Monday, May 20, 2019

Sioux Falls, with MSU connections, wins Clark Cup

Photo courtesy Rylan Galiardi
The Sioux Falls Stampede won the Clark Cup as the United States Hockey League’s playoff champion on Friday night. 

The Stampede, which had four connections to Minnesota State, crusied through the postseason by winning 11 of 12 games. The team's MSU include alum Rylan Galiardi, an assistant coach (at left in photo), and three future Mavericks (pictured from left after Galiardi): forward Brenden Olson, goaltender Jaxson Stauber and forward Cade Borchardt.

Stauber was named the Clark Cup’s Most Valuable Player, going 11-1 with an impressive .941 save percentage and 1.46 goals-against average in the playoffs. 

I had a chance to talk to Galiardi on Monday morning, and a column about the Stampede's win and a few future Mavs will post online later tonight on The Free Press' website.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Mavericks announce team awards

On Monday, Minnesota State announced its team award winners for the 2018-19 season. Here they are, along with my own comments (or how I would have voted if I had a vote):

Most valuable player: Marc Michaelis. Michaelis led the Mavericks with 19 goals and 42 points, playing in all 42 games. He was plus-22 and had nine power-play goals and two short-handed goals. 

Comment: No argument here. Michaelis was the top producer on a very balanced team. He also moved from wing to center this season and handled the faceoff and defensive duties with aplomb.

Most improved player: Charlie Gerard. Gerard had 30 points, mostly playing on the top line with Michaelis and Parker Tuomie. That was a 25-point improvement from the previous season. He led MSU with 111 shots on goal and four game-winners.

Comment: Gerard probably would have been my choice, too, although defenseman Jack McNeely at plus-27 would have been a very close second. This is where I usually note if the award is for most-improved from one year to the next or most-improved over the course of a season. Gerard and McNeely the former description. Walker Duehr and even Josh French deserved votes, too.

Unsung player: Edwin Hookenson. Hookenson played in all 42 games, had 10 points, was plus-13 and, most impressively, was second in the country with 97 blocked shots. 

Comment: The Mavericks' defensive corps was excellent throughout, even though Connor Mackey and Ian Scheid got many of the accolades because of their point production. Hookenson, Riese Zmolek and McNeely all would be deserving of this award.

Hardest worker: Max Coatta. Coatta won this award for the third year in a row. The only senior to regularly play this season, he had eight goals and 15 points in 33 games, missing time with a knee injury. 

Comment: To win this three years in a row is impressive. There might have been some close competition this year, though, with Nick Rivera and Jared Spooner. Rivera might have gotten my vote, but that's no knock on Mighty Max.

Don Brose Leadership Award: Coatta. Coatta was the lone senior in the everyday lineup and one of the team's three captains. He was also a second-year captain. 

Comment: I don't see too much behind the scenes, so I'll trust the players and coaches on this one. But from what I have seen, Coatta is a strong leader and is very respected by everyone. Right now, there's just one hole to fill in next year's lineup, but it's a big one.

Three-Star Award: Parker Tuomie. Tuomie wins this based on three-stars-of-the-game voting at each home game. Tuomie also won this in 2017. He finished the season with 40 points in 36 games, leading MSU with 26 assists.

Comment: This is not a voted-upon award, but Tuomie often plays like a star when the lights go on. He and Michaelis should be fun to watch as seniors next year.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Mavericks' 2019-20 schedule is out

Minnesota State and the WCHA put out the schedule for next season, which is great, because it's never too early to start planning your fall and winter weekends.

Perhaps the biggest news of the schedule is that MSU has opted to start its Saturday-night games at 6:07 p.m.

"We made the decision on the move to an earlier start time on Saturday after a great deal of thought, deliberation, and discussion," athletic director Kevin Buisman said in a press release. "This is a strategy that has been effective in other markets and after consulting players, coaches, fans, event staff and other program supporters we decided to move forward with immediate implementation. I think this change will be particularly appealing to families with younger children and this is a demographic we need to grow as they represent the future fan base of Maverick hockey."

As we've known, the Mavericks will play nonconference home games against Arizona State (Oct. 11-12) and North Dakota (Oct. 18-19), and they'll go to national-champion Minnesota Duluth (Nov. 29-30) and to Minnesota's Mariucci Classic (Dec. 28-29).

They'll play WCHA home series against Bowling Green, Alaska Anchorage, Lake Superior State, Alaska, Bemidji State, Northern Michigan and Alabama Huntsville. And they'll play WCHA road series at Alabama Huntsville, Michigan Tech, Northern Michigan, Ferris State, Bowling Green, Alaska Anchorage and Bemidji State.

Here's a quick look at the schedule:

Oct. 5, Mount Royal (exhibition): As usual, the Mavericks will start the year with a preseason game against a Canadian college team. They defeated Mount Royal 7-3 last season.

Oct. 11-12, Arizona State: The Sun Devils, who are still looking for a conference home, were the surprise team in college hockey last year, making the NCAA tournament. MSU and ASU tied 2-2 at the Desert Hockey Classic with the Sun Devils winning the shootout for third place in the tournament.

Oct. 18-19, North Dakota: The Fighting Hawks will be in Mankato for the first time since March 8-9, 2013. Last season, MSU and UND played for the first time since then and split their series at Grand Forks.

Oct. 25-26, at Alabama Huntsville: The Mavericks will open their MacNaughton Cup defense when they go on the road to to face the Chargers.

Nov. 1-2, Bowling Green: An excellent home schedule to start the season continues with a rematch of the thrilling Sauer Trophy championship game. The Falcons will have a new coach in Ty Eigner after Chris Bergeron's departure to Miami.

Nov. 8-9, at Michigan Tech: If you're looking to finally make that road trip to Houghton (a bucket-list item for any college hockey fan), an early November weekend might be as good as any.

Nov. 22-23, Alaska Anchorage: The Mavericks play 10 home games in the first half of their schedule. We should know by this time how much the Seawolves have improved after last year's rough season.

Nov. 29-30, at Minnesota Duluth: Thanksgiving weekend in Duluth will be special for the Sandelin family as UMD coach Scott will face his son Ryan, who will be an MSU freshman.

Dec. 6-7, Lake Superior State: The Lakers made a big leap in the league last year and this weekend will return to Mankato where their season ended.

Dec. 13-14, at Northern Michigan: The Wildcats will look very different than the team the Mavericks battled with the last few years, losing some key players to graduation.

Dec. 28-29, at Mariucci Classic: This year's tournament will be an all-Minnesota filed with Minnesota, St. Cloud State and Bemidji State. The pairings have not been announced yet, but the hope is MSU will play the Gophers and Huskies.

Jan. 3-4, Alaska: The Nanooks will be the foe to start the second half of the season in which MSU has eight homes games before playoffs.

Jan. 10-11, at Ferris State: This will be the only meeting of the regular season between the Mavericks and Bulldogs. Too bad Ferris won't be in Mankato next season.

Jan. 17-18, at Bowling Green: The Mavericks don't have crazy road stretches this season, but back-to-back weekends at Big Rapids, Mich., and Bowling Green, Ohio, will be tough. 

Jan. 24-25, Bemidji State: That tough road stretch will be followed by the first meeting with the rival Beavers, who don't lose much from a solid 2018-19 season.

Jan. 31-Feb. 1, at Alaska Anchorage: The Mavericks are making just one trip to Alaska this season, which is never a bad thing. 

Feb. 7-8, Northern Michigan: The Wildcats didn't play at Mankato last year, so this should be one MSU fans will be excited about.

Feb. 21-22, Alabama Huntsville: Minnesota State's last regular-season home series will be against the Chargers, the team they begin the league schedule against four months earlier.

Feb. 28-March 1, at Bemidji State: The Mavericks will close out the regular season on the road. Will they be celebrating another MacNaughton Cup this weekend? They'll certainly be the favorite, but the Beavers should be one of the teams that's standing in their way.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Mackey, Michaelis to return

After checking out a story and a column wrapping up the end of the 2018-19 Minnesota State hockey season, it's time to start looking ahead to the 2019-20 season.

Talking to Mike Hastings on Tuesday, he said next year's focus can't just be on the end of the season and winning an NCAA game. It has to be on the entirety of the season in order to get back there.

“I don’t want to lose sight about the season we had because of the way it ended,” Hastings said. “We have to keep building."

One thing that will help is it appears that the Mavericks will have back the vast majority of the team that won 32 games and two WCHA championships.

Hastings confirmed a report that sophomore defenseman Connor Mackey plans to return to MSU for his junior year even though he had interest from NHL teams. This was first reported here:
And center and leading scorer Marc Michaelis, who also had pro interest, told the coach he is planning to return for his senior season.

With Max Coatta being the only lineup regular who is graduating and a good-sized freshman class coming in, it will be interesting to see how the roster shapes up next year. 

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Friars 6, Mavericks 3

Freddy's three thoughts of the game ...

1. Another NCAA disappointment: The Mavericks keep finding new ways to not win in the national tournament, this time jumping out to a 3-0 lead and somehow giving up six unanswered goals, including four power-play goals. That's just not the way this MSU team had done business this year. They had protected leads, killed penalties and won close games. The 11:08 mark of the first period seems like weeks ago. If the Mavericks did have a wart this season it was a penchant for taking some third-period penalties, and Connor Mackey's major for a hit to the head (called after video review) in a 3-3 game was a killer. "Tonight, I thought the one thing that turned the game was a penalty," coach Mike Hastings said, comparing the defeat to last year's 3-2 OT loss to Minnesota Duluth. "As a coach, I’ve got to manage that situation a little bit better."

2. Super start: The Mavericks' quick start was not a fluke. The first goal was a beauty, staring with Wyatt Aamodt's hard body check to jar the puck, Marc Michaelis picking it up to create a 2-on-1 with Parker Tuomie, Tuomie shooting and Charlie Gerard putting back the rebound. Thirty seconds later, Jake Jaremko found his way to the left post, forgotten by the Providence defense, and took a perfect cross-ice pass from Reggie Lutz for the 2-0 lead. Then Nick Rivera turned a turnover into the third goal, stuffing the puck through the goalie's legs. The Mavericks were forcing the issue, and the Friars didn't have an answer. Minnesota State appeared to take a 4-1 lead with 40 seconds left in the first period on another Gerard goal, but the play was ruled offside after review.

3. Looking forward (and backward): The game was the last as a Maverick for Max Coatta. He played 148 career games and scored 52 points. Coatta and just two other seniors, scratches Alec Vanko and Ryan Schwalbe, will graduate from the program. Not sure if others will depart early to pro hockey, but there's always a possibility, right? We may know more in the coming days and weeks. If everybody's back, Minnesota State will again be the WCHA favorite and should be back in the NCAA tournament. While Saturday's results was shocking and disappointing, it shouldn't dampen an otherwise great season with 32 wins, two WCHA championships and one of the best games the Verizon Center has ever seen. Not too much, anyway.

Read my game story here and my fan feature here.

Around the WCHA: Minnesota Duluth 2, Bowling Green 1, OT

Live: Minnesota State vs. Providence

The No. 3 Mavericks will try to get their first Division I national-tournament win when they play the No. 14 Friars at noon at the Dunkin' Donuts Center. The game is televised on ESPNews. Follow along with the action below tonight's lines.

MINNESOTA STATE
6-Tuomie, 20-Michaelis, 9-Gerard
16-Lutz, 5-Jaremko, 12-Coatta
23-Rivera, 26-French, 10-McMahan
22-Gerads, 11-Spooner, 17-Duehr
15-Napravnik

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

29-McKay
32-Israelsson

Scratches: Berger, Bigelbach, Carroll, Galambos, Schwalbe, Vanko, Van Os-Shaw

PROVIDENCE
20-Bjorkqvist, 15-Wilkins, 12-Dugan
9-Duhaime, 10-Conway, 27-Thompson
11-Printz, 19-O'Neill, 24-Lemos
8-Tait, 26-McDermott, 17-Kavanagh
22-Sukumaran

18-Bryson, 21-Young
23-Callahan, 2 Desharnais
5-Mirageas, 3-Bunz

31-Hawkey
33-Mollot-Hill
1-Scannell

***


Saturday Morning Skate

Good morning from Providence where Minnesota State will play in the NCAA Tournament for the second year in a row. The Mavericks say they hope to use their experience to their advantage, whether that's last year's experience in Sioux Falls or this year's experience in winning close games. Nick Rivera, of course, is one player who can relate to both. Providence has experience, too, as the Friars are making their sixth tourney in a row and, of course, playing in their hometown.

Check out The Free Press' College Hockey Gameday for more on today's matchups.

The Mavericks and Friars are two good defensive teams, so goals may be hard to come by, the Providence Journal's Mark Divver writes, when they face off at noon (CDT).

College Hockey News takes a look at MSU goaltender Dryden McKay and previews the East Regional.

The tournament started on Friday, with UMass defeating Harvard 4-0 and Notre Dame edging Clarkson 3-2 in overtime in the Northeast Regional in Manchester, N.H. In the West Regional in Fargo, Denver beat Ohio State 2-0 and, in the day's big stunner, American International upset No. 1 overall seed St. Cloud State 2-1. It's the second year in a row that the Huskies were No. 1 and were knocked out by a No. 16 seed.

Here's today's schedule:

East Regional
Minnesota State vs. Providence, noon, ESPNews
North Eastern vs. Cornell, 3:30 p.m., ESPNews

Midwest Regional
Minnesota Duluth vs. Bowling Green, 3 p.m., ESPNU
Quinnipiac vs. Arizona State, 6:30 p.m., ESPN3 (streaming)

Northeast Regional championship
UMass vs. Notre Dame, 5:30 p.m., ESPNU

West Regional championships
Denver vs. American International, 7 p.m., ESPNU