Friday, December 4, 2015

Friday Morning Skate

Minnesota State  is in Bowling Green this weekend for a big series between two of the three favorites in the WCHA.

Earlier this season, Bowling Green split a series at Michigan Tech, but this is the first time the Mavericks and Falcons are playing. They have split each of their three series in the new WCHA, with three of the games going to overtime and MSU holding just a 16-15 edge in goals. The Mavericks also beat the Falcons in the 2014 Final Five semifinals.

"History doesn't guarantee anything," Mavericks coach Mike Hastings said. "But, if you look at the history of these two teams playing each other, I can't tell you that both games will be done in 60 minutes."

Minnesota State is looking to hold its stops atop the WCHA standings, but it is really looking for consistency, along the lines of how it played last weekend against Alaska Anchorage.

Read more Free Press coverage in its College Hockey Gameday.

Bowling Green coach Chris Bergeron says Minnesota State is the standard-bearer of the new WCHA, and a team the Falcons have been chasing.  

Both Bergeron and Hastings are trying not to over-hype the series, which is the subject of this week's USCHO column by Jack Hittinger and me. Read our weekend predictions, too.

There's a full slate of games in the WCHA this weekend. Here are the matchups (with various links):

• Bemidji State at Ferris State: The Beavers are coming off their first sweep of the season, at Alabama Huntsville, and are on another long road trip, this time to Big Rapids, where the Bulldogs haven't been swept and haven't swept anybody.

Alaska Anchorage at Michigan Tech: Life gets no easier for the Seawolves, who go from Minnesota State to Michigan Tech, the two teams tied for first place in the WCHA. The Huskies have lost just twice in their last 11 games.

• Northern Michigan at Alabama Huntsville: The Wildcats played Bowling Green Tough last week on the road last weekend, despite losing twice (once with 5 seconds left in overtime) and continue moving southward with a trip to Huntsville, which is on a six-game skid.

• Lake Superior State at Alaska: Two teams tying to stay out of the bottom of the league standings will do battle in Fairbanks. The Lakers have not been an easy out, splitting at home with Ferris State last weekend. The Nanooks are hoping to bounce back from two home losses to Tech.

In other related reading ...

Minnesota State and the Verizon Wireless Center are close on agreeing to a lease deal for use of the renovated arena. MSU will pay more than $500,000 per year.

USCHO has a feature on St. Scholastica goaltender Tyler Bruggeman, a North Mankato native and Mankato West graduate, who is in his final season of college hockey.

Gustavus Adolphus women's player Kaitlyn Klein suffered a neck injury during a game Sunday in Vermont and had surgery to repair the crushed vertebrae. That was the subject of my Thursday notebook. But Gustavus has the latest updates here.

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