Friday, May 5, 2017

Mavericks name team award winners

Minnesota State announced its team award winners on Thursday. No real surprises on the list. Here's a look (plus some Puckato comments):

Most Valuable Player: Marc Michaelis, freshman forward. Hard to quibble too much with this choice. He led MSU and the WCHA (overall games) in scoring and was the league's rookie of the year as well as a first-team all-conference pick. Puckato would have given strong consideration to C.J. Franklin and Daniel Brickley for this award, too.

Hardest Worker: Max Coatta, sophomore forward. Probably a candidate for most-improved player, too (more on that in a bit), he played in all 39 games, seemingly locking down a job as the kind of third- or fourth-line grinder — responsible and can chip in a few points — that the Mavericks value so much. Puckato would have considered Brickley, Carter Foguth and Jordan Nelson, too.

Most-Improved Player: Ian Scheid, freshman defenseman. As I've written before, this award can have a couple of interpretations — improvement from one year to the next or improvement over the course of a season. Scheid definitely improved as the year went on, but he also had a strong start to an excellent freshman year. He'd definitely get Biggest Surprise Award, if one existed, being a late recruit who scored 24 points and was plus-16, which led the team. Others Puckato would have thought of: Brickley, Coatta, Zeb Knutson and Parker Tuomie.

Unsung Player: Carter Foguth, senior defenseman. Foguth is an anagram for fought, something auto-correct haunted me with regularly. That's appropriate, as Foguth fought as hard as anyone for the Mavericks. No player did the tough, dirty work like he did. He logged a ton of minutes, played through a lot of bumps and bruises — and worse! — with no complaint. He's going to be a tough player to replace. Can't think of another player to consider for this award.

Don Brose Leadership Award: Foguth. I can't argue with the leadership award, as I don't see much behind the scenes, but Foguth was a three-time captain (twice wearing the "C") and highly respected by players and coaches alike, a great example to whoever gets a badge next season (captains have not been announced yet).

Three-Star Award: Parker Tuomie, freshman forward. This award is determined on a point system for the Three Stars of the Game that are announced after each home game. Tuomie was No. 1 twice, No. 2 once and No. 3 three times. Brad McClure was No. 1 three times. Nine others were No. 1 once. Brickley was No. 2 four times. Tuomie came into the season with more hype than Michaelis. It took him a bit longer to get going, but he finished strong, which should bode well for next season.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Mavs' 2017-18 schedule released

The Minnesota State men's hockey team will have a challenging nonconference schedule in 2017-18, one that includes two in-state rivals and a trip east to face a national power.

The Mavericks will begin the regular season on Oct. 7 at home with a nonconference game against St. Cloud State on Oct. 7 and will follow that with a two-game series at Boston University. The Hockey East-member Terriers, some already have predicted, could be among the nation's top five teams to start the season.

Minnesota State will wrap up the home-and-home series with St. Cloud State on Wednesday, Nov. 22, to start a Thanksgiving road trip. The back end of that swing will be a nonconference game at Minnesota Duluth on Saturday, Nov. 25.

The Mavericks will host UMD, last season's national runner-up, on Jan. 23 in a rare Tuesday game.

As for the Mavericks' Western Collegiate Hockey Association schedule, the Mavericks will host Michigan Tech (Oct. 27-28), Bowling Green (Nov. 17-18), Alabama Huntsville (Dec. 15-16), Northern Michigan (Dec. 29-30), Alaska Anchorage (Feb. 2-3), Ferris Sate (Feb. 16-17) and Bemidji State (Feb. 23-24).

On the road, Minnesota State will be making a long post-holidays trip to Alaska, playing at Anchorage and Fairbanks on back-to-back weekends (Jan. 5-6, Jan. 12-13). Other WCHA road games include: Bowling Green (Oct. 20-21), Northern Michigan (Nov. 3-4), Bemidji State (Nov. 10-11), Lake Superior State (Dec. 8-9) and Alabama-Huntsville (Feb. 9-10).

The Mavericks will play 34 regular-season games. Just five of their first 17 games are at home, however, they will be at home for seven of their final nine games.

Minnesota State has scheduled two exhibition games at home: Sunday, Oct. 1 against Regina and Saturday, Jan. 27 against the U.S. National Team Development Program.

Thanks to an alert commenter, I looked into this: Minnesota is not on MSU's schedule in any form (including the now-defunct North Star College Cup) for the first time since the 1996-97 season, which was the Mavericks' first year of Division I.

More information can be found on MSU's press release and the WCHA's composite schedule can be found here.