There have been a few real, non-exhibition games played already (Bowling Green vs. Niagara last week and Northeastern vs. Merrimack Wednesday), but the men’s hockey season, for all intents and purposes, begins today. Michigan Tech is taking on Lake Superior State RIGHT NOW in Sault Ste. Marie – the first honest-to-goodness hockey game of the year in the WCHA.
Bemidji State doesn’t have a game this week, which may be for the best. The Beavers get another week to work on their skills before opening the season at home against LSSU. They take on the US Under-18 National team Saturday in another exhibition tuneup.
According to BSU players, another week of practice will do them good. After Sunday’s 3-3 tie with Manitoba, there were some things BSU hadn’t even been able to work on after only two days of real practice.
“Our penalty kill, we haven’t gone over it at all yet but I think they did very well out there,” senior Jake Areshenko said after the Manitoba game. “I think overall it was a decent game for everybody. I think we all competed hard, worked hard. For the rookies, I think they’re up to speed now, they know what its about.
“I think come next Saturday we’ll be stronger with another good week of practice.”
BSU head coach Tom Serratore said this week he’ll be looking for more structure.
“We want more structure and less chaos,” he said. “We want to kind of tone things down a little bit. We’d like to tactically be a little sharper. That’s expected. I think we’ll be better this coming weekend than we were on Sunday.”
Serratore held a number of upperclassmen out of the opening exhibition game, including captain Ben Kinne, leading returning scorer Jordan George and goaltendter Andrew Walsh. One would expect them to play this week.
The National Team, FYI, has already played Wisconsin and Notre Dame. They lost to Wisconsin 5-0 but managed to tie with the Irish 1-1. They also take on North Dakota Friday before coming to Bemidji.
THIS WEEK IN THE WCHA
Michigan Tech vs. Lake Superior State
A Thursday/Saturday home-and-home only between the two instate (and future conference) rivals. Stephen Anderson of the Houghton Mining Gazette has published literally everything you might want to know about MTU hockey. Here’s the look at LSSU from the Soo Evening News.
Michigan State at Minnesota
St. Cloud at New Hampshire
Minnesota State at Alabama Huntsville
The Mankato Free Press’ Shane Frederick has had an in-depth look at everything MSU on his blog, breaking down the Mavs position-by-position. Meanwhile, in Alabama, the Chargers are still hanging by a thread without a conference.
Wisconsin vs. Northern Michigan (in Green Bay)
Fun fact: Marquette, Mich. (home of the Wildcats) is nearly as close to Green Bay as Madison is. And it’s also closer to Milwaukee than it is to Detroit. Matt Wellens of the Mining Journal previews the future WCHA Cats here. Meanwhile, in Madison, the Nic Kerdiles suspension saga continues. But they are soldiering on.
Ohio State at Minnesota Duluth
Kevin Pates of the Duluth News-Tribune asks if UMD is rebuilding or reloading this year. He’s also got their opening lineup already on his blog. The Buckeyes are looking to avoid a late-season collapse like last year.
Clarkston at Colorado College
Nebraska Omaha at Ice Breaker tournament in Kansas City
Alaska Anchorage vs. Air Force and Canisuis
Luckily, Alaska’s ice problem has been solved. They’re playing this weekend as part of the Kendall Hockey Classic.
That just about covers the men’s side. I may do a women’s update tomorrow in advance of their home opener vs. St. Cloud State this weekend.