Friday, February 5, 2016

Friday Morning Skate

After playing Saturday and Sunday at the North Star College Cup, it's a quick turnaround for the Mavericks for one of the biggest series of the season — Bowling Green coming to Mankato with first place in the WCHA on the line.

Minnesota State has been playing well the last few weeks, and its goal-scoring output is most encouraging. The lineup tweaks that took place two weeks ago have continued to work, it appears. Last week, I wrote about the impact C.J. Franklin was having. When he was moved to the middle, Dylan Margonari was moved to the wing on Teddy Blueger's line, and that, plus the confidence that comes from Margonari being fully healthy, has been a real boost, too.

One thing the changes have done, it appears, is provide some real balance and depth in the lines, and the grouping of Franklin, Zach Stepan and Brad McClure has been particularly effective. See their stats as part of The Free Press's College Hockey Gameday preview.

As for Bowling Green, it is approaching this weekend with the idea that the Mavericks are better than their record says they are and are hoping their can fair better against another of the top teams in the league than they did last week when they tied and lost at home to Michigan Tech. More coverage of the Falcons can be found here.

In case you missed it in the Freep this week ... Mavericks coach Mike Hastings said in this week's College Hockey Notebook that series such as the Bowling Green games are ones players want to be in. Also, I wrote about how, on the ice, the North Star College Cup was a true celebration of college hockey in Minnesota.

In other WCHA action this week ... Lake Superior State is at Michigan Tech for Winter Carnival, Alaska Anchorage is at Northern Michigan and Ferris State is at Alaska.

In Jack Hittinger's and my USCHO column this week, I talk to WCHA commissioner Bill Robertson about how he wants to see the conference grow. Read Jack's and my weekend picks here.

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