By Shane Frederick
The Mavericks (1-5-0, 0-2-0 in WCHA) come off their bye week with road trip to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to take on the 16th-ranked Huskies (5-2-1, 3-2-1), one of the surprise teams in the conference. Minnesota State lost and tied at Houghton a year ago and is 6-3-1 against Tech in the last 10 meetings.
The 5 hole
Five things to know about the matchup:
1. Getting healthy: With Michael Dorr and Eriah Hayes back in the lineup, Minnesota State will have a full slate of forwards tonight. Hayes will skate on a line with Zach Lehrke and Justin Jokinen (1-2—3), while Dorr is matched with Eli Zuck and Adam Mueller. The Mavericks’ top-scoring line right now is the group of Jean-Paul LaFontaine (3-1—4), Matt Leitner (0-3—3) and Johnny McInnis (1-1—2).
2. Looking for goals: Through six games, Minnesota State has scored just nine goals (and given up 26), and only two players have multiple goals. Both are freshmen — LaFontaine and defenseman Zach Palmquist (2-0—2). Each has one power-play goal. This season, the Mavericks are just 2 for 32 on the power play.
3. Austin power: Austin Lee (.915, 3.29) will get the start in goal tonight. “He’s been very good for us,” Mavericks coach Troy Jutting said. “He’s a senior now, and with that, No. 1, comes some confidence, and No. 2 is the reality that this is his last kick at the cat.” Lee has started four games, while Phil Cook (.848, 5.39) has made two starts.
4. New era: Michigan Tech grad and longtime Michigan assistant coach Mel Pearson is in his first year as the Huskies’ coach and has his new team off to a stunning start. Already, Tech has more wins than it had last season. The Huskies are 5-0-1 at home, including last weekend’s win and a tie against Denver — the team that defeated MSU 4-2 and 10-2 in the Mavericks’ last outing.
5. Scouting the Huskies: Two senior forwards lead Michigan Tech in scoring — Brett Olson (4-6—10) and Jordan Baker (2-6—8). Freshman forward Blake Pietila (3-4—7) is off to a strong start, as is junior defenseman Steven Seigo (2-5—7). Senior Josh Robinson (.922, 2.28) has been the Huskies’ main goalie and has four wins.
Around the rinks
Minnesota State women: The Mavericks (4-6-0, 0-4-0 in WCHA) are seeking their first win in conference play when they Bemidji State (6-2-2, 3-2-1) at 7 p.m. today and 3 p.m. Saturday at All Seasons Arena. MSU has been outscored 13-1 in league play. Lauren Zrust netted that lone goal. Bemidji State is coming off an upset split with Minnesota as goalie Zuzana Tomcikova stopped 41 shots in a 2-1 win on Saturday.
Gustavus Adolphus: The Gustavus men (0-1-1) will play at St. Norbert at 7 p.m. today and at Wisconsin-Stevens Point at 7 p.m. Saturday. Zach May scored two goals and three players had two assists in the team’s opening weekend. The Gustavus women will open their season tonight when it hosts Concordia-Wisconsin and will host St. Norbert at 2 p.m. Saturday.