Thursday, June 30, 2011

Numbers game

Minnesota State's 2011-12 roster is on the Mavericks website, and that means we get to see what numbers the freshmen will wear. Here they are:

6—Jean-Paul Lafontaine, F
7—Zach Palmquist, D
8—Max Gaede, F
10—Mat Knoll, D
27—Brett Stern, D

Also, sophomore forward Matt Leitner is indeed on the roster, and he'll wear No. 18.

There always seems to be a number change or two by the veterans, too. There's one this year: John McInnis has changed from 7 to 22.

Who gets the nickname?

Hockey players, coaches and fans can't call each other by their real names. It's almost impossible. So when Minnesota State's latest commitment comes to Mankato in 2012, it will be interesting to hear what he's called. The Mavericks recently got a verbal from defenseman Jon Jutzi of the Powell River Kings of the British Columbia Hockey League.

Can he be called Jutz, which might sound an awful lot like Jutts, the moniker of MSU coach Troy Jutting? Or is it Jootz? Just a thought.

No matter what he's called — even if it's just Jon —the Mavericks appear to have a good one. Jutzi is a 6 foot 2, 195-pound defenseman from Ontario. He had six goals and 18 assists for the Kings last year, and in a recent press release, his coach said their are high expectations for him this coming year.

Here's what Jutzi said about his commitment to MSU:
From the first time I talked to the coaching staff atMinnesotaState I just had a great feeling. I get along with the coaches really well and agree with their coaching philosophies. When I was down there I liked the campus, liked the rink and liked the town. When I walked around this campus I could see it as a place I would feel comfortable in for 4 years. The whole process can be a little overwhelming at certain times but a lot of it is going with your gut feeling.”
Interestingly, the recruiting of Jutzi continues the Mavericks return to Canada for player. The incoming freshman class will have defenseman Mat Knoll of the AJHL. But the 2012 freshmen will have Jutzi, as well as Brett Knowles and Bryce Gervais, all of the BCHL. The upcoming team will have just two Canadians: Knoll and goalie Evan Karambelas.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Yeah, I'm still here!

Summer has been slow on the Mankato hockey front, but I'll try to pick things up when I return from vacation at the end of the month.

In the meantime, here are a few tidbits for the PucKato faithful still lurking about in the offseason:

Morin re-ups with Dallas
Former Mavericks captain Travis Morin (pictured) signed a new, two-way contract with the Dallas Stars earlier this month. Morin, who got his first, brief call to the show last season (a promotion that caused him to miss the American Hockey League all-star game), will stay in Texas, where he has played primarily for the Stars' AHL team, also called the Stars. Interestingly, Dallas hired its AHL coach, Glen Gulutzan, as its new bench boss. Morin has done very well for Texas in the past two years, so maybe he'll get to keep playing for Gulutzan next season.

Fans love Backes
St. Louis Blues fans voted former MSU standout David Backes as the team's MVP and best forward. Backes led St. Louis in goals (31), assists (31) and points (62) and was second in the league in plus/minus with a +32, trailing only Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara who was +33. Backes was one of only three NHL players last season to record at least 30 goals and 200 hits. The others were Alex Ovechkin and Brendan Morrow. The only other player in the NHL to have at least 30 goals, 30 assists and a +30 was Daniel Sedin.

Denver goalie goes down
Denver goaltender Sam Brittain, who had a fabulous freshman season last year, will miss most if not all of next year after suffering a torn ACL. He apparently injured the knee against North Dakota in the WCHA Final Five title game but apparently didn't realize the full extent of the injury until the knee was tested recently at a goaltending camp in Canada.

Kvasnicka commits
Mankato West girls hockey standout Katy Kvasnicka has committed to play college hockey at Division III St. Thomas.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Davis signs with Swedish team

Kurt Davis, who recently completed an outstanding career as a defenseman at Minnesota State, has signed to play professionally in Sweden.

Davis will play for Sodertalje SK of the HockeyAllsvenskan league, which begins play in September. Minnesota State's press release on Davis' signing can be found here, while you can check out what Davis' new team has to say about him here.

The above link is in Swedish but a Google page translator can work some wonders. Using that tool, here's what Sodertalje sports director Per Nygard says about Davis:
In Davis, we have recruited a skilled game, moving back with some very nice features in the game twists. He has really good cooling in the attacking game and the blue line and great patience with the puck down the opponent are adjacent, so-called "patience with the puck." Despite his size, he is good at defense game thanks to its excellent positioning capability. He will play an important role in the reconstruction of the attack game. He is good at getting to the end thanks to his creativity and passing game. The Powerplay, his features are truly into its own.
While, like most college players, Davis had dreams of playing in the NHL (he attended Washington Capitals prospect camp last summer) or even signing with an AHL team, it seems like his skill set is perfect for the European game, not unlike a few other MSU grads who went on to have very solid careers there (Aaron Fox and Shane Joseph, for example).