Friday, March 1, 2013

Friday morning skate

Minnesota State has four games remaining in the regular season, starting this weekend at Colorado College. There's a lot on the line over the next two weeks — home ice, a secure spot in the Pairwise Rankings. In some ways, the latter may be more secure than the former. Either way, the recipe seems to be, to quote Al Davis, "Just win, baby."

The Mavericks like the position they're in — it sure beats where they've been the last few seasons —and coach Mike Hastings says the team has been very good about "controlling what we can control" all season. "There's no scoreboard we'll be watching more than the one in the arena we're at," he said.

Even if the Mavericks aren't speculating about the postseason, others sure are (see here and here)

As for playing the Tigers, Minnesota State has been good coming off bye weeks this season. The team will be without Eli Zuck, who suffered a lower body injury in its last game and is week to week. He has not skated in practice since getting hurt. Freshman Taylor Herndon will get a chance with Zuck out.

For Colorado College, it appears senior Joe Howe will get the start in goal tonight. Born in Mankato (although he didn't grow up there), he ranks among CC's all-time goalie leaders.

Going around the WCHA ...

Wisconsin at Nebraska Omaha: The Badgers will try to bounce back from Monday's crushing home loss to upstart Penn State, while the red Mavericks are treating the series like a pair of playoff games.

Denver at Minnesota: The Pioneers are taking Omaha's approach as they try to stay in home-ice position in the conference. For the Gophers, defenseman Seth Helgeson will be the only senior playing his final regular-season games at Mariucci Arena this weekend.

Bemidji State at North Dakota: The Beavers are out of the home-ice race but will try to improve their standing against a tough UND team. For North Dakota, it's still trying to determine who its No. 1 goaltender is.

Michigan Tech at St. Cloud State: St. Cloud senior Drew LeBlanc is having an outstanding season and is about to set a program record for games played. Tech might be on the road, but there are exciting things happening in their home rink, which will get a new four-screen video board installed this summer. 

The money quote in that press release, one that the city, arena and university leaders in Mankato need to see comes from Tech athletic director Suzanne Sanregret: "Video boards are the standard in Division I hockey, and we're thrilled to make this enhancement to our fan experience. We will be able to provide our fans with game replays, highlights and information."

Alabama Huntsville at Minnesota Duluth: The Bulldogs are stepping out of conference play and will host Huntsville, whose coach grew up in northern Minnesota.

Alaska Anchorage vs. Alaska: This nonconference rivalry will be an intraleague matchup next year. But for now, the Seawolves are simply hoping to hoist the Governor's Cup, something no player on the current team has done.

The WCHA women's league begins postseason play with best-of-three first-round series to decide who goes to next week's Final Face-Off. Minnesota State, which placed sixth in the conference (it's best finish in five years) will go to North Dakota where they will play the talented Lamoureux twins for the last time. Jocelyne is the WCHA's all-time leading scorer, while Monique has a chance to move into second place before the season ends.

Back in southern Minnesota, the Gustavus Adolphus men and women both play for their respective MIAC championships on Saturday afternoon, with the men going to St. John's and the women hosting Concordia after a come-from-behind win on Thursday night. The women have the MIAC's player of the year in senior Lindsey Hejlm — who scored Thursday's game-winner with 5:22 remaining in the game — and coach of the year in Mike Carroll.

Also, former Maverick Tim Jackman was in St. Paul earlier this week as the Calgary Flames played the Minnesota Wild. Minnesota Hockey Magazine caught up with MSU's first-ever NHL draft pick.

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