Friday, October 7, 2016

Mavericks 3, Huskies 1

Freddy's three thoughts of the game ...

1. A good start: The Mavericks are 1-0 for the first time since 2012 and won the season-opening game like a team more veteran than it really is. Five freshman forwards were in the lineup (Jordan Nelson joined fellow senior Zach Stepan on the shelf), along with one rookie defenseman, and they survived a special teams battle to win the game. All four of the game's goals were scored in a penalty-plagued first period, and MSU held off a good push by the Huskies over the second and third periods. "I think you could see as the game wore on (Tech) had a bit more push," coach Mike Hastings said. " I think you could tell it was their third game. … But I thought we had some guys show some fortitude there."

2. It's their team now: Much has been made about the turnover in personnel on this MSU team, and it was (and will continue to be) interesting to see who some of the go-to players end up being. On Friday, junior forward Zeb Knutson scored two goals, and sophomore Defenseman Daniel Brickley had a three-point game (one goal, two assists). Also, senior goalie Cole Huggins made 20 saves, including stops on two breakaways early in the second period that could have turned the tide. "With having five freshmen up front, we need some of the old guard to assert themselves, and I thought they did," Hastings said.

3. A new standard: I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the penalties – nine minors in the first period alone, 18 in the game. The crackdown definitely has begun on obstruction and interference. Hooking, or at least having a stick up, appeared to be a big point of emphasis on Friday. This is happening all over the country, and that should be a good thing, at least over the long haul. The game never got ugly, just kind of annoying with so many whistles and what seemed to be a few ticky-tack calls either way. But the hope is this results in a better game, with skill and skating getting rewarded at both ends of the ice. Stay tuned.

Deep thought: A season-opening crowd of 3,331? Friday was a strange, busy night in Mankato. An outdoor concert by Nelly at Riverfront Park. An on-campus concert by T-Pain for MSU's homecoming. Mankato West High School homecoming. Frankly, I'm surprised by the conflicts involving MSU within itself (hockey opener vs. T-Pain) and involving MSU and the city (hockey opener vs. Nelly). I'd guess there will be a much fuller arena on Saturday.

Read my game story here.

Around the WCHA: UConn 6, Alabama Huntsville 0 ... Western Michigan 2, Ferris State 1 ... Bemidji State 2, Bowling Green 1 ... Northern Michigan 3, Wisconsin 2 ... Minnesota 6, Alaska Anchorage 0

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