The Free Press, Mankato, MN

November 8, 2013

College hockey gameday: Minnesota State vs. Bowling Green


The Mankato Free Press

---- — The 18th-ranked Mavericks (3-3-0, 1-1-0 in WCHA) will play their first home conference games of the season when they host the Falcons (4-2-2, 2-0-0). The Mavericks are 3-0-1 in the all-time series against Bowling Green. Minnesota State swept the Falcons in Mankato in 2009-10 and tied and won in Ohio a year earlier. But this weekend marks the teams’ first meetings as conference opponents. The Falcons won their first two WCHA games, sweeping Alaska Anchorage last weekend.

The 5-hole

Five things to know about the matchup:

1. Vets club: The Mavericks have just one senior in the lineup, captain and forward Johnny McInnis (1 goal-3 assists—4 points). He scored his first goal in Saturday’s win over Bemidji State but leads the team with 24 shots on goal. Add the junior class to the mix, and the Mavericks have just three goals from that group of seven players (five forwards and two defensemen). “We need our upperclassmen to step up this weekend,” coach Mike Hastings said. “Offensively, there’s an expectation for those guys to carry us, and I think they have high expectations of themselves.”

2. Second year stars: The sophomore class has been the most productive group for the Mavericks, starting with leading goal scorer Bryce Gervais (3-1—4). Dylan Margonari (2-1—3) and Teddy Blueger (2-1—3) are part of a small group with multiple goals, joined by freshman Jordan Nelson (2-1—3). Goalie Stephon Williams (.882 save percentage, 2.92 goals-against average) saw his 37-game starting streak end on Saturday and is getting pushed by freshman Cole Huggins (.927, 2.52).

3. Leit’s on: Mavericks junior Matt Leitner (0-3—3) returns to the ice after missing last weekend’s series at Bemidji State with a back problem. For his career, Leitner has 79 points in 83 games, which puts him in a tie for 22nd with the great Grant Stevenson on MSU’s Division I-era scoring list. Stevenson put up his total in two seasons (76 games) before turning pro in 2003. One point will put Leitner into the top 20 with Steven Johns (2001-05) and Joel Hanson (2004-08).

4. Scouting the Falcons: Bowling Green has two of the top three scorers in the WCHA in senior forward Bryce Williamson (6-5—11) and junior forward Dan DeSalvo (2-8—10). Williamson and sophomore forward Ben Murphy (6-1—7) are tied for second in the league’s goal-scoring race. “They’re as aggressive a team as we’ve encountered, at this point,” Hastings said, “in all three zones.” In goal, Tommy Burke (.916, 1.92) and freshman Tomas Sholl (.902, 2.26) have split time.

5. Improved program: Bowling Green coach Chris Bergeron is in his fourth season. He took over a five-win team and has added to that total each year since. Last season, the Falcons went 15-21-5 but finished ninth in the CCHA. Ryan Carpenter was that conference’s eighth-leading scorer a year ago and a candidate for WCHA preseason player of the year this year, but the senior remains out of the Falcons’ lineup with a broken finger.

Around the rinks

Gustavus Adolphus: The Gustavus men (1-1-0) will head to Wisconsin for games today and Saturday against No. 10 UW-Stevens Point (2-0-0) and UW-Stout (1-1-0), respectively, while the third-ranked women (1-0-0) have a tough nonconference series, hosting ninth-rated UW-Superior (2-0-0) at 7 p.m. today and 2 p.m. Saturday at the Don Roberts Ice Rink.

Minnesota State women: The Mavericks (3-7-0, 0-6-0 in WCHA) are idle this weekend and will return to action Nov. 15-16 at Bemidji State.

Shane Frederick

This weekend's series 7:37 p.m. today and 7:07 p.m. Saturday Verizon Wireless Center TV: Charter cable channels 226, 826 (HD) Radio: KTOE 1420 AM, 102.7 FM Live chat: mankatofreepresshockey.blogspot.com Twitter: @puckato