Saturday, October 31, 2009

Mavs-Pios, Game 2 live blog

MSU vs. Denver, Game 2 notes

Here are the lines and a few notes for tonight's games. I thought I'd put them here so they're available to look at. The live blog will be up as soon as this is done:




Murdock gets the start. No big surprise there. ... Canzanello and Thompson are out. Spoke briefly with Jutting and he did not indicate there was an injury issue with those players. "Trying to get better," he said.

Ostrow-Gifford-Vossberg (or Dewhurst)



Word is it took 35 stitches to close up the gash on goalie Marc Cheverie's leg. ... Murray was 0-2 in his first two starts this season.

More on the live blog coming soon ...

Backes to appear on 'Today'

Set your DVRs, MSU fans ...

Former Mavericks captain and Olympic hopeful David Backes will appear on the "Today" show on Wednesday morning as part of NBC's 100-day countdown to the winter Olympics in Vancover.

Backes is still considered a candidate for the U.S. team, but it's hard to imagine the St. Louis Blues forward won't make it if the USA Hockey is having him promote the sport.

Backes will be on a segment with former Olympic gold medalists Bill Cleary (1960), Mike Eruzione (1980), Jim Craig (1980) and Steve Janaszak (1980). It sounds like Backes will be giving Meredith Vieira some shooting lessons, too.

More on the event can be found here.

Pios 4, Mavs 3

Quite a hockey game tonight. Minnesota State probably played its best game of the season -- at least its best Friday-night game of the season -- but got no reward, falling 4-3. Austin Lee (31 stops) matched Denver star Marc Cheverie save for save until Cheverie (25 stops) left the game with a cut calf.

The Denver line of Jesse Martin, Matt Glasser and Luke Salazar had three goals, including two in a 2:02 stretch of the third period after Cheverie's injury to give their team a 4-2 lead.

The Mavericks' Eriah Hayes, who had a two-point night, made it a one-goal game with about eight minutes to play, but MSU' couldn't get the equalizer. Freshman goalie Adam Murray stopped seven of eight shots after replacing Cheverie to get his first collegiate win.

Rylan Galiardi and Andy Sackrison had the other MSU goals.

Shots were even 35-35. The only statistical difference was on the power play. Joe Colborne scored one for Denver in the second period but MSU went 0 for 5.

Here is The Free Press' story. The Denver Post story can be found here.

One correction: I had written earlier that MSU had a 10-game winless streak at Denver since 2002-03. It was eight games and now nine games (0-8-1).

Friday, October 30, 2009

MSU at Denver, Game 1 live blog

Friday morning skate (update)

Good morning. I'm at the MSP airport, waiting to head to snowy Denver (15 inches this week, according to the CNN report on the TVs here) for this weekend's series. I covered Mankato West girls soccer in the state tournament last night, so there's no full Friday-morning reading list right now. For more on that, check out Brad Schlossman's blog at the Grand Forks Herald (he linked to mine last week when that site was down, so it's the least I can do).

However, I will provide a few notes on this weekend's MSU-DU series. The Mavericks are 0-9-1 in their last 10 games at Magness Arena. Is it a small-rink thing? Perhaps, because, over that same stretch, they're 5-1-2 against the Pioneers in Manakto.

Meanwhile, Denver goaltender Marc Cheverie is riding a three-game shutout streak and needs to keep the Mavericks scoreless for 5:24 tonight to break the school record for consecutive shutout minutes.

A few notes on the Mavericks:

As of Wednesday, coach Troy Jutting hadn't decided on his starting goaltender. I assume he has by now. Both Austin Lee and Kevin Murdock are on the trip.

Forward lines will be: Louwerse-Galiardi-Stewart; Zuck-Harrison-Jokinen; Mouillierat-Sackrison-Hayes; Gaulrapp-Pitlick-Thompson. Defensive pairings will be: Boe-Davis; Youds-Elbrecht; Canzanello-Cooper.

Adam Mueller and Joe Schiller are also on the trip.

UPDATE: Apparently, the snowstorm shut down the DU campus, so they're selling student tickets for this weekend's games for just $5, according to the Pios website.

That's all for now. Next time you hear from me, I'll be in Colorado. Be sure to check out the live blog tonight.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

More on Smith's suspension

The Wisconsin State Journal is reporting that Craig Smith's suspension for his hit on Geoff Irwin was indeed handed down by the university and not the WCHA.

Just a little editorial comment by PucKato: I know the league prefers that the schools handle these suspensions. However, after Trevor Bruess and other late-season suspensions, it would seem in order to have a uniform review policy for such matters by the league.

You want answers?!?! 10.28.09

Getting an early start on this today because I'll be headed to Roseville later to cover the Mankato West girls soccer team in the state tournament before shoving off to Denver on Friday morning. Without further ado, let's get to your questions ...

From Nation:
Good to see Jutting sit some players that were not performing. .. What is the team that is going to Denver looking like with Irwin out? ... Starting goalie for Friday's game?

The more I think about it, I think Saturday's lineup change wasn't just about benching non-performing players (although Jutting did do that), as much as it was about putting in the seniors and issuing a challenge to them. He could have just as easily benched the senior leaders, in my opinion. Also, Ben Youds told me yesterday that Saturday morning's skate was a full-gear, full-contact hitting practice. Message sent and received. ... The lines are shuffled up a bit. I'll have them on the blog on Friday. ... As of Wednesday, Jutting wasn't ready to announce a starter in goal. Lee and Murdock are on the trip. I assume both will play, but in what order?

From Sam: Any chance we'll see Harrison on the power play?

Anything's possible, but he's such an important defensive forward and penalty killer that the power play is good time to give him some rest. They had to mix up the PP quite a bit last Saturday because of Irwin's injury and and other players not available because they were in the penalty box or in street clothes.

From Sam and LetsGoMavs and Jeff: I won't rewrite those long questions here, but they both had to do with the music played at the civic center. My thoughts ...

First of all, I love the "Ole" song. I think it's unique to the WCHA and has become MSU's song. Many an out-of-town writer mention it before and after a series. So go ahead and play it and play it loud after every goal. As for the other music, I'm old school, and I don't necessarily think that louder music during breaks pumps up the fans. In fact, I think it does the opposite. With some exceptions, it often drowns out the effort fans make to get into the game. I love good pep bands -- UM, UW and Michigan Tech have them -- but they have to be big and loud and into the game. But without that, I think the piped-in music needs to be, more than anything fun -- something that makes students and other fans get up and dance and sing and get into the game that way. Finally, Jeff, I think it would have been embarrassing for the "Ole" song to have been played before Saturday's game. The Mavericks didn't even score on Friday.

From LetsGoMavs: Has Jutting ever indicated why he's not playing Gaulrapp. That kid always plays with passion and gives 100 percent on the ice and I think he's underrated. Maks me wonder why Jutting has been sitting him, unless he get to play the role of the upperclassman that Jutting likes to make sit just for fun a la Tyree.

First of all Gaulrapp played very well last Saturday and will be in the lineup on Friday in Denver. I've always liked the spark and energy he seems to bring when he plays. As Jutting told me, he's a smart hockey player, too. Secondly, I think it comes down competition in practice. It's tight right now. There isn't a lot separating players, so I think the coaches have tough decisions every week. I'm not sure I can look through the lineup on a Friday night and say James Gaulrapp should be ahead of those who are playing. But if he were in, I'd probably say the same thing about that night's scratches. But he's in the lineup now and he has a chance to play well and keep his spot. What's interesting about Gaulrapp is, he played at Owatonna high school and then junior hockey there. I don't think he was brought to Mankato to be a top-line, everyday player. Yet, he's played in 81 games and has 23 career points. That's not bad. As to your final point, Jutting doesn't just sit guys for fun. Tyree? Really? Sorry, unlike Gaulrapp, I don't think you could have made a case for putting him ahead of many players that season.

From Joe: What's going on with Kael Mouillierat? He's scored one point in six games. Are teams gearing on him more? What are your thoughts on Justin Jokinen and Andy Sackrison's season so far? Is Tyler Pitlick going to be back in the lineup for the Denver series?

Yes, I think teams are more aware of Mouillierat than in the past. I'm stunned by his early lack of production. He is getting chances, though, and had some good ones on the power play last weekend. I'm not sure this will be the breakout weekend for him (on the road, at the No. 2-ranked team in the country, in a small rink), but, if it is, it certainly bodes well for MSU. As for Jokinen and Sackrison, both have shown flashes of brilliance this season, but it hasn't been real consistent and it certainly hasn't translated into a lot of goals. I believe Sackrison leads the Mavericks in shots on goal (forgive me; I'm doing this from home and don't have my notes in front of me) but has just one goal. Jokinen has one goal. They're going to need those guys to chip in more. Finally, Tyler Pitlick will be in the lineup on Friday.

From Nation: When is Mike Dorr eligible to play? Which series?

The way I understand it, he's becomes eligible when the first academic semester actually comes to an end. That is Friday, Dec. 11. Dorr told me he could then play that night at Bemidji State. I'll have to check with the coaches to make sure of that, but I would guess if you don't see him on the ice then, you'll see him somewhere in that six-game nonconference stretch in December and early January.

From Richard: Can you interview players or do a live blog interview like you do with the games during the week? ... Could a podcast be made of the Wednesday Troy Jutting show by the radio guys?

I'm always looking for ways to spice up the coverage and will consider that, maybe before a big series. As for the podcast, you'd have to check with the radio guys, but I think that's a pretty good idea. I'd certainly link to it.

From Purgolder: Will we see more of Cameron Cooper? He was outstanding in the Lethbridge game on the PP, PK etc. Enjoyed watching him become a solid D-man last year for the Mavs. He has more experience than some others seeing lots of ice this year so far.

Cooper is penciled in to be in the lineup on Friday. I never put too much stock into how guys play in exhibition games, but, yes, he did play well that night. I have been told over and over again that the coaching staff really likes all eight defensemen that they have and would be comfortable putting any of them in the lineup. It's not just about experience, though. Like I wrote about Gaulrapp earlier, about competition and practice. People with a lot more hockey smarts than I evaluate these guys every day and move them up and down the ladder. Right now, Cooper's in the lineup, but he (and others) will have to perform and not make crucial mistakes to stay there because Joe Schiller (who's on the trip) and Evan Mosey (not on the trip) are champing at the bit to get back. Theoretically, that should make everybody better.

From Zeb: Will Geoff Irwin be making the trip to Denver with the team?

No. The travel party is limited to 22 players and you dress 20. The two extras have to be healthy and ready to play Saturday if necessary. If the games were in St. Cloud or Minnesota, perhaps he'd make the bus trip, but he's not flying to Denver.

From Brian: Does Jutting have the team working extra on the power play in practice this week? The PP looked disorganized on Saturday, especially during the almost 10 minutes of PP during the back-to-back majors. ... Also what are your thoughts once Irwin and Wiley are back rom injury, putting them on a line back with Sackrison? They seemed to play pretty well as linemates two years ago.

The Mavericks spend a lot of time working on the power play in practice. Usually, the second half of Wednesday's practice is devoted to special teams, as is most of Thursday's practice. It's strange that they've had such a hard time getting it going this year. The No. 1 unit has just one change -- Tyler Pitlick for Mick Berge -- but it just looks discombobulated during games. As for the major penalties, there were a lot of different guys out there for the PP. Irwin was injured, Davis and Pitlick were scratches. When it started, Louwerse and Canzanello were in the penalty box.

Thanks for all of your questions. Be sure to check out the blog all weekend while I'm in Denver.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bruess rules in effect?

Wisconsin freshman forward Craig Smith will miss an additional game this weekend for his hit on Mavericks senior Geoff Irwin, the University of Wisconsin announced on Tuesday.

Smith received a major penalty and a game-disqualification penalty for checking Irwin from behind into the boards on Saturday night. The DQ comes with an automatic one-game suspension. According to the press release, the university gave him an extra game to "reinforce the learning experience."

"I know that Craig feels remorse for the incident," Badgers coach Mike Eaves said. "He will learn and move forward."

Irwin suffered an upper-body injury and will miss this weekend's series at Denver.

The extra game suspension has shades of last season when the Mavericks' Trevor Bruess received two one-game suspensions for what were called dangerous hits. The first suspension was called a decision by MSU and had approval from the WCHA, while the second came from the league office. There was no mention of the WCHA in the Smith release. Wonder if the league was involved?

UPDATE: Wisconsin State Journal hockey writer Andy Baggot is reporting that Smith's suspension came from the WCHA office.

UPDATE 2: The WCHA issued a press release from Commissioner Bruce McLeod, endorsing the suspension. "The WCHA fully concurs with the additional one-game suspension handed down today by the University of Wisconsin. We appreciate the university's initiative on this matter and their pro-active approach in creating a learning experience out of a difficult circumstance."

Monday, October 26, 2009

You want answers?!?!

We didn't have one of these last week, so it's time to catch up. Don't know the rules? Here goes ... Ask a question about MSU hockey, the WCHA or, really, anything else on your mind, and I'll put up a post later in the week answering your questions. I usually try to get to the questions by Thursday afternoon. So the floor is all yours ...

Irwin to miss Denver series

Mavericks captain Geoff Irwin will miss this weekend's games at No. 2-ranked Denver due to the upper-body injury suffered in Saturday's game against Wisconsin. Irwin, a senior forward, was checked from behind into the boards by Badgers freshman Craig Smith. The penalty was the first of back-to-back five-minute majors by UW that eventually led to MSU's game-winning goal.

Irwin and coach Troy Jutting both said they hope Irwin be able to return for the Colorado College series on Nov. 13-14 in Mankato. The Mavericks have Nov. 6-7 off after the Denver series.

Irwin, Jason Wiley and Brett Peterson did not practice on Monday. Tyler Pitlick, who missed Saturday's game with an injury, was on the ice.

Wisconsin's Smith received a game-disqualification penalty for the hit, meaning he will be suspended for one game.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Mavericks 3, Badgers 2

Well, that was more like what we're used to seeing in a Minnesota State-Wisconsin game in Mankato. The Mavericks cranked the "Ole" song back up on goals from Adam Mueller, Eriah Hayes and Zach Harrision.

Harrison had a three-point game to earn No. 1 star honors, and goalie Austin Lee stopped 31 shots.

The game-winning goal came during the second of back-to-back major penalties by the Badgers. Harrison, not normally a power-play guy, fired the puck behind goalie Scott Gudmandson after James Gaulrapp tracked down a puck that had been overskated by two Wisconsin players and fired it toward the goal. The shot hit traffic and kicked over to a wide-open Harrison.

"That was a gutsy, character win for us," Harrison said.

A few notes: There were some big lineup changes: Kurt Davis, Justin Jokinen, Evan Mosey and Eli Zuck were healthy scratches. ... Jason Wiley remained out with an injury, and Tyler Pitlick was also banged up. ... Gaulrapp was playing for the first time this season, and Brett Peterson played in a regular-season game for the first time in his three seasons at MSU. ... Peterson left the game with a knee injury in the second period. ... Geoff Irwin left the game in the third period with what looked like an upper-body injury on the first hit that drew a major penalty.

The Free Press' game story can be found here. The Wisconsin State Journal account is here.

Mavericks-Badgers, Game 2 live blog

Friday, October 23, 2009

Wisconsin 6, Minnesota State 0

No "Ole" tonight, and that was music to the Badgers' ears. Wisconsin dominated the game with a 40-19 shot advantage and scored their first-ever shutout of the very out-of-tune Mavericks. It was also the Badgers' first win at Mankato since 2004-05, snapping a 0-4-2 streak.

The Free Press game story can be found here. The Wisconsin State Journal story is here.

Mavericks-Badgers, Game 1 live blog

Quiet promotion

I'm not sure how I missed this, but there was no announcement about this ...

I was listening to "The Troy Jutting Show" on KTOE radio Wednesday night, and assistant coach Darren Blue was filling in for the head coach.

At least I thought it was assistant coach Darren Blue.

As they were going to a commercial, host Mike Sullivan said something like, We'll be right back with associate head coach Darren Blue. I perked up, grabbed my media guide, flipped to the coaches section and, sure enough, Blue was listed as the Mavericks associate head coach.

So somewhere between assistant coach Eric Means' departure to the head coaching position with the MSU women's hockey team, the hiring of Means' replacement, Todd Knott, and the announcement of Jutting's contract extension, Blue got a promotion. Blue, a former MSU captain, is in his 10th season with the Mavericks' staff.

What does it all mean? I'm not sure yet. I'll talk to the coaches and find out if and how his duties have changed with the new title.

Friday morning skate

Good morning. The Mavericks are back home tonight and will take on the Wisconsin Badgers in their first home WCHA series of the season. A couple of notes on MSU: Kevin Murdock will start in goal tonight. ... Freshman forward Eli Zuck will make his debut. ... Ben Youds will go back to defense after a one-game emergency fill-in at forward. Now, let's see what everyone's writing about this week ...

I write about Kael Mouillierat this week, who became a dangerous goal scorer last year (although he's yet to find the back of the net this year).

The Wisconsin State Journal has some good stuff about the series, including a fun look at the Badgers' troubles in Mankato. Here is the series preview. Meanwhile, it looks like Badgers injured forward Blake Geoffrion has been cleared to play tonight, and junior transfer Brett Bennett will start in goal.

All 10 WCHA teams are in action against each other this weekend, a somewhat rare event:

Denver at Minnesota -- The Gophers appear to be going to a goaltending rotation now, while the Pioneers have been battling injuries and the flu.

Minnesota Duluth at St. Cloud State: The Bulldogs' high-powered hockey firm of Fontaine, Connolly and Connolly will take their act on the road, while the Huskies currently are paced by an unlikely leader.

Michigan Tech at Colorado College: It's early but the Tigers might have figured out their future goalie already. The Huskies, meanwhile are coming off an early bye week.

North Dakota at Alaska- Anchorage: For the Sioux, even if it doesn't show up in the box score, There Will Be Blood, while the Seawolves, who have talent on and off the ice, appear to be getting bigger.

Here are weekend previews and notebooks by USCHO and INCH.

Don't forget to check PucKato later tonight for a live blog during the game.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Recruit news

A few items about future Mavericks:

Matt Leitner, a forward for the USHL's Fargo Force, was selected to the 2009 U.S. Junior Select Team that will compete at the World Junior A Challenge Nov. 1-8 in Summerside, Prince Edward Island. The event will also feature two teams from Canada and one each from Belarus, Russia and Sweden. Leitner was also named the USHL's offensive player of the week recently.

Through a handful of games, Leitner and Cedar Rapids forward Zach Lehrke are among the USHL's top 10 scorers.

Max Gaede, a senior forward at Woodbury High School, was put on the NHL's Central Scouting Service's early season Players to Watch list. He's listed as a "C" player, which puts him on limited viewing for scouts as a potential late-round draft pick.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Gophers-Sioux rivalry goes too far

An altercation between North Dakota and Minnesota hockey fans Friday night in Grand Forks led to an arrest and a hospitalization. Read more here.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Bulldogs 3, Mavericks 2

All in all, the Mavericks were better tonight, but penalties were a plague, as Duluth scored three power-play goals. The game-winner was a 5x3 power play with 7 1/2 minutes left in the third. Once again, the hockey firm of Fontaine, Connolly and Connolly did the job. Not only did they account for every goal in the series but they have 12 of the Bulldogs' 13 goals on the season.

Penalties are going to happen but there were two killers: Nick Canzanello's cross-check during a scrum that ended up being an additional penalty on an otherwise coincidental situation and Joe Schiller's roughing penalty in the third period that ended up getting coupled with a Zach Harrison tripping call for the 5x3.

Mavericks coach Troy Jutting wouldn't comment on specific penalties (presumably that was addressed in the locker room) but he did say there were a couple that he wasn't happy with. Canzanello's penalty came shortly after his team had killed off Eriah Hayes' five-minute major for checking from behind.

Justin Fontaine, Mike Connolly and Jack Connolly are simply too good to play against short-handed too often. Bulldogs coach Scott Sandelin even called a timeout before the 5x3 situation started in order to rest his stars and put them back on the ice.

Mike Louwerse and Justin Jokinen were the goal scorers for the Mavericks, who led 2-0 in the first period. Freshman goalie Kevin Murdock was solid with 30 saves. Not much he could do about any of the goals.

Read the game story in Sunday's Free Press here. The Duluth News-Tribune story can be found here.

MSU vs. UMD - Game 2 live blog

MSU women go to 3-0

The Minnesota State women's hockey team defeated North Dakota 4-2 on Saturday afternoon to move to 3-0-0 in coach Eric Means' first season. The last time the Mavericks won their first three games was in 2003 when they won their first six.

Emmi Leinonen scored two goals (her third and fourth of the year) and goalie Alli Altmann made 28 saves.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Bulldogs 5, Mavericks 2 (updated)

Well, if you didn't like defense, this was your game. Shots were 48-38 in favor of Duluth, which included a UMD-record 24 shots on goal in the second period. The two teams combined for 141 shot attempts, too.

But it came down to finishing, and the Bulldogs' top guns did the trick, with Justin Fontaine, Jack Connolly and Mike Connolly scoring all five goals. Those three also have nine of their team's 10 goals this season -- four each for Fontaine and Jack Connolly.

"Those three players are three of the better players in college hockey," Mavericks coach Troy Jutting said.

Mavericks freshman Eriah Hayes and senior Geoff Irwin had goals. Austin Lee stopped 43 shots but gave up a couple he probably should have stopped. Meanwhile, the Mavericks -- even with the shot disparity -- missed some quality opportunities when it was still a 2-1 game. They also had just six shots on goal and gave up a short-handed goal on four power-play tries.

"Top to bottom, we weren't strong in any area," Irwin said.

Here is today's game story in The Free Press. Here is the Duluth News-Tribune story.

MSU-UMD Game 1 live blog

Friday morning skate

Good morning. Just getting ready to hit the road for Duluth in a couple of hours. It's one of my favorite road trips for college hockey. Barring a playoff meeting, this will be the last year the Mavericks will play in the DECC, which is being replaced by a new $80 million arena nearby.

As for tonight's series, Minnesota State is trying to take some momentum from last weekend's wins over Bowling Green. In today's Free Press, you can read about Mavericks tough guy Channing Boe, who took quite the shot to his face in his first shift of the season. Remember, he missed the final 10 games and the playoffs of last season with a broken leg.

The rest of my preview is not online (unless you get our e-edition), but Austin Lee will start in goal tonight (Kevin Murdock likely on Saturday). Four freshmen are slated to be in the lineup, including forwards Tyler Pitlick and Eriah Hayes and defensemen Tyler Elbrecht and Evan Mosey.

Speaking of freshmen, the Bulldogs have some who want to make a big impact before they go off to the NHL someday. Also in the Duluth News Tribune, UMD will have some lineup changes as senior defenseman Trent Palm could return from hip surgery and highly touted forward Mike Connolly will be back after missing last weekend's games for violating team rules.

Going around the WCHA, there is a big early season matchup in Grand Forks where North Dakota is hosting Minnesota. The series will include a meeting of best friends: the Sioux's Danny Kristo and the Gophers' Jordan Schroeder. The Herald's notebook on the series can be found here. The paper also took a Vikings-Packers approach and found some families divided by the UND-Minny rivalry. ... Meanwhile, the Star Tribune takes a look at the Gophers' co-captains, Tony Lucia and Ryan Flynn and looks back on Minnesota's lost weekend in North Dakota last season, while the Pioneer Press features Gophers goalie Alex Kangas, who took a step back in '08-09.

Although it's the WCHA's opening weekend, there is just one other meeting between conference teams: Colorado College at Wisconsin. For the Tigers, a team expected to take a tumble this season, they are 7-1 in their last eight games at Madison. ... The Badgers, who are playing for the first time tonight, will start junior Brett Bennett in goal following a preseason battle for the job. Bennett is a transfer from Boston University.

Denver played Ohio State on Thursday night and won 2-0, getting a shutout after allowing 10 goals their season-opening series against Vermont. The Pioneers have high-scoring forward Anthony Maiani back from a suspension for violating team rules.

St. Cloud will host Union in nonconference play, and the Times features defenseman Oliver Lauridsen, whose mother is traveling from their native Denmark to watch her son play.

The Anchorage Daily News takes a look at some of the Seawolves' freshmen and how their first weekend of college hockey went down.

Here are some previews by USCHO and the This is the WCHA blog. The MSU Reporter features Mavericks forward Kael Mouillierat. And the Star Tribune makes its WCHA predictions, putting MSU ninth.

Have you read something interesting about college hockey today? Let me know in the comments section.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

You want answers?!?! 10.15.09

Here is this week's batch of questions:

From Sam: 1) Is the team concerned with their inability to finish an array of chances this past weekend? 2) What do you feel was the reason for such a poor showing in fan attendance this past weekend? 3) Any chance Pitlick will be shifted to a forward spot on the power play this weekend?
Sam, I'll start with you. ... 1) I don't think they're too concerned. As many of them have been saying, they'd be more concerned if they didn't get any chances. Some of those misses can be chalked up to some pretty good goaltending by Bowling Green. But there were some missed short-handed chances and mini-breakaways that have to be scored if you're going to win WCHA games. 2) I really thought Friday night's fans stayed home and watched the Twins-Yankees game. But it wasn't that much better on Saturday. It is early in the season. I was told by someone in Grand Forks, N.D., that Sioux fans are disappointed that they're playing the Gophers (this weekend) so early in the season when hockey doesn't feel like it's really kicked into gear yet. I'll bet downtown Mankato will be buzzing in a week when Wisconsin's in town. 3) Pitlick is in a forward spot on the power play. In fact, he is in THE scoring spot on the Mavericks No. 1 PP. Think about the left-circle shooters over the years: Mick Berge, Travis Morin, David Backes, Grant Stevenson. ... A lot of goals have been scored from that spot. Not a bad place for a 17-year-old to start his college-hockey career.

From Nation: 1) Are we going to see Eli Zuck this weekend in Duluth? 2) Do you think that Joe Schiller on defense is going to become a staple? 3) Who are the extra players that will be on the bus up to Duluth? 4) Can we expect to see two different goalies between the pipes this weekend? 5) Are there any injuries coming out of last weekend?
Hey Nation, lots of questions from you, too. Let's go in order: 1) No. Zuck was sick most of last week. He skated with the teals (the fifth-liners usually wear teal jerseys in practice) this week. 2) Schiller is a defenseman now, not a forward, if that's what you're asking. As for whether he'll be a regular, I think he's in the mix, just like everybody else. I'd guess that Davis, Boe and Youds are the every-game guys, while the other five are competing for spots. 3) The extra players are Schiller and Thompson. Both freshman D will be in the lineup Friday, and Hayes, another freshman is in up front. 4) I would guess so. See below for more on the goalies (I jumped around on these questions). 5) No injuries. But be sure to read my story on Channing Boe in Friday's Free Press.

From Nation: What can you tell us about the most recent Maverick recruit, Max Gaede?
Another one from Nation? ... I don't know much more right now than I put on the blog. He's got some good size at 6-2, 185 and he scored a lot of points for Woodbury last season. It looks as though he'll play a year in the USHL and will come to Mankato

From Joe: What's up with Dorr?
Joe, as reader Richard responded, Dorr cannot play until after the semester ends because that's when he transferred from Minnesota. He'll be eligible to play in mid-December. I'll certainly be curious to see if they'll have a regular spot for him then or not. Even now, there's a lot of competition for spots.

From Sam: After seeing the Mavs add another forward to one of their recruiting classes ... why do the Mavs seem to focus so much more on recruiting forwards than defensemen? They seem to be solid at forward every season, but the D is always iffy at best.
Sam: For one thing, a typical college hockey roster only has eight defensemen, while carrying 15 or more forwards, so they're going to recruit more forwards just by shear numbers. Another thing is, defense seems to be the most difficult position to recruit. There just aren't a lot of great ones out there. In Minnesota State's case, they're looking for tough, smart, older D-men who can skate, especially on Olympic-sized ice. I think this year's group of blueliners is probably as good as the Mavericks have had in awhile. Bowling Green wasn't a great test for them, though, and we'll find out a lot more in the coming weeks with Duluth, Wisconsin and Denver on the docket. One more thing: the Mavericks will graduate six forwards and just one defenseman after this season.

From Jon Poburka: Does Murdock start on Friday night?
Nope. It will be Lee again, Jon. Jutting wouldn't say who will go on Saturday but Murdock is on the trip. I wouldn't be surprised to see Murdock play on Saturday since Jutting has said that it's going to take a four to six weeks to see a No. 1 goalie emerge. He also told me on Wednesday that he has a lot of faith in Phil Cook, too, and would be comfortable playing him at any time.

Finally, LetsGoMavs had a pretty good question that somewhat got answered when MSU revamped its website. But I do think some of the concerns are legitimate and worth paying attention to as the season goes on.

Thanks for your questions everybody. Be sure to check out the blog all weekend with updates from Duluth.

I can't believe my eyes (sometimes)

Sportswriters sometimes get spoiled when they cover events. No, I'm not talking about press box food. I'm talking about access to video replay. Sometimes it's hard not to rely on a second or third viewing, especially in hockey when plays happen quickly and goals sometimes come out of nowhere. While some arenas have monitors throughout their press boxes or a big video scoreboard that all can see, good replay just isn't available at Mankato's Verizon Wireless Center.

This is not a complaint, rather, it's an observation of something that happened last Friday night. Minnesota State forward Mike Louwerse scored on what I thought was a nice play but a soft goal for the goalie to give up. My game story only made mention that Louwerse had a goal. What I remember happening was Louwerse taking the puck across the top of the zone at the end of a power play, getting tripped up and shooting the puck before falling to the ice.

Why my brain told me that, I have no idea. MSU has put up video highlights of last weekend's games and I saw that Louwerse's goal was pretty darn good (although still a softie by the goalie). I was right about the first parts of the play but didn't realize that Louwerse was already flat on his belly when he shot the puck. Impressive.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Courage? Maybe crazy's a better word

In my column in today's Free Press, I examine the Mavericks' seemingly new penchant for blocking shots. Let's just say Rylan Galiardi's a lot braver than I am.

Mavericks get new commitment

According to Chris Heisenberg's college-hockey recruiting page, Minnesota State recently got a commitment from Woodbury High School senior Max Gaede. Gaede is a 6-foot-2, 185-pound forward who scored 16 goals and 26 assists in 25 games last season. He also had 60 PIM. He's listed as a 2011 recruit, which, if true, means Gaede will likely play a season of junior hockey, presumably in the USHL.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

You Want Answers?!?!

The Mavericks will open up WCHA play this week with a series at Minnesota Duluth and are coming off a season-opening sweep of Bowling Green. After one week of play, you must have some questions that PucKato can attempt to answer. Add them to the comments section on this post, and I'll get to them on Thursday afternoon.

Davis gets WCHA honor

Minnesota State defenseman Kurt Davis was named WCHA defensive player of the week for his performance in last weekend's sweep of Bowling Green. Davis, a junior, was +4 for the weekend and scored his first career game-winning goal on Saturday.

The WCHA's offensive player of the week was Michigan Tech sophomore forward Brett Olson, and the rookie of the week was North Dakota forward Michael Cichy.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Ex-Maverick Aaron Fox scores amazing goal

Aaron Fox, who played at MSU from 1997 to 2000, and has been playing in Europe since then, scored an amazing, lacrosse-style goal recently. Here's the highlight.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Mavericks 4, Falcons 1

Minnesota State completed the home-opening sweep, defeating Bowling Green 4-1 on Saturday at the VWC. Rylan Galiardi, who could have had a hat trick on Friday but was shut out, scored two goals and assisted on another. Kurt Davis had a goal and an assist, and Andy Sackrison also scored. 

Freshman goalie Kevin Murdock, like his teammate Austin Lee a night earlier, didn't face a strong test other than the fact that he was making his college debut. Murdock stopped 22 shots and had a shutout going until midway through the third period.

Also, the MSU women's hockey team won 2-1 to sweep Maine, making new coach and former men's assistant Eric Means 2-0-0.

Be sure to read more in Sunday morning's Freep.

MSU vs. BGSU - Game 2 live blog

Friday, October 9, 2009

MSU 3, Bowling Green 2

For the second year in a row, Minnesota State won its season-opening game. Goaltender Austin Lee made 18 saves in his collegiate debut for the win, and teammates Jerad Stewart, Geoff Irwin and Mike Louwerse scored goals.

The Mavericks outshot the Falcons 35-20 and had many, many quality scoring opportunities. In fact, that seemed to be the post-game feel: that MSU didn't bury more of its chances when it had them.

Here is The Free Press' game story.

MSU vs. BGSU - Game 1 live blog

Friday morning skate

Tonight's the night! Opening night of college hockey. Here's a look around the WCHA, which has eight teams in action this weekend:

Bowling Green at Minnesota State
The Mavericks are expected to have six seniors in the lineup tonight for their home opener. That group includes captain Geoff Irwin, who, for the first time in his hockey life, is playing with a team in the same community for a fourth year in a row.

Irwin will play on the top line with Kael Mouillierat and center Andy Sackrison. Other lines should look like this: Rylan Galiardi with Justin Jokinen and Tyler Thompson, Tyler Pitlick with Jason Wiley and Mike Louwerse, Zach Harrison with Eriah Hayes and Jerad Stewart. Defensive partners are slated to be: Channing Boe and Joe Schiller, Kurt Davis and Tyler Elbrecht, Ben Youds and Nick Canzanello. However, Canzanello sat out Thursday's practice, so that could change.

As for the Mavericks' opponent, the Falcons apparently are a little short-handed, with junior forward David Solway not on the trip because of injury and two others out for tonight's game because of fighting majors in Bowling Green's final game of the season last year.

PucKato will have the lines updated during pregame. Be sure to come back to the blog during the game and follow along with a live blog.

St. Cloud State at Miami
The Huskies will go see last season's national runner-up in Ohio. The St. Cloud Times' Kevin Allenspach says Miami is a good model for St. Cloud State to follow (perhaps MSU could look at this, too). Meanwhile, The Times has a nice collection of team preview stories you can check out.

Merrimack at North Dakota
The Grand Forks Herald introduces readers to the Merrimack Warriors as well as Sioux freshman goalie Aaron Dell.

Northeastern at Colorado College
Like Minnesota State, Colorado College is looking to replace a top-notch goalie this year. Freshman Joe Howe will start tonight's game at the World Arena, while The Gazette takes a look at another Tigers rookie, Hudson Stremmel.

Vermont at Denver
The No. 1-ranked Pioneers have a good test right off the bat as they host the 14th-ranked Catamounts. Denver is celebrating 60 years of hockey (MSU, by the way, is celebrating its 40th anniversary -- more on that to come).

Lake Superior/Northern Michigan at Minnesota Duluth/Michigan Tech
The Bulldogs and Huskies are starting the season with the Superior Showcase with games tonight and Sunday. For Duluth, a key to the season is finding a replacement for All-American goalie Alex Stalock. Meanwhile Michigan Tech defenseman Eli Vlaisavljevich just might be a Rhodes Scholar.

Mercyhurst/Michigan at Alaska-Anchorage
The Seawolves will kick off the season with their annual tournament, but their seniors are looking ahead toward a bigger tournament they have never been to: the WCHA Final Five.

Meanwhile, here is a WCHA season preview from Inside College Hockey and a weekend preview from This is the WCHA blog. The Rochester Post-Bulletin recently took a gander at the WCHA. (I'd love to see those guys come to Kato to take in a game.)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

You Want Answers?!?! 10.08.09

From TEAMWORKER: 1. Have you had a chance to meet the new players and research any of their past contributions to hockey (high school,club,juniors)? 2. How do "you" see the blend of rookies and vets skill sets going forward? 3. When must a player denote they wish to "red-shirt"? Thank you...

Teamworker, I haven't had a chance to talk to them all yet, but have looked into their backgrounds. It looks like a good group that features a wide range of age and experience. Forward Tyler Pitlick is young (he won't turn 18 until Nov. 1) but is expected to be a high-round draft pick next summer. Forward Eriah Hayes and defensemen Tyler Elbrecht and Evan Mosey are older and have a couple of years of junior experience. Forward Eli Zuck played at Shattuck and then spent one year in the USHL. It seems like a group that can be sprinkled into this veteran lineup, and three will play Friday night: Pitlick, Hayes and Elbrecht. As for the redshirt question, it really isn't just a player's call. It's usually a decision made by the player and coaches. In Austin Lee's case, for instance, he wasn't going to play as a freshman unless both Zacharias and Tormey went down with injury, so it was easy to call that season a redshirt year.

From Nation: 1) Which rookie was Jutting most impressed with? 2) Who do you think the top line will be? 3) Which goalie did you think had the best game? 4) Do you think we see more of Evan Mosey or Tyler Elbrecht this year?

Nation, Jutting didn't pick out one rookie from last week's game. I think all played pretty well given their opportunity. Tyler Pitlick, it appears, is going to get a chance to play a lot. He worked with the No. 1 power-play unit in practice this week, so expect to see that on Friday night. The top line will be center Andy Sackrison, flanked by Kael Mouillierat and Geoff Irwin. I think that's pretty well set for now. Seeing each goalie one period each, it was hard to tell who was the best. Obviously, neither Lee nor Murdock allowed a goal, but Cook needed a little extra help from his D on all three goals he gave up. Lee, who will start Friday's game, looked confident, especially for someone who hasn't been in a game for more than two years. Finally, Elbrecht will be in the lineup Friday, but I thought Mosey had a solid night against Lethbridge. Mosey was a forward who got switched to defense last season in Wenatchee.

From PuckLuck: What became of Baylor Dieter? You wrote favorably of him in your May 8th blog and he won the Most Improved Player award at the Spring banquet. I'm sorry to not see him back on the team this year.

PuckLuck, Dieter is no longer on the team due to academic reasons. It appears he's no longer in school either, as I've recently been e-mailed that he has turned pro and is playing for the Central Hockey League's Colorado Eagles. Dieter was the team's most improved player and filled in adequately when Channing Boe went down with his broke leg. However, he did not see any game action until midseason.

From Sam: 1) Do you think Tyler Pitlick will be a staple on the powerplay? 2) Can we expect the Defensemen to be joining the rush quite a bit this year? 3) Murdock and Lee are clearly the two best goalies. I think Lee will start, but who do you believe will be in net as the regular in the next couple weeks?

Sam, as I said earlier, Pitlick is on the No. 1 power play right now. We'll see if he's able to make the transition from high school to college and make that work. He had 121 points in his junior and senior years of high school, so the Mavericks certainly expect him to score. As for the defensemen, it sure looks like a few of them will be asked to jump in. We already know Kurt Davis can score, and Joe Schiller is a forward-turned-D who might be able to do the same. Cameron Cooper took the puck deep and made a nice pass to Mike Louwerse for the first goal against Lethbridge. I'd expect to see more point production from the defensemen this season. Other than Davis, there hasn't been a lot of late. As for the goalies, I think it's going to take a few weeks to play out. I expect Jutting to handle the position with some patience and see who earns the job. I'm guessing it will be Lee or Murdock or maybe both, but it's way too early to predict that right now.

From Holly: Who do you think will be the teams MVP this year?
Holly, like guessing the goaltending situation, it's way too early to guess this. Kael Mouillierat had 17 goals last season, including 16 in WCHA play. I really thought he became a legitimate WCHA star over the second half of last season and has a chance to continue that this year. If I have to guess, I'd say Mouillierat.

From MavFan99: 1)Will games be televised this weekend and/or next weekend in Duluth? 2)Do you know who will be in the 4 team "pods" starting with next years schedule? The only pairings I've seen published are UNO, BSU, SCSU, and UND. 3)Will the home and home series continue with the new schedule format next year?

I've was told by a member of the Bethany Lutheran College crew today that Saturday's game will be the only game televised on Charter cable channel 14. Next week, the BLC crew will go to Duluth and the games will be televised state-wide. I have to do some more research on the scheduling "pods" for next year. MSU will be with Alaska-Anchorage, but I don't know the other teams coming in.

Follow me!

Did you know PucKato has a Twitter page? Follow The Free Press' coverage of MSU men's hockey and other Mankato hockey on Twitter.

Lee to start Friday

Minnesota State coach Troy Jutting said Austin Lee will get the start in goal Friday night against Bowling Green. This comes as no huge surprise. Lee, a redshirt sophomore, has been waiting on the Mavericks bench for two seasons for his chance, appears to compete and work hard in practice and had a solid outing last Saturday -- albeit in one period of play.

Don't be surprised if freshman Kevin Murdock gets the nod on Saturday, although Jutting said he's going to reserve the right to make that call following Friday's game.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

You want answers?!?!

It's probably time for another installment of PucKato's "You Want Answers?!?!" Here's how it works: You ask a question in the comments section below, and I'll try to give you a beat writer's perspective. I'll give you two days to get some questions down and will answer as many as I can in a post on Thursday afternoon/evening. Ask away!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Getting votes

Minnesota State received votes in the first poll of the season. This is the poll I use when showing where teams are ranked, not just because I vote on it but because it's also the one The Associated Press uses. Not surprisingly, Denver was voted No. 1. The Pios certainly had my vote. Here is the poll: College Sports Division I men's poll (first-place votes in parenthesis).
1. Denver (20) 873 points
2. Boston University (17) 814
3. Michigan (2) 787
4. Miami (5) 782
5. Notre Dame (2) 750
6. North Dakoa 615
7. Cornell 561
8. Yale 512
9. Minnesota 509
10. Princeton 474
11. UMass.-Lowell 448
12. Boston College 402
13. Wisconsin 375
14. Vermont 291
15. St. Cloud State 289
16. New Hamphsire 236
17. Ohio State 211
18. Minnesota Duluth 186
19. Air Force 154
20. Northeastern 106
Others receiving votes: Northern Michigan 72, Bemidji State 66, Havard 35, Colorado College 25, St. Lawrence 23 UMass 17, Minnesota State 11, Clarkson 10, RIT 10, Mercyhurst 6, Union 4, Alaska 1, Alaska-Anchorage 1, Dartmouth 1, Ferris State 1, Maine 1, Quinnipiac 1

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Mavericks 4, Pronghorns 3 ... St. Cloud wins by same score

Sorry to update the blog a little late. The Mavericks needed some overtime heroics from senior Jason Wiley to defeat Lethbridge 4-3 Saturday night. On Sunday, Lethbridge went to St. Cloud and got beat by the same score, although in regulation. I don't know if you can make any comparisons between the Mavericks and the Huskies from those scores, although it appeared that MSU rested more veteran players than St. Cloud did.

Lethbridge looked like a solid test for the Mavericks. They were a veteran team that played hard, especially in the third period when they got some momentum and really turned up the pressure.

Mavericks coach Troy Jutting said he appreciated the fact that his team had to play in a tight game and face some adversity. "I told the kids after the game that we're going to have 30 games like that this year," he said. "We're going to have games that are tight where every game matters."

What might have been most impressive was the crowd. There were 3,500 people there, including a pretty-full student section that looked like it was ready for the regular season.

Anybody there? What were your thoughts?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

MSU vs. Lethbridge live blog

Hockey day

Today's the day, folks. Minnesota State begins its season with an exhibition game against Lethbridge at the Verizon Wireless Center. Mavericks coach Troy Jutting said he's going to sit his most-veteran players in order to have a chance to see all of his freshmen and other young players. Watching from the stands will be forwards Kael Mouillierat, Geoff Irwin, Andrew Sackrison and Zach Harrison and defensemen Kurt Davis and Ben Youds.

There will be seven freshmen in the lineup: forwards Tyler Pitlick, Eriah Hayes and Eli Zuck; defensemen Tyler Elbrecht and Evan Mosey; and goalies Kevin Murdock and Phil Cook.

Forward Brett Peterson, who has been on the roster for two seasons but has yet to appear in a game, is expected to play, and sophomore Joe Schiller will skate as a defenseman for the first time in game action.

Schiller told me yesterday before practice that he likes playing D and that it's a natural switch for him. In fact, the Detroit Lakes native said that had he grown up in a bigger town and a bigger hockey program that he might have been a defenseman from the beginning.

Check back with PucKato later for a live blog on the game.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Arena updates

Stopped by the Verizon Wireless Center (gotta get used to saying and writing that) today and had a chance to see the new center-ice scoreboard that will be ready for Saturday's night exhibition game. In this photo, workers are attaching spotlights to the corners before raising it to the rafters. The scoreboard is four-sided, and players getting ready for a Friday skate seemed happy to have the score and time available to view at center ice.

The arena's two end scoreboards have also been replaced, all to the tune of a reported $250,000. The end scoreboards appear to have improved graphics capabilities, but I'm not sure if there will be improved video for replays.

Stuck in the middle

Inside College Hockey Online put out its rankings of all 58 Division I men's hockey teams today, and Minnesota State is No. 25.

Here's what they said about the Mavericks:

Not only does forward Kael Mouillierat boast one of college hockey's great names, he's also a pretty good player. He and defenseman Kurt Davis are a dangerous one-two punch.

Other WCHA teams: 1. Denver, 6. North Dakota, 10. Minnesota, 12. St. Cloud State, 13. Wisconsin, 22. Minnesota Duluth, 29. Colorado College, 38. Alaska-Anchorage, 42. Michigan Tech.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Holy moly, who's the goalie?

That's the big question for the Minnesota State men's hockey team this season and the subject of today's preview in The Free Press. Redshirt sophomore Austin Lee has been waiting patiently on the bench for two years, and freshman Kevin Murdock is considered a top prospect by some. Another freshman, Phil Cook, has good credentials, too. The race is wide open, coach Troy Jutting said.