The Mavericks must love this cushy lifestyle of playing at home. Two weeks in a row without travel must feel like a novelty. Anyway, the 10th-ranked Badgers are in town for a set of WCHA games at Alltel Center. Both teams snapped losing streaks and went unbeaten last week.
Minnesota State likely will stick with its winners and go with the same lines as last Saturday against Minnesota Duluth. That means:
Coach Troy Jutting said after Thursday's practice that he like the way those combos worked together and matched up. We'll see if they work again against the Badgers.
Here are a few keys to the series:
1. Keep believing in the defense: As I wrote about in today's Free Press, the Mavericks are establishing a defensive personality, thanks to the play of goalie Mike Zacharias and solid play by defensemen like Brian Kilburg. MSU is not scoring a ton of goals, so they best keep the Badgers to two goals or less, a feat Zacharias has been more than capable of lately, with a 1.82 GAA that ranks 11th in the country.
2. Find that elusive third goal: Last week Jutting and his players talked about the lack of goal scoring in the WCHA this season and said you have to get to two goals. The Mavericks need to find a third this weekend. The best place to find it? On the power play where MSU has been shut out the last four games. Only three Mavericks have more than one goal.
3. Get the crowd into it: The Alltel Center may not be Mariucci Arena or the Kohl Center, but when there's an enthusiastic, almost-full house it can be a great atmosphere, as some of the Badgers recalled in today's Capital Times. "We don't take this team lightly at all," junior forward Ben Street said. "It's a tough building to play in. They've got a pretty hostile crowd and they work really hard." Said goalie Shane Connelly: "Any little momentum, that place starts getting loud."
That's all for now. See you at the rink tonight.