Friday, October 30, 2015

Friday Morning Skate

Minnesota State is back at home following two weeks away and will host Alaska in a WCHA series. Coach Mike Hastings said that the Mavericks may be coming off a pair of wins, but they need to keep getting better.

"We're trying to progress on a lot of different levels," Hastings said. "I'd like us to possess the puck a little more. I'd like us to continue to become more difficult to play against. ... We've been decent defensively, but that has to continue."

The Nanooks are 2-2-0 and were idle last week.

"They've had two weeks to prepare," Hastings said. "They're going to be a very-motivated, fresh, prepared group."

For the Mavericks, senior center Teddy Blueger is no longer the youngest player on the team. He's grown up a lot at MSU and, really, since making the decision at 14 years old to go from Latvia to Faribault and Shattuck-St. Mary's, a choice that he stumbled upon pretty much by accident.

Read more about the Alaska series in the Free Press' College Hockey Gameday package here. Also, hopefully, the weekend is devoid of any hits to the head, but if there are, that they're policed properly.

Going around the WCHA, all 10 teams are in action against each other this weekend. Here's a peek:

• Bemidji State at Northern Michigan: The Beavers will try to rebound from their two home losses to Minnesota State when they travel to Marquette, a place where the Wildcats have been tough in the early season. Beavers sophomore Kyle Bauman is a good story, as he was pretty much ready to hang up the skates before BSU called.

• Bowling Green at Alaska Anchorage: The 12th-ranked Falcons head to Alaska to take on the surprising Seawolves, who are 4-1-1 on the young season. Bowling Green was idle last week and this is a Saturday-Sunday series, so it should be well-rested. Still, the Falcons are hoping for a fast start. One player who has started fast this season after slumping a year ago for BGSU is Mark Cooper. Read more about him here.

• Ferris State at Michigan Tech: These two teams played each other two weeks ago, splitting a series at Big Rapids. The Huskies split again with NMU last week, while Ferris State won and tied in a nonconference set with Wisconsin. There's some excitement at Tech about an alumni, last year's WCHA player of the year Tanner Kero, who made his NHL debut with the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night.

• Alabama Huntsville at Lake Superior State: The Chargers hit the road for the first time, while the Lakers will try to build off a pair of back-to-back splits.

Get a solid read on the WCHA in my and Jack Hittinger's USCHO column and find out who we're picking to win this weekend and why.

Also this weekend, the Minnesota State women return home to play Wisconsin. Games are at 2:07 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The series will be the first meeting between coaches John Harrington and Mark Johnson, 1980 Olympic teammates. Bill Brophy has a good read on the two coaches for

As for the series itself, the Mavericks are still trying to make improvements, while the third-ranked Badgers are unbeaten and haven't given up a goal in six WCHA games.

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