Friday, March 11, 2011

Friday morning skate

The Mavericks — but not PucKato — are in Denver this weekend for the first round of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association tournament. Minnesota State is trying to get to the Final Five for the firs time in eight years, an accomplishment that, as I opined earlier this week would provide the program a real spark.

While this is an 11 vs. 2 matchup in the seeding, the Mavericks have been close to Denver, despite not beating them in recent play. That, combined with their close-but-no-cigar efforts in the playoffs, have them thinking they need that "one bounce" to give them a lift. Of course, if they get that bounce they need someone to score, too. Check out The Free Press' a position-by-position breakdown of the series.

As for the Pioneers, they have arguably the best freshman class in the WCHA, led by superstar and league rookie of the year Jason Zucker.

PucKato won't be at Magness arena but will be monitoring the game on Denver's webcast and on MSU's radio broadcast. I'll be posting updates on Twitter all weekend and, possibly, be doing a Cover It Live chat tonight. Check back later for more.

Going around the rest of the WCHA first-round matchups ...

Alaska-Anchorage at Minnesota: The Gophers have enjoyed a late-season surge, paced by freshman Nick Bjugstad, who is finally living up to some high preseason expectations. ... Minnesota has more work cut out for itself than it may think as the Seawolves seem to have found a hot goalie for the playoffs in Chris Kamal — yeah, the kid who gave up just one goal last week against MSU.

St. Cloud State at Minnesota Duluth: The Bulldogs get to play their first postseason games at their new arena and hope to erase a lost weekend there against the Huskies from a couple of weeks ago when they lost 8-2 and had to come out of a 3-0 deficit salvage a tie the second night. ... For St. Cloud, it hopes that its strong late-season play can lead to an upset and, perhaps, a boost in the Pairwise rankings.

Wisconsin at Colorado College:  The Tigers clinched home ice a week ago when David Civitarese scored the game-winning goal. The junior center is a smart student who said he needed to simplify his game in order to start coming into his own. ... The Badgers, meanwhile, have gotten wisdom from a pair of new-yet-veteran assistant coaches this season in Gary Shuchuk and Bill Butters.

(Interestingly, Wisconsin had the same travel concerns as MSU did trying to get to Colorado for this weekend. The high price of air travel, combined with spring breaks and many other NCAA charters in the air made last-minute reservations difficult. The Mavericks considered putting the team on multiple flights but eventually settled on taking a bus to Denver, leaving Wednesday at noon and staying that night in Kearney, Neb. They arrived in Denver Thursday afternoon. The Badgers ended up flying to Colorado Springs on charter and commercial flights and sending its equipment there by bus.)

Bemidji State at Nebraska-Omaha: There's an interesting matchup in Omaha where the red Mavericks have the WCHA coach of the year and the conference's third seed. But UNO is 0-3-1 against the Beavers this year. Either way, one of the league's two new teams will get to the Final Five. ... For the Beavers, six seniors are trying to extend their careers, which began with a lot of uncertainty in their new team's future.

Michigan Tech at North Dakota: There's a blizzard warning in Grand Forks this weekend, but that could mean a storm of goals by the Sioux, who hung 17 on the Huskies last weekend. North Dakota cleaned up on the postseason awards, getting the player of the year in Matt Frattin and an all-conference spot for Chay Genoway. Genoway is only the fifth player in WCHA history to make all-conference four times. ... As for the Huskies, they're trying to look at the playoffs as a new season despite the enormous challenge they face.

Here are weekend previews by USCHO, INCH and CHN.


LetsGoMavs said...

Nice "one bounce" comment from Jutting. Seriously, he's sounding as dumb as Craig Dahl with "we're hoping for a split"...his favorite phrase just before SCSU cut him free. The difference is that SCSU was smart enough to get rid of Dahl. *sigh*

How long will MSU put up with the excuses and wishes ("we've been playing really good hockey"-- despite not winning...."one bounce"--instead of decent plays being implimented from the coach). It's old.

Yet again I guess I'll be at the Final 5 cheering on OTHER teams.

Sam said...


What's your take on the DU webcast? Is it worth the 8 or 9 bucks they charge, or is it a pretty poor quality?

I'm trying to decide if I want to pay for the footage or just enjoy the Mankato radio broadcast. Any opinion you might be willing to share would be much appreciated. Thanks.

Shane Frederick said...

Sam, I'm going to give it a go. I think the quality is pretty high, if it's the same as what Magness has in-house, that is.

Sam said...

Sounds good. I remember watching webcasts on B2 Networks (I'm not sure what they call it now) of USHL games in the past, and that was simply awful.

It looks like the DU webcasts are an actual in-house production, so I'll give it a go. Thanks again.

Wyatt said...

It's time to get serious and rebuild this program! We've been in the WCHA too long to be this inconsistent, if this was a NHL team heads would be rolling.

The blue line club, season ticket holders and the student section are sick of these melt-downs. It's time for this program to dig it's way up from the basement(lower tier as the AD calls it) and start hanging banners from the ceiling that matter. Banners that have the letters WCHA and NCAA are the ones the fans want to see.

Puckato and the rest of the media need to stop excepting these lame excuses and put this program on notice. Watching this team is like watching the WWF, you know whose going to win and you always leave wondering if the Mavericks are for real or just for entertainment purposes.

If you just want to go to the games to socialize it's fine, but us true hockey fans realize this program is crap. Some serious adjustments to this program is needed before we lose our blue line members, season ticket holders and student section. We could add 20 more team to the WCHA and we'd still be in the bottom three. MSU, do what Omaha did, get some pride in your program instead of being the laughing stalk of college hockey!

TMAVS18 said...

Wyatt...has it perfect! Ya know if the AD was smart he'd start to look at the future Big Ten conference.....join it! You'd get alot more money from that n a TV deal as well....national exposure for recruiting etc... No more of this bs about we wanna finish around St.Cloud..UMD....BSU..n the last time I checked we finished 11th! If the AD was smart n changed it up....first two ppl I'd call would be Mark Johnson n Phil Housley...

Sam said...

I think we can all agree that this program has become a joke. For those of us that have pride in Minnesota State University, we're sick and tired of watching a loser program, year after year.

There are plenty of ways to fix what has been ailing the Mavericks, but University Administration seems perfectly content remaining a bottom feeder. If they weren't, changes would have started coming by now.

Lastly, there's no way in h-e-double hockey sticks Mankato would ever be allowed to join the Big Ten Conference. MSU is as far from Big Ten competition as one can be.

Let me leave you guys with this somewhat related bit of trivia. There are FIVE states in the ENTIRE country that have ONLY ONE Division I college. Are you ready for this? The list includes: Minnesota, Wyoming, Vermont, Hawaii, and Maine.

I, for the life of me, cannot understand how the state of Minnesota can possibly be on that list.