Friday, March 23, 2018

Bulldogs 3, Mavericks 2 (OT)

Freddy's three thoughts of the game ...

1. Another tough loss: Minnesota State is now 0-5 in DI NCAA tournament games. This one might not be as crushing as the RIT upset, but it was a tough one. The Mavericks got off to a great start, scoring twice in the first period, but they got nothing after that. They hit iron twice in the third period on great chances and had a flukey play in overtime when Nick Rivera's shot was stopped by teammate Brad McClure, who had been knocked into the net. "I felt the puck hit me," McClure said. "I didn't know if it was in or not." It wasn't, and a few minutes later the Bulldogs got the game-winner.

2. Check the tape: Besides the great start, something MSU hadn't had in previous national-tournament games, the Mavericks came out on the right side of a goal review. UMD appeared to win the game 55 seconds into overtime. But while it was celebrating, the officials went to the monitor and determined that goaltender Connor LaCouvee was interfered with. Remember when RIT got the reversal when a no-goal call became a good-goal call in 2015? Minnesota State couldn't capitalize with the new life, though. "Our guys did a good job going out and getting refocused quickly," UMD coach Scott Sandelin said, "and we were able to get the next one."

3. End of the line: The Mavericks closed out the season with their first and only three-game losing streak, with two of the games ending in overtime. Friday's game was the last for C.J. Suess (127 career points), Zeb Knutson (88), Brad McClure (91), Clint Lewis, Connor LaCouvee and Aaron Nelson. Seems likely that it will be for junior defenseman Daniel Brickley, too. The Mavericks will look much different next year, although they still bring back a load of points with Marc Michaelis, Jake Jaremko, Parker Tuomie, Reggie Lutz and Ian Scheid, to name a few.

Read my game story here. And my story on Air Force's upset of St. Cloud State here. I also have a story on MSU fans here.

Live: MSU vs. UMD, NCAA West Regional

Minnesota State and Minnesota Duluth will play in the second game of the NCAA West Regional at approximately 6:30 p.m. Friday at the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls, S.D., following the opener between St. Cloud State and Air Force. Follow along with the action below tonight's lines:

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

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


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

27-Tufte, 25-Krieger, 13-J. Anderson
20-Kuhlman, 22-Thomas, 23-Swaney
17-Young, 19-Richards, 39-Mackay
10-Roth, 26-Miller, 16-Exell

5-Wolff, 7-Perunovich
4-Samberg, 3-M. Anderson
21-M. Anderson, 6-Roehl



Friday Morning Skate

It was a busy day in Sioux Falls on Thursday, and there was plenty to write about in anticipation of Friday's West Regional Games.

The four coaches of the participating teams are quite close, and they had a lot of fun talking about that during their press conferences on Friday. I wrote about that as a main preview feature for the weekend.

For more from Thursday's events, read my regional notebook here, and to preview the weekend, my College Hockey game day here.

Minnesota State will start the tournament against Minnesota Duluth. Matt Wellens of the Duluth News-Tribune wrote about the very-Minnesota flare to the regional and previews more here.

St. Cloud State will play Air Force in the first game, and the St. Cloud Times' Mick Hatten writes about St. Cloud native Dan Bailey, who plays for the Falcons. He also looks at the ties between the coaches here.

The Colorado Springs Gazette has more on Air Force here.

There was a lot of talk of Don Lucia and his departure from Minnesota, of course, and the coaches were all asked about that (with many undertones about their own potential candidacy for that job). The Star Tribune's Randy Johnson tackled that story here.

The Athletic has more about the matchup between the Mavericks and the Bulldogs, as well as more about the praise for Lucia.

More regional previews here and here from USCHO and College Hockey News. And CHN also did a feature on the Mavericks' C.J. Suess.

Let's also not forget about Michigan Tech, which is playing in the East Regional against Notre Dame in the first game of the day today.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Greetings from Sioux Falls

It's practice and press conference day at the NCAA West Regional here in Sioux Falls, and I'll have some updates throughout the day on the Twitter machine and some stories that will be posted later in the evening.

As for today's coverage, you can read my feature on Mavericks senior and Sioux Falls native Zeb Knutson, who is back in his hometown for the biggest game(s?) of his career.

Minnesota State will be playing Minnesota Duluth, and Matt Wellens of the Duluth News-Tribune has a mid-week story on Bulldogs and their preparations for the regional.

St. Cloud State beat writer Mick Hatten of the St. Cloud Times has a story on defenseman Jack Ahcan today.

Locally, the Argus Leader previews the weekend, mentioning Knutson and other players who played here for the Sioux Falls Stampede.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Mavericks prepping for Sioux Falls

Minnesota State will leave Mankato for Sioux Falls after practicing today. The Maverick have had quite a while to get ready for the regional after not playing last weekend. It's been an opportunity to try and refocus on what went well during their 14-game unbeaten streak.

“Guys are fired up for sure,” junior forward Max Coatta said. “It’s been a little longer for us than most teams, sitting around waiting for the tournament to start. But guys are ready to go.”

Read more about their preparations here.

The Mavericks will practice at 2 p.m. Thursday at the Premier Center in Sioux Falls. That day's practices are open to the public. They will have press conference after that, and I'll have coverage of those events (along with those of the other teams in the regional) leading up to Friday's game.

Also a reminder that Friday's game is at 6:30 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN3, which is ESPN's web streaming service. The earlier, 3 p.m. game between St. Cloud State and Air Force will be on ESPNU. The regional final on Saturday is at 8 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN2.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Lucia out as Gophers coach

Minnesota men's hockey coach Don Lucia announced Tuesday he's stepping down from the program he guided for 19 seasons. It will be the second time in 33 years that the Gophers will be seeking a new coach.

"Somebody else should have an opportunity, too," Lucia said at a news conference with U of M athletic director Mark Coyle.

Lucia led the Gophers to national titles in 2002 and 2003. He went 457-247-73 with the Gophers and has an overall record of 736-403-102 over 31 years that included stints at Alaska Fairbanks and Colorado College.

Prior to this season, his teams won six straight conference regular-season titles, four in the Big Ten and two in the WCHA. The Gophers went 19-17-2 this season and missed out on the national tournament by .0001 points after the outcomes of six conference tournament games Saturday went against them.

Coyle said a search for Lucia's replacement will begin immediately. Early speculation includes current assistant coach Mike Guentzel; St. Cloud State coach Bob Motzko, a former Lucia assistant; and Northern Michigan coach Grant Potulny, a former player and assistant for Lucia. Even Minnesota State head coach Mike Hastings' name has been floated a couple of times. He, too, is a former Lucia assistant.

Lucia is staying on at Minnesota as a special assistant to the athletic director through June 30, 2019.

Read the Associated Press story here.

Monday, March 19, 2018

How the West is feeling

ICYMI, you can read my story about Minnesota State finding out its NCAA tournament fate on Sunday morning in my Free Press story here.

What about the other teams going to Sioux Falls? Here are their reactions:

SCSU receives No. 1 overall seed for NCAA Division I men's hockey tournament by Mick Hatten, St. Cloud Times

UMD endurs roller coaster ride to NCAA tourney by Matt Wellens, Duluth News-Tribune

Air Force hockey delivers surprising, inspiring ride to NCAA tournament, by David Ramsey The Gazette

Air Force learns place in unusual NCAA bracket by Kate Shefte, The Gazette