Friday, December 16, 2011

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.

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