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: 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.

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


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


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


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:

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


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

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


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: 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,
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,
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 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: 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:

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


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

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


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.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Mavericks 8, Cougars 0 (ex.)

Freddy's three thoughts of the game:

1. How much did we learn? There's no question the team and the coaches get something out of these exhibition games — teaching moments, practicing some systems, work on special teams, etc. But for the rest of us, gleaning too much from a preseason game that followed the first official day of practice might be tough. The freshmen looked very good (see my gamer below) and should gain a lot of confidence from their first time in an MSU uniform, but it's all uphill from here for them. This was the fourth blowout exhibition win in coach Mike Hastings' six seasons. There was also a 5-3 win last year against Regina and a 3-2 loss the previous year to Alberta. In the other seasons that started with a dominating exhibition win, the Mavericks made the NCAA tournament at the end of the year.

2. Goalies got game: My gamer didn't go into too much detail about the goaltending. Jason Pawloski (10 saves) and Aaron Nelson (11) got the most work in the first and third periods, respectively. Newcomer Connor LaCouvee didn't see as much action, facing just four shots in the second period as the Maverick put 23 on net in the middle frame. "We came out really well in the first five minutes and then, after that, kind of went into a little bit of a slumber. (Pawloski) had to be good," Hastings said. "We need him to be that way. LaCouvee didn't have as much traffic, as much rubber thrown at him. And then Nelson, as he always has, comes in prepared, even though he's been sitting on the bench for two periods. From that standpoint, I'm really happy with what those guys did tonight."

3. And away we go: Now the season starts for real with the Mavericks hosting St. Cloud State on Saturday night (also Hockey Night in Mankato). The Huskies played Regina on Saturday and also won 8-0. St. Cloud State had a 53-25 shot advantage (MSU's was 44-25) and was 2 for 6 on the power play (MSU was 3 for 6). Very similar games — by those numbers, anyway. Should be a fun atmosphere at the Verizon Center for that one. Another good thing in preparation for that game is that some of the Mavericks' veterans stood out in limited time Sunday. C.J. Suess scored a goal, and Brad McClure and a goal and two assists. Marc Michaelis, Parker Tuomie and Ian Scheid each had two assists. Max Coatta also scored.

Read my game story here.

Around the WCHA (games from the weekend): Wisconsin 3, Michigan Tech 2 ... Alaska 6, Simon Fraser 0 (ex.) ... Alaska Anchorage 6, Simon Fraser 1 (ex.) ... Bowling Green 3, Wilfrid Laurier 1 (ex.) ... Lake Superior State 3, Laurentian 2

Minnesota State vs. Regina

Minnesota State is taking on Regina in an exhibition game to kick off the 2017-18 season. Here are tonight's lines (the Mavericks are allowed to dress everyone for an exhibition game):

20-Michaelis, 15-Suess, 19-McClure
6-Tuomie, 5-Jaremko, 10-Knutson
16-Lutz, 26-French, 12-Coatta
23-Rivera, 11-Spooner, 9-Gerard
7-Cooper, 27-Schwalbe, 17-Duehr, 22-Gerads

8-Brickley, 18-Scheid
25-Zmolek, 2-Mackey
4-Lewis, 3-McNeely
14-Bigelbach, 21-Vanko, 24-Hookenson


32-Zborosky, 16-McPhee, 27-Fowlie
20-Duperreault, 13-Frei, 19-Marr
21-Langford, 23-Magnus
15-Hansen, 12-Stevely, 17-Kosloski

8-Bourhis, 4-Schacher
2-Bear, 5-Burns
7-King, 18-Luhning