Minnesota State hopes to get back on track in nonconference play after going 5-1 in WCHA play since their 0-4 start. Junior defenseman Casey Nelson appears to be back to where he left off last season, and the spotlight is on him now on the blue line with Zach Palmquist graduated.
Some good news for the Mavericks on the injury front: Dylan Margonari is back, recovered from a stress fracture and skating. He's expected to be in the lineup against the Gophers. He had 14 goals last season and also brings speed and energy. Curious to see how much rust needs to be knocked off.
Read more about the series in The Free Press' College Hockey Gameday.
There are some parallels between these two teams this season, as the Star Tribune's Jason Gonzalez points out. Both were slow out of the gates, with losses and little scoring, and both seem to have righted the ship over the last few weeks. One area where Minnesota might be a little more consistent than MSU is in goal where freshman Eric Schierhorn has settled in nicely.
Going around the WCHA ...
• Bowling Green at Michigan Tech: These are the only two ranked teams in the conference, and they're squaring off in what should be one of the weekend's marquee matchups. Tech is learning to deal with high expectations (see the USCHO link below), while Bowling Green is looking for scoring. The Falcons do, however, feel like they have a top goalie, and Chris Nell is the guy right now.
• Alaska at Bemidji State: The Nanooks return to Minnesota after a week away but this time go north to take on the Beavers, who should be well-rested after a week off. Check out the News-Miner's feature on Alaska freshman and Montreal Canadiens draft pick Nikolas Koberstein here.
• Ferris State at Alaska Anchorage: The question in Anchorage is this: Will the Seawolves stay hot after having a week off? The Alaska Dispatch News' Doyle Woody examines what they did well to start the season. They'll be playing a team they haven't beaten in the last two seasons, the Bulldogs, who are coming off their split with Minnesota State.
• Arizona State at Lake Superior State: The Sun Devils are going to find out just what they got themselves into by making the long trip to Sault Ste. Marie this weekend.