Friday, January 23, 2015

Friday Morning Skate

It's North Star College Cup weekend, and it should be a fun event at the Xcel Energy Center.

The Mavericks are getting plenty of attention this week, being rated No. 1, going into this tournament in St. Paul and playing the Gophers tonight.

We get pretty provincial here in Minnesota, and that's one reason the tournament was created after conference realignment. But the Mavericks are a melting pot of a team, with players from all over the U.S. and Canada (and one from Latvia). Just six players are from the self-proclaimed State of Hockey, but that doesn't mean the others don't appreciate what's happening this weekend.

Trivia question: Can you named the 11 U.S. states and three Canadian provinces that MSU's players call home? (Answer below)

For more Freep coverage of the Mavericks and the North Star Cup, check out the College Hockey Gameday.

More coverage ...

The Gophers are ranked 18th in the latest Pairwise, which makes this weekend's games against tough competition very important for them, the Star Tribune's Jason Gonzalez writes (lots of MSU stuff in this story, too).

In the Pioneer Press, Dane Mizutani writes about MSU and how it is leading a WCHA resurgence.

Dan Myers writes about Mavericks defenseman Casey Nelson for Minnesota Hockey Magazine.

Brian Hall of Fox Sports North takes a look at Minnesota State's growth over the last 2 1/2-plus years under Mike Hastings.

In today's other semifinal Bemidji State and Minnesota Duluth will square off. Here are previews from the Duluth News Tribune and the Bemidji Pioneer.

Lots of coverage out there. Anything I missed?

Going around the WCHA ...

Northern Michigan at Penn State: Details remain few and far between with the Walt Kyle situation. Without their coach, the Wildcats will step out of conference play to take on a good Nittany Lions team.

Lake Superior State at Bowling Green: The Falcons host the last-place Lakers one week after playing a tough series at Michigan Tech, but they're not overlooking this week's opponent, which is 3-2-1 in its last six games. Meanwhile, Bowling Green freshman defenseman Mark Friedman entered he season with high expectations and is now starting to reach that high bar.

Alaska at Michigan Tech: Despite losing two games at home to rival Alaska Anchorage, the Nanooks feel like they're playing good hockey. Ran into a good goalie last weekend, played Bowling Green tough before that and won five of six (including the win at MSU) before that. They could give the Huskies a little run for their money this weekend.

Also, Jack Hittinger and I give Lake Superior State a little love in this week's USCHO column. We also make our weekend picks.

Trivia answer: Minnesota, Alaska, California, Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, British Columbia, Ontario, Saskatchewan

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