The Mankato Free Press
---- — The 16th-ranked Mavericks (2-2-0, 0-0-0 in WCHA) head north to open their Western Collegiate Hockey Association schedule against their longtime rival. The Beavers (2-3-1, 2-0-0) lead the all-time series, which dates back to 1974-75, 46-39-13, although Minnesota State has won 10 of the last 12 meetings, including the last three. The Mavericks swept the Beavers 3-0 and 6-1 in Mankato last season.
Five things to know about the matchup:
1. Straight line: While there has been some fluctuation in the lineup as players nursed bumps and bruises during the bye week, one constant has been the team’s top line from their Oct. 18-19 sweep of Connecticut: the line of Teddy Bluger (1 goal-1 assist—2 points), Johnny McInnis (0-3—3) and Dylan Margonari (2-0—0). Margonari, a sophomore, has three game-winning goals in his short time at MSU; McInnis, the Mavericks’ senior captain, has eight game-winners in his career.
2. No Nelly: Mavericks senior defenseman and alternate captain Josh Nelson did not make the trip to Bemidji as he remains out with a lower-body injury. Nelson missed MSU’s last game on Oct. 19 and has undergone tests. Nelson has played in 87 career games and scored 22 points. Fourteen of those points came last season. His absence means more time for his brother, freshman Casey Nelson and possibly for sophomore Mat Knoll and freshman Sean Flanagan.
3. Defense doesn’t rest: Minnesota State coach Mike Hastings said junior defenseman Zach Palmquist is coming off his best game of the short season. The duo of sophomore Jon Jutzi and freshman Carter Foguth have been eating a lot of minutes through four games in front of sophomore goaltender Stephon Williams (.899 save percentage, 2.63 goals-against average). “We need (Williams) to be where he was at last year,” Hastings said. “I think he had a good week.”
4. Scouting the Beavers: Bemidji State opened its WCHA schedule a week ago and swept Alabama Huntsville 6-1 and 1-0. They were the first two wins of the season for the Beavers. Junior forward Danny Mattson (1-5—6) and sophomore forwards Markus Gerbrandt (4-1—5) and Cory Ward (4-0—4) lead the scoring charge. Mattson has eight career goals against MSU. Gerbrandt had a hat trick last Friday. Junior goaltender Andrew Walsh (.910, 2.64) has started all six games so far.
5. The coaches’ view: Hastings says the defensive-minded Beavers won’t make life easy for the Mavericks. “They’re frustrating to play against,” he said. “They’re extremely well-coached, from the goal out. I think their goaltender (Walsh) is probably their best player. We need to be prepared for that.” Said BSU’s Tom Serratore: “There’s no question (MSU’s) the most talented team in the league. ... They’re very deep up front. They’re a team that can put up four goals on any given night.”
Around the rinks
Minnesota State women: The Mavericks (3-5-0, 0-4-0 in WCHA) play a home-and-home series against No. 1-ranked Minnesota (8-0-0, 6-0-0), starting tonight in Minneapolis. Saturday’s game will take place at 3:07 p.m. at All Seasons Arena. The Gophers have won 57 consecutive games, a streak that has included two national titles. Their last loss came on Feb. 17, 2012 against North Dakota. The Mavericks have not won in 11 consecutive WCHA games.
Gustavus Adolphus: The Gusties men and women both open their seasons this weekend, with the men playing in the MIAC Showcase in Blaine against Bethel tonight and St. Thomas on Sunday. The women, ranked fourth in the preseason rankings, will host St. Mary’s in a nonconference game at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Don Roberts Ice Rink in St. Peter.
This weekend's series 7:37 p.m. today and 7:07 p.m. Saturday Sanford Center, Bemidji Radio: KTOE 1420 AM, 102.7 FM TV: TPT MN 2.2 Streaming: www.americaonesports.com (pay site) Live blog: mankatofreepresshockey.blogspot.com Twitter: @puckato