Friday, November 1, 2013

Friday morning skate

The Mavericks will open the WCHA schedule this weekend in Bemidji, and I'll be making the trek north this morning. A few notes about the series and the WCHA:

This will be MSU's shortest road trip in league play, which kind puts the whole conference shakeup thing into perspective. Bemidji once ranked fourth on MSU's in-conference travel list behind Minneapolis, St. Cloud and Duluth and was similar in length to Omaha and Madison. Sure makes it less fun for the beat writer!

The Mavericks will be without senior defenseman Josh Nelson, who remains out with a lower-body injury. He missed MSU's last game against Connecticut and has since undergone tests on the injury to find out just how long-term this could be.

For more on the series, read The Free Press' gameday preview.

The Beavers are coming off a league sweep at Alabama Huntsville. Those were the first two victories of the season for Bemidji State, which had a tough early season schedule with games against St. Cloud State and Minnesota.

Interested in watching the games? It turns out a lot of people are, according to WCHA commissioner Bruce McLeod, who told Matt Wellens as part of USCHO's weekly league notebook that there is money coming in from the league's online streaming package with America One Sports.

In other WCHA coverage, Kevin Gordon of the Bowling Green Sentinel-Tribune says that just a few weeks into the first season of the conference shakeup there's already talk of another re-alignment in the next 3-5 years. This is hardly shocking, especially coming out of Bowling Green, which seemed to be the most reluctant of the CCHA schools to jump to the WCHA. It will be interesting to see after this season just how happy everyone is with the current situation. Looking at all of the new and revamped conferences, Minnesota State certainly isn't the only team facing a much tougher travel schedule.

In action this weekend ...

Bowling Green will host Alaska Anchorage this weekend in the conference opener for both of those teams.

Ferris State will open WCHA play at Alabama Huntsville, and Alaska will do the same by hosting Northern Michigan (both UAH and NMU began conference play a week ago).

In nonconference play, Michigan Tech heads to Michigan, continuing its brutal schedule to start the season (at Duluth, at Notre Dame, at/vs. NMU, at Michigan, vs. Michigan State!), while Lake Superior State has a challenge in keeping its perfect early season record going as it goes to Wisconsin in a matchup of No. 12 vs. No. 13 (who would have thought?).

Matt and I make our weekend picks on USCHO's WCHA blog.

Closer to home, the Gustavus Adolphus men's and women's teams begin play this weekend. The men were picked to take third in the MIAC this season, while the fourth-ranked women were picked to win their 10th straight conference title. Check out my preview features on each team from Thursday's Freep: GAC men, GAC women.

Also, the Minnesota State women will play No. 1 Minnesota in a home and home, with Saturday afternoon's game taking place in Mankato. The Mavericks face the tough task of trying to end the Gophers' 57-game winning streak.

I'll have the live chat up and running during tonight's MSU streak, so check back later today for any pregame news/notes, line charts and the chat.

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