Friday, January 30, 2015

Friday Morning Skate

The Mavericks are back home after a rather grinding early part of 2015 with six of eight games on the road. They've gone 6-1-1 in that stretch, with the lone loss coming last week to Bemidji State in the North Star College Cup and breaking a nine-game unbeaten streak.

Actually, MSU is home for four straight games, the first time that has happened this season.* They'll host Ferris State this weekend and Alaska Anchorage next.

* They had four in a row scheduled Dec. 5-13, but the fourth game, against Princeton, was cancelled due to a team-wide illness.

Minnesota State's depth has been well-documented this season, but one player who doesn't get a lot of praise (or points) but who has proven invaluable, has been senior winger Max Gaede. The fourth-liner has embraced his role and probably would prefer not to call it simply a role, even if it's not what he expected it would be when he first got to MSU.

Gaede, a mass media major, was quite thoughtful in my interview with him this week and had a lot to say that didn't fit in the print edition. A couple of quotes about his evolution as a college player that didn't make the story linked above:

"I feel good. As of the last few weeks, I've been minus, but most of the year I've been positive. And that was my goal, just to be positive all year, not only on the score sheet but day in and day out not getting down."

"It is really hard because, when I came in, I thought I'd be more of a (goal scorer like Bryce) Gervais. You think just from where you came from that's what you're going to be. Sometimes your path isn't that path."

"The hardest thing for me (in the past) was feeling like I wasn't contributing, not helping the team win — just out there killing time basically. And that's the worst way to look at it. If look at it like, 'All right, I'm just out there filling spots (until) the skill guys go out there,' then you will never be a difference maker, regardless of how much you play or don't play."

With Ferris State in town, the Mavericks likely will benefit from Gaede's hard, physical play. For more on the series, read The Free Press' gameday preview. More info from the Bulldogs can be found here.

Around the WCHA ...

Alabama Huntsville at Michigan Tech: Tech is trying to keep pace with Minnesota State, sitting four points back and has a good chance to keep up with the Chargers (an improved UAH team, mind you) in town. Tanner Kero and Alex Petan each have 30 points for the Huskies, which leads the WCHA.

Alaska Anchorage at Northern Michigan: NMU got its coach, Walt Kyle, back this week after a week on administrative leave for undisclosed reasons ("issues in my personal life," Kyle told WLUC-TV. The associate AD, who was also suspended, is back as well. Curious to see how the Wildcats respond to such a tumultuous couple of weeks. The Seawolves are starting a four-game stretch in the lower 48, and will be in Mankato most of next week.

Bowling Green at Bemidji State: This should be a good series with the Falcons coming off a surprising split at home to Lake Superior State and the Beavers coming off their own shocker, winning the North Star College Cup. Bemidji State is hoping to build momentum from that tournament win. Bowling Green, meanwhile, is a team that, like MSU, relies on its depth.

The league race is heating up with just two nonconference games remaining on the schedule. Jack Hittinger and I write about that in this week's USCHO column. You can also see our weekend picks here.

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