Friday, March 11, 2016

Friday Morning Skate

Minnesota State opens WCHA postseason play today when it hosts Lake Superior State in the first game of a best-of-three series. The Mavericks are the No. 2 seed and are facing the seventh-place Lakers. For MSU, this weekend marks the last games in Mankato for six seniors. Five of them have been four-year players, while the other, Jimmy Mullin, is in his first and only season with the team. Mullin has fit right in, however, and is playing his best hockey of the season down the stretch.

"We can’t get shutout anymore going into the playoffs," Mullin said. "We get so many opportunities. This is the time of year when you have to capitalize. We've got to play all four lines. Goalies have to be great. It’s just got to be a crisp, 60-minute or plus game, and I think we have that. We just have to piece it together."

Minnesota State enters the weekend with five WCHA award winners. The Lakers have one, third-team goaltender Gordon Defiel, who could certainly be an X-factor this weekend.

Read more about the series in The Free Press' gameday preview.

The other WCHA playoff series are:

Alaska at Michigan Tech: The top-seeded Huskies host a potentially dangerous team that played them tough two weeks ago. Tech is also enjoying some time with the MacNaughton Cup, which it won for the first time in 40 years. Minnesota State shipped the trophy up to Houghton earlier this week.

Bemidji State at Bowling Green: The Falcons missed out on the MacNaughton but now have their eyes on the Broadmoor Trophy. They're not looking past the Beavers, though. They're also hoping players such as Tyler Spezia are ready to make an impact in the tournament. As for Bemidji State, it's all packed and prepped to win and then stay on the road for the rest of the playoffs.

Northern Michigan at Ferris State: The Wildcats and the host Bulldogs are squaring off in the 4-5 series, one that is expected to be as close as those two teams were in the standings, separated by one point.

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

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