Friday, March 6, 2015

Friday Morning Skate

It's the final weekend of the regular season, and the Mavericks are in Bemidji to take on the red-hot Beavers. Both teams have a lot on the line, with MSU able to win the MacNaughton Cup and Bemidji State able to claim the final home-ice spot for next week's WCHA playoffs.

Minnesota State is healthier — and may even get Teddy Blueger back this weekend — and that showed against Michigan Tech last weekend when the fast and physical Dylan Margonari returned to the lineup. Margonari, a junior center, said he remembers all too well the loss to the Beavers in the finals of the North Star College Cup six weeks ago, including his third-period penalty shot that was saved and, if scored, may have changed the momentum of the game.

Including that loss to Bemidji State, the Mavericks are 0-2-1 in their last three games away from Mankato but otherwise 11-4-2 away from home this season.

For more on the series and what's at stake for both teams, check out The Free Press' College Hockey Gameday preview.

In Bemidji, the Beavers think they know what to do to get home ice — and to beat their in-state rival.

Going around the WCHA, there's a lot at stake throughout the league, as Jack Hittinger and I (hey, we'll be in the same building this weekend!) take a team-by-team tour in this week's USCHO column. We also make our series predictions for the weekend. Here are the series:

Alabama Huntsville at Bowling Green: The Chargers are hoping to hang on to a playoff spot, while the Falcons are locked into third place. It's been a great year for Bowling Green, but, after its great first half, the second half has been more of a struggle. Wins are still very important for the Falcons, who are on the Pairwise bubble right now.

Northern Michigan at/vs. Michigan Tech: Closing out the season with rivalry games is great. (MSU at BSU, Fairbanks at Anchorage, etc.) This one should be an intense battle, as Huskies coach Mel Pearson hinted on his way out of Mankato last weekend. Tech is three points behind MSU but could still win the MacNaughton, while the Wildcats are trying for home ice.

Ferris State at Lake Superior State: Another series with playoff implications. The Bulldogs are hoping to sneak into a home-ice spot, while the Lakers are trying to maintain a playoff position. Interestingly, Lake Superior has half as many wins as it did last year when it missed the postseason and, as a result, underwent a coaching change.

Alaska at Alaska Anchorage: These in-state rivals are playing for the Governor's Cup, and the Seawolves have the advantage after sweeping at Fairbanks in January. Anchorage is on the outside looking in but could get a playoff spot. It could also be eliminated before the puck drops at 10 p.m. CST tonight, so this series could get old-timer.

Well, I'm off to Bemidji. I'll be back on the blog later today.

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