The Free Press, Mankato, MN

January 16, 2014

College hockey notebook: MSU women set for outdoor game

By Shane Frederick sfrederick@mankatofreepress.com
The Mankato Free Press

---- — MANKATO — Lauren Barnes said that when her brother Tyler, a player for the Wisconsin men’s hockey team, got to play in the Hockey City Classic outdoor game a year ago in Chicago that “it was something he bragged about.”

“It was an exciting moment in his life,” she said.

That sibling one-upmanship didn’t last very long, however.

On Friday, Barnes, a senior for the Minnesota State women’s team, gets her chance to play outside, as the Mavericks take on Minnesota in this year’s Hockey City Classic at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

“Our parents are pretty excited,” the Burnsville native said.

The Mavericks and Gophers will play at 4:30 p.m. Friday, the first game of a doubleheader event. The nightcap will be a men’s game between Minnesota and Ohio State. Game time temperature for the women’s game is expected to be about 12 degrees, MSU coach Eric Means said.

“It should be a great experience for our team, being involved in something like this,” Means said.

Means and his players said game preparation isn’t too much different than it is in a normal week, and, despite the novelty, it’s an important WCHA game against the nation’s top-ranked team. The Mavericks will practice on the outdoor rink tonight.

“Obviously it’s going to be a little different, a little more exciting than usual,” senior Kari Lundberg said. “Minnesota is a very good team, and we’ll prepare like we normally do so we’re able to give them our best. ...

“And you never know what could happen outdoors.”

Barnes and Lundberg, a Woodbury native, said much of the excitement comes from the recent popularity of outdoor hockey events, such as the National Hockey League’s annual Winter Classic, as well as other college events, including Boston’s Frozen Fenway at the Red Sox’s Fenway Park.

It also recalls their youth, their past experiences playing hockey outdoors.

“Just growing up in Minnesota, especially, we were raised on outdoor rinks and rinks in the back yard,” Barnes said.

Junior Kathleen Rogan, who grew up in Vancouver, British Columbia, where the winters are much milder than Minnesota, didn’t have that experience.

“I’ve never really played outdoors,” she said. “It’s never cold enough there.”

Mavs in Olympics

David Backes won’t be the only former Minnesota State player to skate in the Olympics next month.

Former MSU women’s hockey players Emilia Andersson and Nina Tikkinen have been selected to Team Sweden and Team Finland, respectively, for the games, which will take place Feb. 7-23 in Sochi, Russia.

It will be the second Olympic appearance for both players. Both played in the Vancouver games in 2010.

Andersson, a defenseman from Stockholm, Sweden, amassed 11 goals and 50 points in 136 career games with the Mavericks from 2008 to 2013. She ranks seventh in career assists and hold the program’s career record for points by a defenseman.

Tikkinen, a forward from Salo, Finland, had 21 goals and 50 points in 102 games 2007 and 2011 to rank 14th on MSU’s career points list. She won a bronze medal with Team Finland in the 2010.

Finland opens Olympic play on Feb. 8 against the United States. Sweden opens play on Feb. 9 against Japan.

Vote for Hobey

College hockey fans could begin voting Tuesday to help determine the 2014 Hobey Baker Award winner.

Fan balloting takes place on the Hobey website, www.hobeybakeraward.com. Minnesota State’s Matt Leitner and Jean-Paul LaFontaine are included in the online ballot.

The first phase of fan balloting runs through March 9. Phase two of fan balloting begins on March 20 from the list of the top 10 finalists.

The fans’ vote accounts for 1 percent of the total ballot in each phase. The Hobey Baker winner will be announced from a field of three finalists on April 11 during the NCAA Frozen Four in Philadelphia.

One-timers

Two Minnesota State men’s recruits are on the NHL Central Scouting Service mid-season rankings: Fargo Force defenseman Hunter Warner (206th among North American skaters) and Indiana Ice goaltender Jason Pawloski (34th among North American goalies). ... WCHA players of the week included Alaska Anchorage goaltender Chris Kamal, who was named defensive player of the week after allowing just two goals on 64 shots in a sweep of MSU last weekend. The other conference awards went to Bemidji State’s Cory Ward (offensive) and Jesse Wilkins (rookie) ... The Gustavus women’s hockey team bumped up to No. 7 in the nation in the latest U.S. College Hockey Online Division III poll.