Friday, February 20, 2015

Friday Morning Skate

A quick skate through the WCHA before taking a little time off ...

Minnesota State is idle, of course, practicing but also getting as healthy as it can before next week's games against Michigan Tech. On Wednesday, coach Mike Hastings said the team's injured forwards — Teddy Blueger, C.J. Franklin and Brett Knowles — were all progressing but "day to day." Good news on the injury front was that Dylan Margonari was back skating with the team. With Tech also idle this weekend, the Mavericks won't have to do a lot of scoreboard watching.

This is the weekend when all of the league teams catch up to each other in the games-played category, and we'll know just where everyone stands going into the final two weeks of the regular season. Here's who's in action in WCHA play this weekend:

Alaska Anchorage at Bemidji State: The Beavers finally won some road games over the weekend, which put them in position to get home ice for the league playoffs. They're tied for fifth place with Northern Michigan and hold the tiebreaker for what is currently a home-ice spot with fourth-place Alaska out of the playoffs. The Seawolves, meanwhile, hope to get out of the basement but they looked stuck there last week at home, being outscored 15-1 in a series against Tech.

Northern Michigan at Bowling Green: The host Falcons need just one point to clinch home ice for the second year in a row. Bowling Green might have the top freshman goaltender in the league in Chris Nell, but the job appears to be going back to junior Tommy Burke for the stretch run. The Wildcats, meanwhile, need to snap a four-game losing streak to stay in the home-ice race.

Ferris State at Alabama Huntsville: The Bulldogs go back on the road after a rare home weekend to play a team that not only appears to be in the postseason mix but one that beat them in Big Rapids earlier this season. No easy task for offensively challenged Ferris. The Chargers, meanwhile, have won five of their last seven home games.

Read more about Huntsville's playoff hopes and Ferris State's scoring issues in this week's USCHO column by Jack Hittinger and myself. Also, check out our weekend picks.

This is also a big weekend for the Gustavus Adolphus men's hockey team, which has set a Division III record with eight ties this season. The Gusties are down to the final weekend of the regular season to get in the league playoffs. They need to sweep Bethel and get some help elsewhere but, once in, they could be a dangerous team.

In high school hockey action, Mankato West survived an instant classic, beating Albert Lea in double -overtime Thursday night in the Section 1A quarterfinals. Read more in my game story here.

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