Friday, March 18, 2016

Friday Morning Skate, Final Five edition

Good day from Grand Rapids, everyone!

It's gameday, and Minnesota State will square off with Bowling Green in the WCHA semifinals this afternoon, with Michigan Tech and Ferris State playing after that.

For the Mavericks, today's game will be No. 162 for Bryce Gervais, who has been a real ironman for MSU over his career. Of course, he'd like to get to 163, 164 and beyond. That has to start with a win today. "We know it's coming down to the nit and grit here, and our team's ready for it," Gervais said. "We want to go and get another Broadmoor."

Gervais is one of five seniors who have helped coach Mike Hastings make the Mavericks what they are today, winning 99 games since Hastings' arrival. Minnesota State is hoping that, because it's the two-time defending champion, it can rely on that experience to put it over the top this weekend.

The Final Five field features the top four teams in the WCHA this season, but it seems like all four of them have a chance to win. Read more in the Free Press' Gameday package (has video).

For the Falcons, junior defenseman Sean Walker might finally be getting his due, as the folks at write, as one of the top blueliners in the WCHA. One person who really believes that is Hastings, who has been scouting Bowling Green carefully this week. Here's more from them, breaking down today's game by the numbers. According to the Bowling Green Sentinel-Tribune, the Falcons are using the pressure put on them this week as motivation, while the Toldeo Blade says it's time for BGSU to take the next step.

The other game today features the two Michigan teams, who should have the crowds behind them, especially Ferris State, which is located just up the road in Big Rapids. Ferris State faces a big challenge, playing the red-hot Huskies. The Bulldogs do boast one the top freshman in the WCHA, Corey Mackin, who is profiled here. Tech, meanwhile, which won its first MacNaughton Cup in 40 years two weeks ago, is seeking its first Broadmoor Trophy.

Read more about the WCHA in my and Jack Hittinger's USCHO column here and check out our weekend picks here.

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