Friday, October 11, 2013

Friday morning skate

The college hockey season is here, and it feels a little strange to get going. For one thing, the Friday Morning Skate involves seeking out coverage from the new-look WCHA. Fortunately for the league, there continue to be good folks covering college hockey, whether it's in Alaska, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio or Alabama.

Minnesota State begins the season at Providence in a matchup of ranked teams. The Mavericks swept the Friars last season in Mankato, but the visitors that weekend didn't have their All-American goalie with them. Jon Gillies is back, and, on paper, it should be quite a battle between him and MSU's Stephon Williams, two of the top freshmen in the country a season ago. Check out more in The Free Press' gameday preview.

For Mavericks captain Johnny McInnis, the trip means rare games close to his Boston home. McInnis has carved out his own path when it comes to his hockey career, and that may be a reason he's wearing the "C". "It's about our team going out there and getting two wins, not about a homecoming for me," McInnis said. "That's a little extra incentive for me, but the main goal is to get two wins."

Besides Gillies, Providence returns nine of its top 10 scorers from a year ago. That includes junior forward Ross Mauermann, a Wisconsin native who basically recruited himself to that team. The Friars will be opening their recently renovated Schneider Area tonight; perhaps the Mavericks will get some more ideas for their Verizon Wireless Center wish list.

Going around the WCHA ...

Bowling Green at Union: It's a tough start to the season for the Falcons, who will be without Ryan Carpenter (broken finger) to start the season. The injury happened in practice this week. Bowling Green has a very busy week, as they'll play Ohio State on Tuesday, too.

Bemidji State at St. Cloud State: The Beavers have a difficult schedule to start the season, beginning with this trip to see their former WCHA rivals. Bemijdi's trying to bounce back from a tough season but will have to do so with one of coach Tom Serratore's youngest teams.

Michigan Tech at Minnesota Duluth: Another matchup of former WCHA foes takes place in Duluth, and for the Huskies, the series kicks off a season full of optimism.

Northern Michigan at Wisconsin: The Wildcats are back in the WCHA but the Badgers are out. They'll meet in Madison this weekend, with Wisconsin ranked third in the country, but NMU has had success in the state of Wisconsin in recent years.

Alaska/Alaska Anchorage vs. Air Force/Quinnipiac at Kendall Hockey Classic: Anchorage is the host school for this tournament, and the Seawolves are hoping that it's the beginning of a major rebuilding project. The Fairbanks News-Miner breaks down the field.

In other matchups, Lake Superior State hosts Robert Morris and Alabama Huntsville is at Northeastern (links to come, I hope).

Meantime, check out USCHO's WCHA preview and the individual team previews, including Minnesota State.

Finally, I can't ignore my old press-box pals from the old WCHA. I'll continue to follow them and their coverage and post links to interesting stories. Brad Schlossman from the Grand Forks Herald has a good piece today on the state of college hockey recruiting.

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