Saturday, January 20, 2018

Mavericks 5, Huskies 2

Freddy's three thoughts of the game ...

1. Good in goal: Mike Hastings has been waiting for a goaltender to grab the No. 1 job and run with it. Saturday might have been a step in the right direction for Connor LaCouvee. He sure was good when he needed to be against the Huskies. He held the nation's top-scoring team to two goals, stopping 28 shots, for his 12th win of the season. "I thought he was solid," Hastings said. "You need goaltending. Late in the season when you play a team like St. Cloud, they’re going to make pushes and you’ve got to find a way to keep it out of your net. ... They had some good looks, and that’s when I thought Connor was real good." LaCouvee stopped all 13 shots he faced in the first period but also made a huge pad save on the first shift and another later in the period with a 1-0 lead. "It was awesome for the guys to get this win against a great opponent like St. Cloud," LaCouvee said. "I thought I was fighting the puck a little bit, but the guys played so well in front of me."

2. Second line shines: MSU's top line of C.J. Suess, Parker Tuomie and Marc Michaelis has been great of late, but the home Huskies did a good job of keeping them in check. They couldn't stop everybody, though, and the group of Jake Jaremko, Reggie Lutz and Zeb Knutson shined. Knutson scored two goals, Jaremko had a goal and Reggie Lutz assisted on two goals. The prettiest play of the night came when Lutz made a behind-the-back pass to Jaremko on a low 2-on-1, and Jaremko finished with a shot between goalie Jeff Smith's legs. "We’ve needed some secondary scoring to come around because C.J. and Michaelis and Tuomie had been carrying us for awhile," Hastings said. "To see Jake and Lutz and Knutson play the way they played tonight, I thought they were good offensively but I thought they were even better defensively. When you have the puck as much as they did tonight, they don’t have to play a lot of defense, but when they did I thought they were real solid."

3. Still solid on the road: Another impressive thing about the victory was the fact that MSU was coming off its long Alaska trip. The Mavericks went 3-1 there but recovering from those trips can be tough. They did have one extra day to prepare since they didn't play on Friday, but they had to go to the hostile National Hockey Center in front of a crowd of nearly 5,600 and play the No. 3 team in the country. "We knew it was going to be a sold-out barn, and they really draw from their crowd," Knutson said. "We knew it was important to try and get on it right away in the first five minutes and get the first one." Which they did, as freshman defenseman Connor Mackey scored 93 seconds into the game. The Mavericks improved their road record to 12-4-0, and they have just one road trip remaining in the regular season.

Read my game story here.

Around the WCHA: Bowling Green 3, Alaska Anchorage 2 ... Bemidji State 4, Ferris State 1 ... Michigan Tech 4, Alaska 3 ... Northern Michigan 3, Lake Superior State 2



Live: Minnesota State vs. St. Cloud State

The No. 9 Mavericks and No. 3 Huskies are squaring off on Hockey Day Minnesota. Follow along with the action below tonight's lines.

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

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

37-LaCouvee
39-Pawloski

Scratches: Bigelbach, Cooper, Gerard, Duehr, McNeely, A. Nelson, Schwalbe, Vanko

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

12-Ahcan, 20-Borgen
22-Schuldt, 10-J. Lizotte
55-Ilvonen, 6-Jaycox

1-Smith
34-Hrenak
30-Zevnik

Hockey Day Morning Skate

It's Hockey Day Minnesota 2018, and the No. 9 Mavericks are in St. Cloud for a game against the No. 3 Huskies.

Minnesota State has 11 Minnesotans on its roster, and they're excited about the prospect of being a part of what's become a real tradition in the self-proclaimed State of Hockey. As for the game itself, read more about the matchup here.

Since Hockey Day is in St. Cloud, the St. Cloud Times has lots of coverage of the events, which began last night and include a few outdoor games today before the Mavericks and Huskies take the ice inside the Herb Brooks Center.

Read a story on the Wild website on today's coaches, Minnesota natives Mike Hastings and Bob Motzko.

Fox Sports North, which is broadcasting most of today's games (the MSU-SCSU game is on FSN-Plus) has coverage of Hockey Day on its website. Check back there for more features throughout the day.

Also, C.J. Suess is getting a lot of ink this week. He's the top scoring Minnesotan in college hockey. Here are stories on him by The Athletic and the NCAA.com.

What happened in the WCHA last night? Here are the scores: Bemidji State 2, Ferris State 0 ... Michigan Tech 5, Alaska 2 ... Northern Michigan 3, Lake Superior State 2 ... Bowling Green 6, Alaska Anchorage 2.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Friday Morning Skate

Minnesota State doesn't play tonight, so there will be links to my gameday coverage tomorrow morning before the Mavericks' Hockey Day Minnesota matchup at St. Cloud State.

Did you know what MSU already has qualified for the WCHA tournament? That means the first-place Mavericks can't finish ninth or 10th in the league standings. They have 45 points in 20 league games with eight to go. However, they won't play a WCHA opponent until Feb. 2-3 when Alaska Anchorage come to Mankato.

There is some WCHA action that begins tonight. Here's a quick glance at what's happening:

Bemidji State at Ferris State: The Beavers are unbeaten in their last nine WCHA games and will see if they can keep that going this weekend in Big Rapids. The Bulldogs have been streaky. They snapped a six-game losing streak last week in a split at Lake Superior State. The WCHA's website has a good feature on Ferris State's Joe Rutkowski here.

Alaska at Michigan Tech: The Nanooks were able to slow down MSU last Friday but not two days in a row. They're expecting another speedy opponent this weekend in Houghton. The Huskies are back in league action after four games out of the WCHA.

Lake Superior State at Northern Michigan: The Lakers are traveling across the U.P. to take on the Wildcats, who are unbeaten in 10 of their last 12 games and coming off a big sweep of Bowling Green. The teams are playing for the Cappo Cup.

Alaska Anchorage at Bowling Green: The Seawolves finally got a home win last weekend — just their second victory overall — and will head to Ohio to take on the Falcons. Bowling Green isn't too happy about getting swept last weekend at NMU.

Read more about the WCHA from USCHO here.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Suess, Brickley on Hobey ballot

Fan voting has begun for the Hobey Baker Award, which goes to the top player in men’s college hockey, and two Minnesota State players are on the ballot.

Senior center C.J. Suess and junior defenseman Daniel Brickley are among 74 players on the initial ballot, which eventually will be narrowed to 10 candidates and then three finalists called the Hobey Hat Trick.

Suess leads the WCHA in scoring and is tied for sixth in the country with 30 points (13 goals, 17 assists). Brickley ranks second in the conference and fifth in the nation in scoring among defensemen with 21 points (seven goals, 14 assists).
They have led the ninth-ranked Mavericks to a 17-7-0 record (15-5-0, first place in the WCHA).

Fans can vote by going to www.voteforhobey.com. The first phase of fan voting will run through March 4, and the second phase runs from March 14 through March 25. The fans’ vote accounts for 1 percent of the total ballot in each phase.

The Hobey Baker winner will be announced on April 6 at St. Paul during the NCAA Frozen Four weekend.

Suess and Brickley are two of 10 WCHA players on the initial ballot. Others include Bowling Green forward Mitch McLain and defenseman Alec Rauhauser, Alabama Huntsville forward Josh Kestner, Alaska Anchorage goaltender Olivier Mantha, Bemidji State goaltender Michael Bitzer, Ferris State forward Mitch Maloney, Northern Michigan forward Robbie Payne and Michigan Tech defenseman Mitch Reinke.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Mavericks 5, Nanooks 1

Freddy's three thoughts (from afar) ...

1. Wake-up call: If Friday's 5-0 loss didn't jolt the Mavericks, the first few minutes Saturday must have. Just 15 seconds in, Parker Tuomie was called for head contact, getting a 5-minute major and a game misconduct, and the Nanooks scored on the ensuing power play. Minnesota State dominated the game from that point on, though, and got the much-needed series split. Brad McClure, who's struggled to score goals this season, got two in the final 3:41 of the first period to give his team a 3-1 lead.

2. Switcheroo: Not surprisingly, coach Mike Hastings made some lineup changes Saturday night besides starting Connor LaCouvee in goal. Out were Reggie Lutz and Josh French at forward and Jack McNeely at defense. In were Charlie Gerard, Ryan Schwalbe and Edwin Hookenson. Those players, all of whom haven't seen a ton of action, came through. Gerard tied the game 1-1 midway through the first period, and Hookenson assisted on two goals.

3. Power restored: Minnesota State scored three power-play goals in the game after getting shut out on eight chances on Friday. McClure, Marc Michaelis and Daniel Brickley had the man-advantage goals. MSU was 3 for 10 and the Nanooks were 1 for 7 in the penalty-filled game. The teams combined for 30 penalties totaling 87 minutes. Michaelis also had an assist for a two-point game.

Deep thought: Friday's game was hardly ideal, but the Mavericks are going to leave Alaska with 9 of 12 possible points for the WCHA standings. They have some stuff to figure out, but that's not a bad road swing.

Read more here (link includes comments from Hastings)

Around the WCHA: Lake Superior State 5, Ferris State 3 ... Northern Michigan 3, Bowling Green 2 (OT) ... Bemidji State 2, North Dakota 2 (OT) ... Alaska Anchorage 2, Alabama Huntsville 1

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Nanooks 5, Mavericks 0

Freddy's three thoughts (from afar):

1. A stunner: I'm not sure I thought the Mavericks would sweep their four-game Alaska trip — according to a tweet by MSU's Paul Allan none of the previous seven teams who have done the back-to-back has swept — but I certainly didn't expect them to get blown out on Friday night by the Nanooks. The shots were even at 26 apiece, but Alaska made the most of its chances, blocked a lot of shots and disrupted passes. In short, the home team played hard and was rewarded for the effort.

2. Power play jinx: Of course on the day I write about how well MSU's power play is playing it gets blanked. The Mavericks had eight chances, including two lengthy 5-on-3s. Watching online, it was disconcerting to see the lack of urgency the Mavericks had on their first 5 on 3, trailing 2-0 at the time. Alaska went 2 for 5 on the power play, including a goal during Zeb Knutson's major penalty for barreling into goalie Anton Martinsson in the third period.

3. And the goalies? Mavericks starter Jason Pawloski didn't bail out his teammates, making for a lackluster performance throughout the lineup. He stopped 16 of 20 shots before being pulled. Connor LaCouvee came in and stopped 5 of 6 shots. Perhaps you can chalk this game up as one of those clunkers, but it will be interesting to see what Saturday night's lineup looks like — from the goal out.

Read more here.

Around the WCHA: Northern Michigan 5, Bowling Green 2 ... Ferris State 4, Lake Superior State 0 ... Alabama Huntsville 4, Alaska Anchorage 2 ... North Dakota 5, Bemidji State 1

Friday, January 12, 2018

Friday Morning Skate

Minnesota State will conclude its tour of Alaska today and Saturday when it plays Alaska. If you're looking closely at how the Mavericks have compiled their 16-6-0 record, you'll come across their power-play numbers pretty quickly. They scored six times with the man advantage last weekend and their success-rate is second in the country.

For more on the series, read my College Hockey Gameday feature.

For a preview from the Fairbanks side, including a feature on Nanooks sophomore Kyle Marino, go here.

ICYMI, my Tuesday column focused on the Mavericks' continued excellent road record, which, even after playing Alaska Anchorage, looks a lot easier than it really is.

In my College Hockey Notebook this week, I look at the fourth-ranked Gustavus Adolphus women's team, which is on a seven-game winning streak and faces No. 8 St. Thomas this weekend.

Around the WCHA:

Bemidji State vs. North Dakota: The Beavers are playing their biggest nonconference series of the year when they take on the Fighting Hawks. Players are, of course, excited about the opportunity to play the Fighting Sioux. BSU defenseman Zach Whitecloud is drawing a lot of interest from NHL teams.

Bowling Green at Northern Michigan: This should be a good series in Marquette between the second-place Falcons and third-place Wildcats. Just three points separate the two teams in the standings. Bowling Green has won four games in a row, its longest streak of the season. Northern Michigan, meanwhile, is back from break-even weekend in Las Vegas.

Ferris State at Lake Superior State: These are two teams that are trying to get going, sitting in eighth and ninth place, respectively. Remember: the bottom two teams in the WCHA don't make the playoffs, so this series could give the Bulldogs some breathing room or leapfrog the Lakers over Ferris.

Alabama Huntsville at Alaska Anchorage: Somewhere along the Denali highway, I'll bet, Huntsville's bus met Minnesota State's going in opposite directions. The Chargers split at Alaska last week and are hoping for a winning week in Alaska. The Seawolves, meanwhile, are still looking for their first home win of the year and their second overall.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Brickley named Defensive Player of the Week

For the fourth time this season, Minnesota State's Daniel Brickley was named WCHA Defensive Player of the Week, this time for his four-point weekend in the Mavericks' sweep at Alaska Anchorage.

The junior defenseman had a goal and three assists in the series, along with 10 shots on goal, and was a plus-3. He had two assists in Friday's 5-2 win and the game-winning goal and an assist in Saturday's 4-1 victory.

Other WCHA awards this week went to: Bemidji State senior forward Kyle Bauman (offensive), BSU senior goalie Michael Bitzer (defensive) and Bowling Green freshman forward Connor Ford (rookie). Read more about them here.

For more about the Mavericks' sweep at Anchorage over the weekend, read my Free Press column about the difficulty of pulling that off, even against a one-win team.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Mavericks down one, up one

Ranking teams in opinion polls is not a scientific process, especially when teams are bunched together and there are sweeps and splits among some of the better teams. So, after Minnesota State's sixth and seventh win in eight games, a sweep at lowly Alaska Anchorage but a sweep nonetheless, the Mavericks dropped a spot to No. 8 in the latest USCHO poll and went up a spot to No. 6 in the USA Today/USA Hockey rankings.

Just a curious thing. Here's the USCHO poll (which I vote on and the AP uses for rankings):

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

   Team             (First Place)    Record   Pts  Last Week
 1 Notre Dame                (40)   18- 3-1   988     2
 2 St. Cloud State           ( 6)   13- 3-3   932     1
 3 Clarkson                  ( 3)   16- 3-1   916     3
 4 Cornell                   ( 1)   13- 2-0   855     5
 5 Denver                           12- 6-4   773     4
 6 Ohio State                       14- 4-4   707     8
 7 North Dakota                     11- 6-5   690     6
 8 Minnesota State                  16- 6-0   689     7
 9 Minnesota                        13-10-1   572    10
10 Northeastern                     12- 5-3   543     9
11 Providence                       14- 7-1   539    11
12 Western Michigan                 11- 8-1   440    12
13 Penn State                       12- 7-3   429    14
14 Bowling Green                    12- 6-6   244    19
15 Minnesota Duluth                  9- 9-3   228    16
16 Boston College                   10- 8-3   205    13
17 Omaha                            10- 9-1   187    18
18 Wisconsin                        10-10-3   173    15
19 Colgate                           9- 7-4    99    17
20 Maine                            11- 7-1    78    NR
20 Miami                             9- 9-2    78    NR

Others receiving votes: UMass Lowell 66, Harvard 16,
Michigan Tech 12, New Hampshire 11, Union 8, Bemidji State
6, Canisius 6, Colorado College 6, Niagara 3, Northern
Michigan 1.

Also, Bowling Green made a big jump to No. 14 from No. 19, which has lost just once in its last 10 games and has won four straight, including a sweep at Ferris State over the weekend.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Mavericks 4, Seawolves 1

Freddy's three thoughts (from afar):

1. More power: After scoring three power-play goals on Friday, the Mavericks added three more on Saturday to take control of the game. Jake Jaremko, Daniel Brickley and Marc Michaelis scored the PPGs, with the latter two getting assists as well. Minnesota State finished 6 for 12 on the power play against the Seawolves for the weekend, and impress percentage against any team.

2. Suess still going: With a short-handed goal to make it 4-1, C.J. Suess extended his point-scoring streak to eight games. In that stretch, Suess has nine goals and four assists. He now has 29 points in 22 games, failing to score in just four of MSU's games. Parker Tuomie also extended his point streak to eight games with two assists. He had a five-point weekend against Anchorage.

3. One-sided game: Friday's 5-2 win was probably closer than the score indicated, considering the Mavericks had to come from behind in the third period. Saturday's 4-1 victory wasn't that close. MSU outshot Anchorage 46-11, including a 20-2 thumping in the third period. That made for a relatively easy night for goalie Connor LaCouvee, who got his 10th win of the season and lowered his goals-against average to 1.94.

Read my game story with some Mike Hastings quotes here.

Around the WCHA: Bowling Green 6, Ferris State 3 ... Bemidji State 6, Lake Superior State 3 ... Alabama Huntsville 3, Alaska 1 ... Northern Michigan 3, Boston College 3 (OT) ... Arizona State 3, Michigan Tech 2

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Mavericks 5, Seawolves 2

Freddy's three thoughts (from afar):

1. Crisis averted: The Mavericks trailed 1-0 after one period and 2-1 early in the third after giving up a short-handed goals. Seemed like, despite a lopsided shot advantage, it was going to be one of those games. But MSU came to life big-time in the third period, scoring four unanswered goals to pull away from the one-win Seawolves. C.J. Suess scored two of the goals, the game-winner and an empty-netter to continue his torrid pace. He now has 28 points, including 12 goals, in 21 games.

2. Powerful stuff: Minnesota State scored three power-play goals, one each from Parker Tuomie, Jake Jaremko and Ian Scheid. They finished 3 for 7 with the man advantage, although did give up the shorty. Daniel Brickley had two assists on the power play, and Scheid also had a power-play assist. Anchorage also had a power-play goal, one that gave it its 1-0 lead. Scheid, a defenseman, and Tuomie each have five power-play goals this season, leading the Mavericks.

3. Gerads returns: Mavericks freshman Dallas Gerads returned to the lineup after missing two games after the nasty elbow to the head against Alabama Huntsville. Didn't hear his name much in the third period on the radio call (the WCHA.tv feed was out), but the fact that he was on the line chart again was encouraging. The box score had him with three shots on goal, playing on the fourth line with Jerad Spooner and Max Coatta.

Around the WCHA: Bemidji State 3, Lake Superior State 0 ... Alaska 3, Alabama Huntsville 2 ... Michigan Tech 4, Boston College 3 ... Arizona State 7, Northern Michigan 3

Friday, January 5, 2018

Friday Morning Skate

Minnesota State is in Alaska for the next two weekends and hope to have a better result than the last time they played back to back series there.

The seventh-ranked Mavericks will begin the road swing with one-win Alaska Anchorage — you can read more about the matchup in the College Hockey Gameday feature — before going to Fairbanks. In total, they will spend 11 nights in Alaska.

The games are the first for the Seawolves since Dec. 15-16 when they played at Bemidji State, and, according to the linked story, their lineup will look slightly different than it did then.

In other WCHA action this weekend ...

Bemidji State at Lake Superior State: The Beavers will try to extend their unbeaten streak to eight or even nine games when they play the Lakers, who are coming off a third-place finish in Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Classic.

Alabama Huntsville at Alaska: The Chargers are also making the two-weekend Alaska trip, starting in Fairbanks. The Nanooks are playing at home for the first time since Thanksgiving.

Bowling Green at Ferris State: The Falcons, fresh off their Great Lakes Invitational championship and ranked 19th in the polls, will play a Saturday-Sunday series in Big Rapids. The Bulldogs are trying to break a three-game losing streak but are 5-3-0 at home.

Michigan Tech and Northern Michigan at the Ice Vegas Invitational: The Huskies and Wildcats are in Las Vegas and will start the tournament today against Boston College and Arizona State, respectively.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Suess, Jaremko honored

The WCHA on Thursday named Minnesota State senior C.J. Suess and freshman Jake Jaremko as its Offensive Player of the Month and Rookie of the Month, respectively, for December

Suess, who leads the conference in scoring with 26 points, had six goals and four assists in six games. The Mavericks went 5-1-0 in those games against Lake Superior State, Alabama Huntsville and Northern Michigan. Suess, who moved up to No. 9 on MSU's Division I-era scoring list with 110 points, is on a six-game point streak heading into this weekend's series at Alaska Anchorage.

Jaremko, the top-scoring rookie in the country, had two goals and six assists in the last month to earn the WCHA's award for the second month in a row. Jaremko had his 10-game point streak snapped on Saturday but compiled 17 points in that stretch of games.

The league's other award winners were Northern Michigan's Jordan Klimek (defensive) and Michigan Tech's Robbie Beydoun (goaltender).

Gustie grad going to Olympics

ICYMI, I did a story on former Gustavus Adolphus player Marissa Brandt for Wednesday's paper. She is going to the Olympics to play hockey for the South Korean National Team. Brandt, who wears the name Yoon Jung Park on her jersey, was born in Seoul but adopted by a Minnesota couple when she was 4 months old.

The story of Brandt and her sister Hannah, who will be skating for Team USA, has been chronicled many times over the last few months (including this story by the Associated Press), but I was able to spend a few minutes talking to her on Tuesday prior to her team's exhibition game against Minnesota State.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Mavericks stay at 7th

Minnesota State stayed at No. 7 in the USCHO rankings, which came out on Tuesday after a week break. The Mavericks went 3-1-0 since the last poll came out, sweeping Alabama Huntsville and splitting with Northern Michigan, all in Mankato, to improve to 14-6-0. Only No. 2 Notre Dame (16) and No. 3 Clarkson (15) have more victories.

Bowling Green moved into the rankings for the first time, coming in at No. 19 after its win over Michigan on Monday. Northern Michigan and Michigan Tech are also receiving votes.

Minnesota State also remained seventh in the newest USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine rankings.

USCHO.com Division I Men's Poll
Minneapolis, Minn./January 02, 2018

   Team             (First Place)    Record   Pts  Last Week
 1 St. Cloud State           (33)   12- 2-3   970     1
 2 Notre Dame                (14)   16- 3-1   936     3
 3 Clarkson                  ( 1)   15- 3-1   898     4
 4 Denver                    ( 1)   11- 5-4   826     2
 5 Cornell                   ( 1)   11- 2-0   823     5
 6 North Dakota                     10- 5-5   766     6
 7 Minnesota State                  14- 6-0   687     7
 8 Ohio State                       12- 4-4   647     9
 9 Northeastern                     11- 5-2   595     8
10 Minnesota                        12- 9-1   527    10
11 Providence                       12- 7-1   508    11
12 Western Michigan                 11- 8-1   456    12
13 Boston College                   10- 7-2   376    14
14 Penn State                       11- 7-2   325    15
15 Wisconsin                        10- 9-2   319    13
16 Minnesota Duluth                  9- 9-3   222    17
17 Colgate                           8- 6-4   164    18
18 Omaha                             9- 8-1   118    NR
19 Bowling Green                     9- 6-6    88    NR
20 New Hampshire                     9- 9-1    54    16

Others receiving votes: Canisius 39, Miami 38, Maine 21,
Northern Michigan 20, Colorado College 19, Union 17, UMass
Lowell 16, Boston University 6, Massachusetts 6, Michigan
Tech 6, Michigan 4, Bentley 3.