Friday, November 11, 2016

Friday Morning Skate

It's a battle of top-15 teams in the nation and one of the top two teams in the conference as No. 11 Minnesota State and No. 15 Bemidji State will play each other at the Verizon Center. The Mavericks trail only the Beavers, who are undefeated in WCHA play, in the league standings.

Minnesota State has split its last three series, most recently winning 2-1 at Lake Superior State. A big key to winning that game was the play of captain and senior defenseman Carter Foguth, who logged a whopping 26:47 of ice time that night. Despite never putting up big offensive numbers, he is as valuable to the Mavericks as any player on the roster.

For a preview of this weekend's series, check out the Freep's College Hockey Gameday.

The Bemidji Pioneer's Jack Hittinger wrote about the Mavericks-Beavers rivalry and the connection between the coaches. (ICYMI, here is my Tuesday column about rivalries in college hockey, many of which have stayed strong even in the post-realignment era.) Earlier this week, Jack opined about BSU's impressive sweep at Alaska.

Time to go around the WCHA ...

Ferris State vs. Michigan State: The Bulldogs got this nonconference series off to a good start on Thursday night with a 4-1 road victory over the Spartans. The series will go to Big Rapids on Saturday night. Freshman goalie Justin Kapelmaster stopped 26 saves and has all three of Ferris' wins this season, starting with one at Minnesota State.

Alaska Anchorage at Penn State and Alaska at Alabama Huntsville: Both Alaska teams were on the road when they received good news about the athletic teams at their schools Thursday — officials have opted to not cut sports at the schools. Early proposals mentioned the elimination of one or both hockey teams, and those were saved by another plan to cut skiing among other sports. But those were saved as well. On the ice, both teams hope to get something going on the road. The Seawolves are 1-7 and have lost four in a row. The Nanooks are 3-7 and coming off two home losses to Bemidji State. The Chargers, meanwhile, are getting set for a six-game home stretch after playing 10 of their first 12 games on the road — in four different states.

Lake Superior State at Michigan Tech: Big series in Houghton as the No. 20 Lakers will try to stay in the top four of the conference. The Huskies are one point behind them. After starting the season 0-4, Tech is 4-2-2 in its last eight games. Lake Superior State has split its last two series after starting 5-0.

Bowling Green at Northern Michigan: This is a matchup of the eighth- (NMU) and ninth-place (BG) teams in the WCHA, and one between two teams that expect to finish much, much higher than that. The Wildcats have won one of their last five games and are winless in three games in their home rink. The Falcons have won twice in their last three games after starting off winless in their first seven. A better PK might be a reason for that improvement, but they are still seeking consistency.

Minnesota State is the focus of this week's USCHO column. See that site's WCHA picks here.

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