Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Rankings rise and conference accolades

Photo by Jackson Forderer
Minnesota State moved up to No. 7 in the USCHO poll and No. 8 in the USA Today rankings following its sweep over Boston University over the weekend. The Mavericks had been ranked 11th, and the Terriers were No. 8. BU dropped to No. 13 and No. 15, respectively. North Dakota, MSU's next opponent, is 16th in the USCHO rankings after losing to and tying Bemidji State.

Meanwhile, the Mavericks got a couple of WCHA weekly awards after their two wins, with defenseman Riese Zmolek and goaltender Dryden McKay taking Defenseman of the Week and Rookie of the Week, respectively. Zmolek had a goal and two assists, blocked five shots and was plus-3 for the weekend. McKay stopped 49 of 55 shots and became the first freshman goalie to start and win in MSU's opening game since Ken Higert in 1984. You can read more about McKay's weekend here.

Finally, my Tuesday column can be found here. This week's topic: MSU's sweep was no upset, just a good early season test between two good teams.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Mavericks 5, Terriers 3

Photo by Jackson Forderer
Freddy's three thoughts of the game:

1. Last-second Charlie: Most of my gamer (link below) focuses on the game-changing goal scored by junior forward Charlie Gerard, but here's a little more info. Gerard was put on the top line tonight after Walker Duehr was scratched (coach's decision), and he came through by finishing off an all-important play set up beautifully by Parker Tuomie and Marc Michaelis. "Playing with Parker and Marc, those two guys are crazy when they're on the ice." Gerard played just 14 games last season, but had a goal and an assist at BU early in the year. The hope for him, of course, is to stay locked in the lineup this year.

2. Good in goal: It was another impressive performance for freshman goaltender Dryden McKay, who turned away 28 of 31 shots and really weathered the storm in the second period when BU scored three times. Not a softie in the bunch. Coach Mike Hastings said the decision to go with the rookie again was due to his performance on Friday. "I think Dryden McKaty showed he was really up to the task tonight," Hastings said. "That’s a very good hockey team: (Shane) Bowers, Bobo Carpenter, Dante Fabbro. They’ve got a good group over there. I can see how they’re going to give opposing coaches some heartburn."

3. Command performance: Saturday's attendance was 4,802, and it was a lively crowd that included a lot of MSU hockey alumni as the program was celebrating the start of its 50th season. The current team delivered the second of two big victories against a very good, nationally ranked and well-known opponent and did it again in entertaining fashion. Minnesota State, which will rise in the rankings on Monday, sure looks like it's a good team again this year as it's been throughout the Hastings era, but these two wins, considering the opponent and he crowd, were two of the more impressive regular-season home wins the Mavericks have had over that time.

Read my game story here.

Around the WCHA: Northern Michigan 4, Michigan State 3, Bemidji State 1, North Dakota 1 (OT) ... Western Michigan 5, Ferris State 0 ... Minnesota Duluth 5, Michigan Tech 2 ... Denver 6, Alabama Huntsville 0 ... St. Cloud State at Alaska (late)

Live coverage: Mavericks vs. Terriers, Game 2

The Mavericks will go for the season-opening sweep tonight when they host the Terriers for the second night in a row at the Verizon Center. Minnesota State won Friday's game 4-3. For coverage of tonight's game, follow along on the live blog below tonight's lines.

6-Tuomie, 20-Michaelis, 9-Gerard
16-Lutz, 5-Jaremko, 15-Napravnik
23-Rivera, 11-Spooner, 12-Coatta
22-Gerads, 10-McMahan, 26 French

2-Mackey, 3-McNeely
25-Zmolek, 24-Hookenson
7-Aamodt, 18-Scheid



Scratches: Bigelbach, Duehr, Galambos, Schwalbe, Vanko

16-Willman, 14-Carpenter, 12-Wise
9-Cockerill, 15-Bowers, 21-Harper,
28-Farabee, 3-Amonte, 11-Curry
20-Quercia, 19-DeBoer, 10-Chabot


4-Farrance, 17-Fabbro
33-Blixt, 5-Crotty
26-Kotkansalo, 2-Switzer


Friday, October 12, 2018

Mavericks 4, Terriers 3

Photo by Jackson Forderer
Freddy's three thoughts of the game ...

1. Big night: After Minnesota State went to Boston early last season and swept, there was some fear that Boston University was going get some revenge on the Mavericks in this season's opener. BU got a goal in the final seconds of the first period and grabbed leads of 2-1 and 3-2 midway through the second, but the Mavericks gave up little from that point on, eventually tying the game late in the middle frame and going ahead again in the third on Dallas Gerads' second goal of the game. "Our leadership group, Nick Rivera, does a real good job in the locker room and on the bench of keeping things 20-20, focusing on the things we still have in front of us instead of things that have gone by," Hastings said. "I thought everybody just followed that lead. I thought he calmed us down a little bit, and we found a way to weather that storm and get it back to even."

2. Impressive debut: Freshman goaltender Dryden McKay got the start and looked the part all night long — especially in the first period when he stopped 12 of 13 shots, including a breakaway. Looking back at my time covering MSU (starting in 2000-01), I can't recall a freshman goalie starting the first game of the season for the Mavericks. Time to go back further in the archives, I suppose. “I was excited about the opportunity for sure," said McKay, who finished with 21 saves. "It was a goal of mine to be the starter and be the guy who plays the first game. But it’s just another hockey game. I try not to put too much pressure on myself and just go out and play."

3. Good crowd: The announced attendance was 4,120, pretty good, especially with three high school football games going on in town. Saturday should be impressive, too. It will also be the celebration of MSU's 50th season of hockey. "The intensity in the building was awesome tonight," Gerads said. "Guys really feed off that." Indeed, the Mavericks gave the crowd a good show. Parker Tuomie's two goals were highlight-reel plays, especially the second one which included a beautiful set-up from Marc Michaelis followed then some nifty stick-handling to get the goalie out of position for an easy put-in.

Read my game story here.

Around the WCHA: Bemidji State 2, North Dakota 1 ... Michigan State 4, Northern Michigan 2 ... Robert Morris 3, Bowling Green 2 ... Western Michigan 4, Ferris State 3 ... Minnesota Duluth 2, Michigan Tech 1 ... Colorado College 1, Alabama Huntsville 0 ... St. Cloud State 3, Alaska 2

Live: Mavericks vs. Terriers

It's a matchup of top-20 teams to start the season as the No. 11 Mavericks host the No. 8 Terriers at the Verizon Center. Follow along with the action right below tonight's lines:

6-Tuomie, 20-Michaelis, 17-Duehr
16-Lutz, 5-Jaremko, 15-Napravnik
23-Rivera, 11-Spooner, 12-Coatta
22-Gerads, 26-French, 9-Gerard

2-Mackey, 3-McNeely
25-Zmolek, 24-Hookenson
7-Aamodt, 18-Scheid



Scratches: Bigelbach, Galambos, McMahan, Schwalbe, Vanko

28-Farabee, 15-Bowers, 21-Harper
16-Willman, 14-Carpenter, 13-Cheremeta
9-Cockerill, 12-Wise, 11-Curry
20-Quercia, 8-Cloonan, 10-Chabot


4-Farrance, 17-Fabbro
26-Kotkansalo, 5-Crotty
33-Blixt, 2-Switzer


Friday Morning Skate

Photo by Jackson Forderer
Another season is officially here, and it kicks off with what should be a good one with No. 11 Minnesota State hosting No. 8 Boston University.

The Mavericks are not very senior-heavy at all, but one fourth-year player, Max Coatta, is back as captain, sharing duties with juniors Nick Rivera and Marc Michaelis. Interesting thing about Coatta is his grandpa coached the MSU football team in the 1970s, and his dad was an outstanding athlete at Mankato East High School, going into the school's athletics hall of fame in 2003. Pictured is his entry on the East display.

For more on the Mavericks-Terriers series, check out the college hockey gameday feature.

For BU, tonight's game marks the regular-season coaching debut of coach Albie O'Connell, who took over for David Quinn, now with the New York Rangers.

Several WCHA teams kicked off the season last weekend, going 5-5-0 in nonconfernece play, which you can read about in Thursday's college hockey notebook. As for this weekend, there are some other good matchups taking place:

Bemidji State and North Dakota are playing home and home. The MSU folks will be paying attention to this one, as the Mavericks go to UND next weekend. Both teams will be breaking in new No. 1 goalies. It's good that the Fighting Hawks and Beavers have continued to play nonconference since the old WCHA broke up and that North Dakota will be renewing its rivalry with MSU next week. The Grand Forks Herald's Brad Schlossman began a three-part series on the formation of the NCHC this week. Part 1 is a good read.

In other WCHA-NCHC matchups, Michigan Tech will host defending national champion Minnesota Duluth, Ferris State will play Western Michigan in a home-and-home series, Alabama Huntsville will go to Colorado College and Alaska will host St. Cloud State.

In WCHA-Big Ten action, Northern Michigan will begin a season of high expectations by going downstate to Michigan State.

Bowling Green got off to a great start last week, winning two games, and will play two more this weekend against Robert Morris.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Mavericks ranked 11th

Minnesota State slipped a spot in both national polls, falling from 10th to 11th despite an exhibition victory. The reason? Voters moved Minnesota into the top 10 after the Gophers tied at Minnesota Duluth on Saturday and beat the Bulldogs 7-4 on Sunday in Minneapolis. It's early, of course, and only a handful of teams have played real games, so, for what it's worth, here is this week USCHO polls (the USA Today/USA Hockey rankings can be found here):

USCHO.com Division I Men's Poll
Minneapolis, Minn./October 08, 2018

   Team             (First Place)    Record   Pts  Last Week
 1 Ohio State                (18)    0- 0-0   916     3
 2 Notre Dame                (12)    0- 0-0   852     2
 3 Minnesota Duluth          ( 8)    0- 1-1   836     1
 4 Providence                ( 3)    1- 0-0   827     5
 5 St. Cloud State           ( 4)    0- 0-0   773     6
 6 Minnesota                 ( 3)    1- 0-1   729    13
 7 Cornell                           0- 0-0   675     7
 8 Boston University                 0- 0-0   630     8
 9 Michigan                          0- 1-0   584     4
10 Denver                            0- 0-0   519     9
11 Minnesota State                   0- 0-0   498    10
12 Boston College            ( 2)    0- 0-0   481    12
13 North Dakota                      0- 0-0   462    11
14 Princeton                         0- 0-0   340    14
15 Northeastern                      0- 0-0   299    15
16 Penn State                        0- 0-0   230    16
17 Clarkson                          0- 0-0   222    17
18 Western Michigan                  0- 0-0   140    19
19 Michigan Tech                     0- 0-0    97    18
20 Bowling Green                     1- 0-0    86    NR

Others receiving votes: Northern Michigan 70, Union 65, Air
Force 29, Vermont 21, Harvard 16, Massachusetts 15,
Wisconsin 15, Miami 14, Maine 13, UMass Lowell 13, Omaha 10,
Canisius 6, Colorado College 2, Lake Superior 2, Brown 1.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Special section stories

The Free Press' eight-page special section previewing the Minnesota State men's hockey season came out on Sunday, and it's chock-full of stories that should give Mavericks fan ever50ything they need to know about this year's team — as well as a look back at some moments from the last 50 years (50 moments, to be exact).

Here are links to the stories:

Mavericks turn page to new season after NCAA heartbreak (includes look at this season's schedule)

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Mavericks 7, Cougars 3 (exhibition)

Photo by Jackson Forderer
Freddy's three thoughts of the game ...

1. Good start: The Mavericks scored twice in the game's first minute and continued to have a good showing against Mount Royal. Sure, there is plenty to work on between now and when Boston University comes to town on Friday, but there were plenty of positives, including the play of some of the usual suspects like Jake Jaremko, Marc Michaelis, Parker Tuomie and Ian Scheid (pictured). Jaremko had a goal and two assists, and the others had two-point games. "There was a lot of stuff to be proud of," Jaremko said.

2. Welcome newbies: Since it was an exhibition, everybody got to dress, and the Mavericks' freshmen got to experience their first game action. Forward Julian Napravnik scored a goal, while defensemen Wyatt Aamodt, Andy Carroll and Zak Galambos all looked solid. "I liked our back end," Hastings said of the D-corps. "We had some guys grow throughout the game. I thought I saw Carroll get better and better as the game went on, Galambos doing the same thing. Hopefully they’ll take some confidence out of this."

3. Eyes on the goalies: Each of MSU's three new goaltenders played a period with freshman Dryden McKay getting the start. McKay stopped all six shots he faced in the first period. Grad-transfer Mathias Israelsson allowed one goal and was credited with three saves. That number seems a tad low, but if it's right, all three were high-quality stops. Freshman Jacob Berger finished up and stopped five of seven. Is that the pecking order? My guess, as you can read about in Sunday's preview section, is the competition remains wide open.

Deep thought; How about those uniforms tonight? After years of criticism from me about the Mavericks using black as a primary color, I would be remiss if I didn't praise the gold-and-purple kits Minnesota State is donning at home this season. They looked good on the ice and in photographs. What's also great is being able to see the players' numbers. Well done.

Read my gamer here. Also, be sure to pick up a print copy of Sunday's Free Press with our special section previewing the Mavericks' season (those stories should be online later Sunday, too).

Around the WCHA: Lake Superior State 5, Merrimack 4 ... Bowling Green 8, Mercyhurst 2 ... Miami 5, Alabama Huntsville 1 ... Ferris State 3, U.S. Under-18 1 (ex.) ... Bemidji State 5, Lakehead 1 (ex.) ... Alaska at Arizona State (late) ... Colorado College at Alaska Anchorage (late)

P.S. No video tonight. I'll try to get that going next week for the regular season!

Captains named ... Game on!

The Mavericks named their captains on Friday, and Max Coatta, who shared the "C" duties with C.J. Suess last year, again a captain. The senior forward (pictured) will wear the "C" along with juniors Nick Rivera and Marc Michaelis.

No big surprises there. Rivera's potential leadership skills were touted from the time he was a freshman, and Michaelis should be one of the offensive leaders. Also, talking to Michaelis recently (check out stories in Sunday's special section), he's clearly matured into his role as an upperclassman.

At the time of this post, Minnesota State is 20 minutes away from playing its exhibition game to open the season against Mount Royal. No live blog tonight, but there will be tweeting. Check back on the blog later for a link to my game story, as well as Freddy's Three Thoughts of the Game!

Friday, October 5, 2018

Special section coming

Be sure to pick up a copy of Sunday's Mankato Free Press, as it contains an eight-page section previewing the upcoming. 2018-19 Minnesota State men's hockey season. The section is full of stories and photos about what's ahead for the Mavericks this year as well as  a look at 50 moments from 50 seasons of MSU hockey, which the program is celebrating this season.

Finally, the regular sports section that day will have coverage of Saturday night's exhibition game against Mount Royal, so the newspaper will be chock full of stories.

Nothing wrong with buying a newspaper!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Three Mavs in NHL (three more to come?)

The Associated Press
The National Hockey League season opens on Wednesday, and three former Minnesota State players are on opening-night rosters, according to the league’s website.

David Backes is beginning his 13th season in the league and his third with the Boston Bruins. The 34-year-old forward played in 57 games last season, compiling 33 points, including 14 goals. Going into the season, he’s played in 858 games with 531 points, including 237 goals. He played at Minnesota State from 2003 to 2006. In an article in the Boston Globe on Tuesday, Backes said he's in a good place right now.

Tyler Pitlick (pictured) is in his fifth NHL season. Last year was his first with the Dallas Stars — and his first fully healthy year. The forward had career highs in games played (80), goals (14), assists (13) and points (27). Pitlick played one season for the Mavericks, 2009-10.

Casey Nelson played a bit in two seasons with the Buffalo Sabres and then closed this third strong, playing in 37 games. The defenseman had eight points, including three goals in that span. Nelson, who played for MSU from 2013 to 2016, is doing in Buffalo what he did in Mankato: becoming a strong, steady presence for his team.

Three former MSU players with some NHL promise were sent to their teams’ American Hockey League affiliates prior to the start of the season.

Defenseman Daniel Brickley, who made his NHL debut with the Los Angeles Kings last season after leaving school, will begin the season with the Ontario Reign. On Sept. 23, Brickley played in a preseason game for the Kings in his home state of Utah.

Forward C.J. Suess, who graduated from MSU last spring will begin the season with the Manitoba Moose despite turning heads during training camp with the Winnipeg Jets. He finished last season with the Moose after signing with the Jets, the team that drafted him in the fifth round in 2014.

Teddy Blueger, a forward who played for the Mavericks from 2012 to 2016, reportedly had a strong training camp with the Pittsburgh Penguins but was assigned to the minors in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Blueger was called up to Pittsburgh last season but never got in a game.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Homecoming for hockey, too

Today is Minnesota State's homecoming, and a lot of the focus will be on the football game. But the Mavericks women's hockey team also will be playing this afternoon, kicking off their regular season at 2 p.m. at the Verizon Center against RPI. The two teams also will play at 2 p.m. Sunday.

The Mavericks played an exhibition game a week ago against a Canadian college, British Columbia, and won 2-0, getting second-period goals from senior Jordan McLaughlin and freshman Brooke Bryant. Three goalies split time in goal with freshman Abigail Levy preserving the 2-0 lead with 12 saves in the third period.

Minnesota State has won its last two regular-season openers. The Mavericks are hoping to improve on a 5-28-1 record last season. RPI is coming off a 9-19-6 season.

ICYMI, for more on the MSU women, check out a season preview/feature in last week's Free Press.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Mavericks ranked 10th nationally

The first USCHO preseason rankings were released on Monday, and Minnesota State is No. 10 in the country. The Mavericks are one of three teams from the WCHA in the rankings. Michigan Tech is No. 18, and Northern Michigan is No. 20. BowlingPreseason USCHO.com Division I Men's Poll
Minneapolis, Minn./September 24, 2018

   Team             (First Place)    Record   Pts  Last Year
 1 Minnesota Duluth          (44)   25-16-3   982     1
 2 Notre Dame                ( 2)   28-10-2   857     2
 3 Ohio State                ( 2)   26-10-5   835     3
 4 Michigan                  ( 2)   22-15-3   790     4
 5 Providence                       24-12-4   698     7
 6 St. Cloud State                  25- 9-6   697     6
 7 Cornell                          25- 6-2   676     8
 8 Boston University                22-14-4   597    10
 9 Denver                           23-10-8   552     5
10 Minnesota State                  29-10-1   488     9
11 North Dakota                     17-13-10  437    17
12 Boston College                   20-14-3   398    19
13 Minnesota                        19-17-2   387    18
14 Princeton                        19-13-4   357    15
15 Northeastern                     23-10-5   345    11
16 Penn State                       18-15-5   302    13
17 Clarkson                         23-11-6   299    12
18 Michigan Tech                    22-17-5   115    16
19 Western Michigan                 15-19-2   109    NR
20 Northern Michigan                25-15-3    98    20

Others receiving votes: Air Force 94, Union 90, Bowling
Green 62, Harvard 58, Massachusetts 35, Wisconsin 27,
Colorado College 23, UMass Lowell 20, Maine 18, Omaha 17,
Canisius 14, Mercyhurst 11, Quinnipiac 8, Miami 2, Brown 1, 
Connecticut 1. Green is among teams getting votes. Minnesota Duluth, which won the national championship last April, is No. 1. Here is the poll:

Mavericks picked first in WCHA coaches poll

Defending MacNaughton Cup champion Minnesota State was picked to finish first again in the WCHA standings in a poll of the league’s coaches. The Mavericks received 7 of 10 first-place votes and 88 points in all in the sixth annual Mankato Free Press WCHA Preseason Coaches Poll. Minnesota State won last season’s title with a 22-5-1 league record (29-10-1 overall) and 67 points in the standings.


Last season’s runner-up, Northern Michigan, was picked second, receiving two first-place votes and 80 points. The Wildcats were 19-7-2 in conference play last season (25-15-3). They were followed in the poll by Bowling Green in third place with 76 points. Michigan Tech, which won the inaugural Jeff Sauer Trophy as the WCHA’s playoff champion last spring, was picked fourth and received the other first-place vote.

Bemidji State was picked fifth with 54 points, followed by Ferris State in sixth with 49 points. Rounding out the list were Lake Superior State (seventh place, 40 points), Alaska (eighth, 36), Alabama Huntsville (ninth, 35) and Alaska Anchorage (10th, 18).

Northern Michigan forward Adam Rockwood was voted WCHA Preseason Player of the Year. Rockwood, a senior from Coquitlam, British Columbia, led the WCHA in overall-game scoring last year with 48 points, including 40 assists. His 32 points in conference play ranked fourth, second among this season’s returning scorers.

Ferris State defenseman Cooper Zech was voted WCHA Preseason Rookie of the Year. The freshman from South Lyon, Mich., played for the Wenatchee Wild of the British Columbia Hockey League last season where he was the BCHL’s Defenseman of the Year, leading the league with 58 assists and scoring 69 points in 58 games. He also had 23 points, including 19 assists in 20 playoff games as the Wild won the RBC Cup.

Rockwood was one of four Northern Michigan players voted to the Preseason All-WCHA Team. He was joined by senior forward Troy Loggins, junior defenseman Philip Beaulieu and senior goaltender Atte Tolvanen. Others on the team were: Minnesota State junior forward Marc Michaelis and Bowling Green junior defenseman Alec Rauhauser. Rauhauser was the WCHA Defenseman of the Year and Tolvanen was the WCHA Goaltender of the Year last season. Rauhauser, Tolvanen, Michaelis and Loggins were All-WCHA First-Team selections last season. Rockwood and Beaulieu were both Second Team picks.

1. Minnesota State (7) 88 pts
2. Northern Michigan (2) 80
3. Bowling Green 76
4. Michigan Tech (1) 64
5. Bemidji State 54
6. Ferris State 49
7. Lake Superior State 40
8. Alaska 36
9. Alabama Huntsville 35
10. Alaska Anchorage 18

(first-place votes in parenthesis)

Preseason Player of the Year: Adam Rockwood, F, Northern Michigan (4)

Others receiving votes: Jake Jaremko, F, Minnesota State (3); Marc Michaelis, F, Minnesota State (2); Troy Loggins, F, Northern Michigan (1).

Preseason Rookie of the Year: Cooper Zech, D, Ferris State (5)

Others receiving votes: Dryden McKay, G, Minnesota State (2); Griffin Loughran, F, Northern Michigan (1); Tim Theocharidis, D, Bowling Green (1); Chris Van Os-Shaw, F, Minnesota State (1).

Preseason All-WCHA
F-Adam Rockwood, Northern Michigan
F-Marc Michaelis, Minnesota State
F-Troy Loggins, Northern Michigan
D-Alec Rauhauser, Bowling Green
D-Philip Beaulieu, Northern Michigan
G-Atte Tolvanen, Northern Michigan

Others receiving votes: Forwards-Jake Jaremko, Minnesota State; Brandon Kruse, Bowling Green; Jake Lucchini, Michigan Tech; Corey Mackin, Ferris State. Defensemen-Rykar Killins, Ferris State; Ian Scheid, Minnesota State; Connor Mackey, Minnesota State. Goaltenders-Ryan Bednard, Bowling Green.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

MSU women' ready to get started

The Minnesota State women's hockey team opens the season on Saturday with an exhibition game. Although the Mavericks have been practicing or four hours a week since school began, Saturday is the official start of the year.

In today's Freep, I previewed the team with a focus on senior forward and co-captain Corbin Boyd (pictured).

A few other nuggets about the Mavericks:

• Can this be the year they move out of the WCHA cellar? Coach John Harrington hasn't hid his excitement about this year's rookie class, and the impact it could have on the program, especially combined with last year's top scorer, sophomore Brittyn Fleming, and a solid group of junior and senior leaders.

• It's never easy in the tough WCHA, and it's hard not to be reminded that MSU has had just one .500 or better season in its 20-year history.

• The WCHA preseason coaches poll came out on Tuesday, and the Mavericks were picked last in the seven-team league. Wisconsin and Minnesota were the co-favorites. For more on the poll, go to the WCHA's website.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Mavs get D commitment

On Tuesday, Minnesota State got a commitment from defenseman Akito Hirose of the Salmon Arm Silverbacks of the British Columbia Hockey League.

Hirose, a 6-foot-0, 161-pound Calgary native, has played in 100 BCHL games and compiled 44 points.

In a press release from the Silverbacks, the 19-year-old Hirose says he chose MSU "because of the coaching staff and the trust they built with me. I also know I can learn a lot from all the coaches but especially coach Hastings. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to work with on of the best coaches in college hockey. The Mankato program has a strong winning culture that puts emphasis on building relationships. Once you become part of the program you're a Maverick for life."

The press release also mentions former MSU player Brett Knowles, who is now an assistant coach for Salmon Arm.

Akito's brother Taro Hirose is a junior winger at Michigan State where he led the Spartans in scoring last season.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Knott promoted to associate head coach

Todd Knott
Over the weekend, The Free Press published my story on Minnesota State assistant coach Todd Knott getting promoted to associate head coach.

The promotion came early in the offseason, head coach Mike Hastings said, and Knott turned down a couple of opportunities to leave Minnesota State for another program. 

One of those programs was likely Minnesota where new coach Bob Motzko is assembling a staff:

As you can read in the story, it's a deserved honor for Knott, the Mavericks' recruiting coordinator and a coach Hastings has spoken quite highly of over the last six years. It's not easy to keep a staff together. And, if my examination of all 60 Division I coaching staffs is right, the trio of Hastings, Knott and Darren Blue (an MSU assistant since 2000) have been together as long as or longer than all but five other groups. 

It seems as though the next step for Knott will be as a head coach somewhere in the next few years.

Monday, July 16, 2018

What's the number?

Minnesota State's 2018-19 roster is out, which means the new players and their jersey numbers are out. There are nine newcomers, who will replace nine who are leaving the program. Here are the newbies and their numbers:

4-Andy Carroll, D
7-Wyatt Aamodt, D
10-Shane McMahan, F
13-Zak Galambos, D
15-Julian Napravnik, F
19-Chris Van Os-Shaw, F
29-Dryden McKay, G
31-Jacob Berger, G
32-Mathias Israelsson, G

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Czech player commits to MSU

A couple of tweets this week have revealed that Minnesota State recently got a verbal commitment from Ondrej Pavel, a forward from the Czech Republic who played in the NAHL this past season.

Born in 2000, the 6-foot-2, 199-pound Pavel had 10 goals and 14 assists in 60 games with the Minot Minotauros in 2017-18. He's a Fargo Force draft pick, so it's possible that could be playing in the USHL there next season before coming to Mankato.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Mavericks going camping

Six current and future Minnesota State players have received invitations to attend NHL development camps this summer.

Invitees on the current MSU roster include junior defenseman Ian Scheid (Ottawa Senators), sophomore forward Jake Jaremko (Nashville Predators) and sophomore defensemen Connor Mackey (Buffalo Sabres) and Riese Zmolek (Los Angeles Kings). Future freshman forwards Chris Van Os-Shaw (Toronto Maple Leafs) and Nathan Smith (Winnipeg Jets) were also invited. Smith was picked by the Jets in the third round of the NHL draft on Saturday.

Drafted and free-agent college players may participate in camps without having their eligibility affected.

Recently graduated C.J. Suess is also listed on the Jets' development camp roster. The forward signed with the Jets, the team that drafted him, after the season. And I can only assume defenseman Daniel Brickley, who signed after his junior year, will be on the Los Angeles Kings' summer roster, although that has not yet been released.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

MSU recruit Nathan Smith drafted

Nathan Smith, a Minnesota State recruit, was taken in the third round of the National Hockey League draft on Saturday. The Winnipeg Jets took him with the 91st overall selection.

Smith, a 6-foot-0, 180-pound forward, is slated to be a freshman for the Mavericks in the fall of 2019.

A Hudson, Florida, native, he played last season with the Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Rough Riders of the United States Hockey League and plans on playing for that junior team again this season.

Smith was a prolific scorer playing high school hockey in Florida where he had 176 points (88 goals, 88 assists) in 45 games from 2014 to 2017.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Goaltending turnover

Minnesota State will have a completely different look in goal next season.

Besides having two freshman goaltenders coming in, the Mavericks, for the second year in a row, will have a graduate transfer competing for the job.

Mathias Israelsson, who played three seasons, mostly in a backup role, for Northern Michigan will join the group, while Jason Pawloski, who would have been MSU’s lone returner at the position, is apparently no longer with the program.

Coach Mike Hastings confirmed the move on Monday. He first talked about next season's goalies on the Beyond the Pod podcast with KFAN's Brandon Mileski and Pat Micheletti last week.

“It’s competition,” Hastings said Monday. “You’re looking at three guys, and there’s not an incumbent. I’d be excited about that as a player. The opportunity is wide open."

Israelsson, a native of Sweden who will turn 24 on July 19, appeared in 21 games for the Wildcats, 11 last season, a career-high. He has a career record of 5-7-2 with a 2.88 goals-against average and a .894 save percentage. 

However, with standout Atte Tolvanen, last season’s WCHA Goaltender of the Year (as well as an all-rookie, second-team and first-team all-league pick the last three years), on the team at the same time, Israelsson has not been able to grasp the starting spot for the Wildcats. 

Israelsson has played two games against Minnesota State, losing a game at Mankato as a freshman in 2016 and stopping 23 shots to defeat the Mavericks last season in Marquette, Michigan. After that second game, he was named WCHA Goaltender of the Week.

Although, he’s played in more games over the last three years, Pawloski also had a hard time staking claim to the No. 1 job. In three seasons at Minnesota State he went 22-11-7 with a .907 save percentage and a 2.12 goals-against average. He, too, played in 11 games last season, a career-low, as Connor LaCouvee, a graduate transfer from Boston University evolved into the team’s top goalie in his lone season at MSU. No word yet as to Pawloski's future plans.

“He’s no longer with us,” Hastings said of Pawloski. “We wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors.”

Before arriving at NMU, the 5-foot-11, 187-pound Israelsson played two seasons in the United States Hockey League with the Fargo Force and Waterloo Blackhawks.

He will compete with incoming freshmen Dryden McKay and Jacob Berger.

McKay, 20, is a 5-11, 161-pound goalie from Downers Grove, Illinois. He spent the last two seasons with the USHL’s Madison Capitols where he had a .907 save percentage and a 3.38 goals-against average last year.

Berger, 20, a 5-11, 165-pound Minnetonka native had a .905 save percentage and 3.45 goals-against average last year, his second season with the Merritt Centennials of the British Columbia Hockey League.

Players, including most freshmen, arrived in Mankato this week for the MSU’s second session of summer classes.

Another Zmolek commits to Mavs

Bennett Zmolek, the brother of Minnesota State sophomore-to-be Riese Zmolek, announced on Twitter that he has committed to play for the Mavericks. The defenseman from Rochester Century will be a high school junior, so he's a younger-than usual commit for MSU.

Zmolek had five goals and 16 assists for Century this past season. The Panthers went 20-5-1 and won the Big Nine Conference title. He recently talked to the Rochester Post-Bulletin's Jason Feldman about his decision, saying, “The atmosphere in Mankato is really great. Riese just told me how much he likes it there and how great the staff is.”

Another Zmolek brother, Will, is a Bemidji State recruit. He played this past season at Cedar Rapids of the USHL.

Monday, June 11, 2018

WCHA changes streaming services

The WCHA on Monday announced a multiyear partnership with FloSports to video stream every men's game hosted by a league team.

More than 180 games will be shown live and on-demand on FloHockey.tv. Games include all regular-season league and nonconference games, as well exhibitions and WCHA playoff games.

Subscribers will also have access to additional college hockey coverage, including select Big Ten games.

Monthly or annual subscriptions to FloSports can be purchased at FloHockey.tv. Games can be watched through the FloSports app.

WCHA games previously were streamed through Stretch Internet.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Hastings promoted to U.S. junior head coach

Mike Hastings' stint as assistant coach for the U.S. National Junior Team turned out to be short-lived.

On Tuesday, USA Hockey announced that the Minnesota State men's hockey coach was promoted to head coach of the team that will participate in the 2019 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship.

Hastings will take the spot vacated by David Quinn, the Boston University coach who was tapped to lead the U.S. junior team on April 20. Last week, however, Quinn was hired as head coach of the NHL's New York Rangers. Hastings was set to be an assistant on Quinn's Team USA staff.

"It's always an honor to represent your country and I'm thrilled to be asked to do so as head coach of this year's U.S. National Junior Team," Hastings said in a USA Hockey press release. "Our first few weeks as a staff have already been terrific thanks in large part to David's leadership, and we couldn't be happier to have Scott join in the evaluation process. The talent depth is better than it's ever been, and we fully believe we can build a roster more than capable of claiming a fourth-straight medal in this tournament."

The World Junior Championship will take place Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia. Hastings will miss two weekends of Minnesota State games over that time, a tournament on Dec. 28-29 hosted by Arizona State and a home series Jan. 4-5 against Michigan Tech. Assistant coaches Darren Blue and Todd Knott will run things in Hastings' absence.

"Mike was the obvious choice in taking over as head coach of our national junior team,” said John Vanbiesbrouck, assistant executive director of hockey operations for USA Hockey and general manager of the 2019 U.S. National Junior Team, in a press release. "While we wish David Quinn all the best in his return to the NHL, it speaks volumes to our American depth in the coaching ranks that not only can someone of Mike's stature fill this position, but we can add an individual with Scott's resume, as well."

USA Hockey also announced Tuesday that Minnesota Duluth head coach Scott Sandelin was added to the staff, replacing Hastings as an assistant. The other coaches are Dartmouth associate head coach David Lassonde and Ohio State associate head coach Steve Miller.

Hastings was an assistant coach for Sandelin during the 2005 World Juniors and was also an assistant on the 2003 team. Hastings also twice served as head coach for the U.S. Junior Select Team.

The U.S. has won a medal in three-straight World Junior Championships, taking bronze in 2018, gold in 2017 and bronze 2016.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Blueger now at world championships

Teddy Blueger (23) of Team Latvia takes a shot on goal
against Team USA during a IIHF World Championship
game  Thursday in Denmark. Associated Press photo
Former Minnesota State standout Teddy Blueger was added to the Team Latvia roster at the IIHF World Championship in Denmark. He had an assist in his first game, a 3-2 overtime loss to the United States on Thursday (the accompanying photo is from that game).

Blueger had 21 goals and 24 assists for 45 points in 70 games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League this year. He was briefly called up to the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins but never got in a game. He is making his second appearance at the world championships. The Riga native represented Latvia last spring and scored one goal in seven games.

Blueger played for Minnesota State from 2012-16 and finished his collegiate career with 31 goals and 77 assists for 108 points in 155 games.

Blueger is one of two Minnesota State-connected players at worlds. Current player Marc Michaelis is playing for Team Germany (see blog post below). Michaelis has one goal and one assist in four games.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Mavs' 2018-19 schedule released

The return of Minnesota, the first-ever visit to Mankato by Boston University and road trips to North Dakota and Arizona highlight the Minnesota State men’s hockey team’s 2018-19 schedule, which was released on Wednesday, along with the entire WCHA docket.

The Mavericks did not play the Gophers in 2017-18, the first time that did not happen since the 1996-97 season. The two teams will play a home-and-home series Nov. 2-3, with the second game taking place in Mankato.

Minnesota State will open the regular season against a pair of traditional national powers, starting Oct. 12-13 at home against Boston University. The Mavericks played two games at Boston last season, sweeping the then-No. 2-ranked Terriers.

The following weekend, Oct. 19-20, the Mavericks will play North Dakota for the first time since 2012-13, the final year of the old WCHA and will make their first trip to Grand Forks since 2011-12. The Fighting Hawks are expected to make the return trip to Mankato during the 2019-20 season.

The Mavericks will also play in a the Desert Hockey Classic in late December in Glendale, Arizona. Dates and matchups for the event, hosted by Arizona State, ar not yet set.

The 2018-19 season also marks the 50th season of Minnesota State men's hockey and a special celebration is slated for the opening home series vs. Boston University.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

'Pucks and Circumstance' for Jackman, Carter

Photo courtesy Paul Allan, Minnesota State athletics
Tim Jackman and Ryan Carter walked through graduation on Saturday morning at Minnesota State, completing some long journeys before first enrolling at the university and completing their degrees. In between were two years playing for the Mavericks and were long careers in the NHL. But both felt compelled to return after retirement and get that diploma.

Read my column on them here.

Jackman moved to the Mankato area two years ago and spent two years going to school and working with Minnesota State as an undergraduate assistant. Carter, who took an occasional class online while he was still playing, took a full load of online classes last year to finish.

One comment that missed the cut in the story was about why Carter chose to walk through graduation:

"It was less for me personally and more for my family and kids. My dad graduated late, when he was 45, and I was able to see him, watch him study and do what he needed to do. My kids are still young, so I don’t know if they’ll remember, but I wanted to have a family picture and a story to tell."

Monday, May 7, 2018

Michaelis playing in World Championships

The Associated Press
Minnesota State men’s hockey forward Marc Michaelis (65 in photo) is playing for Team Germany in the 2018 IIHF Men’s World Championship in Denmark.

The tournament began Friday and runs through May 20. On Monday, the United States defeated Germany 3-0.

Michaelis, a native of Mannheim, Germany, completed his sophomore season with the Mavericks this spring and was named First Team All-WCHA for the second time after totaling 18 goals and 22 assists for 40 points in 36 games. He has 76 career points.

According to College Hockey Inc., Michaelis is one of 35 current or former NCAA players participating in the world championship. In 2015, Michaelis played for Germany at the IIHF U20 World Championships.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Mavericks announce awards

Minnesota State announced its team award winners this week, and there weren't too many surprises. In fact, it would be hard for me to dispute them too much. Here are the winners below, with a bit of commentary.

Most Valuable Player — C.J. Suess: Suess, who also won the Don Brose Leadership Award and the Three Star of the Year Award (based on a point system from the postgame awards each home game), led MSU in scoring with 43 points, including 22 goals and was the WCHA Player of the Year, Offensive Player of the Year and First Team All-Conference, as well as the Mavericks' first Hobey Baker top-10 finalist. One of MSU's three captains, Suess had 521 faceoff wins, which ranked third in the nation and finished the year at plus-18.

Comment: Can't argue with this one. He was MSU's best all-around player all season — offensively and as a two-way defensive forward. Lots of choices for runner-up, including Marc Michaelis and Daniel Brickley, but I'd probably go with Zeb Knutson.

Unsung Player Award — Connor LaCouvee: In his only season at MSU, the BU transfer went 23-6-1 with a .914 save percentage and a 1.80 goals-against average. His 1.67 GAA in WCHA play made him the league's goaltending champion. He was a Third Team All-WCHA pick and a Mike Richter Award semifinalist. He started the last 17 games of the season.

Comment: Interesting choice here, considering his accolades. However, getting Third Team All-Conference while winning the goalie title might make him somewhat unsung. Also, MSU's dominant possession time and low shots allowed can leave its goalies in the shadows. I like the pick, but others I'd strongly consider would be Edwin Hookenson and F Parker Tuomie.

Most Improved Player Award — Dallas Gerads: The freshman forward had 14 points in 27 games. He played in all 20 of the Mavericks' final games after playing in just seven of their first 20. His seven goals, including four power-play goals.

Comment: If you've read this blog, this is the award where I wonder if it should be for improvement during the year or improvement from the previous year. I usually like to award the latter, but this is a great choice considering how little Gerads played over the first half of the season and how important he became over the second half, including on the power play. By my other standard, I'd probably pick  Edwin Hookenson (he may have qualified by both standards) or Parker Tuomie.

Hardest Worker Award — Max Coatta: The junior forward, one of three captains on the team, won this award for the second year in a row. He played in all 40 games and had 11 points.

Comment: The players and coaches can judge this better than I, especially if they take practice time into consideration, but Coatta definitely fits this bill. Daniel Brickley probably deserved close consideration for this as well.

Earlier in the week, MSU held its banquet for its Maverick Achievement Awards, which are for all sports. Suess won the Male Athletics Medal of Honor, which goes to the top senior male athlete. It was the first time since 2003 that a hockey player won the men's award. B.J. Abel won it that year. Freshman forward Jake Jaremko won the Male Newcomer of the Year Award, which goes to the top male freshman for transfer student. Jaremko was the WCHA's Rookie of the Year after a 39-point season.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Nelson re-ups with Sabres

Buffalo Sabres
Casey Nelson broke out as an NHL player after getting called up to the Buffalo Sabres in January, and Sabres made sure he wasn't going to get away, signing him to a two-year contract on Wednesday.

According to Buffalo's press release, the deal is worth an annual average of $812,500.

Nelson played in 37 games in his third pro season (second full season), recording eight points and averaging 18:47 of ice time. He often played with the Sabres' top defensive pairing.

Last season, he played just 11 games with Buffalo, the team he signed with out of Minnesota State after the 2015-16 season. He played seven games with the Sabres right away after his college career ended.

If he continues to play with the big club and if other players get their shot -- Daniel Brickley in Los Angeles, C.J. Suess in Winnipeg, Teddy Blueger in Pittsburgh -- there could be a nice mix of MSU alums playing in the NHL next season with regulars David Backes in Boston and Tyler Pitlick in Dallas.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Alaska teams finally have coaches

It took some time — and some rejection — but Alaska Anchorage and Alaska Fairbanks have hired their new head hockey coaches.

Anchorage on April 21 named Matt Curley as coach. The 35-year-old was the head coach of the EC Red Bulls Juniors team based out of Salzburg, Austria, for the past three seasons. Prior to that, he worked as an assistant coach for two seasons at Bentley University and was an assistant with the U.S. National Team Development Program as well as with the Indiana Ice of the United States Hockey League.

A native of Madrid, New York, Curley played college hockey at Clarkson from 2003 to 2007. He replaced Matt Thomas, whose contract was not renewed after five seasons with the Seawolves.

On Monday, Alaska announced the hiring of the youngest head coach in Division I, 31-year-old Erik Largen.

Largen, a Fairbanks native and former Nanooks goaltender, becomes the 10th coach in program history. He was an assistant coach for Alaska the last two seasons and replaces Lance West, who was the WCHA team's interim coach last season.

Prior to joining his alma mater, Largen was the head coach at Division III Marian University in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, for one season and had a record of 18-7-3 there. He also has six years of assistant coaching experience in the junior ranks. He played at Alaska from 2006 to 2008, appearing in four games.

It seemed like it was going to take forever for the Seawolves and Nanooks to find coaches. Anchorage reportedly offered the job to three finalists only to have them all turn down the job. Fairbanks announced two finalists, including West, but couldn't reach an agreement with either.

As I wrote about in my column last week, the Alaska schools are tough sells and in tough spots — geographically, financially and competitively. But there are only 60 D1 hockey jobs in the country. It's a pretty exclusive club.

And you never know what a job like that could turn into. Don Lucia got his first chance at Alaska Fairbanks, when he was just 29 years old.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Hastings named to U.S. world junior staff

Minnesota State men's hockey coach Mike Hastings was named an assistant coach for the 2019 U.S. National Junior Team, which will compete in the World Junior Championships Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia.

USA Hockey announced the team's coaching staff on Friday. Boston University's David Quinn is the head coach. Other assistants include David Lassonde, associate head coach at Dartmouth, and Steve Miller, associate head coach at Ohio State.

"I'm honored to have the opportunity to represent our country and university at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championships," Hastings said in a Minnesota State press release. "I'm extremely excited to be a part of such an accomplished coaching staff led by David Quinn."

This will be Hastings' third time as an assistant at the World Juniors. He was also on the staff in 2005 and 2003. Quinn was an assistant with him on the '05 team. Hastings has also twice served as head coach of the U.S. Junior Select Team, winning a Viking Cup in 2000.

Hastings just completed his sixth season at Minnesota State.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Mavs add three to recruiting class

Minnesota State announced the signing of three recruits on Wednesday, the first day of the regular signing period.

The group includes goaltender Jacob Berger, defenseman Zakery Galambos and forward Christopher Van Os-Shaw and joins five others who signed their letters of intent during the fall signing period.

Berger, a Minnetonka native, spent the last two seasons with Merritt of the British Columbia Hockey League. This past season the 5-foot-11, 165-pounder was 13-24-0 with a .905 save percentage and a 3.45 goals-against average.

Galambos, of Walnut Creek, Calif., played this past season for Wenatchee of the BCHL and had 28 points (five goals) in 41 games. The Wild is still playing in the playoffs, and the 6-2, 176-pounder has 11 points (five goals) in 15 postseason games. The Wild are in the league finals. 

Van Os-Shaw, of Regina, Saskatchewan, racked up 51 goals and 97 points in 59 games for Spruce Grove of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, winning that league's scoring title and MVP honor. The 6-2, 200-pounder has 14 points eight playoff games. The Saints are currently alive in the league finals. He was in the Saskatchewan league the previous two seasons, including a season-plus with the Humboldt Broncos, the team that was involved in the terrible bus crash last weekend. Van Os-Shaw originally committed to Alaska Anchorage but changed that to Minnesota State last week.

Recruits who signed in November include defensemen Wyatt Aamodt (Hermantown, Lincoln-USHL) and Andy Carroll (Northfield, Green Bay-USHL; goaltender Dryden McKay (Downers Grove, Ill./Madison-USHL) and forwards Julian Napravnik (Bad Nauheim, Germany/Des Moines-USHL) and Nathan Smith (Hudson, Fla./Cedar Rapids-USHL).

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Minnesota Duluth wins the NCAA title

Minnesota Duluth took its come-from-behind overtime victory over Minnesota State in the first round of the NCAA tournament and rode it all the way to a national championship.

The Bulldogs won their second title, beating Notre Dame 2-1 on Saturday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, the same arena where they won their 2011 crown.

Like they did against Air Force and Ohio State, UMD went up 2-0 in the first period and hung on to win the game.

On Saturday, Karson Kuhlman and Jared Thomas scored for the Bulldogs, who were the last at-large team to make the national tournament. Notre Dame’s Andrew Oglevie scored on the power play at 7:40 of the second period to make for a wild second half of the game.

All three Frozen Fours at the X have produced Minnesota winners, with the Gophers winning in 2002 and the Bulldogs winning in ‘11 and ‘18.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Suess named All-American

Minnesota State senior center C.J. Suess was named a 2017-18 West All American on Friday.

He becomes the seventh Mavericks player to earn the honor at the Division I level and is the second to be a First Team pick by the American Hockey Coaches Association.

It's another honor for the two-time team captain, who was the WCHA's Player of the Year, Offensive Player of the Year and Scoring Champion, as well as a top-10 finalist for the Hobey Baker Award.

Suess joins Matt Leitner (2015) as MSU's only other First Team selection. Other DI All Americans, all Second Team picks, were Grant Stevenson ('03), Shane Joseph ('03), David Backes ('06), Zach Palmquist ('15) and Daniel Brickley ('17).

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Brickley makes NHL debut

There was some question as to whether or not Daniel Brickley would actually play for the Los Angeles Kings after signing with them last week following his junior season at Minnesota State. But the defenseman got the chance on Thursday night in L.A. against the Minnesota Wild, becoming the 12th former Maverick to skate in the NHL.

Brickley picked up his first NHL point, too, assisting on a goal in the 5-4 overtime victory.

UMD back in national title game

Minnesota Duluth will play for the national championship for the second year in a row after defeating  Ohio State 2-1 in the NCAA Frozen Four semifinals on Friday in St. Paul.

The Bulldogs, who lost to Denver in last year's title game, will be playing either Notre Dame or Michigan on Saturday in the Xcel Energy Center, the site of its championship victory over Michigan in 2011.

UMD scored twice in the first 3:04 against the Buckeyes and held on from there in a game that was almost a carbon copy of their West Regional win over Air Force two weekends ago in Sioux Falls. The Bulldogs opened that weekend with a 3-2 overtime victory over Minnesota State, erasing a 2-0 first period deficit.

Notre Dame came from behind to beat Michigan 4-3, scoring the game-winner with just 5.2 seconds remaining in regulation.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Brickley signs with Kings

Minnesota State men's hockey junior defenseman Daniel Brickley has agreed to terms with the NHL's Los Angeles Kings, the Kings announced on Thursday.

The signing means Brickley will forgo his final season of college eligibility, as expected.

The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Brickley, considered one of the top undrafted free-agent prospects in college hockey since his sophomore season, spent much of the week following the end of MSU's season jetting around the country and meeting with NHL teams to figure out where he was going to play next.

In three seasons for the Mavericks, Brickley played in 107 games, scoring 20 goals and assisting on 57 others for 77 points.

This past season, Brickley had 10 goals and 25 assists for 35 points — all career-highs — and was named Second Team All-WCHA.

As a sophomore, Brickley has 8 goals and 23 assists for 31 points and was WCHA Defensive Player of the Year, First Team All-WCHA. He was also a Second Team West All-American.

As a freshman, he had two goals and nine assists for 11 points and was a WCHA All-Rookie pick.

Read my story, which includes comments from Brickley and Mike Hastings here.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Gophers land Motzko as new coach

It sure didn't take long for Minnesota to make a decision on its next hockey coach.

St. Cloud State's Bob Motzko will take over for Don Lucia, the U announced on Tuesday, one week after Lucia resigned from the job.

Motzko was an assistant for Lucia from 2001 to 2005, helping the Gophers win two national titles, before becoming the head coach at St. Cloud State. In 13 seasons with the Huskies, his teams went to eight NCAA tournaments and one Frozen Four.

This postseason the Huskies were a favorite to win the national title, entering the West Regional in Sioux Falls as the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament. But they were upset by Air Force, and that allowed Minnesota, which missed the NCAAs, to move on Motzko quickly.

Motzko seemed to be a favorite for the job as soon as it opened, along with longtime Gophers assistant Mike Guentzel and Northern Michigan coach Grant Potulny, a former U assistant and player under Lucia. Minnesota State's Mike Hastings was also mentioned as a possible candidate.

Now the question will be who gets the St. Cloud State job. Hastings is an alum but is one year into a 10-year contract worth more than $330,000 annually with MSU, another MnSCU school. That was a contract that kept him away from discussions with Nebraska Omaha, where he had close ties. Hard to imagine St. Cloud State being able to top that.

More coverage on the Motzko hiring from the Star Tribune, Pioneer Press and St. Cloud Times.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Suess signs with Jets

Minnesota State senior C.J. Suess on Sunday signed with the Winnipeg Jets, the team that drafted him in 2014.

The Jets announced that Suess signed a one-year entry-level contract worth $925,000. He also signed an amateur tryout contract with the AHL's Manitoba Moose for the remainder of this season.

Suess, 24, was drafted by the Jets in the fifth round (129th overall) in 2014. He finished his MSU career on Friday after leading the Mavericks with 43 points (22-21) in 40 games. He was WCHA Player of the Year, Offensive Player of the Year and league scoring champion. He's also a top-10 Hobey Baker finalist. 

Suess had 127 career points with the Mavericks, which is tied for fifth on the school's career Division I-era scoring list.

The Moose's next game is Monday night. Curious to see if Suess will be in the lineup.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

UMD advances to Frozen Four

Minnesota Duluth, which got into the NCAA tournament by .0001 points and came from behind to knock off Minnesota State in overtime on Friday, won the West Regional on Saturday in Sioux Falls, defeating Air Force 2-1.

Air Force, which shocked St. Cloud State, the No. 1 overall seed in the national tournament on Friday, mustered just 12 shots, none in the first period. That was the second time UMD held an opponent to no shots on goal, doing that to MSU in the second period Friday.

Joey Anderson and Nick Wolff scored first-period goals for the Bulldogs, and they held on from there.

Air Force goalie Billy Christopoulos was rock-solid again on Saturday, stopping 24 shots, but got little help from his offense until 6:16 remained in the third period. That's when Evan Giesler scored on the power play, making for a thrilling finish that included a couple of Grade A scoring chances for Air Force with the goalie pulled for an extra attacker.

Minnesota Duluth will move on to the Frozen Four in St. Paul, the same location where it won the national championship in 2011. It's also the Bulldogs' second consecutive trip to the Frozen Four. They lost in the title game to Denver last year.

The final had a crowd of 8,015, just a little more than Friday's. Very nice crowds for an NCAA regional. Having three Minnesota teams in really helped the attendance, but Sioux Falls should be considered again for another regional soon.

Forward — Carson Kuhlman, Minnesota Duluth, Most Outstanding Player
Forward — Parker Mackay Minnesota Duluth
Forward — Tyler Ledford, Air Force
Defense — Dylan Samberg, Minnesota Duluth
Defense —Nick Wolff, Minnesota Duluth
Goalie — Billy Christopolous, Air Force

Friday, March 23, 2018

Bulldogs 3, Mavericks 2 (OT)

Freddy's three thoughts of the game ...

1. Another tough loss: Minnesota State is now 0-5 in DI NCAA tournament games. This one might not be as crushing as the RIT upset, but it was a tough one. The Mavericks got off to a great start, scoring twice in the first period, but they got nothing after that. They hit iron twice in the third period on great chances and had a flukey play in overtime when Nick Rivera's shot was stopped by teammate Brad McClure, who had been knocked into the net. "I felt the puck hit me," McClure said. "I didn't know if it was in or not." It wasn't, and a few minutes later the Bulldogs got the game-winner.

2. Check the tape: Besides the great start, something MSU hadn't had in previous national-tournament games, the Mavericks came out on the right side of a goal review. UMD appeared to win the game 55 seconds into overtime. But while it was celebrating, the officials went to the monitor and determined that goaltender Connor LaCouvee was interfered with. Remember when RIT got the reversal when a no-goal call became a good-goal call in 2015? Minnesota State couldn't capitalize with the new life, though. "Our guys did a good job going out and getting refocused quickly," UMD coach Scott Sandelin said, "and we were able to get the next one."

3. End of the line: The Mavericks closed out the season with their first and only three-game losing streak, with two of the games ending in overtime. Friday's game was the last for C.J. Suess (127 career points), Zeb Knutson (88), Brad McClure (91), Clint Lewis, Connor LaCouvee and Aaron Nelson. Seems likely that it will be for junior defenseman Daniel Brickley, too. The Mavericks will look much different next year, although they still bring back a load of points with Marc Michaelis, Jake Jaremko, Parker Tuomie, Reggie Lutz and Ian Scheid, to name a few.

Read my game story here. And my story on Air Force's upset of St. Cloud State here. I also have a story on MSU fans here.

Live: MSU vs. UMD, NCAA West Regional

Minnesota State and Minnesota Duluth will play in the second game of the NCAA West Regional at approximately 6:30 p.m. Friday at the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls, S.D., following the opener between St. Cloud State and Air Force. Follow along with the action below tonight's lines:

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

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


Scratches: Bigelbach, Cooper, Duehr, Gerard, McNeely, Schwalbe, Vanko

27-Tufte, 25-Krieger, 13-J. Anderson
20-Kuhlman, 22-Thomas, 23-Swaney
17-Young, 19-Richards, 39-Mackay
10-Roth, 26-Miller, 16-Exell

5-Wolff, 7-Perunovich
4-Samberg, 3-M. Anderson
21-M. Anderson, 6-Roehl



Friday Morning Skate

It was a busy day in Sioux Falls on Thursday, and there was plenty to write about in anticipation of Friday's West Regional Games.

The four coaches of the participating teams are quite close, and they had a lot of fun talking about that during their press conferences on Friday. I wrote about that as a main preview feature for the weekend.

For more from Thursday's events, read my regional notebook here, and to preview the weekend, my College Hockey game day here.

Minnesota State will start the tournament against Minnesota Duluth. Matt Wellens of the Duluth News-Tribune wrote about the very-Minnesota flare to the regional and previews more here.

St. Cloud State will play Air Force in the first game, and the St. Cloud Times' Mick Hatten writes about St. Cloud native Dan Bailey, who plays for the Falcons. He also looks at the ties between the coaches here.

The Colorado Springs Gazette has more on Air Force here.

There was a lot of talk of Don Lucia and his departure from Minnesota, of course, and the coaches were all asked about that (with many undertones about their own potential candidacy for that job). The Star Tribune's Randy Johnson tackled that story here.

The Athletic has more about the matchup between the Mavericks and the Bulldogs, as well as more about the praise for Lucia.

More regional previews here and here from USCHO and College Hockey News. And CHN also did a feature on the Mavericks' C.J. Suess.

Let's also not forget about Michigan Tech, which is playing in the East Regional against Notre Dame in the first game of the day today.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Greetings from Sioux Falls

It's practice and press conference day at the NCAA West Regional here in Sioux Falls, and I'll have some updates throughout the day on the Twitter machine and some stories that will be posted later in the evening.

As for today's coverage, you can read my feature on Mavericks senior and Sioux Falls native Zeb Knutson, who is back in his hometown for the biggest game(s?) of his career.

Minnesota State will be playing Minnesota Duluth, and Matt Wellens of the Duluth News-Tribune has a mid-week story on Bulldogs and their preparations for the regional.

St. Cloud State beat writer Mick Hatten of the St. Cloud Times has a story on defenseman Jack Ahcan today.

Locally, the Argus Leader previews the weekend, mentioning Knutson and other players who played here for the Sioux Falls Stampede.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Mavericks prepping for Sioux Falls

Minnesota State will leave Mankato for Sioux Falls after practicing today. The Maverick have had quite a while to get ready for the regional after not playing last weekend. It's been an opportunity to try and refocus on what went well during their 14-game unbeaten streak.

“Guys are fired up for sure,” junior forward Max Coatta said. “It’s been a little longer for us than most teams, sitting around waiting for the tournament to start. But guys are ready to go.”

Read more about their preparations here.

The Mavericks will practice at 2 p.m. Thursday at the Premier Center in Sioux Falls. That day's practices are open to the public. They will have press conference after that, and I'll have coverage of those events (along with those of the other teams in the regional) leading up to Friday's game.

Also a reminder that Friday's game is at 6:30 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN3, which is ESPN's web streaming service. The earlier, 3 p.m. game between St. Cloud State and Air Force will be on ESPNU. The regional final on Saturday is at 8 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN2.