The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

October 21, 2011

College hockey gameday: Minnesota State at Denver

MANKATO — The Mavericks (1-3-0) will open Western Collegiate Hockey Association play against the third-ranked Pioneers (1-1-0). Minnesota State is 13-24-6 in the all-time series, including an 0-5-1 record against Denver last season, including a pair of losses in the first round of the WCHA playoffs. The Mavericks’ last win in Magness Arena came on Jan. 18, 2003.

The 5-hole

Five things to know about the matchup:

1. Thin slicing: The Mavericks may be without six injured players, including top-line forwards Michael Dorr and Eriah Hayes, but all of this year’s goal scorers are in the lineup: forwards Justin Jokinen (1-1—2), Jean-Paul LaFontaine and Johnny McInnis and defensmen Cameron Cooper and Zach Palmquist. Six freshmen — LaFontaine, Palmquist, Matt Leitner, Charlie Thauwald, Brett Stern and Mat Knoll — will be in the lineup this weekend.

2. Penalty problems: Through four games, MSU leads the country in penalty minutes, averaging 21.5 per game. Cooper and Hayes lead the team with five penalties apiece. The Mavericks’ opponents have scored five power-play goals on 28 chances. Minnesota State, meanwhile, is 0 for 17 on the power play.

3. Between the pipes: Austin Lee and Phil Cook have split time in goal for the Mavericks, with Lee (.945, 2.05) playing on Friday nights and Cook (.890, 4.00) playing on Saturdays. Cook started five games against the Pioneers last season. Lee started the last meeting, a 3-2 overtime loss that ended MSU’s season. Redshirt freshman Evan Karambelas is also on the trip.

4. Pioneer power: Denver opened its season a week ago in Boston and defeated No. 1 Boston College 4-2 before losing to Boston University 4-3. The WCHA media’s selection for preseason player of the year, sophomore Jason Zucker, had a goal and two assists, and junior Drew Shore scored two goals. Denver went 0 for 10 on the power play.

5. Scouting Denver: Coach George Gwozdecky’s team lost some talent from last year’s 25-12-5 club, including defenseman Matt Donovan, who turned pro after two years of college hockey. All-WCHA rookie team goaltender Sam Brittain is out until at least January after undergoing knee surgery. Junior Adam Murray (.900, 3.10) started both games in Boston.

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