Friday, February 10, 2017

Friday Morning Skate

The Mavericks are idle this weekend, although they played against some mites and squirts from Mankato Area Hockey Association on Thursday afternoon (see photo). They likely will be doing some scoreboard watching, however, as eight other WCHA teams are in action against each other tonight and tomorrow (and one other has a single nonconference game on Saturday).

Bemidji State is at Alabama Huntsville where it has a chance to clinch the MacNaughton Cup as the league's regular-season champion for the first time. The Beavers have to win one game against the Chargers, who are trying to maintain at least their eighth-place spot in the standings and avoid falling to a non-playoff position. They have a two-point cushion currently, but the teams below them have two games in hand.

Michigan Tech hosts Ferris State on the annual Winter Carnival weekend. The Huskies all but lost their chance to defend the MacNaughton Cup (shared with MSU) when they were swept at Bemidji, but they don't want that to define their season. Meanwhile, with six games remaining in the season, Ferris State hopes to give itself a chance at home ice for the playoffs. The Bulldogs are nine points behind Bowling Green, which only has two league games remaining.

Alaska is at Northern Michigan, and the Nanooks are in a slightly better position than Ferris. They are eight games out of fourth and also have four games in hand on BG. The Wildcats are in ninth place and trying to crawl out of the WCHA cellar. They've been doing a fantastic job of late, as they're on a seven-game unbeaten streak, one that includes three straight shutouts by goalie Atte Tolvanen.

Alaska Anchorage plays at Lake Superior State where it, too, is trying to get out of the basement. The Seawolves are 10th in the league following their home split against MSU and will spend the next two weekends in Michigan (they're at Ferris State next week). They have yet to win a game outside of Alaska this season. The Lakers hope to do what Ferris and Alaska are trying to do. They're tied with the Bulldogs and also have a full slate of six games left.

Bowling Green will not play another league game until it closes out the regular season with a home series against UAH so it will definitely be doing some scoreboard watching. On Saturday, the Falcons will host Mercyhurst in a celebration of its arena's 50th year. The festivities for the nonconference game include the return of some prominent alumni, but also famed hockey announcer Mike "Doc" Emrick, who will do radio with Evan Pivnick. Emrick basically started his radio career in Bowling Green received his doctorate from BGSU in 1976.

Read more about Emrick in this week's USCHO column and more about Northern Michigan's surge from College Hockey News.

Closer to home, Gustavus' Hill Crew will host a Teddy Bear Toss benefit during Saturday night's men's game against Bethel. Fans who bring a new stuffed animal to the rink will receive free admission to the game, which will benefit Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare and Partners for Affordable Housing in Mankato. After the Gusties score their first goal, fans will throw the toys on the ice where they will be collected and donated to the two Mankato organizations.

The WCHA announced its scholar-athletes for this season, and 21 MSU men's and women's players (10 men, 11 women) made the list.

The New York Times has had some good college hockey articles this season. Recently, it profiled Bemidji State's Fitzgerald triplets, and this week, it looked at former Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves' transition to Division III St. Olaf.

ICYMI: Scroll down on the blog to read my update on Minnesota State's recruits for next season.

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