Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Mavericks hit St. Paul

The Minnesota State men's hockey team left Mankato for St. Paul and the WCHA Final Five on Wednesday and practiced at the Xcel Energy Center in the afternoon. I'll be headed to the capital city on Thursday as the Mavericks take on Wisconsin at 2:07 p.m.

Earlier in the week, MSU coach Mike Hastings called Wisconsin one of the best teams in the country over the last three or four months.

"They're as sound as anyone in the country defensively," Hastings said. "Their ability to support the puck and transition from the defense to the forwards is as good as any team I've seen."

Minnesota State took Monday off after their three-game series against Nebraska Omaha and practiced Tuesday on All Seasons Arena's small sheet in preparation for the X.

Health-wise, MSU seems to be no worse for the wear after the Omaha series. Senior forward Eli Zuck, who has been out the last seven games, is skating with the team again but no word on how that will affect the Mavericks' lineup, if at all. The Badgers, meanwhile, are in a little tougher shape in that department, as senior Derek Lee is out and sophomore defenseman Jake McCabe is questionable and a game-time decision.

This will be the last WCHA As-We-Know-It Final Five, and there were laments about that during Tuesday's conference call with the participating coaches. If Minnesota State is carrying the banner for the future conference this weekend (the Mavs are the only leftover member in the Final Five).

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