emotions can be read in their eyes. With Minnesota State, Mankato
coach Troy Jutting, you have to look just a little bit higher.
When something’s wearing on Jutting, you can read it in
his brow. And these days, that brow is sporting furrows deep enough
to plant a nice row of crops.
Friday’s “home” game versus Minnesota at the
Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul was a fine example of the highs
and lows Jutting and company are contending with these days. One
a night when one’s team scored six goals and when your athletic
department sold more than 17,000 tickets, one would expect a smile.
But with the temperature well below zero, the Mavericks goaltending
having an off night, and the team playing a home game more than
100 miles from campus this was anything but a normal night.
In the end, a half-dozen goals was still four shy of a win, as
Minnesota triumphed 9-6. While the Mavericks have made great strides
since their disappointing 10-win season they still aren’t
ready to be a serious contender for a spot in the league’s
upper half. The “good news, bad news” nature of the
Mavs season can be summed up in the night top line wing Brock
Becker had in St. Paul, as he scored a goal in each of the first
two periods, and left the game in the third with a possible broken
“That probably typifies our night a little bit,” Jutting
said, with a disappointed sigh. “He makes a few nice plays,
and then, bang, he gets hurt. Brock’s one of the skilled
kids we have that can make plays for us. Now the trainer says
there’s a possibility that he has a broken foot.”
While Becker’s status was still not clear five days later,
his status as an offensive catalyst for the Mavericks thus far
in 2004-05 is unquestioned, and the hole he’ll leave in
the team’s lineup is a considerable one. If he can make
a comeback, it will not be the first one MSU fans have seen this
The team started out 0-5-1 before battling back to a .500 record,
but has just one mark (an upset victory at North Dakota) in the
W column in the past month. Jutting says that much of the trouble
is self-inflicted, paying special note of the score-a-palooza
loss to Minnesota.
“Anytime you score six goals in this league, you’ve
got to get a win,” Jutting said. “Give Minnesota credit
for taking advantage of opportunities, but we didn’t make
it hard enough on them.”
Instead, as injuries and losses mount, the game seems a little
bit harder each week for Jutting’s Mavericks. And after
tough losses, that brow seems just a bit more furrowed each week.
AND HEARD IN THE WCHA
Seawolf not blue over return to the blue line: There
was something upbeat and reassuring about Alaska Anchorage junior
Matt Hanson’s reaction early in the week when coach John
Hill moved him from fourth-line center to defense.
The Anchorage Daily News reports that Hanson, who is
a natural defenseman, put aside thoughts of the glamour that comes
with playing forward and the more natural ability to score while
playing center, and welcomed the move to the blue line for a reason
that’s most basic: ice time.
“On defense, I get to play a lot more,” Hanson told
News reporter Doyle Woody. “I’m not saying
I ever deserved to play on the top two lines, but back there (at
defense), I think I can help the team a lot more. I’m pretty
Hill told the paper that he recruited Hanson as a defenseman,
and with the team losing yet another player last week (freshman
blueliner Tyler Cherwinski is academically ineligible and will
miss the remainder of the season), switching Hanson back to his
natural position only made sense.
And with the extra ice time involved, it made for a nice smile
on the face of at least one Seawolf.
Great Weekend Getaway
at St. Cloud State
It’s a chance for the Pioneers to get back
on track, and a chance for the Huskies to salvage some pride,
this weekend at the National Hockey Center. True, Denver
is on a one-game winning streak, having beaten Michigan
Tech 1-0 the last time the Pioneers were on the ice. But
heads are still being scratched as to how the defending
national champs fell to Tech on Jan. 7. As for St. Cloud
State, take away that five-goal outburst at Minnesota Duluth
last week and the Huskies had been averaging less than a
goal per game for a month. That’s not way to get back
into the race for home ice. If Denver’s better record
and national ranking wasn’t enough reason to pick
the Pioneers in this series, consider that DU is 7-1 versus
teams nicknamed “Huskies” this year. That lone
loss to Tech is the lone blemish, as Denver has beaten Tech
three times, St. Cloud State twice and Northeastern twice.
You’re There: Long-time Wisconsin coach Jeff Sauer
remains a man who knows his way around a cheesy-baked pie,
so when the Dean tells us to check out the House of Pizza
(right next to the legendary Red Carpet in downtown St.
Cloud) we don’t argue. Try the thin crust, and don’t
go to heavy on the toppings, and you’re in for a treat.
History never looked so
good as it did last Saturday at the Midwest Wireless Civic
Center when MSU, Mankato donned throwback sweaters
(see the picture of Steven Johns at the top of this notebook)
similar to those worn by the Mavericks during their run
to the Division II national title in 1980. To honor the
25th anniversary of coach Don Brose’s only national
title, the current team wore bright gold sweaters with purple
trim and the word “MAVERICKS” spelled out across
the front in the shape of the school’s bovine mascot.
According to MSU athletic officials, the sweaters will be
auctioned off at the end of the season.
the final 1:09 of Saturday’s game between St. Cloud
State and Minnesota Duluth at the DECC, a pair of
fracases between the Bulldogs and Huskies resulted in more
than 60 minutes of penalties being doled out by referee
Derek Shepherd. We know that these in-state rivalries can
be intense, but for two teams to gather more than 100 minutes
in penalty time is ridiculous, and when more than 60 minutes
of those infractions come in the final 69 seconds of a game
that’s all but decided (when fans should be allowed
to warm up their cars or do something more productive than
watch men in stripes explain things to both benches) we’ve
got to draw the line. Keep it clean, folks.
TO PICK UP AFTER PRACTICE
• If relative team offense is any factor in the
NCAA selection process, Minnesota coach Don Lucia is probably
hoping that his team gets to face Minnesota State, Mankato
in the WCHA playoffs. Twice this season the Gophers have put up
nine goals in a game, and the Mavericks have been the victim on
both occasions. And with last Friday’s 9-6 win being played
at the Xcel Energy Center, Lucia noted that such offense was a
real rarity in the home of Jacques Lemaire’s trap-happy
Minnesota Wild. “I would imagine this is the first time
that 15 goals have been scored in this building in a long, long
time,” Lucia said.
With frigid temperatures gripping northern Minnesota last week,
the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs continued to perform like
an old car in cold weather. In last Saturday’s
5-1 home win versus St. Cloud State the Bulldogs took a 1-0 lead,
marking the just first time in their last dozen games that the
Bulldogs have scored first. In fact, one explanation for UMD’s
rapid fall from the top-ranking in the nation to below .500 may
be the fact that the Bulldogs have scored first in just five of
their 24 games thus far.
As of last week, fewer than 1,500 tickets remained for
the NCAA West Regional, to be played at Mariucci Arena
on March 26-27. With the host Gophers a good bet to play in Minneapolis,
one gets the feeling that one or two Pride On Ice types have snapped
up a few seats.
been an interesting few weeks for Michigan Tech, as the
Huskies head into this weekend’s series at Minnesota having
won two of their last three, after getting just one win in all
of their previous games. You’ll recall the formerly-woeful
Huskies holding Denver (which had the nation’s highest-scoring
offense at the time) to just one goal in their weekend split at
Denver. Then last Tuesday Colin Murphy had four assists as the
Huskies spanked Notre Dame 6-2 before 3,000-plus at the Resch
Center in Green Bay. The road games at Minnesota will be nothing
new for Tech, which is in the midst of a 55-day stretch (Dec.
4 to Jan. 28) without a home game.
Fast on the heels of Tech’s game in Green Bay and MSU, Mankato’s
game in St. Paul, the recent trend of neutral site games
continues this weekend as Wisconsin and Notre Dame play
Saturday night at Allstate Arena in suburban Chicago. The Badgers
and Irish facing off in a big building brings us back to December
of 1989 when those teams squared off in the then-brand new Bradley
Center in Milwaukee in the very first Badger Hockey Showdown.
The Fighting Irish were on the verge of winning the national football
title then, but the hockey team was a woeful D-I independent.
The Badgers, on the other hand, were three months away from winning
the 1990 NCAA title and featured an amazing wealth of talent.
The 17,000-plus who showed up expecting to see a battle between
two nation powers got what they paid for, for about the first
two minutes anyway, as Bucky coasted to a 9-3 win.
Colorado College will not only be looking to maintain
its place among the top of the national polls this week
when it hosts Minnesota Duluth. The Tigers may be looking for
some measure of revenge as well. Last season, the Bulldogs swept
the four-game series from CC, making the first time in 16 years
that the Duluthians had beaten CC four times in one season.
Fighting Sioux fans are having flashbacks to the days of Gerald
Ford or humming “Love Will Keep Us Together”
by the Captain & Tennille this week, that’s understandable.
After last weekend’s 1-0 loss at Colorado College, North
Dakota has now been shut out three times in a season for the first
time since the 1974-75 campaign. Die-hard Sioux fans will shudder
to recall that 6-28-2 club (which finished last in the WCHA) captained
by brothers Larry and Daryl Drader. No word as to whether Larry
had another brother named Darryl back home in Estevan, Sask.