Monday, February 19, 2018

McClure, Lutz honored

Minnesota State forwards Brad McClure and Reggie Lutz received WCHA honors on Monday for their play against Ferris State over the weekend. The Mavericks won 7-1 and 4-2, and McClure was named Offensive Player of the Week and Lutz Rookie of the Week.

McClure had three goals and an assist in the series, and Lutz finished with a goal and three assists, including a three-point game on Friday.

Michigan Tech defenseman Mark Auk was named Defensive Player of the Week, and Bemidji State's Michael Bitzer was named Goaltender of the Week.

Mavericks now No. 4

Minnesota State moved up to No. 4 in the latest USCHO poll this week after winning its eighth and ninth games in a row. The Mavericks are also fourth in the all-important Pairwise Rankings, and College Hockey News crunched the numbers and determined that MSU is one of six teams that are 100 percent locks to get in the national tournament. The Mavericks stayed fifth in the USA Today/USA Hockey rankings. Here is the latest USCHO poll:
USCHO.com Division I Men's Poll
Minneapolis, Minn./February 19, 2018

   Team             (First Place)    Record   Pts  Last Week
 1 St. Cloud State           (28)   20- 6-4   967     3
 2 Cornell                   (18)   22- 3-2   940     4
 3 Denver                    ( 3)   17- 7-6   878     2
 4 Minnesota State           ( 1)   25- 7-0   853     5
 5 Notre Dame                       22- 8-2   845     1
 6 Ohio State                       19- 8-5   695     6
 7 Providence                       20- 9-4   687     8
 8 Minnesota                        19-13-2   619    10
 9 Minnesota Duluth                 16-13-3   550    11
10 Clarkson                         19- 8-5   546     7
11 Northeastern                     19- 8-5   527    12
12 North Dakota                     14-10-8   499     9
13 Michigan                         16-13-3   355    18
14 Omaha                            15-14-1   345    13
15 Bowling Green                    19- 9-6   312    14
16 Northern Michigan                20-11-3   222    17
17 Western Michigan                 14-14-2   201    15
18 Penn State                       14-13-5   133    16
19 Union                            20-13-1   119    NR
20 Boston College                   16-13-3   114    19

Others receiving votes: Boston University 41, Harvard 18,
Wisconsin 12, Mercyhurst 10, Colorado College 5, Maine 3,
Bemidji State 2, Connecticut 1, UMass Lowell 1.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Mavericks 4, Bulldogs 2

Freddy's three thoughts of the game ...

1. Are you not entertained? Friday's game was an impressive, dominant performance, a 7-1 blowout. But when it was 6-1 after two periods, many in the crowd left. That wasn't the case Saturday. The game was tied 2-2 after two periods, and the third period was like a playoff game with good chances, good goaltending and, finally, a couple of big goals by the home team to give the nervous crowd of 4,579 (second-biggest of the season) a reason to cheer. Coach Mike Hastings noted the energy in the building and it was definitely there. The Mavericks now have a five-point lead atop the WCHA standings and can clinch the MacNaughton Cup with a win on Friday night against Bemidji State.

2. More on McClure: Some good details about Brad McClure in my gamer (link below), so no spoilers here, but he was the man of the hour on Saturday, scoring twice including the game-winner with 2:38 to play. McClure had eight shots on goal in the game and 14 for the weekend. His senior year hasn't had the point production of his freshman or junior seasons (29 and 28 points sandwiched around a 13-point sophomore year), but he's now up to 18 on nine goals and nine assists. "Honestly, I’ve been really positive in the whole situation," he said. "The biggest thing, you look at our team and our depth, how big it is for our 1-2 (lines) to produce, and when we get our 3-4 to produce, too, we can be pretty dangerous."

3. Number nine:  The Mavericks have the nation's longest winning streak at nine in a row now, the longest of the Mike Hastings era. Everything has to be in place to go on such a run. The scoring certainly has been there with C.J. Suess scoring big goals (he, like McClure, had two on Saturday), and Marc Michaelis had two assists. The defense has to be solid, and it was again this weekend, holding Ferris State to 20 shots on goal each night, two below MSU's best-in-the-nation average going into the weekend. And you have to have goaltending, too. Connor LaCouvee made some outstanding saves when the D loosened up a bit. He now has 19 wins, including all of them on the current streak.

Read my game story here.

Around the WCHA: Michigan Tech 5, Arizona State 2

Minnesota State vs. Ferris State, Game 2

The Mavericks will go for the series sweep and their ninth win in a row. Here are the lines for tonight's games. Live updates below:

MINNESOTA STATE
20-Michaelis, 15-Suess, 6-Tuomie
16-Lutz, 5-Jaremko, 10-Knutson
23-Rivera, 11-Spooner, 19-McClure
22-Gerads, 27-Schwalbe, 12-Coatta

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

37-LaCouvee
39-Pawloski
29-Nelson

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

FERRIS STATE
11-Lutz, 21-Mackin, 8-Dorantes
10-Norris, 22-Tackett, 12-Recktenwald
20-MacDougall, 9-Finner, 6-Fernsler
27-Tierney, 18-Szajner, 16-Andrew

26-Rutkowski, 23-Kallen
28-Hetz, 7-Killins
3-Clarke, 4-Yoder

35-Kapelmaster
1-Smith


Friday, February 16, 2018

Mavericks 7, Bulldogs 1

Freddy's three thoughts of the game ...

1. First place: Minnesota State is back in first place in the WCHA with an impressive performance at home over Ferris State. After moving two points ahead of idle Northern Michigan, they'll need five points over their next three games to clinch the MacNaughton Cup and have home ice throughout the conference playoffs. The win also improved the Mavericks' winning streak to eight games, their longest since rattling off eight in a row in the second half of the 2013-14 season. That streak was broken by a tie and ended up as a 13 game unbeaten streak that ended in the NCAA tournament.

2. Second period: The Mavericks dominated the middle period of Friday's game, outshooting the Bulldogs 22-8 and scoring five times to turn a 1-0 lead into a 6-1 rout. "We started staying on pucks and getting pucks deep," said freshman Jake Jaremko, who scored two goals in the frame. "We did a way better job of that in the second period as opposed to the first. When we do that, we can be a successful team." MSU scored twice in the first 2:03 of the period (sandwiched around Ferris State's lone goal) and twice in the final 1:49 of the frame.

3. Three stars: The Mavericks' big-time players sure came through, including three who could be league award winners in a couple weeks. Player of the Year candidate C.J. Suess scored a big-time goal that put MSU up 2-0 just 45 seconds into the second period. "He’s not getting a lot of points; the points that he is getting are very important ones," coach Mike Hastings said. "When he scores, they’re big goals. He’s doing a lot of things real well right now." Defensive Player of Year candidate Daniel Brickley had a goal and an assist and was plus-2. And certain Rookie of the Year Jaremko finished with three points.

Read my game story here.

Around the WCHA: Arizona State 2, Michigan Tech 1 (OT) ... Bemidji State 2, Alaska 1 ... Bowling Green at Alaska Anchorage (late)

Bemidji State clinched home ice for the first round of the league playoffs.

Live: MSU vs. Ferris State

Live coverage can be found 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, 27-Schwalbe, 12-Coatta

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

37-LaCouvee
39-Pawloski
29-Nelson

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

FERRIS STATE
27-TIerney, 21-Mackin, 8-Dorantes
10-Norris, 22-Tackett, 12-Recktenwald
20-MacDougall, 9-Finner, 6-Fernsler
11-Lutz, 18-Szajner, 16-Andrew

26-Rutkowski, 23-Kallen
28-Hetz, 7-Killins
3-Clarke, 4-Yoder

1. Smith
35-Kapelmaster

Friday Morning Skate

The Mavericks are back at home for the next three weeks, possibly four or five, starting tonight against Ferris State, a team they're playing for the first time this season.

I wrote about Daniel Brickley today and the extra work he puts in every week as he prepares to play. I have a feeling this won't be the last time I do a story about him this year.

One nugget I liked from talking to Brickley that ended up on the cutting room floor was about him practicing with and against his talented teammates:

"We've got a really good forward group, four lines up front," he said. "Look at C.J. (Suess) and Marc (Michaelis) and (Parker) Tuomie and Brad McClure, those guys are just killing it. … Those guys can really wear you down.

"I actually try going against our top line and I also like to mix it up and go with our third and fourth lines a lot. They’re hard to play against down low; they’ll grind you down. I think that really helps us."

As for the Bulldogs, they're playing for their playoff lives. They go into the weekend with a one-point lead and two games in hand for the WCHA's final postseason spot.

Ferris State is 3-10-0 in their last 13 games.

This is the final weekend of the regular season for the Minnesota State women's team, as well as the Gustavus women and men.

Going around the WCHA ...

Michigan Tech is playing a nonconference series against Arizona State, welcoming the Sun Devils to Houghton for the first time. The Huskies are four points out of a home-ice spot for the WCHA playoffs and could be knocked out of an upper-division finish this weekend.

Bemidji State, which sits ahead of Tech, tied Alaska 2-2 last night and got the extra point for the standings with a 3-on-3 overtime victory.

In Anchorage, Bowling Green scored three goals in the final nine minutes to defeat Alaska Anchorage 5-2. That kept the Falcons in contention for a second-place finish. The Seawolves cannot make the playoffs.

The Star Tribune showed Minnesota State some love this week. Also, this week's USCHO column focuses on Bowling Green.


Thursday, February 15, 2018

Early start to the weekend

There are three WCHA series this weekend and one one nonconference matchup. Games will start tonight with Alaska playing at Bemidji State and Bowling Green playing at Alaska Anchorage.

On Friday the other two series will begin, including Minnesota State at home against Ferris State and Arizona State at Michigan Tech.

In the games that begin tonight ...

Bowling Green is hoping to find a way to get the No. 2 seed for the conference playoffs, no easy task as it has to be perfect and get some help from the teams playing MSU and Northern Michigan the rest of the way. These will be the final home games of the season for the Seawolves.

Bemidji State could clinch home ice for the first round of the playoffs this weekend, while Alaska is finishing up a two-week road trip and trying to avoid slipping out of a playoff position.

Here are the current standings (conference games only), divided by current playoff position (top four get home ice in the first round, bottom two are out of the playoffs):

WCHA Men - 2017-2018 Standings
                       Pts  GP  W  L  T League Games remaining   
 1 Northern Michigan    58  26 18- 6- 2  2   
 2 Minnesota State      57  24 19- 5- 0  4   
 3 Bowling Green        49  24 14- 5- 5  4   
 4 Bemidji State        42  24 12- 8- 4  4   
 
 5 Michigan Tech        40  26 11-10- 5  2  
 6 Alabama Huntsville   30  26  9-15- 2  2   
 7 Alaska               29  24  9-14- 1  4   
 8 Ferris State         28  24  9-14- 1  4   
 
 9 Lake Superior State  27  26  8-15- 3  2   
 10 Alaska Anchorage    12  24  2-19- 3  4   

Monday, February 12, 2018

Nelson scores first NHL goal

The Associated Press
Former Mavericks defenseman Casey Nelson (center of photograph) has been getting a great shot with the Buffalo Sabres in recent weeks, and on Sunday night, he scored his first NHL goal. Here's some video and another picture of the goal:



 

In the meantime, we're still waiting for Teddy Blueger to make his NHL debut. Despite getting the call up to Pittsburgh last week, he was a scratch for both Friday's and Sunday's games. Maybe Tuesday?

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Mavericks 6, Chargers 1

Freddy's three thoughts of the game ...

1. Special team: After getting blanked on the power play and allowing one goal on the penalty kill on Friday, the Mavericks' special teams came to life on Saturday. They were 3 for 7 on the power play and held the Chargers scoreless on seven man-advantage changes to get the series sweep. Brad McClure, Marc Michaelis and Daniel Brickley had power-play goals. Zeb Knutson finished with two assists on the power play.

2. Suess' big weekend: C.J. Suess wasn't Minnesota State's points leader on the weekend, as he had two goals and an assist, but his goals were timely. He had the overtime-winner on Friday, and Saturday, scored a key goal to put MSU up 3-1 1:44 after the Chargers scored early in the second period to make it a 2-1 game. He and Knutson now lead the Mavericks with 35 points each.

3. Heading home: Saturday's game was Minnesota State's last road game of the regular season and, they hope, their last one until the NCAA tournament if they get there (they remain fifth in the Pairwise). They'll have a chance to leapfrog Northern Michigan and claim first place in the WCHA standings next weekend when they host Ferris State at the Verizon Center. (NMU is idle next week).

Read my gamer here.

Around the WCHA: Northern Michigan 4, Alaska 1 ... Michigan Tech 5, Bemidji State 1 ... Lake Superior State 2, Alaska Anchorage 1

Friday, February 9, 2018

Mavericks 3, Chargers 2 (OT)

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

1. Whew! The Mavericks were dominating from a shot standpoint, outshooting Alabama Huntsville 17-2 in the second period. They led 1-0 going into the third, though, and then gave up a pair of quick goals to fall behind 2-1. They found a way, though, with Marc Michaelis tying the game with 2:10 to play and C.J. Suess potting the game-winner 26 seconds into overtime. "For a lot of different reasons, that was really important," coach Mike Hastings said.

2. Killing time: Minnesota State took four penalties in the third period and fell behind on a power-play goal. They killed the next three, including nearly a minute of 5-on-3 time. Hastings singled out Edwin Hookenson and Riese Zmolek for their work on the penalty kill, which kept their deficit at just one goal and allowed them the chance to tie the game late. The Chargers finished 1 for 7 on the power play; the Mavericks were 0 for 6.

3. Keeping pace: As Hastings said, the win was important for a lot of reasons. One of those reasons was the Mavericks were able to keep pace with first-place Northern Michigan, which also won in overtime on Friday night. Minnesota State remains one point behind the Wildcats and still has two games in hand. The Mavericks also stayed in fifth place in the Pairwise rankings with the win. A loss would have dropped them a spot.

Read my writeup of the game here.

Deep thought: Gotta give a shout out to the Minnesota State women's team, who upset No. 5 Ohio State 4-1 at the Verizon Center on Friday. The Buckeyes have the top two scorers in the WCHA and were coming off a sweep of previously top-ranked Wisconsin. Lindsey Coleman scored twice, and Chloe Crosby stopped 35 of 36 shots.

Around the WCHA: Northern Michigan 2, Alaska 1 (OT) ... Bemidji State 4, Michigan Tech 2 ... Lake Superior State 3, Alaska Anchorage 2 (OT)

Friday Morning Skate

The No. 5 Mavericks are down south in the warmth of Huntsville, Alabama, to take on the Chargers in another important WCHA series. Minnesota State continues to get good play from its top six, but the bottom six have provided some sparks, too. And that's really important during the stretch run. The gold line (practice jersey color) of Josh French, Dallas Gerads and Max Coatta are bringing back memories of the Max Gaede-led group from three years ago. Hard-nosed but chipping in from time to time, too.

For more on the matchup, check out The Free Press' College Hockey Gameday.

In other MSU news, Teddy Blueger got called up to the show. He's expected to make his NHL debut with the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight. Also, Casey Nelson has found a regular spot in the Buffalo Sabres lineup, skating on the No. 1 D pairing with former Wild player Marco Scandella. Nelson played a career-high 21:47 on Thursday night.

Around the WCHA:

Bemidji State at Michigan Tech: It's Winter Carnival weekend in Houghton, and two teams vying for home ice will square off in an important series. The Beavers currently have a two-point lead over the Huskies for fourth place. Tech is going with a freshman in goal to start he series. Robbie Beydoun got a shutout last weekend in a split at Bowling Green.

Alaska at Northern Michigan: The first-place Wildcats will try to maintain their slim lead over Minnesota State in the WCHA standings when they host the Nanooks. Alaska is spending two weeks in the Lower 48, going to Bemidji State next week.

Lake Superior State at Alaska Anchorage: The bottom two teams in the WCHA are squaring off in hopes of sneaking into a playoff position. The Lakers are coming off a pair of shutout wins at Bemidji State, victories that snapped a four-game losing streak. The Seawolves have lost six in a row.

Bowling Green and Ferris State are idle this weekend.

For more on the WCHA, read the USCHO weekly column here.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Brickley "day to day"

Minnesota State defenseman Daniel Brickley is "day to day," with a lower-body injury, coach Mike Hastings said on Monday. The junior did skate on Monday and may be available for this weekend's series against Alabama Huntsville, which is good news for the Mavericks.

Brickley left Saturday's game against Alaska Anchorage in the first period after getting caught in an open door in front of the Seawolves' bench during a UAA line change and did not return to the game.

Brickley is MSU's minutes leader on defense and top D on the Mavericks' power play. He has 26 points this season, which is tied for second in the WCHA for defensemen.

In other MSU news Monday ...

• Freshman Jake Jaremko was named WCHA Rookie of the Week after his two-goal, two-assist series against Anchorage. He was also plus-3 for the weekend. Jaremko had 10 goals and 29 points this season, with his point total ranking second in the country among freshmen. You can see the other WCHA players of the week here.

• Minnesota State moved up to No. 5 in the USCHO and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine rankings, the same spot it's in in the Pairwise Rankings. The WCHA's Bowling Green stayed at No. 14, and Northern Michigan slipped a spot to No. 19 in the USCHO poll:

USCHO.com Division I Men's Poll
Minneapolis, Minn./February 05, 2018

   Team             (First Place)    Record   Pts  Last Week
 1 Notre Dame                (36)   21- 5-2   982     2
 2 Denver                    ( 8)   16- 6-6   927     4
 3 Cornell                   ( 4)   19- 3-1   896     1
 4 St. Cloud State           ( 2)   17- 6-3   867     6
 5 Minnesota State                  21- 7-0   779     7
 6 Ohio State                       18- 6-4   757     5
 7 Clarkson                         19- 6-3   735     3
 8 North Dakota                     12- 8-8   606    10
 9 Providence                       17- 9-4   567     8
10 Minnesota Duluth                 14-13-3   501     9
11 Northeastern                     15- 7-5   494    11
12 Minnesota                        16-13-1   491    12
13 Omaha                            14-13-1   366    13
14 Bowling Green                    17- 9-6   308    14
15 Western Michigan                 14-13-1   303    15
16 Penn State                       13-12-5   202    17
17 Wisconsin                        14-13-4   194    18
18 Boston College                   13-11-3   138    16
19 Michigan                         13-13-2   128    20
20 Northern Michigan                18-11-3   127    19

Others receiving votes: Boston University 44, Maine 37,
UMass Lowell 21, Harvard 13, Union 9, Bemidji State 4,
Mercyhurst 2, Canisius 1, Quinnipiac 1.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Mavericks get some help

Alabama Huntsville ended Northern Michigan's seven-game winning streak and eight-game unbeaten streak on Sunday afternoon with a 4-2 victory. That series split and the one between Bowling Green and Michigan Tech helped out Minnesota State in the WCHA regular-season race. The Mavericks are now just one point out of first with two games in hand on the Wildcats and Falcons.

Here's the top of the standings, and the teams' remaining schedules. Who has the advantage the rest of the way?

1. NMU 52 points  ... vs. Alaska, vs./at Michigan Tech
2. MSU 51 points ... at Huntsville, vs. Ferris State, vs. Bemidji State
3. BGSU 49 points ... at Anchorage, at Huntsville
4. BSU 39 points ... at Michigan Tech, vs. Alaska, at Minnesota State

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Mavericks 4, Seawolves 3

Freddy's three thoughts of the game ...

1. Nothing's easy: One night after a dominating performance over Alaska Anchorage, Minnesota State overcame being down 1-0 and a late charge that turned a three-goal lead into a one-goal lead. But the Mavericks hung on to win and sweep the WCHA series. "You gotta feel good about two wins, for sure," said Jake Jaremko, the freshman forward, who had a goal and an assist (and now has 10 goals and 29 points for the year). "Any time you get two wins in this league, you gotta take a step back and be proud of that." It was MSU's fifth win in a row, the first time this season they have been on that long of a streak.

2. Fresh faces: Jaremko is well on his way to winning WCHA Rookie of the Year, but the wasn't the only freshman to shine on Saturday (or the weekend). Dallas Gerads had a goal and an assist for a three-point weekend. "He’s a guy, who, as a coach, you appreciate because he doesn’t cheat the game," coach Mike Hastings said of Gerads. "He does the little things. He’ll play physical. He’s responsible with it. He’s not reckless." Rookie defenseman Connor Mackey did yeoman's work, playing extra minutes after Daniel Brickley was lost for the game an injury (read my gamer, linked below, for an update on Brickley). "I thought Mackey did a pretty good job coming in cold and having to step right into that role," Hastings said. Jaremko's rookie linemate, Reggie Lutz, finished with two assists.

3. Where they stand: Saturday's win guaranteed MSU an upper-division finish in the WCHA, which means home ice for the first round of the league playoffs. Obviously, they're shooting for a MacNaughton Cup. They're currently in second place (thanks to Bowling Green's loss to Michigan Tech), one point behind league-leading Northern Michigan. The Wildcats, however, do have a chance to extend their lead on Sunday, when they close out a series at Alabama Huntsville. Meanwhile, the Mavericks moved up to No. 5 in the Pairwise after the game.

Read my game story here.

Around the WCHA: Northern Michigan 4, Alabama Huntsville 3 ... Michigan Tech 4, Bowling Green 0 ... Lake Superior State 2, Bemidji State 0 ... Ferris State at Alaska (late)

Live: Minnesota State vs. Alaka Anchorage

The Mavericks will go for the series sweep against the Seawolves at 7:07 p.m. Saturday at the Verizon Center. Follow along with the action below tonight's lines.

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

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

37-LaCouvee
39-Pawloski
29-Nelson

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

ALASKA ANCHORAGE
21-Kozun, 11-Azurdia, 29-DeGraaf
10-Sofo, 95-Erb-Ekholm, 9-Butcher
76-N. Renouf, 67-J. Renouf, 28-Xavier
19-Jackstadt, 20-Renwick, 12-Rygaard

41-McPheters, 4-Johnson
7-Nicholas, 23-Sinclair
37-Trinkberger, 6-Brown

33-Mantha
1-Claeys

Friday, February 2, 2018

Mavericks 7, Seawolves 1

Freddy's three thoughts of the game ...

1. Total domination: When one team is vying for a conference championship and another has two wins, Friday's outcome is what's come to be expected. That doesn't always happen, of course, and the Mavericks still have another game in the series on Saturday night. But they definitely took care of business in the opener — and in pretty much all facets of the game. Thirteen players had points, including Zeb Knutson with four (2G, 2A) and Marc Michaelis with three (1G 2A). MSU was 2 for 3 on the power play and gave up one on its kill after it was already up by a touchdown and extra point. The Mavericks outshot the Seawolves 43-18.

2. Give the goalie some love: Connor LaCouvee had a shutout going until 7:33 remained in the game when the Seawolves' Alec Butcher scored a power-play goal. He won his 14th game of the season and, despite the lopsided nature of much of the game, came up big when he had to, making a huge pad save on a 2-on-1 when the game was still scoreless and withstanding a flurry midway through the second period. "There were a couple," coach Mike Hastings said of LaCouvee's saves. "Sometimes it's when, not how many."

3. The big five-oh: C.J. Suess scored MSU's seventh goal of the game, but it was a significant one. It was the 50th goal of his college career. "Fifty goals is a lot of goals," Hastings said. "That was pretty neat — a to see his teammates' reaction on the bench, just the genuine appreciation for him and being real happy for him. They were arguing on who was going to get the puck for him, which is pretty neat." Suess is the ninth player in Minnesota State's Division I era to hit the 50-goal mark.

Read my game story here.

Around the WCHA: Bowling Green 7, Michigan Tech 2 ... Lake Superior State 2, Bemidji State 0 ... Ferris State at Alaska (late)

Live: Minnesota State vs. Alaska Anchorage

The No. 7 Mavericks will take on the Seawolves in the first game of a WCHA series at the Verizon Center. The puck drops at 7:07 p.m. Follow along with the action below tonight's lines.

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

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

37-LaCouvee
39-Pawloski
29-Nelson

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

ALASKA ANCHORAGE
21-Kozun, 11-Azurdia, 13-Switzer
10-Sofo, 95-Erb-Ekholm, 9-Butcher
76-N. Renouf, 67-J. Renouf, 29-DeGraaf
12-Rygaard, 20-Renwick, 28-Xavier

41-McPheters, 6-Brown
7-Nicholas, 23-Sinclair
37-Trinkberger, 77-ANderson

33-Mantha
1-Claeys



Friday Morning Skate

The Mavericks begin the home stretch of the regular season when they host Alaska Anchorage today and Saturday. Minnesota State's goal over the next month is to climb back to the top of the WCHA standings.

"Obviously, looking at the standings now, they look a bit different than they did last month," said sophomore forward Parker Tuomie, whom I featured in today's Free Press. "Every team in the WCHA is still fighting for first place and for that MacNaughton trophy and I think that’s our approach all week. We know we have to get better every week and every day. We’re just getting ready for Anchorage right now."

For more on the series, read the Freep's College Hockey Gameday preview. My College Hockey Notebook takes a look at a partnership between WCHA teams and a concussion awareness organization. And, in case you missed it, my Tuesday column opines on the Mavericks' remaining schedule.

The Seawolves have struggled to win games this season, but no one's overlooking their Hobey Baker candidate, goaltender. "Olivier Mantha is one of the best goaltenders in our league," Mavericks coach Mike Hastings said.

Going around the WCHA ...

Michigan Tech at Bowling Green: This should be a good series between the Huskies and the Falcons. Bowling Green, which has won four straight, is led by Mitch McLain, a multi-award nominee, who the Toledo Blade's John Wagner featured this week. Wagner also has a blog post previewing the series. Tech, which is 4-4-0 so far in 2018 comes into the weekend more than a bit short-handed.

Lake Superior State at Bemidji State: The Beavers lost their first WCHA game since Dec. 1 last weekend with a split at Alabama Huntsville but have put themselves in the thick of the league race. The Bemidji Pioneer features freshman Andrew Miller, who is BSU's second-leading rookie scorer this season. The Lakers have won just one of their last eight games and are on the outside looking in the race to get into the league playoffs.

Ferris State at Alaska: The Nanooks currently hold the conference's final postseason spot but are approaching the final month of the season as if it is the playoffs in hopes of making sure they're in the tournament. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, are coming off a home sweep of Michigan Tech, their most impressive weekend in quite some time.

Northern Michigan at Alabama Huntsville (Saturday-Sunday): The first-place Wildcats take their six-game winning and seven-game unbeaten streaks on the road to take on the Chargers. They hope they can clinch a home ice for the first round of the playoffs this weekend. UAH isn't out of the running for an upper-division finish, and it's won three of its last five games and is home for the rest of the regular season.

In this week's USCHO column, Jack Hittinger and Sean Shapiro take a look at how MSU's return to league play after two weeks away might affect the final standings.



Thursday, February 1, 2018

LaCouvee is WCHA's goalie of the month

Minnesota State senoir Connor LaCouvee was named WCHA Goaltender of the Month for January, the league announced on Thursday afternoon.

The Qualicum Beach, British Columbia, native went 4-0-0 with a 1.16 goals against average, .937 save percentage and a shutout in five appearances in the month. He stopped all 15 shots he faced in backstopping Minnesota State to a 1-0 win over No. 9 Minnesota Duluth on Jan. 23 for third career shutout.

For the season, LaCouvee owns a 13-3-0 record with a 1.78 goals against average (which ranks first in the WCHA and fourth in the country) and a .915 save percentage. His 13 wins stands tied for ninth in the nation.

The first-year Mavericks netminder led the WCHA and ranked second nationally with a 1.16 goals-against average in January, while his .937 save percentage was a sliver off the league lead and was ninth-best in the country.

The WCHA other players of the month were: Northern Michigan junior Troy Loggins (Offensive), Bowling Green sophomore Alec Rauhauser (Defensive) and Bowling Green freshman forward Brandon Kruse (Rookie).