely you remember 2003-04. Now that was a tough year on defensemen. I'm not sure why you'd be more frustrated this year. The results over the weekend can't be pinned on the D alone. You're probably going to miss this group of seniors when it's gone. Davis is going to end up as one of the D1 era's all-time leading scorers (certainly tops among D1 defensemen), Youds is a do-it-all player and a tremendous skater. Both of those guys should get some all-conference consideration at season's end. Boe is coming off a solid weekend. Don't judge them solely on plus-minus. As to your original question, though, the coaches are excited about Zach Palmquist coming, and feel that Brett Stern will be a solid defensive D-man.
From LetsGoMavs: Do you have an "in" at all with the music guy? The way-too-long, lame intro needs to go. Shorten it up and get a better song! Oh, and I imagining things or are there two different ones for each night? ... Also, on a side note, Channing Boe totally got hosed by the WCHA. He deserved to be D of the week, not just nominated. BOO WCHA!
LetsGoMavs, first of all, it's just fine that you ask these questions (leave LGM alone, Nation!). I think I got frustrated one time when an entire live blog seemed to have been taken up with music-related questions. ... Anyway, I do not have an "in" with the music guy, but let me say this: If I were in charge, I'd send anyone who does game-production stuff (music, video, lighting, between-period stuff, pep bands, etc.) on a WCHA road trip and see how things should be done. Want the pep band back? Go to Michigan Tech and see a small school that does it right. Want cool video? Send city/arena folks to St. Cloud and North Dakota and see what it needs to look like. I think people are trying hard in Mankato but there's a ways to go. What does Mankato do well? Great rink announcer in T.J., almost always fabulous National Anthem singers, good intermission promotions on the ice and, yes, the "Ole!" song.
As for Boe, I agree that he had a good weekend (and yes, he was on the ice for the game-tying and game-winning goals Saturday). If MSU had won on Saturday and had gotten three points instead of one, I think there's a good chance he would have gotten the award. If you look at the awards every week, you'll notice that the team's success is the x-factor. The great individual performance usually has to help a team win.
From BIGhkyfan: As far as new D coming in, we could start by playing the ones on the bench and in the stands. Seems player management is an issue this season and it is never addressed by the media. Why is that?
BIGhkyfan, I know D minutes are your pet issue but I don't quite see it the way you do. You want your best D on the ice the most. They're going to get the most minutes, no matter what level of hockey you're watching. I wish college hockey kept stats like the NHL does (all-stars Dan Boyle and Duncan Keith lead the NHL in minutes per game with 27:01 and 26:41, respectively!) If it's late in a close game right now and someone other than the top four D are on the ice for a regular or long shift, then I think there "player management" issues. Youds plays probably 23-25 minutes a game. Davis is up there, too, with Boe and Elbrecht. Cooper has gotten more responsibility out there and had improved. As for the sixth D, it looks like it's a combination of Nelson and Mosey right now.