Here are a few notes on this weekend's series between Minnesota State and third-ranked Wisconsin at the Kohl Center (both games are at 8 p.m.):
Yes, Andrew Sackrison (left) will be back in the lineup for the Mavericks for the first time since breaking his leg on Nov. 20 at Alaska-Anchorage and having surgery. He'll be skating with Rylan Galiardi and Mike Louwerse, but he's also taking things slow. He probably won't be on the power play this weekend, although coach Troy Jutting said he could get some penalty kill time, depending on the situation.
“I got so sick of watching (practice and games) from up top,” Sackrison said. "I think that’s true with any player. But it was frustrating. You feel like you’re not part of the team. You’re not on road trips; you’re not in the locker room.”
As for the rest of the team, the lineup will be similar to the Mavericks' last game at Michigan Tech, with Sackrison taking the place of Eli Zuck up front. MSU will have the same defensive pairings as it did in that 3-2 win. Goaltenders Austin Lee and Phil Cook are both on the trip, but Jutting said on Wednesday that he had not yet decided on a starter for Friday's game.
Anyone interested in seeing the games can if they have Fox Sports Wisconsin and/or the NHL Network (Friday's game only). LATE NIGHT UPDATE: I just saw a promo for the NHL Network's coverage of the game, and they showed David Backes among other ex-college players now playing in the big leagues.
As for the Badgers, there is starting to be some Hobey Baker buzz around defenseman Brendan Smith, who is having a stellar season. Andy Baggot's preview of the series can be found here.
Looking around the rest of the WCHA:
Many eyes will be on St. Cloud where the Huskies host North Dakota. The last time these two teams played was also the last time Chay Genoway played for the Sioux. St. Cloud State's Aaron Marvin hit Genoway from behind into the boards, causing the injury and post-concussion syndrome. The Sioux haven't forgotten, and Marvin knows he's going to be the center of attention. ... Meanwhile, the Huskies will be trying to keep pace in the hunt for their first MacNaughton Cup.
There is just one other WCHA series this weekend (What's the deal with all of the idle weekends in February -- MSU, Minny and NoDak last week, Anchorage, Tech, CC and Duluth this week?), as Minnesota goes to Denver where the Pioneers' Joe Colborne has been red hot and coach George Gwozdecky appears to be working on a new contract. Stunningly, Gwoz is not the highest-paid coach at DU right now. ... As for the Gophers, freshman Zach Budish has come on strong of late, something his team needs if it has any hopes of breaking into the WCHA's top five.
Here is the WCHA preview from USCHO.
Don't forget to come back to PucKato for tonight's live blog.
For those of you in the Mankato area, you might want to check out Friday's game between Gustavus and Hamline in St. Peter. Not only is first-place in the MIAC on the line (the Gusties have a one-point lead over the Pipers in the standings with four games left in the regular season), but Gustavus is honoring former player Brendan Loney, who was paralyzed in a diving accident last summer.