Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Agism in college hockey?

College Hockey News had an fascinating story on Tuesday, discovering a controversial proposal being floated (somewhat secretly) by Big Ten schools to lower the age limit for incoming players. From the story.
The legislation calls for lowering the age limit for incoming recruits from 21 to 20 years old, or, more accurately, two years past the player's expected high school graduation date. Anyone enrolling in college after 20 years old, would lose one year of NCAA eligibility for each year.
Please click on the link above and read the story, as it is excellent work by Adam Woden and CHN. But the proposal seems to be a reaction to teams that have had success against those big schools. Minnesota State, for instance, has had success in recent years against Minnesota and Wisconsin and is a school whose players often come in with up to two years of junior-hockey experience post-high school.

Mavericks coach Mike Hastings said he echoes what Northern Michigan coach Walt Kyle said in the story and added this:
"I've always been a proponent that we provide the student-athlete and the student, in general, the greatest opportunity to become contributing people to society — academically, socially, athletically.

"If you're looking at trying to take a year away from someone who's trying to better himself, someone needs to explain to me the motivation for that. I though the goal was to provide opportunities for young men and young women to better themselves."
Several college teams, including Minnesota State, have brought in players who have developed as older players and might not have gotten a college opportunity otherwise. Casey Nelson on this year's MSU team comes to mind. Another is Rylan Galiardi, who tweeted this to me in reaction to the story today:
"If that rule existed ruing my career I don't think I would have ended up at MSU."

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Mavericks 2, Wildcats 2 (OT)

Freddy’s three thoughts of the game …

1. Power outage: What is up with Minnesota State’s power play? Going 0 for 4 on Saturday meant the difference in a tie vs. a win. Two of their power plays were on Wildcats majors in the second period, with the penalties overlapping and giving MSU a fairly lengthy 5 on 3, and two of them were in overtime. You can read comments about the power play from Mike Hastings in my gamer (link below), but the Mavericks have now failed to score a power play goal in their last five games and are on an 0 for 22 slump going back six games. For the season they’re 8 for 64 (12.5 percent).

2. Killer instinct: At the same time, the difference between a tie and a loss was the Mavericks’ penalty kill. Northern Michigan was 1 for 8 despite having two major penalties of its own to work with. That includes Teddy Blueger’s not-so-wise contact-to-the-head major/game misconduct that came with under 8 minutes remaining in the third period. The Mavericks killed that off to keep it a 2-2 game. (The Wildcats helped the cause by taking a minor penalty in the middle of it.) “We did a good job answering the bell,” captain Carter Foguth said. “There were a lot of ups and downs, and we had to fight to stay in it.”

3. Freshmen figuring it out: Freshman defenseman Daniel Brickley scored his first career goal, tying the game at 1-1 early in the first period. He has had a solid start to his college career. Freshman forward Chandler Madry made his college debut and ended up with an assist on C.J. Franklin’s goal, which tied the game at 2-2 early in the third. Madry got in the lineup as Zach Stepan was out with an undisclosed injury. Finally, goalie Jason Pawloski started his third game in the row and both games of a series for the first time this season. He is unbeaten at 3-0-2 and looking more and more comfortable in the net. “It was good,” he said. “The guys in front of me really played hard. I just gotta get that one extra save.”

Deep thought: After watching two tie games that were partially the result of one team’s (successful) defensive style, it might be time to spice things up in the WCHA with some 3-on-3 overtime to break ties. Give each team a point after regulation and open things up in OT for an extra point like the NHL does. Let’s see some goals!

Read my game story here.

Around the WCHA: Michigan Tech 5, Michigan State 4 … Bowling Green 4, Alabama Huntsville 3 … Ferris State 3, Alaska 3 (OT) … Lake Superior State 1, Bemidji State 1 (OT) … Penn State at Alaska Anchorage (late)

MSU at Northern Michigan — Game 2 live blog

The Mavericks will try to wrap up a three-point weekend in the U.P. when they take on the Wildcats in the second game of a WCHA series. The puck drops at 6:07 p.m. CST. Join the conversation or follow along below tonight's lines.

9-Gervais, 23-Blueger, 10-Knutson
15-Franklin, 26-Margonari, 19-McClure
24-Knowles, 16-J. Nelson, 12-Coatta
7-Cooper, 17-Huntebrinker, 13-Madry

28-Jutzi, 5-Foguth
11-Flanagan, 6-C. Nelson
8-Brickley, 27-Schwalbe


Scratches: Lewis, Mullin, A. Nelson, Schmeisser, Stepan, Vanko

10-Hanson, 20-Nowick, 15-Shine
29-Payne, 11-Sooth, 17-Siemer
22-Adair, 2-Purpur, 24-Diamantoni
9-Loggins, 19-Starzynski, 18-Paskaruk

14-Maschmeyer, 4-Frantti
40-Klimek, 44-Black
3-Vermeulen, 5-Trenz

41-Tolvanen, 34-Dun

Friday, November 20, 2015

Mavericks 1, Wildcats 1 (OT)

Freddy's three thoughts of the game ...

1. Well, that was fast: Friday night's game, which included a 5-minute overtime, ended in a cool 2 hours, 13 minutes. The first period, which had no penalties and no goals and just not a lot of stoppages at all, finished in about 25 minutes or so. And with the time change, I even have an extra hour of deadline time to work with. Why couldn't this happen for a 7:37 Central Time game? That first-period trend continued for the most part, with each team scoring a goal and each team taking two penalties. So there was that, Northern Michigan's defensive style of play and a sparse crowd of 1,334. Talk about a quiet night at the rink. Doesn't leave with much to write about either.

2. Time to get gritty: The Mavericks can come out of the U.P. with three points, but it will have to work harder to penetrate the Wildcats' packed in defense and get to rebounds and loose pucks. Dirty, gritty, greasy ... call it what you will, but that's what it will take to put a crooked number on the board and beat a tough freshman goalie in Atte Tolvanen, who has a goals-against average of 1.82 and a save percentage of .944 in seven WCHA games. "We felt like we did a pretty good job of puck possession," said Michael Huntebrinker, who led MSU with four shots on goal and made the pass that led to Brad McClure's goal. "But we didn't get the puck to the dangerous areas of the ice enough. We need to create more chances in front. We're not getting to the dirty areas."

3. New defensive hero: So much for my prediction of Zach Stepan staying at defense for the weekend, as he did down the stretch in last week's come-from-behind win over Minnesota. Stepan was the left win on the Mavericks No. 1 line (which was very good, despite not scoring, on Friday night). Instead, freshman forward Ryan Schwalbe filled in as the sixth defenseman and looked the part throughout the night. There was one third-period shift in which he was the last man back on a pair of low 2-on-1 plays and he found ways to break them up an keep the puck out of harm's way. He also had the second assist on McClure's goal. "I thought Schwalbe was solid back there." coach Mike Hastings said. "He did a good job with it."

Around the WCHA: Bowling Green 3, Alabama Huntsville 2 (OT) ... Ferris State 2, Alaska 2 (OT) ... Lake Superior State 3, Bemidji State 2, ... Penn Sate at Alaska Anchorage (late)

Minnesota State at Northern Michigan — Game 1 live blog

The Mavericks and the Wildcats will faceoff at 6:07 p.m. CST. Live chat is located below tonight's lines.

25-Stepan, 23-Blueger, 10-Knutson
15-Franklin, 26-Margonari, 9-Gervais
24-Knowles, 16-J. Nelson, 12-Coatta
7-Cooper, 17-Huntebrinker, 19-McClure

28-Jutzi, 5-Foguth
11-Flanagan, 6-C. Nelson
8-Brickley, 27-Schwalbe


Scratches: Lewis, Madry, Mullin, A. Nelson, Schmieisser, Vanko

10-Hanson, 20-Nowick, 17-Siemer
29-Payne, 11-Sooth, 24-Diamantoni
22-Adair, 2-Purpur, 8-Pierce
9-Loggins, 19-Starzynski, 18-Paskaruk

14-Maschmeyer, 4-Frantti
40-Klimek, 44-Black
3-Vermeulen, 5-Trenz


Friday Morning Skate

The Mavericks are playing for the first time since their big come-from-behind victory over Minnesota on Saturday night. They're back in WCHA play with a series at Northern Michigan. MSU is hoping to continue its solid start in league play, building off its 5-1 start.

Minnesota State junior forward Zach Stepan was one of the unsung heroes of Saturday's game against the Gophers, moving to defense after Jon Jutzi and Jaden Schmeisser went down after blocking shots. Stepan appears to be staying in his temporary new position for another week.

For more on the series, see The Free Press' College Hockey Gameday feature.

For more on the WCHA this week, see my and Jack Hittinger's USCHO column. And check out our weekend picks here (hope I fare better than I did last week!)

Speaking of Jack, here is a feature by him on Bemidji State goalie Reid Mimmack, who got a rare start last week.

In Bowling Green, Ryan Satkowiak writes about the Falcons trying to build momentum when they begin a six-game homestand.

In Anchorage, Doyle Woody features three Alaska Anchorage freshmen who are making an impact on the Seawolves' strong star.

It's an abbreviated skate this morning, as I'll be making the drive to Marquette. Be sure to check back later for pre- and in-game updates.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Mavericks add another recruit

Minnesota State announced a class of seven recruits when the early signing period began last week. 

Make it eight.

On Wednesday, the Mavericks announced that Edwin Hookenson, a defenseman from the Nanaimo Clippers of the British Columbia Hockey League, has signed for next season. He's the second defenseman in an otherwise forward-heavy group and is the only member of that class not from the USHL.

A 6-foot-0, 185-pound native of Lampman, Saskatchewan, Hookenson is in his third season with the Clippers. He has two goals and five assists in 24 games and is an alternate captain. Last season, he scored five goals and had 28 points in 58 games as Nanaimo won the BCHL's Interior Division regular-season title and advanced to the playoff championship series.