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.

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