Saturday, December 8, 2018

Mavericks 6, Seawolves 0

Freddy's three thoughts of the game ...

1. First place: With the smoke cleared from this weekend's games, Minnesota State finds itself in first place in the WCHA standings, one point ahead of Michigan Tech, which split with Northern Michigan over the weekend. The Mavericks are now 14-2-0 and 9-1-0 in league play after Saturday's dominating performance and series sweep over Alaska Anchorage. Friday's game probably should have been a similar result, but UAA's goaltender and some bad puck luck kept things close until the end. Speaking of that, not sure why the Seawolves coach Matt Curley not only didn't start Brody Claeys in goal Saturday but didn't even dress him.

2. Terrifying top line: Minnesota State's No. 1 line of Marc Michaelis, Parker Tuomie and Charlie Gerard was back to its old self with seven points in the game. Michaelis finished with two goals and an assist, and Tuomie and Gerard each had a goal and an assist. Of MSU's 58 shots on goal, that group accounted for 15 with Tuomie leading the way with six. Tuomie now has 22 points (nine goals) in 16 games, and Michaelis has 21 (10 goals). Gerard has 14 points (6 goals).

3. Going deep:  As good as the top-line players were, the Mavericks' secondary scoring came through all weekend. Josh French scored for the second night in a row and now has four goals (remember: he had just one total in his first two seasons), and Shane McMahan scored his first career goal. That comes a night after Alec Vanko, French and Walker Duehr scored (along with Jared Spooner), and in a weekend in which No. 2 center Jake Jaremko missed both games with an illness. "Other guys getting in on the scoring is helpful; it takes some of the weight off Michaelis' line," said Nick Rivera, who had two assists Saturday and three in the series.

Read my game story here.

Around the WCHA: Bowling Green 4, Ferris State 3 (OT) ... Michigan Tech 3, Northern Michigan 1 ... Alabama Huntsville 4, Bemidji State 1

Programming note: No postgame video tonight, as I'm a little under the weather all of a sudden, and you don't want to watch me sneeze for 15 minutes in a row. Sorry about that. 

Minnesota State vs. Alaska Anchorage, Game 2

The Mavericks will go for the series sweep tonight when they play the Seawolves at the Verizon Center. Here are tonight's lines:

MINNESOTA STATE
6-Tuomie, 20-Michaelis, 9-Gerard
15-Napravnik, 11-Spooner, 12-Coatta
23-Rivera, 26-French, 17-Duehr
16-Lutz, 10-McMahan, 21-Vanko
22-Gerads

2-Mackey, 3-McNeely
25-Zmolek, 24-Hookenson
4-Carroll, 18-Scheid

29-McKay
32-Israelsson
31-Berger

Scratches: Aamodt, Bigelbach, Galambos, Jaremko, Schwalbe

ALASKA ANCHORAGE
5-Golver, 12-Rygaard, 27-Luedtke
15-Schachle, 20-Renwick, 19-Mason
10-Sofo, 16-Erb-Ekholm, 29-de Graaf
26-McPheters, 4-Renouf, 3-Lane

7-Nicholas, 24-Hayes
18-Hiekkavirta, 8-Pears
21-Trinkberger, 23-Sinclair

39-Stead
30-Carlson

***

Friday, December 7, 2018

Mavericks 4, Seawolves 1

Freddy's three thoughts of the game ...

1. Rare goal: Read my gamer (linked below) for more on Alec Vanko, who scored what would stand as the game-winning goal tonight. It was his first goal in more than two years and it came in his third straight game after being a scratch for nearly two years. He's a guy who's stuck with things, even when he knew opportunities to play might be slim at best. Vanko remained in the lineup even as coach Mike Hastings mixed things up a bit more. Jake Jaremko (sick) was out, and Reggie Lutz and Shane McMahan were back in, and Dallas Gerads was the 13th forward/19th skater, a spot that Hastings previously used for an extra defenseman.

2. Tight game: Don't be fooled by the final score. It was a 2-1 game from 4:14 of the second period when the Seawolves scored until Josh French scored an empty-netter with 1:33 to play. Walker Duehr added a goal with 24 seconds remaining. "Give (the Seawolves) credit, they didn't give up," Vanko said. "The way they play, I give them a lot of credit, and they're going to be just as hungry tomorrow so we've got to be better with our game." UAA goaltender Brody Claeys, a 6-foot-4 sophomore, made some terrific saves to keep the game close. The Mavericks outshot the Seawolves 30-11.

3. Spoonful of points: Jared Spooner continues to impress. With a goal and an assist Friday, he now has 18 points, which is tied for second on the team with Marc Michaelis, who was held off the score sheet. Spooner also did an excellent job on the Mavericks' penalty kill in the third period with another good killer, Nick Rivera, in the box at the time. Credit Max Coatta for his play on the kill as well, as no shots got to Dryden McKay, and MSU was able to twice get the puck to the other end for some extended seconds as the penalty ticked down.

Read my game story here.

Around the WCHA: Northern Michigan 5, Michigan Tech 3 ... Bowling Green 3, Ferris State 3 (BG wins shootout) ... Bemidji State 4, Alabama Huntsville 0 ... Lake Superior State at Alaska (late)

Live: Minnesota State vs. Alaska Anchorage

The No. 3 Mavericks are back home after two weeks again and will face the Seawolves, who are trying to break a 10-game winless streak. Follow along with all the action below tonight's lines:

MINNESOTA STATE
6-Tuomie, 20-Michaelis, 9-Gerard
15-Napravnik, 11-Spooner, 12-Coatta
23-Rivera, 26-French, 17-Duehr
16-Lutz, 10-McMahan, 21-Vanko
22-Gerads

2-Mackey, 3-McNeely
25-Zmolek, 24-Hookenson
4-Carroll, 18-Scheid

29-McKay
32-Israelsson
31-Berger

Scratches: Aamodt, Bigelbach, Galambos, Jaremko, Schwalbe

ALASKA ANCHORAGE
5-Golver, 12-Rygaard, 27-Luedtke
15-Schachle, 20-Renwick, 29-DeGraaf
26-McPheters, 16-Erb-Ekholm, 17-Xavier
2-N. Renouf, 4-J. Renouf, 19-Mason

7-Nicholas, 24-Hayes
18-Hiekkavirta, 8-Pears
21-Trinkberger, 23-Sinclair
22-Buono

1-Claeys
39-Stead

***

Friday Morning Skate

The No. 3 Mavericks are back home after two weeks on the road and will face Alaska Anchorage in a series at the Verizon Center. Minnesota State went 3-1-0 on its road swing and now will try to remain unbeaten at home.

The Mavericks' defense has been very good this season. One reason for that is the number of shots the team blocks. Despite what you often see from advanced hockey stats, MSU blocks a lot of shots while also outshooting opponents by quite a lot. Often teams that block many shots are also giving up many more opportunities.

"Blockings hots doesn't take as much skill as will," coach Mike Hastings said.

The Mavericks are third in the WCHA with 198 blocked shots. Leading the way is junior defenseman Edwin Hookenson, who is tops in the conference and third in the country with 42 blocked shots. He's also really turning into quite the reliable defenseman.

"The first year (at MSU) was tough, being in and out of the lineup," Hookenson said, "and the second year a little bit of the same. So now it’s really nice to be in the lineup every night and contributing and playing a lot more minutes than I have in the last couple of years."

For more on the series, check out the College Hockey Gameday feature.

As for Anchorage, the Seawolves are looking to break a 10-game winless streak. They gave North Dakota a scare in their last game, falling 4-3 after leading 3-1 after two periods. They were able to practice at Sullivan Arena this week, although other athletic facilities at UAA suffered damage in last week's earthquake.

Going around the WCHA, all 10 teams are in action against each other this weekend for the first time this season. Here are the other matchups:

Bowling Green at Ferris State: The Falcons want to keep things going when they go on the road to Big Rapids with a three-game winning streak. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, are desperate to break a six-game losing streak.

Michigan Tech at/vs. Northern Michigan: Big home-and-home rivalry weekend in the U.P. between the No. 20 Huskies and the Wildcats, who haven't played a game in 10 days. Tech hasn't lost in WCHA play yet and holds a two-point lead over Minnesota State atop the league standings.

Alabama Huntsville at Bemidji State: The one-win Chargers are in northern Minnesota to take on their old CHA rivals, the Beavers, although that rivalry hasn't really carried over to the new WCHA.

Lake Superior State at Alaska: The Lakers will try to bounce back from getting swept by MSU in the Soo last weekend but are on the road to Fairbanks where the Nanooks, who are getting some good play lately from junior defenseman Tristen Thompson.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Mavericks 3, Lakers 0

Freddy's three thoughts from afar:

1. First shutout: Dryden McKay made just 23 saves, but there were a lot of tough ones, especially as he helped the Mavericks kill off five Laker power plays to earn his first collegiate shutout. He made 11 saves in the second period when MSU was called for four penalties. Not an ideal situation, especially on the road, and the rookie helped get his team through it. McKay also got his season save percentage over the .900 threshold. He's now at .909 in seven games (six starts).

2. Road warriors: The road sweep was MSU's first of the season. The Mavericks are now 5-2-0 away from Mankato, and 3-1-0 over these last two weeks at Bemidji and Sault Ste. Marie, neither an easy place to play. The Mavericks will be back home this week to play Alaska Anchorage before going on the road to Bowling Green. Unlike last Saturday, they had a good start to the second game, scoring in the first period (Charlie Gerard's power play goal) and getting timely saves from McKay, including a short-handed breakaway stop in the final seconds of the frame.

3. 20 for Tuomie: Junior forward Parker Tuomie had a goal and an assist and now leads the Mavericks with 20 points (8-12) in 14 games. His center, Marc Michaelis, had an assist after scoring a goal on Friday and has 18 points (9-9). Gerard, the right wing on that line, led MSU with six shots on goal in the game. "Those guys were good at both ends of the rink," coach Mike Hastings said. Gerard now has 12 points (5-7); he had 10 total in his first two seasons.

Deep thought: Shout out to the MSU women's team, which upset No. 6 Ohio State 3-0 on Saturday at the Verizon Center. Freshman goaltender Abigail Levy stopped 41 shots for her third straight shutout and fourth of the season. With the win, the Mavericks improved their unbeaten streak to five games (4-0-1). They have won four games in a row for the first time since November, 2010. Anna Wilgren, Megan Hinze and Brittyn Fleming scored goals, all in the third period. The two teams will play again Sunday afternoon.

Read my writeup here.

Around the WCHA: Michigan Tech 7, Bemidji State 2 ... Bowling Green 6, Alabama Huntsville 2 ... Ferris State at Alaska (late)

Friday, November 30, 2018

Mavericks 4, Lakers 2

Freddy's three thoughts from afar ...

1. Breakout performance: Sophomore forward Walker Duehr, who's played sparingly in a season-plus, made his shot count on Friday, scoring two first-period goals to help the Mavericks build a 3-0 lead and avoid back-to-back losses. The goals were the first two of the season for the Sioux Falls native and the third and fourth of his career. Connor Mackey and Marc Michaelis had the other goals for the the Mavericks. Dryden McKay, starting for the first time since Oct. 20 (although he did play most of last Saturday's game in relief) stopped 16 shots.

2. Lineup shuffle: Duehr was in the lineup for the first time in five games, as coach Mike Hastings made some lineup changes. Alec Vanko got in for the first time in two seasons, too, while Reggie Lutz took a break after his slow start to the year. While the Mavericks' red-hot top line stayed the same, the second group included Jake Jaremko with Nick Rivera Max Coatta, the third line consisted of Jared Spooner with Julian Napravnik (the lefty moved from right wing to left) and Duehr, and the fourth line was made of Josh French (back in the middle) with Dallas Gerads and Vanko.

3. Play 60: You can read some of Hastings' comments in the story linked below, but he did point out that his team still needs to play a full game. The Mavericks started strong with the 3-0 first period, and things evened out in the second period. In the third, though, they took two penalties and gave up a power-play goal that turned a 4-1 game into a 4-2 one late. The win did guarantee at least a split in the series, but the Mavericks should expect a push on Saturday as Lake Superior State has not been swept this season.

Read my writeup here.

Around the WCHA: Michigan Tech 3, Bemidji State 3 (MTU wins in 3x3 OT) ... Alaska 4, Ferris State 3, OT