Friday, October 14, 2016

Friday morning skate

Minnesota State will host St. Cloud State today and Saturday in a matchup of in-state nonconference rivals. They're the Nos. 14 and 7 teams in the latest rankings, and the Huskies have a seven-game winning streak against the Mavericks dating back to 2011 when they were both in the WCHA.

The Mavericks got off to a good start last weekend, thanks to the play of some veterans who flew under the radar a bit in previous seasons. For senior center Michael Huntebrinker, each year has been another step up the rung — and up the line chart, it seems. He'll need to be an impact player all season, for MSU to keep having success.

For a series preview, please see The Free Press' College Hockey Gameday section.

It will be interesting to see the the flow of the two games, especially with the new penalty standards put in place. We saw that last weekend in the Michigan Tech series. Will it continue? It's something both the St. Cloud Times' Mick Hatten and I took a look at this week. Hatten, who does an outstanding job covering Husky hockey, also has a feature worth reading on St. Cloud State junior and oft-injured forward Ryan Papa.

Earlier this week, I also opined on the Mavericks' dedication to blocking shots and how that brings them closer as a team on the ice.

Should be a good series.

Going around the WCHA ... 

• Michigan Tech (0-4, 0-2 in WCHA) will try to snap its four-game losing streak to start the season when it hosts Alabama Huntsville in a league series. Huntsville (2-2, 2-0) might be road-weary. The Chargers are in the U.P. this week following a trip to Connecticut and, before that, a trip to Ferris State in lower Michigan.

• Bemidji State (2-0, 2-0) goes to Northern Michigan (1-1) for a conference series where it will try to improve on its good start. The Beavers were encouraged by the offensive contribution from their young defensemen last week. Bemidji State was College Hockey News' Team of the Week after their sweep of league-favorite Bowling Green. The Wildcats, meanwhile, will try to get its league season started on a good note.

• Alaska (1-1) is hosting its annual Brice Alaska Goal Rush with Alaska Anchorage (0-2), as well as Omaha and Canisius. Led by senior goalie Davis Jones, the Nanooks enter the weekeind having lost just once in the event's eight-year history. The Seawolves, meanwhile, are hoping to bounce back after being "punched in the face" by Minnesota and Alaska last weekend.

• Bowling Green (0-2) will step out of league play and take on Western Michigan in a home-and-home series that starts tonight in Ohio. The Falcons seek to recover from their sluggish start but also, like Minnesota State against St. Cloud State, improve the WCHA's record in nonconference play, which is a dismal 1-9 through the first two weeks of the season.

• Lake Superior State is finally starting its season, playing a nonconference series at home against Michigan State.

• Ferris State (0-4, 0-2) will host nonconference foe Michigan in a single game on Saturday.

More coverage on the WCHA from USCHO can be found here and here (picks).

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