Friday, October 19, 2018

Friday Morning Skate

Minnesota State and North Dakota are meeting again at long last this weekend in Grand Forks. It will be their first games against each other since 2013 and their first at UND since 2012.

The series is part of a challenging nonconference schedule for the Mavericks, one that includes Boston University, Minnesota and Minnesota Duluth as well. But that's the kind of schedule MSU wants to have in order to progress as a program, coach Mike Hastings says.

The Mavericks also have put themselves in a position where they're no longer an underdog against these teams.

Read more about the series in the Freep's College Hockey Gameday.

As always, Brad Schlossman at the Grand Forks Herald has excellent coverage. Today, he takes a look at the Mavericks coaching staff, all of whom hail from that newspaper's coverage area: Section 8 country in northwest Minnesota. He also has a video preview of the weekend.

Earlier, Schloss did a a three-part series on the formation of the NCHC, the conference North Dakota left the WCHA for. Read Part I, Part II and Part III.

Going around the WCHA slate this weekend, MSU-UND won't be the only WCHA-NCHC matchup. There are three others ...

Northern Michigan goes to St. Cloud State for what should be another good, early season test for the Wildcats.

Alaska goes to Denver, a series in which the two coaching staffs have close ties.

On Tuesday, fast-starting Bowling Green will host Western Michigan to finish off a series that began with a BG win on Oct. 9 in Kalamazoo.

Other WCHA games this weekend include Ferris State hosts Mercyhurst, and Alabama Huntsville hosts Arizona State.

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): 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.