The Mavericks return to the ice tonight after a week off when they play at Alaska Anchorage. Anchorage is the hometown of freshman Ryan Schwalbe, who has not played a game there in more than seven years. Not sure if he'll be in the lineup tonight, but he is on the trip, bringing some versatility to the team because of his ability to play both forward and defense.
Minnesota State is trying to maintain its lead atop the WCHA standings. To do that it will have to break an eight-game road winless streak agains conference opponents. Seven of those games have resulted in ties. Read about that and more in The Free Press' gameday feature.
In case you missed it, MSU captain Carter Foguth talked about the benefit of the week off going into the final four games of the regular season.
Doyle Woody of the Alaska Dispatch News also wrote about Schwalbe for today, as well as about the Seawolves' hopes of maintaining their own position in the league standings. Currently, they hold the eighth and final playoff spot.
Going around the WCHA ...
Ferris State at Bowling Green: This might be the best series amid a bunch of good ones taking place this weekend. The visiting Bulldogs are tied for fourth place and trying to secure that spot, while the Falcons still have their eyes on a league title. Bowling Green's best player this season has been goalie Chis Nell, a Hobey Baker and Mike Richter Award candidate.
Alaska at Michigan Tech: In Houghton, the host Huskies also want to get their hands on the MacNaughton and have a chance to catch MSU by playing the ninth-place Nanooks. Alaska, however, will be playing "like our lives depend on it," as they are on the outside looking in in the playoff picture.
Northern Michigan at Lake Superior State: The visiting Wildcats are tied for fourth place and will take on their U.P. rivals to the east. The Lakers will have a hard time catching up to a home-ice spot but haven't secured a playoff spot either, so they'll be motivated as well.
Alabama Huntsville at Bemidji State: The last-place Chargers are five points out of a playoff spot so they need points this weekend against the Beavers, who are six points out of home ice. If they don't make a move this weekend, these games will be the last at home for the team's seniors.
Some developing news out of Alaska ... Proposed slashes to the University of Alaska system budget has folks in athletics worried. In the Fairbanks Daily News Miner, Alaska Fairbanks athletic director Gary Gray said athletics at his school and Alaska Anchorage would not survive such cuts. A story in the Alaska Dispatch News, however, said there is enough money for athletics. Stay tuned.
Read more about the WCHA in Jack Hittinger's and my USCHO column as well as our weekend picks.