Friday, November 22, 2013

Friday morning skate

All 10 WCHA teams are in action against each other, a rarity in this league (seriously, this has to happen more often; we should be able to look at the standings and know that first place, second place, etc., mean something). Minnesota State is at Bowling Green, playing the Falcons for the second time in three weeks. Both teams have just one win in their last four games and it came against the other.

Staying on the subject of the WCHA, this weekend marks a the start of an important eight-game stretch of conference play for the Mavericks. Four series in four weeks with two on the road (Bowling Green and Alabama Huntsville on Dec. 13-14) and two at home (Alaska Anchorage next weekend followed by Northern Michigan).

Remember, this is the week last season when MSU started to figure things out. The Mavericks went 7-1 in league play from Nov. 23 to Dec. 15 with the seven wins coming consecutively. And they're in better shape conference-wise right now at 2-2 than they were at this point last year when they were 1-5.

Minnesota State has more options this week with the return of Zach Lehrke and a healthy Zach Stepan back in the lineup. Carter Foguth (foot) and Michael Huntebrinker (arm) remain out with their injuries. No update yet on Josh Nelson (lower body) but it's not looking great at the moment.

Read more about the series in The Free Press' gameday preview.

Earlier this week, Bowling Green coach Chris Bergeron raved about MSU's depth. But according to the Bowling Green Sentinel-Tribune, the Falcons have some pretty good depth, too.

Going around the WCHA ...

Alaska at Ferris State: At 5-0-1, the Bulldogs are off to a fantastic start in WCHA play. They've been home for four of those games and at Huntsville for the other two. They're home again this weekend against the Nanooks, who are returning to Michigan after a bye week.

Alabama Huntsville at Northern Michigan: It was a long bus ride from northern Alabama to the Upper Peninsula, but the winless Chargers made a stop along the way, practicing in Green Bay, Wis., and checking out historic Lambeau Field. As for the Wildcats, they are getting help from a couple of surprising players.

Lake Superior at Bemidji State: This is a matchup of the league's two surprise teams. The Lakers continue to look strong, while a Beavers team that can score (we all know they can defend) should be downright scary to the rest of the conference. But Lake Superior hasn't given up much this year so far.

Michigan Tech at Alaska Anchorage: The Huskies are hoping to win on the road, while the Seawolves have been pretty good in their own barn. Also, things are much happier around Anchorage these days after some early season success.

So what should we expect to see this weekend? According to Marquette, Mich.-based scribe Matt Wellens and me, a lot of splits. For more on the WCHA, check out our USCHO notebook.

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