Bemidji State opened the season at St. Cloud State and played a pair of close games, losing 3-2 and tying 2-2. (The Beavers actually won Saturday’s game in a shootout.) Michigan Tech did the same at Minnesota Duluth by scores of 2-1 and 1-1.
Alaska Anchorage is 2-0, winning its own tournament and beating Quinnipiac, who played in the national-title game last April, along the way.
Recall the days when Minnesota State sat at the bottom of the standings yet made life difficult for the teams at the top. WCHA teams will be gunning for the Mavericks now.
Connecticut comes to town this weekend, but before you dismiss that Atlantic Hockey team (this Huskies are moving to Hockey East next season), remember that Bentley went to Nebraska Omaha and stunned the red Mavericks Friday night, winning 6-4, before dropping the series finale 4-2. Sacred Heart went to Massachusetts Lowell and gave the Red Hawks a very early exit from the top spot in the national polls with a 2-1 win.
MSU coach Mike Hastings said the Mavericks — now ranked 18th in the country — competed better in Saturday’s penalty-fest than they did in Friday’s opener. They had 38 shots on goal as opposed to 26 the night before. But he reserved his individual praise for his rookie players — Zach Stepan, Jordan Nelson, Carter Foguth among them — not the returners, who will need to be better, much better.
Perhaps having the hype machine shut down for awhile will be the best thing for the Mavericks.
Shane Frederick is a Free Press staff writer. Read his blog at mankatofreepresshockey.blogspot.com and follow him on Twitter @puckato.