Friday, October 28, 2016

Friday Morning Skate

The No. 9 Mavericks are back home following their split at Alaska to take on Ferris State in a WCHA series. In their last meeting, the Bulldogs defeated MSU 2-1 for the league playoff championship and got the WCHA's lone berth into the NCAA tournament.

Minnesota State will be without sophomore defenseman Daniel Brickley, its leading scorer. He represents a lot of points (10, with nine assists) and a lot of minutes on the ice. Those minutes, coach Mike Hastings said, "will be absorbed by the group, not by one individual."

Read more about what's ahead in The Free Press' College Hockey Gameday.

You can also read about senior forward Jordan Nelson and how he's become Mr. Reliable to both his Maverick family and his own family in North Dakota where his sister has been is battling leukemia for the last 10 months. On the ice, Nelson has been rock-solid so far this year. He and wingers Nicholas Rivera and Max Coatta were MSU's best line in Alaska, Hastings said, as the group accounted for three goals and eight points.

"He's playing like a senior," Hastings said of Nelson. "A lot of players come to you and ask for more. He wants it — but is able to take advantage of his more. He's getting more ice time, he's producing offensively, he's committed defensively. He's taking advantage of those opportunities. That's what you want your seniors to do."

As for Ferris State, it is 0-6-1 with a shootout win over Northern Michigan on Saturday. Several Bulldogs have been battling injuries, including the WCHA's preseason player of the year Gerald Mayhew, who has played in just three games.

"(Mayhew) and (last season's WCHA rookie of the year Corey) Mackin, they're hard," Hastings said. "They play hard; they play with an edge. There's no difference; they're the same team we played last time we played them."

Going around the WCHA ...

The Alaska teams are both on the road, with Alaska going to Lake Superior State and Alaska Anchorage going to Bemidji State. In an attempt to keep their hockey programs afloat amid big budget cuts, the Alaska universities proposed the cutting of other sports on Thursday and are requesting a waiver to be below the minimum number of sports requirement to be in the NCAA. If approved, that may save hockey at both institutions. They were

As for Bemidji State, which is sitting in first place in the WCHA, it's coming off its first two losses of the season, at No. 1 North Dakota. They're not "good losses" per se, coach Tom Serratore told the Bemidji Pioneer, but the team can learn from them.

Northern Michigan and Michigan Tech will play a home-and-home series this weekend, with the rivalry starting in Houghton.

In nonconfernece action, Bowling Green travels to Miami, and Alabama Huntsville is on the road again, going to St. Cloud State. The Falcons will try to overcome their surprising winless start to the season, while the Chargers are winless in their last six games since starting the season with two wins at Ferris State.

For more on the WCHA, read the USCHO weekly column here.

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