By Shane Frederick
Free Press Staff Writer
The Mavericks (20-9-3, 14-9-1 in WCHA), ranked No. 7 and No. 9 in the national polls, return to action after a bye week with a trip to the Rocky Mountains and a series against the Tigers (12-15-5, 9-11-4). This is the first meeting between the teams this season. They last met in December of 2011 in Mankato with CC sweeping the series. Minnesota State is 3-3 in its last six games at the World Arena.
Five things to know about the matchup:
1. Feeling fresh: The Mavericks have had success coming off byes this season. So far, they have swept every weekend following some time off, including league series at Wisconsin (Nov. 23-24) and Minnesota Duluth (Feb. 8-9) as well as the Connecticut tournament after Christmas. Eriah Hayes (18-12—30) has seven goals and 11 points in those six games.
2. It’s Stephon, everybody: Mavericks freshman goaltender Stephon Williams (.932, 1.77) ranks first in the WCHA and sixth in the nation in goals-against average. Of the goalies ahead of him, only one has played more minutes. He is second in the league and 10th nationally in save percentage. Williams has started 23 consecutive games.
3. Injury report: Mavericks senior center Eli Zuck remains out with a lower body injury and is considered week to week. Junior Zach Lehrke (7-15—22) will move to the middle, and freshman Taylor Herndon (0-2—2) will play in his fifth game tonight. Lehrke has six points, including four goals in his last five games.
4. And Howe: Colorado College senior goaltender Joe Howe (.905, 3.17) was born in Mankato — although he didn’t grow up here — and has played well against the Mavericks. He is 4-2-0 with a pair of 1-0 shutouts against MSU. However Josh Thorimbert (.874, 3.67) played in both meetings last season.
5. Scouting the Tigers: Colorado College saw a six-game unbeaten streak come to an end Saturday with home loss to St. Cloud State. No WCHA team has allowed more goals than CC (113). However, coach Scott Owens’ team can score, led by Rylan Schwartz (14-26—40), Alexander Krushelnyski (11-23—34) and William Rapuzzi (14-19—33).
Around the rinks
Minnesota State women: The Mavericks (10-19-5, 6-17-5 in WCHA) will take on No. 8 North Dakota (23-10-1, 18-9-1) in the first round of the WCHA tournament in Grand Forks. The winner of the best-of-three series advances to next week’s Final Face-Off at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis. In its last five trips to North Dakota, Minnesota State is 4-4-2, including a series split there early this season.
Gustavus Adolphus: Both Gustie teams will play in their respective MIAC tournament championship games on Saturday. The second-ranked women (24-0-1, 18-0-0 in MIAC) will host Concordia at 2 p.m. at the Don Roberts Ice Rink, while the men (17-7-5, 8-5-3) will go to St. Cloud to take on St. John’s at 2 p.m. The women are seeking their 10th consecutive playoff title, while the men are looking for their second in a row and third in five years.