Friday, November 16, 2007

Weekend Preview: Nov. 16-18

Minnesota State at Denver
Friday – 8:30 p.m. CST
Saturday – 8 p.m. CST

The Denver Pioneers, fresh off their one week break from WCHA play, return to action by hosting five of the next six games at home, starting with two contests this weekend versus Minnesota State. The Pios hosted the Mavs last year for a pair of games, and got three points from Minnesota State. They key to Denver’s success (they are 6-2-0 on the young season) as been their defense: in their six wins, they have allowed a total of just five goals. Senior goalie Peter Mannino has obviously been paramount to their defensive success, and his numbers are stellar: a 1.52 goals against average and a .940 save percentage. The Mavericks are coming off a pair of losses versus Minnesota in a home and home series last weekend. That is becoming the norm for Minnesota State, as they have beat Minnesota just twice in their history. They have traditionally played DU tough, so they should bounce back and be competitive in the Mile High City this weekend.

Wisconsin at Colorado College
Friday – 8:30 p.m. CST
Saturday – 8 p.m. CST

The Colorado College Tigers have been a very streaky team this year: they won their first two games, lost their next three, and are currently riding a three-game winning streak into their series versus the Wisconsin Badgers this weekend. Last weekend, CC dispatched of Minnesota Duluth in a two-game sweep by scores of 5-3 and 3-0. Sophomore Billy Sweatt is off to a great start for CC, as he’s scored four goals and chipped in six assists in just eight games. Freshman netminder Richard Bachman, however, has been the real key: he’s 5-1-0 with a 1.49 goals against average and a .950 save percentage. The Badgers, meanwhile, have split in three of their four weekend series so far this season, and most recently took two points from North Dakota at the Kohl Center. UW has scored 20 goals in their four non-conference games, but just 11 in their four WCHA games. After these two games with Wisconsin and then hosting Denver next Friday on the front-end of a home and home series, the Tigers won’t play their next home game until January 11. However, after that day, they play 11 of their final 16 games at the World Arena.

Alaska Anchorage at Minnesota
Friday – 7 p.m. CST (Live on FSN North and FCS Central)
Saturday – 7 p.m. CST (Live on FSN North and FCS Atlantic)

Minnesota will look to climb back to the .500 mark in WCHA play this weekend as they host the Alaska Anchorage Seawolves in a rematch of last year’s three game WCHA first round playoff series. Despite all the “doom and gloom” that’s been surrounding Minnesota’s season so far, they are 6-4-0 and have played one of the tougher schedules in the nation, so there’s some reason for optimism on behalf of Minnesota fans. The Seawolves start a pretty tough stretch this weekend: they are at Minnesota for two games, then return home to host CC for two, travel back to the state of Minnesota to take on UMD, and they head back to Anchorage for a pair with DU.

Michigan Tech at Minnesota Duluth
Friday – 7 p.m. CST
Saturday – 7 p.m. CST

This series will feature a pair of WCHA teams that got off to very hot starts to the season but have seen those hot starts fizzle a bit in recent weeks. Minnesota Duluth went undefeated in their first four games of the year – all at home at the DECC – but has subsequently lost three of four games at Denver and Colorado College. Michigan Tech, meanwhile, similarly played a majority of their early season games at home, and went 4-2 in those six games; however, they then split at UW and were swept back in Houghton last weekend by St. Cloud State. They key to this series will be the availability of Tech goaltender Michael-Lee Teslak. The junior missed both games last weekend with a sore back and it showed in the two losses to SCSU. Fellow junior Rob Nolan is a very solid goalie, but Teslak is “the guy” for Tech. UMD sophomore Alex Stalock appears to have emerged as a legit D-I goalie after an up and down freshman campaign. He’s played each game this year for UMD, posting a 4-3-1 record with a 2.24 goals against average and a .916 save percentage.

North Dakota and St. Cloud State are off this week.

Other Noteable Games

Miami at Michigan State
Thursday – Miami 4, Michigan State 2
Friday – 6 p.m. CST

These two teams kicked off the weekend a bit early last with, with Miami going into Munn Ice Arena and upending the defending NCAA champions by a 4-2 score. Michigan State’s power play was their downfall last night, going 0-8. Meanwhile, the Redhawks cashed in twice with the man advantage, going 2-6. The game was 2-2 going into the third period, but Miami’s Nathan Davis scored just :54 seconds into the final frame, and Justin Mercier would tack on an empty-netter with :41 seconds left. The Spartans had just three shots in the third period. The rematch is set for tonight.