Monday, November 20, 2017

Mavericks slip, stay

Minnesota State slipped from fifth to No. 8 in the USCHO rankings following their series split at home to Bowling Green last weekend. In the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll, the Mavericks remained at No. 8. Here is the USCHO poll:

USCHO.com Division I Men's Poll
Minneapolis, Minn./November 20, 2017

   Team             (First Place)    Record   Pts  Last Week
 1 Denver                    (30)    7- 3-2   976     1
 2 St. Cloud State           (18)    9- 2-0   953     2
 3 North Dakota              ( 2)    8- 3-3   903     3
 4 Notre Dame                       10- 3-1   836     4
 5 Clarkson                         10- 3-1   759     8
 6 Minnesota                         9- 4-1   745     7
 7 Cornell                           7- 1-0   686     6
 8 Minnesota State                   9- 4-0   653     5
 9 Wisconsin                         8- 5-2   572     9
10 Providence                        7- 4-1   531    10
11 Western Michigan                  8- 4-1   489    15
12 Northeastern                      7- 4-1   408    12
13 New Hampshire                     6- 4-1   363    11
14 Boston College                    8- 5-1   333    NR
15 Ohio State                        6- 3-3   272    16
16 Minnesota Duluth                  6- 6-2   257    14
17 Michigan                          6- 4-2   208    17
18 Colgate                           7- 3-4   164    19
19 Boston University                 6- 7-1    80    18
19 UMass Lowell                      8- 6-0    80    NR

Others receiving votes: Harvard 68, Northern Michigan 54,
Bowling Green 43, Michigan State 12, Quinnipiac 11, Holy
Cross 9, Penn State 8, Niagara 7, Union 5, Yale 5, Army 4,
Bemidji State 3, RIT 2, Colorado College 1.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Falcons 4, Mavericks 1

Freddy's three thoughts of the game ...

1. Don't go back to Splitsville: Well, they did it again. The Mavericks and Falcons split yet another WCHA series. As it's been well-chronicled now, the WCHA's top two teams currently have never swept each other in league play. They've played four games against each other this season with Minnesota State winning the opener of both series and Bowling Green returning the favor in the closer. The Mavericks certainly would have liked to get that first sweep over the Falcons in their home rink. An announced crowd of 4,256 got taken out of the game early by some excellent defensive play by Bowling Green that kept MSU from making the pretty plays they made on Friday.

2. Penalties plague Mavericks: Sure, there were some questionable calls, but Minnesota State put itself in too many tough spots on Saturday. The result was three 5-on-3 power plays goals for the Falcons. One came with 19 seconds left in the second period and another came 54 seconds into the third. Backbreakers. Add to that an interference penalty by Daniel Brickley that wiped out an MSU power play and 5-minute major by the star defenseman with about 7 minutes to play, and any chance for a comeback was crippled. Ironically, coach Mike Hastings said he scratched Nick Rivera because of his two penalties on Friday. That message didn't register with the rest of the team on Saturday. MSU's eight penalties all came in the game's final 21 minutes.

3. Jaremko breaks out: Freshman center Jake Jaremko scored the Mavericks' lone goal, a power-play tally in the final minute of the first period. That gave him four points for the weekend after his one-goal, two-assist game on Friday. He now has three goals and nine assist for 12 points. "Jake Jaremko has taken some big steps; he really has," Hastings said. "I like the direction that he's moving. He's playing with pace and playing with poise. He's making plays. He's making the players around him better."

Read my game story here.

Around the WCHA: Michigan State 3, Ferris State 1 ... Alabama Huntsville 5, Lake Superior State 3 ... Michigan Tech at Alaska Anchorage (late) ... Northern Michigan at Alaska (late)

Live: MSU vs. Bowling Green, Game 2

Minnesota State has never swept Bowling Green since the two became WCHA foes (and the Falcons have never swept the Mavericks over that time). MSU will try to do just that tonight when the two teams square off at the Verizon Center at 7:07 p.m. The fifth-ranked Mavericks won Friday's game 6-1.

To follow the action, check out the live chat below the lines:

MINNESOTA STATE
20-Michaelis, 15-Suess, 10-Knutson
16-Lutz, 5-Jaremko, 12-Coatta
6-Tuomie, 26-French, 19-McClure
22-Gerads, 11-Spooner, 17-Duehr

8-Brickley, 3-McNeely
2-Mackey, 18-Scheid
25-Zmolek, 24-Hookenson

37-LaCouvee
39-Pawloski
29-Nelson

Scratches: Bigelbach, Cooper, Gerard, Lewis, Rivera, Schwalbe, Vanko

BOWLING GREEN
22-L. Craggs, 6-McLain, 29-Schilling
25-S. Craggs, 18-D'Andrea, 26-Meier
13-Baylis, 20-Ford, 8-LeTourneau
28-Kruse, 10-Johnson, 16-Wright

23-Rauhauser, 4-McDonald
5-Smith, 3-Musser
14-Wells, 24-Coffman

35-Bednard
31-Dop


Friday, November 17, 2017

Mavericks 6, Falcons 1

Freddy's three thoughts of the game ...

1. Early survival: I focused mainly on the scoring for my game story (linked below), but it's worth noting the the first couple minutes of the game were all Bowling Green. They had the Mavericks pinned in their own end for a long while, and it seemed it might be a long night for the home team. Add to that a stretch of four penalty kills in a row, and it seemed, as coach Mike Hastings said, "You get concerned your burning the tank." While those moments might have taken their toll on the top line and a couple of defensemen, others came through in the clutch. Brad McClure, who's been a bit snakebite, scored the first goal, and he could have had more, putting six pucks on goal.

2. Still winning: Another player who came through early for Minnesota State was goalie Connor LaCouvee. That might not be something you think of too much in a 6-1 game. However, he stopped 24 of 25 shots, including 11 of 11 in the first period and 5 of 6 on the penalty kill. The senior/grad transfer is now 7-0-0 as a Maverick. "Connor was good," Hastings said. "He gave us an opportunity to get our feet underneath us."

3. Power hungry: Minnesota State finished 3 for 5 on the power play, scoring on their first three times with the man advantage. Two of the goals were momentum-turners, with McClure's staring the scoring at 3:57 after that early energy by the Falcons, and the first of two Ian Scheid PPGs coming after Bowling Green made it 2-1 midway through the second period. Scheid's first goal was a beauty of a shot. He picked the upper-right corner from the high slot. The second was a tap-in off a nice feed from Zeb Knutson. "He’s got a real good hockey head," Hastings said of Scheid, a sophomore defenseman. "He donesn’t panic. That poise, I wish that was something you could go buy off a shelf and give to people, but you can’t."

Read my gamer here.

Around the WCHA: Michigan State 3, Ferris State 2 (OT) ... Lake Superior State 3, Alabama Huntsville 1 ... Alaska Anchorage 1, Michigan Tech 1 (UAA wins shootout) ... Northern Michigan 5, Alaska 3

Live: Minnesota State vs. Bowling Green

The No. 5 Mavericks host Bowling Green in what should be an entertaining series between the top two teams in the WCHA. Live updates/chat can be found below tonight's lines.

MINNESOTA STATE
20-Michaelis, 15-Suess, 10-Knutson
16-Lutz, 5-Jaremko, 12-Coatta
6-Tuomie, 26-French, 19-McClure
23-Rivera, 11-Spooner, 17-Duehr

8-Brickley, 3-McNeely
2-Mackey, 18-Scheid
25-Zmolek, 24-Hookenson

37-LaCouvee
39-Pawloski
29-Nelson

Scratches: Bigelbach, Cooper, Gerads, Gerard, Lewis, Schwalbe, Vanko

BOWLING GREEN
22-L. Craggs, 6-McLain, 29-Schilling
28-Kruse, 10-Johnson, 27-McKeown
25-S. Craggs, 18-D'Andrea, 26-Meier
13-Baylis, 20-Ford, 16-Wright

23-Rauhauser, 4-McDonald
5-Smith, 3-Musser
14-Wells, 24-Coffman

31-Dop
35-Bednard



Friday Morning Skate

The well-traveled Mavericks are back home after another two weeks on the road, and it's another big series at the Verizon Center. Minnesota State, ranked No. 5 and in first place in the WCHA, will take on unranked (but receiving votes) and second-place Bowling Green tonight and Saturday night.

The Mavericks played one of their most-exciting games in recent memory on Saturday at Bemidji State, and sophomore forward Marc Michaelis was the star of the weekend. Read more about him (and one of his most stunning plays of the series) here. I'm sure Mankato fans are hoping he'll put on a similar show this weekend.

This is your regular reminder that Minnesota State and Bowling Green have never swept each other in conference play, so a betting person would predict yet another split. Looking for for more information before making your prediction, check out the College Hockey Gameday.

Including their win over MSU on Oct. 21, the Falcons have not lost (other than in a shootout) in their last seven games, going 4-0-3. The three ties include two shootout wins and one loss. One impressive thing about Bowling Green this season has been the play of their freshmen, who are featured in a WCHA story here.

Read more previews from the Toledo blade here and BGSUHockey.com here.

Going around the WCHA ...

Michigan Tech at Alaska Anchorage: The Huskies begin a two-weekend trip to Alaska with a series against the Seawolves. Tech has just one win in its last seven games and needs some success on this trip to keep its position in the upper half of the standings. UAA has just one win this season but got two points with a tie/shootout win its last game at Alabama Huntsville. The Seawolves are eager to be back home after five games away.

Northern Michigan at Alaska: The No. 20 Wildcats are also in Alaska, just for one weekend though, to play the Nanooks. NMU is feeling good after splits the last two weekends with Minnesota State and rival Michigan Tech. Alaska is also glad to be home for a couple of weeks after getting swept at Ferris State last week.

Lake Superior State at Alabama Huntsville: The Lakers are ending a tough stretch of their schedule that features eight of 10 games on the road with a trip to face the Chargers. They're also looking for their first road win of the season. UAH, meanwhile, started the year with eight road games and began a six-game homestead last week, getting four points against Anchorage.

Ferris State and Michigan State will play a home and home nonconference series starting tonight at East Lansing. The Bulldogs have won three straight, including a game at Michigan. Some more out-of-league victories could be a great help — to everyone in the conference.

Read USCHO's weekly WCHA column here. More notes on the WCHA weekend can be found here.

And finally, ICYMI, here's a hilarious video of former NHL player Ryan Whitney talking about a rather one-sided fight he was on the wrong end of with Mavericks alum and current student-assistant Tim Jackman. WARNING: NSFW due to language!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Michaelis, Brickley earn WCHA honors

As expected, Minnesota State sophomore forward Marc Michaelis earned the WCHA's Offensive Player of the Week Award after his six-point weekend at Bemidji State. Teammate Daniel Brickley was also honored by the league, as the junior defenseman was named Defensive Player of the Week.

Michaelis had five goals and an assist in the series, including a hat trick on Friday. He had two short-handed goals and both game-winners. His six points doubled his total from MSU's first nine games. He now has 12 points (7-5).

Brickley had a goal and two assists and was plus-4 on Saturday. On Friday his plus-minus was even and he had no points. In the series he had six shots on goal and blocked four shots. He now has 11 points this season.

The WCHA's other players of the week were Ferris State goalie Justin Kapelmaster (goaltender of the week), who won two games against Alaska, stopping 53 of 57 shots, and Bowling Green freshman forward Max Johnson (rookie of the week), who had two goals and an assist in a five-point weekend over Lake Superior State.

Mavericks move up to 5th

Following its sweep at Bemidji State over the weekend, a series in which it scored 13 goals (and gave up eight), Minnesota State moved up to No. 5 in the newest U.S. College Hockey Online poll. The Mavericks had been No. 10. They will host unranked-but-receiving-votes Bowling Green on Friday and Saturday. In the USA Today/USA Hockey rankings, Minnesota State moved up to No. 8 from No. 11.

USCHO.com Division I Men's Poll
Minneapolis, Minn./November 13, 2017

   Team             (First Place)    Record   Pts  Last Week
 1 Denver                    (43)    6- 2-2   992     3
 2 St. Cloud State           ( 1)    7- 2-0   914     1
 3 North Dakota              ( 2)    7- 2-3   913     2
 4 Notre Dame                        8- 3-1   809     6
 5 Minnesota State                   8- 3-0   710    10
 6 Cornell                   ( 4)    6- 0-0   709    14
 7 Minnesota                         7- 4-1   699     4
 8 Clarkson                          8- 3-1   670    11
 9 Wisconsin                         7- 5-1   542     7
10 Providence                        6- 4-0   507     8
11 New Hampshire                     6- 3-1   434     9
12 Northeastern                      6- 3-1   432    13
13 Harvard                           2- 3-0   422     5
14 Minnesota Duluth                  5- 5-2   327    12
15 Western Michigan                  6- 4-1   259    18
16 Ohio State                        6- 3-3   256    17
17 Michigan                          6- 3-1   230    NR
18 Boston University                 5- 6-1   208    15
19 Colgate                           6- 2-4   165    NR
20 Northern Michigan                 6- 4-0    74    20

Others receiving votes: Boston College 61, Colorado College
49, Omaha 28, UMass Lowell 19, Bowling Green 17, Army 12,
Penn State 10, Quinnipiac 10, Union 7, Yale 6, Niagara 4,
Bemidji State 2, RIT 2, Princeton 1.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Mavericks 8, Beavers 6

Freddy's three thoughts of the game ...

1. Fourteen goals?!?!? Minnesota State and Bemidji State played each other four times last year and scored a total of 11 goals in those games, which included a 1-1 tie and three 2-1 finals. On Saturday night, the rivals scored and scored and scored, compiling 14 goals. "Fourteen goals? We're in an ear era where the first to three goals usually wins," Beavers coach Tom Serratore said. The teams combined for six goals in the second period alone. Minnesota State had two stretches where it scored three goals in a row (including three unanswered in the third period), and Bemidji State had one. "It was a fun game for the fans and a fun game for the players," Serratore said.

2. Many hats: Each team had a hat trick in the game, as MSU's Max Coatta got his first three-goal game, and BSU's Jay Dickman had three. On Friday, Marc Michaelis had a hat trick for the Mavericks; he had two goals and an assist on Saturday for a six-point weekend, doubling his total points going into the weekend. The WCHA might as well send him its Offensive Player of the Week Award now. The Mavericks' Daniel Brickley (1G, 2A) and C.J. Suess (3A) also had three-point games, as did the Beavers' Kyle Bauman (3A).

3. Down but not out: Minnesota State was up 4-2 in the second period and then allowed three goals to fall behind 5-4 and have starting goalie Jason Pawloski chased from the game. Zeb Knutson's goal with 2.2 seconds left in the second salvaged the period (BSU iced the puck with 6 seconds left, putting the faceoff in MSU's offensive zone. Suess won the draw cleanly back to Brickley who fired a shot that Knutson tipped in.) The Beavers got momentum back with Dickman's hat trick goal early in the third, but that didn't knock out the Mavericks, who then got goals from Coatta, Michaelis and Jaremko to close out the game. "Proud that the guys found a way to get it done in a very difficult building," Hastings said.

Read my gamer here.

Around the WCHA: Bowling Green 5, Lake Superior State 2 ... Ferris State 5, Alaska 3 ... Northern Michigan 4, Michigan Tech 0 ... Alaska Anchorage 3, Alabama Huntsville 3 (UAA wins shootout)

Live: Minnesota State at Bemidji State

The No. 10 Mavericks will go for the series sweep against the Beavers starting at 7:07 p.m. at the Sanford Center. Follow along on the live chat below tonight's lines:

MINNESOTA STATE
20-Michaelis, 15-Suess, 10-Knutson
16-Lutz, 5-Jaremko, 12-Coatta
6-Tuomie, 26-French, 19-McClure
23-Rivera, 11-Spooner, 17-Duehr

8-Brickley, 2-Mackey
25-Zmolek, 18-Scheid
4-Lewis, 24-Hookenson

39-Pawloski
37-LaCouvee

Scratches: Bigelbach, Cooper, Gerads, Gerard*, McNeely*, Nelson, Schwalbe, Vanko ... * = on the trip

BEMIDJI STATE
27-Brady, 21-G. Fitzgerald, 11-Combs
6-Dickman, 14-Buaman, 23-Sjodahl
13-Soucier, 7-Roo, 15-Heller
9-Somoza, 28-Brown-Maloski, 16-Miller

20-Eichstadt, 29-Baudry
3-Muck, 2-Billett
4-Struthers, 5-Janco

1-Bitzer
30-Burgart
35-Johnson

Friday, November 10, 2017

Mavericks 5, Beavers 2

Freddy's three thoughts of the game ...

1. Friday night's all right: Minnesota State stayed perfect in series openers (5-0-0) with the victory over the Beavers. Marc Michaelis' second career hat trick (read more about him in the game story linked below), along with Connor LaCouvee's 30-save effort in goal made the difference against the tough-at-home Beavers. "We've got to be ready for their push tomorrow night," Michaelis said as MSU will seek its first road sweep since taking two games from Boston University a month ago. They lost their last two Saturday night games on the road, last weekend at Northern Michigan and Oct. 21 at Bowling Green.

2. The Hook brings you back: Sophomore defenseman Edwin Hookenson scored his first career goal to give MSU a 1-0 lead. Hookenson has played in six of 10 games this season and even got the nod over senior Clint Lewis on Friday with the return of freshman Riese Zmolek to the lineup. "Hook’s been playing well for us; it was good to see him get rewarded," coach Mike Hastings said. He was plus-2 in the game and also helped the Mavericks kill off three Bemidji State power plays. "I've been playing some penalty kill more," Hookenson said. "Our penalty kill's been getting better. I'm happy to be playing this much; I hope they keep letting me."

3. Welcome to Bemidji: The Mavericks had seven freshmen in the lineup, including three defensemen (Zmolek, Connor Mackey and Jack McNeely). Up front, Jake Jaremko had an assist, his fifth of the season, and Reggie Lutz, Jared Spooner and Walker Duehr also played. “We had some young defensemen back there learning what it’s like to have to play in this building," Hastings said. "At times they were good and at times they struggled a little bit. Hopefully we can look at that and learn from it and be better tomorrow." Mackey had an assist, making up for a couple tough plays early. Zmolek, who took a late penalty, ended up plus-3. McNeely was minus-1.

Read my gamer here.

Around the WCHA: Ferris State 3, Alaska 1 ... Michigan Tech 4, Northern Michigan 1 ... Bowling Green 2, Lake Superior State 2 (BG wins shootout) ... Alabama Huntsville 5, Alaska Anchorage 1

Live: Minnesota State at Bemidji State

The WCHA's two Minnesota teams will play each other at 7:07 p.m. tonight at the Sanford Center in Bemidji. Should be a good series. Join the conversation below the lineups:

MINNESOTA STATE
20-Michaelis, 15-Suss, 10-Knutson
16-Lutz, 5-Jaremko, 12-Coatta
6-Tuomie, 26-French, 19-McClure
23-Rivera, 11-Spooner, 17-Duehr

8-Brickley, 3-McNeely
2-Mackey, 18-Scheid
25-Zmolek, 24-Hookenson

37-LaCouvee
39-Pawloski

Scratches: Bigelbach, Cooper, Gerads, Gerard*, Lewis*, Nelson, Schwalbe, Vanko ... * = on the trip

BEMIDJI STATE
23-Sjodahl, 21-G. Fitzgerald, 26-M. Fitzgerald
6-Dickman, 14-Buaman, 15-Heller
27-Brady, 8-Harris, 11-Combs
13-Soucier, 7-Roo, 16-Miller

20-Eichstadt, 29-Baudry
3-Muck, 2-Billett
22-Vold, 5-Janco

1-Bitzer,
30-Burgart
35-Johnson

Friday Morning Skate

The Mavericks are on the road — again — as they face their biggest WCHA rival, Bemidji State. This will be the fourth time in five weeks that Minnesota State is playing on the road, and the team has really racked up the miles already this season. And that's before it's gone to Lake Superior State, Alaska Anchorage, Alaska and Alabama Huntsville.

And the stops so far haven't been easy. Minnesota State has played the country's sixth toughest schedule.

They'll be playing a Beavers team that is just getting back from Alaska. However, they've also played most of their games at home so far this season.

Read more about the matchup in The Free Press' College Hockey Gameday feature.

The Beavers will be without sophomore defenseman Zach Whitecloud, who is competing for Team Canada in the Karjala Cup tournament in Switzerland and Finland.

All 10 WCHA teams are in action against each other this weekend. The other matchups are:

Northern Michigan vs. Michigan Tech: Another big rivalry will take place in the UP with this home-and-home series. The crowds weren't very big in Marquette last weekend when MSU was there, but it's expected to be packed on Saturday when this series moves there.

Alaska at Ferris State: The Bulldogs got a nice overtime win last week against Michigan but are still looking for their first WCHA victory, starting 0-3-1 in league play. The Nanooks are making their third trip to the Lower 48 already.

Lake Superior State at Bowling Green: The Falcons are tied with the Mavericks for first place in the WCHA and will host the Lakers, their oldest rival. LSSU has one win in its last nine games.

Alaska Anchorage at Alabama Huntsville: The Chargers are making their home debut after starting the season with eight games on the road. They're 2-6-0 and will play their next six games at home. The Seawolves won their first game of the season last Saturday at Lake Superior State.

In the post below this you can read about Minnesota State's early recruiting signees. The MSU women announced a class of six on Wednesday.

ICYMI: my column from earlier this week on how, so far, seniors have ruled in the WCHA.

More on the WCHA from USCHO.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Mavericks ink five recruits

The early signing period for recruits opened on Wednesday, and Minnesota State announced five signees for the 2018 rookie class.

The group includes two forwards, two defensemen and a goaltender, all currently playing junior in the USHL.

They are forwards Julian Napravnik and Nathan Smith, defensemen Wyatt Aamodt and Andy Carrol and goaltender Dryden McKay.

“That group has a wealth of junior experience,” coach Mike Hastings said, “and we expect them to come in and contribute immediately. … They have a mix of abilities, different guys bringing different things to the table. ...

“We recruit for specific needs, and I think they will fill some specific needs. Anytime you can improve your overall skill level, you try to do that. I think this group does that.”

Napravnik is a native of Germany currently with the Des Moines Buccanners where he had 19 goals and 19 assists for 38 points last season. He has also played on German national teams at various international events.

Smith, from Hudson, Florida, is in his first season with the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders and is second on the team with nine points in nine games. 

Aamodt, a Hermantown native playing for the Chicago Steel was the 2016 Reed Larson Award winner as Minnesota's top high school defenseman. He helped lead the Hawks to a state championship in 2016. He had 19 points in 53 games last season for the Steel.

Carroll, a Northfield native currently with the Green Bay Gamblers had 40 points in 55 games for Aberdeen of the NAHL last season. In 2015-16, he had 56 points in 58 games for the Sioux Falls Stampede's U18 team coached by former Maverick Rylan Galiardi. His dad, Todd Carroll, was the first MSU women's hockey coach.

McKay, a Downers Grove, Illinois, native in his second season with the Madison Capitols was the USHL's goalie of the week on Oct. 29 after stopping 49 of 50 shots in win over Waterloo. In 39 games las season, he was 18-17-3 with a .917 SV% and a 2.47 GAA.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Mavericks dip to 10th

Minnesota State slipped from ninth to 10th in the latest U.S. College Hockey Online rankings Monday and ninth to 11th in the newest USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll. Northern Michigan, with whom Minnesota State split a series in Marquette this past weekend, moved into the top 20 at No. 20.

All of MSU's opponents so far this season are ranked or are receiving votes: No. 1 St. Cloud State, No. 15 Boston University, Bowling Green (RV), Michigan Tech (RV) and No. 20 Northern Michigan.

USCHO.com Division I Men's Poll
Minneapolis, Minn./November 06, 2017

   Team             (First Place)    Record   Pts  Last Week
 1 St. Cloud State           (50)    7- 0-0  1000     2
 2 North Dakota                      6- 2-2   913     4
 3 Denver                            4- 2-2   870     1
 4 Minnesota                         7- 3-0   847     5
 5 Harvard                           2- 1-0   806     3
 6 Notre Dame                        6- 3-1   660    10
 7 Wisconsin                         6- 4-1   605     7
 8 Providence                        5- 3-0   602     6
 9 New Hampshire                     6- 1-1   552    13
10 Minnesota State                   6- 3-0   547     9
11 Clarkson                          6- 3-1   541    13
12 Minnesota Duluth                  4- 4-2   442     8
13 Northeastern                      5- 2-1   433    15
14 Cornell                           4- 0-0   419    18
15 Boston University                 4- 5-1   306    12
16 Quinnipiac                        3- 3-1   214    11
17 Ohio State                        5- 3-2   155    16
18 Western Michigan                  5- 3-1   113    NR
19 Penn State                        5- 5-0    79    17
20 Northern Michigan                 5- 3-0    61    NR

Others receiving votes: Michigan 55, Colorado College 53,
Omaha 52, Colgate 45, Bemidji State 41, Michigan Tech 18,
Air Force 17, Army 17, Boston College 12, Bowling Green 7,
Niagara 6, Yale 5, UMass Lowell 4, Miami 3.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Wildcats 4, Mavericks 1

Freddy's three thoughts of the game ...

1. Kill shot: Minnesota State's penalty kill has been stellar over the last couple of weeks, but the penalties finally caught up to the Mavericks on Saturday (read more in my gamer linked below). In all, MSU took nine penalties for 29 minutes. The more important number was that it put the Wildcats on the power play six times again. The Mavericks shut them down on Friday but allowed two goals on Saturday, and that was the difference. Northern Michigan scored three goals in the second period to turn a 1-0 deficit into a 3-1 lead. The other goal was penalty-related, too. It was short-handed and came during a delayed penalty on MSU.

2. Points on the road: The Mavericks left Marquette with a split, meaning three points for the WCHA standings. This has rarely been an easy place for the Mavericks to play. Since the two became  WCHA mates, Minnesota State has never swept at the Berry. However, it's always come away with points. Including this weekend, they are 3-2-3 here. Mike Hastings complimented both current NMU coach Grant Potulny and previous coach Walt Kyle for how the Wildcats played. "If you ever got one out of here, like we did last night, you knew the second night was going to be incredibly difficult, just like it was tonight."

3. Northern going up: Jumping off the previous thought, this Northern Michigan team looks good. It's 5-3-0 now, with wins against Minnesota State, Wisconsin and a sweep at Ferris State. Potulny definitely inherited a team in which the cupboard was not bare. Robbie Payne (1 goal, 1 assist) and Troy Loggins (2 goals, 1 assist) were excellent on Saturday, as was Mathias Israelsson in goal, a pretty good backup to the excellent Atte Tolvanen.

Read my game story here.

Around the WCHA: Alaska Anchorage 4, Lake Superior State 1 ... Bowling Green 2, Michigan Tech 2 (BG wins in shootout) ... Alabama Huntsville at Arizona State (late) ... Bemidji State at Alaska (late

Live: Minnesota State at Northern Michigan

The Mavericks will go for the series sweep tonight against the Wildcats. Live chat can be found below tonight's lines:

MINNESOTA STATE
20-Michaelis, 15-Suess, 10-Knutson
16-Lutz, 26-French, 9-Gerard
6-Tuomie, 5-Jaremko, 19-McClure
23-Rivera, 11-Spooner, 12-Coatta

8-Brickley, 3-McNeely
2-Mackey, 18-Scheid
4-Lewis, 24-Hookenson

39-Pawloski
37-LaCouvee

Scratches: Bigelbach, Cooper, Duehr, Gerads*, Nelson, Schwalbe, Vanko*, Zmolek

* = also on trip

NORTHERN MICHIGAN
9-Loggins, 18-Nardi, 11-Rockwood,
29-Payne, 13-Voltin, 37-Craighead
12-Heikkila, 24-Diamantoni, 8-Pierce
19-Starzynski, 21-Paskaruk, 23-Slattery

40-Klimek, 27-Roeder
2-Vermeulen, 25-Beaulieu
44-Black, 3-Fosdick

32-Israelsson
41-Tolvanen

Friday, November 3, 2017

Mavericks 3, Wildcats 0

Freddy's three thought of the game ...

1. Good goalie problem: You can read more about this in my gamer (link below), but any thoughts of the Mavericks having a set No. 1 goalie after Connor LaCouvee's two wins last weekend at home against Michigan Tech can be tempered. Jason Pawloski got the start on Friday and recorded his second shutout of the season (his first came in the second game at Boston University). It looked like it was going to be an easy night for him after one period. MSU led 1-0 and he saw just four shots on goal. But the second period turned his way, and he was up to the task, stopping 12 shots and helping the Mavericks kill three penalties. In all, he stopped 26 shots. The Mavericks had 27 shots on goal.

2. Killing time: Minnesota State was called for six penalties, and coach Mike Hastings has talked since that BU series. of trying to be better about going to the box. The bad news is that the Mavericks are still taking penalties; the good news is they're still doing a good job of killing them off. Said Hastings: "Gotta find a way to not to go to the box five or more times, but the guys are doing the job that way and it’s making the difference in games." Twelve of Northern Michigan's shots came during the power play.

3. Forwards, Line 4: Defenseman Ian Scheid got the scoring started for the Mavericks, and Brad McClure scored the third goal. The second, an important insurance marker, came at 8:09 of the third period, and it came from the fourth line. Max Coatta scored it, getting an assist from Jared Spooner. Nick Rivera is the other forward in that group, which was good from the opening faceoff tonight. The trio had six of MSU's shots and played with speed an energy — especially after power plays and penalty kills — that Northern Michigan didn't seem to have the depth to match.

Read my game story here.

Around the WCHA: Lake Superior State 3, Alaska Anchorage 2 (OT) ... Bowling Green 2, Michigan Tech 1 ... Ferris State 3, Michigan 2 (OT) ... Arizona State 3, Alabama Huntsville 2 ... Alaska 4, Bemidji State 3 (OT)

Live: Minnesota State at Northern Michigan

Minnesota State and Northern Michigan will square off at 6:07 p.m. Follow along with the action on the live chat below the lines:

MINNESOTA STATE
20-Michaelis, 15-Suess, 10-Knutson
16-Lutz, 26-French, 9-Gerard
6-Tuomie, 5-Jaremko, 19-McClure
23-Rivera, 11-Spooner, 12-Coatta

8-Brickley, 3-McNeely
2-Mackey, 18-Scheid
4-Lewis, 24-Hookenson

39-Pawloski
37-LaCouvee

Scratches: Bigelbach, Cooper, Duehr, Gerads*, Nelson, Schwalbe, Vanko*, Zmolek

* = also on trip

NORTHERN MICHIGAN
29-Payne, 24-Diamantoni, 37-Craighead
9-Loggins, 11-Rockwood, 23-Slattery
13-Voltin, 18-Nardi, 8-Pierce
12-Heikkila, 21-Paskaruk, 15-Schroer

40-Klimek, 27-Roeder
2-Vermeulen, 25-Beaulieu
44-Black, 6-Yarmeko

41-Tolvanen
32-Israelsson

Friday Morning Skate

Good morning from the road to Marquette ...

No. 9 Minnesota State is in the U.P. to take on Northern Michigan in a WCHA series. Through seven games, the Mavericks appear to be back to their ways of dominating puck possession, outshooting teams by an average of 10 shots per game. Much of that starts on the defensive end. Flying under the radar in the D-corps a bit is Clint Lewis, who had a solid junior season and is off to a good start as a senior. Lewis had 15 points and was +11 last season. He has two assists and is +3 this year.

Read more about the Mavericks' series with the Wildcats in The Free Press' College Hockey Gameday.

As for NMU, the Wildcats were off last weekend and have been preparing for a tough home matchup against MSU.

Going around the WCHA ...

Ferris State at Michigan: This is the second game of a two-game series. On Thursday, the Wolverines pounded the Bulldogs 7-2.

Alaska Anchorage at Lake Superior State: These two teams have one win between them, and that was the Lakers' win over Northern Michigan on Oct. 6. Something's got to give.

Bowling Green at Michigan Tech: This should be a good series in Houghton between Minnesota State's last two opponents. The Huskies are glad to be back home after the road trip to Mankato.

Bemidji State at Alaska: This will be the first long road trip for the Beavers, who have played just one game away from Bemidji so far. It will the first WCHA series in Fairbanks this season.

Alabama Huntsville at Arizona State: These will be the final two games of an eight-game road swing to start the season for the one-win Chargers.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Knutson, Lewis receive WCHA honors

For their play in Minnesota State's series sweep over Michigan Tech, seniors Zeb Knutson and Clint Lewis received WCHA player of the week awards.

Knutson, a forward, scored five points (two goals, three assists) in the two games to earn the Offensive Player of the Week award. He leads MSU with 11 points and five goals and is tied for tops in assists with six. He has two of the team's game-winners, too. He has a point in each of MSU's last six games.

Lewis, a defenseman, was name Defensive Player of the Week. He had two assists, two blocked shots and was plus-3 in the series.

Mavericks move up to No. 9

Minnesota State moved up to No. 9 in the latest U.S. College Hockey Online rankings following its sweep of Michigan Tech this weekend in Mankato. The Mavericks were ranked No. 12 going into the series. Here's the poll:

USCHO.com Division I Men's Poll
Minneapolis, Minn./October 30, 2017

   Team             (First Place)    Record   Pts  Last Week
 1 Denver                    (42)    4- 0-2   991     1
 2 St. Cloud State           ( 8)    5- 0-0   952     2
 3 Harvard                           1- 0-0   900     3
 4 North Dakota                      5- 2-1   775     4
 5 Minnesota                         5- 3-0   759     7
 6 Providence                        5- 2-0   689    11
 7 Wisconsin                         6- 3-0   654     5
 8 Minnesota Duluth                  4- 2-2   621    10
 9 Minnesota State                   5- 2-0   605    12
10 Notre Dame                        4- 3-1   515     8
11 Quinnipiac                        3- 1-1   459    13
12 Boston University                 3- 4-1   436     6
13 Clarkson                          4- 3-1   422     9
13 New Hampshire                     5- 1-1   422    14
15 Northeastern                      4- 2-1   268    20
16 Ohio State                        5- 1-2   220    NR
17 Penn State                        4- 4-0   194    15
18 Cornell                           2- 0-0   133    NR
19 Air Force                         5- 2-1   108    18
20 Michigan Tech                     4- 4-1    95    16

Others receiving votes: Michigan 77, Omaha 52, Bemidji State
50, Colorado College 47, UMass Lowell 34, Northern Michigan
12, Boston College 5, Colgate 2, Miami 2, Brown 1.


UPDATE: The Mavericks are also No. 9 in the latest USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine rankings, moving up from No. 14.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Mavericks 5, Huskies 3

Freddy's three thoughts of the game:

1. Everybody gets a penalty! What a crazy third period. I've seen games with more penalties called, but the stretch of about 8 1/2 minutes in the third period when eight separate minor penalties (seven in a span of about 6 1/2 minutes) was insane. How the Mavericks managed to get through that with two 5-on-3 power-play goals was somewhat impressive. Daniel Brickley broke a 3-3 tie with a low, laser shot at 16:07, and C.J. Suess put one in at the doorstep at 17:04. Zeb Knutson assisted on both goals. Suess and Knutson each had a three-point game.

2. Important sweep: Coach Hastings preaches protecting home ice, and the Mavericks did that after losing their home opener against St. Cloud State three weeks earlier. They came from behind to get Saturday's win with three unanswered goals. "Early in the season, a point can cost you at the end of the season," Suess said. "It was important to get the sweep and not a tie or a loss." Hastings also opted to go with Connor LaCouvee in goal in back-to-back games for the first time this season. He stopped 16 of 19 shots Saturday.

3. Freshmen impress: Reggie Lutz had a goal and an assist, and Connor Mackey scored the game-tying goal. Both rookies looked the part against good competition. Jack McNeely, who had the big blocked shot on Friday, also had an assist, and Jared Spooner was plus-1. In the end, the veterans came through with the big power-play goals, but the freshmen are making key contributions early in the season. Lutz said he didn't play much late due to all of the special teams action. "I'm not on the power play or penalty kill, so I just had to stay with it, stay positive on the bench and stay vocal on the bench."

Read my gamer here.

Around the WCHA: Bemidji State 3, Ferris State 0 ... Alaska 2, Bowling Green 2 (Alaska wins in shootout) ... Cornell 3, Alabama Huntsville 0 ... Michigan State 6, Lake Superior State 0

Minnesota State vs. Michigan Tech

The Mavericks will go for the sweep tonight against the Huskies. Follow along on the live blog below tonight's lines. No changes for the Mavericks, but the Huskies have done some shuffling.

MINNESOTA STATE
20-Michaelis, 15-Suess, 10-Knutson
6-Tuomie, 26-French, 9-Gerard
23-Rivera, 5-Jaremko, 19-McClure
16-Lutz, 11-Spooner, 12-Coatta

8-Brickley, 3-McNeely
2-Mackey, 18-Scheid
4-Lewis, 24-Hookenson

37-LaCouvee
39-Pawloski
29-Nelson

Scratches: Bigelbach, Cooper, Duehr, Gerads, Schwalbe, Vanko, Zmolek

MICHIGAN TECH

28-Baltus, 15-Lucchini, 9-Gillies
23-Brice, 8-Steman, 17-Misiak
10-Jackson, 18-Reitmeier, 11-L'Esperance
14-Gould, 20-Smith, 13-Beretta

7-Ford, 27-Meek
2-Donohue, 5-Reinke
12-Auk, 4-Birks

30-Munson
31-Kero

Friday, October 27, 2017

Mavericks 3, Huskies 1

Freddy's three thoughts of the game ...

1. Patience pays off: Minnesota State's fans saw no goals in the season-opener and just one through nearly 2 3/4 periods on Friday against Michigan Tech. But the crowd of 3,569 was rewarded with two late goals for an MSU win. The red-hot Zeb Knutson (see my game story below) and Brad McClure — both seniors — scored the goals in the final 5:12 to secure the win. Marc Michaelis scored the other goal, which came just 1:59 into the game. "I think we did a good job getting pucks up top and getting pucks to the net," Knutson said.

2. Turning point No. 1: Midway through the game defenseman Ian Scheid was given a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct for checking from behind. The Mavericks led 1-0 at the time, and it could have been a time for Tech to take control. Instead, MSU's PK did the job, allowing just two pucks to get to goalie Connor LaCouvee (one on a 3-on-1 rush) and clearing the puck down the ice 6-7 times, including a short-handed rush and shot by Jake Jaremko. The Huskies finished 0 for 5 on the power play with six shots on goal. The Mavericks were 0 for 3 with four shots.

3. Turning point No. 2: The Mavericks had an earlier chance to take a 2-1 lead on a third-period power play, but C.J. Suess' tap-in try into an open net somehow went wide. Moments later, Michigan Tech's  Justin Misiak, who was in the penalty box, scored to tie the game at 3:29. The Mavericks didn't seem to let that bother them too much and they controlled the rest of the period, finally getting Knutson's go-ahead goal. "That's a tough break, but I think we have a lot of character in the locker room and on the bench. There's not much panic. We stayed composed and stayed positive and got back to work to try and get the next one."

Read my gamer here.

Around the WCHA: Cornell 5, Alabama Huntsville 1 ... Michigan State 4, Lake Superior State 3 ... Bowling Green 2, Alaska 1 ... Bemidji State 2, Ferris State 2 (BSU wins in shootout)

Live: Minnesota State vs. Michigan Tech

The No. 12 Mavericks and No. 16 Huskies square off at 7:07 p.m. today in the first game of a WCHA series at the Verizon Center. It will be the team's first meeting since last year's conference playoffs when Michigan Tech knocked out MSU in a semifinals series. Follow along with the action below the lines:

MINNESOTA STATE
20-Michaelis, 15-Suess, 10-Knutson
6-Tuomie, 26-French, 9-Gerard
23-Rivera, 5-Jaremko, 19-McClure
16-Lutz, 11-Spooner, 12-Coatta

8-Brickley, 3-McNeely
2-Mackey, 18-Scheid
4-Lewis, 24-Hookenson

37-LaCouvee
39-Pawloski
29-Nelson

Scratches: Bigelbach, Cooper, Duehr, Gerads, Schwalbe, Vanko, Zmolek

MICHIGAN TECH
14-Gould, 15-Lucchini, 11-L'Esperance
16-Blacklock, 18-Reitmeier, 10-Jackson
23-Brice, 8-Steman, 17-Misiak
28-Baltus, 20-Smith, 13-Beretta

12-Auk, 4-Birks
2-Donohue, 5-Reinke
7-Ford, 27-Meek

30-Munson
31-Kero

Friday Morning Skate

Minnesota State returns to Mankato tonight to begin a WCHA series against Michigan Tech. The two teams have been among the conference's best teams in this era and have played in some memorable matchups, including last year's three-game playoff series in Houghton in which the Huskies eliminated the Mavericks.

The Mavericks had a good road stretch, going 3-1 at Boston University and Bowling Green. They scored seven power-play goals in those games, which is good, but they'd like to find more consistency 5 on 5. Other than the usual suspects, one player they believe can give them a boost is junior forward Max Coatta. I featured him in today's Free Press. It covers not only his on-the-ice abilities but his connection to Mankato that goes back two generations.

Read more about the series in the Freep's College Hockey Gameday.

If you're going to the game tonight, note that MSU and the Verizon Center are making some changes to security protocol with the hopes of avoiding the problems (long lines, long waits) that took place three weeks ago. One measure is that the doors will open at 5:45 p.m. The hope is that everybody (who wants to be) is seated in time for the opening faceoff.

One person expected to attend tonight's game is Will Sterrett of Kansas City, who is "chasing MacNaughton" by planning to attend a game in each of the WCHA's 10 rinks this season. Mankato is the first stop. According to a note from the league office, Sterrett expects it to be a "fun trip, full of the competitive hockey that has made the WCHA one of the deepest-rooted conferences in sports."

As for Michigan Tech, the Huskies come in with a new coach and a few new faces. But they also return a good collection of talent, including defenseman Mark Auk, a senior who made the coaches preseason All-WCHA team. Tech is coming off a home split with Alabama Huntsville.

Going around the WCHA ...

Ferris State at Bemidji State: The Bulldogs and Beavers square off in what should be another good league series. Ferris State has struggled a bit out of the gates, while Bemidji State has had a couple of quality wins. The Beavers in a couple of years will have a Mankato connection with West grad Kyle Looft committing to play there recently.

Alaska at Bowling Green: The Falcons are looking for more consistency following their home split against Minnesota State. Now they bring in the Nanooks, who actually enjoy their long road trips.

Alabama Huntsville at Cornell and Lake Superior State at Michigan State: The Chargers and the Lakers can give the WCHA some added boost with success in a pair of nonconference series. For Huntsville, the weekend is part of an eight-game road stretch to start the season. They'll then have six straight at home before playing 12 on the road closing the season with eight at home.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Mavericks move up to No. 12

Minnesota State split in its WCHA-opening series at Bowling Green over the weekend. Despite Saturday's loss, the Mavericks moved up to No. 12 in the latest U.S. College Hockey Online poll. The 3-1 road trip at Boston College and Bowling Green must have impressed the voters who bumped them up from No. 14. Here's the poll:

USCHO.com Division I Men's Poll
Minneapolis, Minn./October 23, 2017

   Team             (First Place)    Record   Pts  Last Week
 1 Denver                    (33)    2- 0-2   980     1
 2 St. Cloud State           (16)    5- 0-0   955     3
 3 Harvard                   ( 1)    0- 0-0   903     2
 4 North Dakota                      4- 1-1   840     4
 5 Wisconsin                         5- 2-0   719     6
 6 Boston University                 3- 2-1   682     7
 7 Minnesota                         3- 3-0   659     8
 8 Notre Dame                        3- 2-1   615     5
 9 Clarkson                          4- 1-1   532    12
10 Minnesota Duluth                  2- 2-2   526     9
11 Providence                        3- 2-0   493    10
12 Minnesota State                   3- 2-0   404    14
13 Quinnipiac                        3- 1-1   381    18
14 New Hampshire                     5- 1-0   338    17
15 Penn State                        3- 3-0   322    11
16 Michigan Tech                     4- 2-1   240    15
17 UMass Lowell                      3- 3-0   222    19
18 Air Force                         4- 1-1   149    20
19 Boston College                    1- 3-1   131    13
20 Northeastern                      2- 2-1   105    16

Others receiving votes: Ohio State 97, Michigan 67, Cornell
65, Bemidji State 45, Colorado College 11, Omaha 10,
Northern Michigan 4, Vermont 3, Army 2.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Falcons 5, Mavericks 2

Todd Pavlack, BGSUHockey.com
Freddy's three thoughts (from afar) ...

1. Opposite night: Minnesota State and Bowling Green are a couple of Even Stevens when they play each other. Since the Falcons joined MSU in the "new" WCHA in 2013, the two teams have split every series but one, and that one ended in a pair of ties. No one's getting out of a weekend with more than two points when these two teams meet, it seems. That was the case on Saturday as BG bounced back from Friday's loss. The Falcons kept MSU off the board on its first six power plays while scoring four goals of their own over that same stretch to take a 4-0 lead. Minnesota State got two back but that was all.

2. How about a 5-on-5 goal? Minnesota State did score one power-play goal on Saturday, finishing 1 for 8 after going 3 for 6 on Friday. Nick Rivera scored the goal, just after assisting on Zeb Knutson's goal, which came with an extra attacker on during a delayed penalty. On Friday, the Mavericks scored the three PPGs as well as a 4-on-4 goal. That being said, Bowling Green goalie Ryan Bednard was on his game Saturday after sitting out Friday's game. He finished with 26 saves and made two big-time saves on Knutson, who led MSU with four shots on goal along with Daniel Brickley.

3. Lineup changes: Coach Mike Hastings made a few changes to his lineup on Saturday. Most notably, he went with Jason Pawloski in goal, as he did a week earlier at Boston University. Pawloski stopped 24 shots, including a pair of short-handed breakaways, but he didn't out-duel Bednard. Other changes included Dallas Gerads for Walker Duehr, a freshman-for-freshman move that included some other line shuffling. On defense, Riese Zmolek was a scratch. Hastings said he's day-to-day with an injury. Edwin Hookenson took his place in the D-corps.

Read more here.

Around the WCHA: Mercyhurst 4, Ferris State 1 ... Wisconsin 4, Northern Michigan 0 ... Alabama Huntsville 4, Michigan Tech 2 ... Air Force 5, Bemidji State 1 ... Denver 5, Lake Superior State 1 ... Alaska Anchorage at Alaska

Friday, October 20, 2017

Mavericks 4, Falcons 1

Photo courtesy Todd Pavlack, BGSUHockey.com
Freddy's three thoughts (from afar) ...

1. Powering through: Minnesota State went 3 for 6 on the power play to defeat the Falcons and are 6 for 14 (42.9 percent) over its last three games, all wins. Parker Tuomie, Zeb Knutson and C.J. Suess scored the man-advantage goals. In-zone faceoff wins were key on the first and third PPGs, as well as on the Mavericks' third goal of the game, a 4-on-4 tally by freshman defenseman Connor Mackey.

2. Share the wealth: The Mavericks have 13 goals this season, and they've come from 11 different players. Mackey's goal was his first of the season, same with Tuomie. Knutson became the first player to score multiple goals, and Suess got his second of the season later. Knutson and Suess lead MSU with five points in four games. Tuomie and Max Coatta led MSU with five shots on goal each.

3. Defense wins: Minnesota State put 34 shots on goal and held Bowling Green to 17, while allowing one goal, the game's only 5-on-5 goal. The Mavericks held the Falcons scoreless on six power-play attempts. Life wasn't terribly difficult for goaltender Connor LaCouvee, as he faced single-digit shot totals in each period. However, the senior came up big when he needed to to earn his second win of the season and second as a Maverick.

Read more here.

Around the WCHA: Ferris State 3, Mercyhurst 2 ... Michigan Tech 5, Alabama Huntsville 4 ... Bemidji State 4, Air Force 1 ... Northern Michigan 5, Wisconsin 4 (OT) ... Lake Superior State 2, Denver 2 ... Alaska 6 Alaska Anchorage 2.

Friday Morning Skate

No. 14 Minnesota State will open its WCHA schedule today at Bowling Green, and if you think this means things are getting easier for the Mavericks, who started the season against St. Cloud State and Boston University, "we don't," says coach Mike Hastings. Indeed, the grind of the conference schedule is real, as are the rivalries. Hastings says Bowling Green is one of MSU's biggest rivals, and why not? The two teams have split every series they've played as WCHA opponents over the last four years.

Read more about the series in my College Hockey Gameday. And get some reaction from MSU goalie Connor LaCouvee's return to (and win in) Boston here.

As for Bowling Green, it believes this will be an important, challenging weekend, too. But the Falcons have shown their own flashes of strong play to start the year, too. Read another weekend preview from BGSUHockey.com here (includes video of Falcons coach Chris Bergeron).

The Mavericks made many people stand up and take notice of them last weekend. Here's some more coverage of them from USCHO and College Hockey News.

Going around the WCHA ...

Alabama Huntsville at Michigan Tech: In the only other league series of the weekend, the Chargers travel to the U.P. to take on the No. 15 Huskies. These will be the first home games for Tech since it won the Broadmoor Trophy championship last march.

Alaska vs. Alaska Anchorage: The Alaska rivals will begin their Governor's Cup series tonight in Anchorage and move to Fairbanks on Saturday. This weekend's games are not for league points. The Nanooks are coming off two disappointing losses at St. Cloud State.

Air Force at Bemidji State: It's the Serratore Bowl, as brothers Tom and Frank renew their rivalry for the first time since the 2009-10 season when the Beavers host the Falcons. But it won't just be brother vs. brother. One of Air Force's players is junior Matt Serratore, son of the BSU coach and nephew of the Air Force coach.

Northern Michigan vs. Wisconsin: The Wildcats and No. 6 Badgers will meet in the middle and play a pair of games in Green Bay. New NMU coach Grant Potulny is off to a good start with a 3-1-0 record that includes a sweep at Ferris State.

Ferris State at Mercyurst: The Bulldogs, which opened WCHA play with two losses to Northern Michigan will hit the road for a nonconference series against the Lakers.

Lake Superior State at Denver: The WCHA's Lakers are leaving the U.P. for the first time this season. After a league loss and tie/shootout loss at home to Michigan Tech, they will go west to take on the nation's No. 1 team and defending national champions, the Pioneers.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Looft picks Bemidji State

Kyle Looft, who wrapped up a stellar career at Mankato West High School last year, has committed to play hockey at Bemidji State. He announced his commitment on Twitter on Thursday.


Looft, a defenseman, is currently playing junior hockey for the USHL's Cedar Rapids RoughRiders. Through three games, Looft has an assist and is -3 with 15 penalty minutes. He plans to play two seasons of junior (including this season), and will be a freshman for the Beavers in the 2019-20 season.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Best road trip ever?

In today's Free Press column, I seek out Minnesota State's best road weekend. I limited my search to the 17+ seasons (!) I've been covering the team, so since 2000-01.

Looking back over the seasons, I discovered there haven't been a lot of road sweeps. No wonder coaches can be thrilled by road splits and ecstatic about three-point weekends away from home.

The ones I did choose (five, plus this past weekend's sweep over then-No. 2-ranked Boston University) had some significance to them, based on opponent and/or impact on the Mavericks' season that year. What am I missing?

Give the column a read here and come back to the blog and add your thoughts. What about pre-2000?

Monday, October 16, 2017

Mavericks back in rankings

Minnesota State dropped out of the national rankings after losing their season-opener at home to St. Cloud State. After sweeping Boston University over the weekend, though, MSU is right back in, landing at No. 14 in the latest USCHO poll:

USCHO.com Division I Men's Poll
Minneapolis, Minn./October 16, 2017

   Team             (First Place)    Record   Pts  Last Week
 1 Denver                    (49)    1- 0-1   999     1
 2 Harvard                           0- 0-0   897     3
 3 St. Cloud State           ( 1)    3- 0-0   886     6
 4 North Dakota                      3- 0-1   791     8
 5 Notre Dame                        2- 1-1   772     4
 6 Wisconsin                         4- 1-0   731    10
 7 Boston University                 2- 2-0   621     2
 8 Minnesota                         2- 2-0   583     7
 9 Minnesota Duluth                  1- 2-1   513     5
10 Providence                        2- 1-0   495     9
11 Penn State                        2- 2-0   454    11
12 Clarkson                          3- 0-1   436    15
13 Boston College                    1- 1-1   378    13
14 Minnesota State                   2- 1-0   344    NR
15 Michigan Tech                     3- 1-1   316    15
16 Northeastern                      2- 0-1   310    14
17 New Hampshire                     4- 0-0   255    20
18 Quinnipiac                        1- 1-1   184    17
19 UMass Lowell                      1- 3-0   164    12
20 Air Force                         3- 0-1   159    19

Others receiving votes: Cornell 126, Bemidji State 52, Ohio
State 9, Michigan 8, Omaha 7, Western Michigan 5, Army 2,
Vermont 2, Dartmouth 1.

The Mavericks were 18th in the preseason poll but dropped out after the 4-0 loss to the Huskies. Boston University was No. 2 last week and fell to No. 7. Should they have fallen further? Should they be below Minnesota State? What about other WCHA teams? Michigan Tech (15th) and Bemidji State (receiving votes) are still behind Minnesota Duluth, which fell from fifth to ninth. It's early in the year, of course, and putting a ballot together is no easy task (I know; I'm a voter). 

Others have taken note of the Mavericks' big weekend, though, as you can see here, herehere and here.

UPDATE: The Mavericks are ranked 12th in the USA Today/USA Hockey rankings.

Meanwhile, I'm working on a column about big MSU road sweeps in recent memory and where this past weekend ranks. There haven't been a lot, but the trip down memory lane was kind of fun. Look for that in Tuesday's paper or online later tonight.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Mavericks 3, Terriers 0

Freddy's three thoughts (from afar):

1. Road work: Time to start thinking about Minnesota State's best performances on the road after this sweep at No. 2 Boston University. It is early in the season, but, if the Mavericks get where they want to get at the end of the year, these games definitely will be a factor, especially if the Terriers bounce back from these losses and do what's expected of them. The first MSU road sweep that comes to mind is the 2014 series at Michigan Tech. The Huskies were 10-0-0 and No. 1 in the country at the time. I'll dig deeper for a future blog post. Any thoughts on this, dear readers?

2. Pawloski shines: Connor LaCouvee got the win against his old team on Friday night, but Mike Hastings went with Jason Pawloski on Saturday. Pawloski stopped 26 shots, including 12 in the first period when the Mavericks also had to kill off three penalties, for the shutout victory. That wasn't necessarily the plan going into the weekend, but, being early in the season, Hastings said it is important that both goalies get work. He added that both had good weeks in practice working with volunteer goalie coach Brennan Poderzay. Hastings also had praise for strength coach Tom Inkrott for what he did to help the team get through the weekend.

3. Please come to Boston: Watching online from Mankato, one could hear the MSU fans cheering goals and other plays. Hastings figured there were 100 or more people there rooting for the Mavericks. “The MSU contingent that traveled and came out and supported us, they were phenomenal,” Hastings said. “We’re very appreciative of the fans who stepped up and spent some money to come out and see us play in Boston. That is something special.” Those fans certainly got to see a special performance.

Read more here.

Around the WCHA: Michigan State 3, Bowling Green 2 ... Northern Michigan 1, Ferris State 0 ... Michigan Tech 2, Lake Superior State 2 (Tech wins shootout) ... St. Cloud State 5, Alaska 4 (OT) ... Bemidji State 0, Minnesota Duluth 0 ... Colorado College 3, Alaska Anchorage  2

Mavericks 6, Terriers 3

Freddy's three thoughts (from afar):

1. Brickley's big night: Daniel Brickley had an outstanding game for the Mavericks. The junior defenseman finished with a goal and three assists and was plus-2 against the second-ranked Terriers. Actually, MSU's defensemen were all solid, finishing with 11 of their team's 45 shots and a combined +6. No one was a minus. Sophomore D Ian Scheid and freshman Riese Zmolek also scored goals.

2. Welcome back, Connor: Connor LaCouvee got the start in goal, his first as a Maverick. But it wasn't the first time he played a game at Agganis Arena. After playing three seasons at BU, LaCouvee transferred to MSU as a graduate for his final year of eligibility. He beat his old team, making 32 saves on 35 shots. "Connor is a mature young man," coach Mike Hastings said. "He handled it well, after being put in that building and being asked to do some special things."

3. Young fellas: A few freshmen got their first career points in the game. Jared Spooner scored MSU's sixth goal, which gave the team a three-goal cushion midway through the third period. Zmolek scored his first goal, and Jake Jaremko had his first assist, a faceoff win on a power play that led to Scheid's goal and a 4-2 lead early in the second period.

Read my Free Press story here. And something from someone who was actually there here.

Around the WCHA: Northern Michigan 3, Ferris State 2 ... Michigan Tech 4, Lake Superior State 3 ... Bowling Green 4, Michigan State 1 ... Bemidji State 5, Minnesota Duluth 2 ... St. Cloud State 6, Alaska 3 ... Colorado College 6, Alaska Anchorage 1 (WCHA teams go 3-2 in nonconference play).

Friday, October 13, 2017

Friday Morning Skate

The Mavericks are in Boston today and Saturday to take on No. 2-ranked Boston University for the first time ever. There is a little familiarity as coaches Mike Hastings and David Quinn know each other well, going back to their Omaha days. Also, MSU's newest goaltender, grad-transfer Connor LaCouvee came over from BU.

Hastings said he wants to maintain a challenging schedule for his team, playing teams like the Terriers. BU will come to Mankato next year, and North Dakota will be back on the schedule then, too, as MSU will travel to Grand Forks.

Read more about Minnesota State's series against Boston University here.

MSU shot a video preview with Hastings following the team's practice Thursday in Boston.

Also, in case you missed it on Thursday, here's a breakdown of Hastings' contract with Minnesota State.

Elsewhere in the WCHA this weekend ...

Northern Michigan and Ferris State kick off the conference schedule with a series in Big Rapids, Mich., and No. 15 Michigan Tech and Lake Superior State will do the same in Sault Ste. Marie.

Bowling Green and Michigan State will play a home and home series, with the Falcons hosting tonight. The series renews an old CCHA rivalry.

Bemidji State and No. 5 Minnesota Duluth will play home and home, starting tonight in Bemidji where the Beavers will play their first game of the season. I'm not sure if this is some kind of record, but the P-word (Pairwise) is already being mentioned in Duluth.

In a couple more WCHA-NCHC matchups, Alaska will play a series at No. 6 St. Cloud State where it expects a tough test, and Alaska Anchorage will go to Colorado College for two games.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Contract shows MSU's commitment to hockey, Hastings

Mike Hastings agreed to a 10-year contract with Minnesota State over the offseason, as the school started working on a new deal after another college, presumably Nebraska Omaha, sought permission to talk to him about its coaching opening.

The long-term deal was an impressive proposal to make sure Hastings remained in Mankato. The contract also included a raise to more than $335,000 as well as promises to enhance other areas of the program, including cost-of-attendance stipends for the players, raises for assistant coaches and bigger budgets for team travel and recruiting.

For more on the contract, read my Free Press story here.

Hastings was hired by Minnesota State in 2012 and got a salary of $225,000. That was raised to $290,000 in 2015 when he received a new, eight-year deal.

"We think he's the best coach in the country," MSU president Richard Davenport said. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Crowd size grows; Mavs out of poll

There's gotta be a Sean Spicer joke here somewhere, right? ...

Minnesota State re-examined the numbers from Saturday night and determined that the official attendance was 5,406, the second-largest crowed in program history. During the game, it was announced at 5,030, the 17th-largest crowd.


Either way, it seemed 5,000-plus turned out to be too many for the Verizon Center's security to handle. The hope is those bugs will be figured out by the time Minnesota State returns from its four-game road swing. Same with the Mavericks' scoring.

Meanwhile, Minnesota State dropped out of the USCHO rankings following the 4-0 loss to St. Cloud State. The Mavericks were No. 18 and are now just receiving votes.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Huskies 4, Mavericks 0

Freddy's three thoughts of the game ...

1. No finish: The Mavericks returned plenty of fire power from last season but were unable to score in their regular-season and home opener. The put 42 shots on net, but it didn't seem like St. Cloud State goalie Jeff Smith had to make too many highlight-reels saves. Maybe one or two, but otherwise he was in good position all night and didn't give up any second or third opportunities. "We have to be harder in front of the net," junior captain Max Coatta said.

2. Silver lining: While the lack of scoring was troublesome, there were a few bright spots, especially the play of sophomore forward Charlie Gerard, who played with great energy and led the Mavericks with eight shots on goal. Two other sophomores stood out, too: forward Parker Tuomie and defenseman Ian Scheid, who had 11 combined shots. Did anyone stand out as much as St. Cloud State defenseman Jimmy Schuldt, though? No. He had the game's first goal and was plus-4.

3. Long lines: It was the season-opener, one of the Mavericks' biggest in-state rivals was in town and there was a Hockey Night in Mankato event until 7 p.m. outside. Add those things to the Verizon Center's new security protocol, and there was a long wait to get into the building. It took half, if not more of the first period for everyone to get in. Fans were venting both online and in the arena. That's something that's going to have to get fixed before the next home games in three weeks, especially if they want to continue to have big crowds.

Read my gamer here.

Around the WCHA: Notre Dame 4, Alabama Huntsville 0 ... Ferris State 3, Western Michigan 2 ... Northern Michigan 4, Lake Superior State 1, Michigan Tech 4, Minnesota Duluth 3 ... North Dakota at Alaska Anchorage (late), Air Force at Alaska (late)



Live coverage: MSU vs. St. Cloud State

Minnesota State and St. Cloud State will face off at 7:07 p.m. today at the Verizon Center. The live chat/Twitter feed can be found below tonight's lines:

MINNESOTA STATE
20-Michaelis, 15-Suess, 19-McClure
6-Tuomie, 5-Jaremko, 10-Knutson
9-Gerard, 26-French, 12-Coatta
23-Rivera, 11-Spooner, 27-Schwalbe

8-Brickley, 18-Scheid
4-Lewis, 3-McNeely
25-Zmolek, 2-Mackey

39-Pawloski
37-LaCouvee
29-Nelson

Scratches: Bigelbach, Cooper, Duehr, Gerads, Hookenson, Lutz, Vanko

ST. CLOUD STATE
21-Wahlin, 28-Fitzgerald, 26-Brodzinski
3-J. Poehling, 18-Peterson, 7-N. Poehling
23-Jackson, 11-R. Poehling, 17-Benson
42-Winiecki, 27-B. Lizotte, 14-Newell

22-Schuldt, 10-J. Lizotte
12-Ahcan, 20-Borgen
55-Ilvonen, 2-Kuster

1-Smith
34-Hrenak

Saturday morning skate

The hockey season is finally here, and the Mavericks will host St. Cloud State in a clash between longtime rivals.

For Minnesota State, Brad McClure is hoping to build off last year's 28-point season while also cautioning his younger teammates about the pitfalls that might lie ahead. He doesn't want them to suffer the sophomore slump, as he did two years ago.

It will be interesting to see the Mavericks' lineup. Many of the lines this week were similar to what was together during Sunday's exhibition game against Regina, but coach Mike Hastings said things are always in flux. That includes in goal where Jason Pawloski and Connor LaCouvee are competing, along with Aaron Nelson.

Hastings told the St. Cloud Times this week that he's enjoying the increased expectations placed upon his team. The Times' Mick Hatten also reports that last year's leading scorer for St. Cloud State, Mikey Eyssimont, is expected to miss the game with an illness. Mick also has a feature on the Huskies' Blake Winiecki.

Other WCHA teams got their seasons cranked up on Friday night with Michigan Tech defeating No. 16 Union 6-3 in the IceBreaker in Duluth. Today, the Huskies will play No. 6 Minnesota Duluth, which topped No. 3 Minnesota in overtime.

A few other league teams didn't fare as well, as Ferris State lost to No. 20 Western Michigan 6-1, Alabama Huntsville fell to No. 8 Notre Dame 5-3 and Alaska lost to Air Force 3-2.

Lake Superior State defeated WCHA-rival Northern Michigan in a nonconference game, spoiling new coach Grant Potulny's debut. That series moves Sault Ste. Marie to Marquette tonight.

But the surprise was in Anchorage where Alaska Anchorage played No. 7 North Dakota to a 1-1 overtime tie.

Friday, October 6, 2017

It's almost Hockey Night!

It seems a little odd to be going into opening weekend of the college hockey season and not have a Friday-night game to cover.

As the late, great Tom Petty sang: The waiting is the hardest part!

The Mavericks open things up on Saturday night at the Verizon Center against in-state rival St. Cloud State. Should be a good one, hopefully in front of a big crowd.

Speaking of big crowds, be warned that security might slow entry into the arena, so plan accordingly:

Saturday is also Hockey Night in Mankato and, outside the Verizon, there will be live music, food vendors and other activities from 4:30 to 7 p.m.

Some WCHA teams are in action tonight, as Ferris State plays at Western Michigan, Lake Superior State hosts Northern Michigan (in nonconference play), Alabama Huntsville goes to Notre Dame, Alaska Anchorage hosts North Dakota and Alaska hosts Air Force. Michigan Tech is playing in the IceBreaker tournament in Duluth against Union today and against either UMD or Minnesota on Saturday.