Getting ready to make the trek to Bemidji ...
Minnesota State will open WCHA play against its longtime rival Bemidji State on Friday and Saturday and it hopes to get its first win of the season and first goal in nine-plus periods.
Two years ago, an early season game against the Beavers was deemed crucial, and Cole Huggins got his first start in goal and won the game for the Mavericks. Huggins, now a junior, has played every game so far for the Mavericks and knows the pressure is on to perform well again (Huggins also played last season at Bemidji, spelling Stephon Williams in a Friday-night loss; Williams returned the next night and MSU got the shutout win and the MacNaughton Cup.)
The Mavericks and the Beavers each have played a tough schedule to start the season, as BSU coach Tom Serratore pointed out earlier this week, so it should be interesting to see how things shake out this weekend. Certainly, the schedule gets no easier for Minnesota State, as I opined in my Tuesday column.
Read more about the upcoming series in The Free Press' college hockey gameday preview.
Meanwhile, the Bemidji Pioneer's Jack Hittinger has everything you need to know about the Beavers in his preview here.
By now, most of you know the connection between Serratore and Minnesota State. He started his playing career at MSU before transferring to Bemidji State and was at one time roommates with former Mavericks coach Troy Jutting. He's connected to Mike Hastings, too, as both were assistant coaches for Craig Dahl at St. Cloud State in 1993-94. Here's another connection: Serratore's daughter, Megan, is a freshman at Minnesota State and a member of the cross-country team.
Going around the WCHA ...
• Lake Superior State started the weekend right on Thursday, beating Michigan State 4-2, two weeks after losing to the Spartans in the second game of the IceBreaker tournament. They'll wrap up the series on Friday.
• Besides the Mavericks and Beavers, there will be two other conference matches, with Northern Michigan and Michigan Tech playing a home-and-home series, starting Friday in Marquette, and Alaska Anchorage traveling to Alabama Huntsville.
• Ferris State will host Wisconsin in nonconference play, welcoming the Badgers to Big Rapids for the first time.
Read my and Jack Hittinger's USCHO column here and check out our weekly picks here (looks like I already got one right).
Be sure to check back later on Friday for updates and links to the evening's live chat.