WEEKEND RECAP: Sweet sweep (and near-sweep) for Beavers

To call it “a pretty solid weekend” for the Bemidji State men’s and women’s hockey teams would be an understatement.

The Beaver men’s team swept away Alaska with a big 6-1 win on Friday and a thrilling 4-3 overtime win on Saturday.

The women’s team, meanwhile, scored a historic pair of games over No. 1 Minnesota at Ridder Arena. The Beavers officially tied the Gophers 2-2 on Friday but won the shootout to earn the two points. Then on Saturday the Beavers won 1-0, marking BSU’s first win over the Gophers since 2011. It added up to a 5-point weekend for BSU.

Sophomore Brittni Mowat was the hero for the Beavers women, making 83 saves on the weekend, including 36 Saturday.

Also notable: Former Gopher Stephanie Anderson scored the game-winner in the shootout Friday, a nice moment for her.

The Beaver women get a bye week before hosting No. 10 North Dakota next weekend. A pair of wins over UND and BSU should find itself back in the top 10.

The Beaver men, meanwhile, head to Mankato for a date with the No. 13 Mavericks.

BSU has played well in all six of its games despite their 3-3 record; however, this weekend’s series against a strong Alaska team (who came into the weekend ranked No. 16) was a bit of a culmination of the progress they’ve made after routing North Dakota 5-1 in the first game.

BSU’s top line of Nate Arentz, Markus Gerbrandt and Brendan Harms all have three goals apiece while fourth-liner Charlie O’Connor, who had two goals in all of last year, also has three.

Arentz was most certainly BSU’s best player last weekend, and was named WCHA offensive player of the week for his efforts. He went off for three goals, two assists, two blocked shots and a plus-six rating against the Nanooks.

Right now I’d put his line against any in the WCHA. They’ve looked that good.

But that’s not all BSU is doing offensively.

The triplet line (of Myles, Gerry and Leo Fitzgerald) have stepped up and played well as freshmen (Myles has two goals already) and the fourth line, with O’Connor, Mitch Cain and Phil Brewer have also added a nice offensive punch to their already fast, physical game.

Defenseman Matt Prapavessis has two goals and two assists and at times looks like a forward with his scoring touch while still being a good defensive presence for BSU.

Really the only line that hasn’t made a huge contribution as far as points scored is Cory Ward’s line. Ward scored the game-winner Saturday, but only has two goals and no assists this season. Winger John Parker doesn’t have any points, while Phil Marinaccio has a goal and two assists.

Obviously it’s still early and Ward (as well as Parker and Marinaccio) has a good track record. If that line can get heated up and start scoring? Watch out.

Polling place

Four WCHA men’s teams are ranked in this week’s USCHO poll, the highest of them being Michigan Tech at No. 9. The Huskies are 6-0-0 following a sweep of Michigan. Also ranked are MSU (No. 13), Ferris State (No. 16) and Northern Michigan (No. 20 and making its debut in the poll). Alaska dropped out, as did Alaska Anchorage, but Bowling Green is on the cusp of the rankings and BSU got some votes.

Here’s the full rankings, with Minnesota still at No. 1

And here’s my ballot, for what it’s worth. I have five WCHA teams in there — no Bemidji State yet, but if they can play well and score a win or two against Minnesota State this weekend I think they’ll deserve a vote.

Also: I like Colgate more than North Dakota. The ‘Gate lost twice — once to a very good St. Cloud State team (who beat the Gophers) and also to an underrated Mercyhurst squad this weekend. (Speaking of the ‘Hurst — I voted for them this week. I realize they have the same record as BSU at 3-3 but they’ve split series with Colgate, Merrimack and Air Force. So maybe I was swayed by that win at Colgate. Regardless, I think they’re a good team.)

1. Minnesota
2. Colgate
3. North Dakota
4. UMass Lowell
5. Boston College
6. St. Cloud State
7. Boston University
8. Minnesota State
9. Vermont
10. Michigan Tech
11. Notre Dame
12. Miami
13. Denver
14. Providence
15. Ferris State
16. Bowling Green
17. Minnesota Duluth
18. Mercyhurst
19. Merrimack
20. Nebraska Omaha

Women’s roster released; expanded replay criteria approved for 2014-15 season

Just a quick FYI: The BSU women’s team has posted its roster for the 2014-15 season already.

Looks like the only significant losses were the six graduating seniors. Also not on the roster this season is D Kenzie Menzak. Menzak, who transferred to BSU from Plattsburgh State, only appeared in two games last season.

As for the newcomers, there are seven freshman joining the program this year: D Riley Fawcett (Proctor); F Ciscely Nelson (Roseau); D Emma Terres (New Hope); D Alexis Joyce (Lakeville); F Summer Thibodeau (Maple Grove); D Alewx Bond (Barrie, Ont.) and G Hannah Paulson (Maple Grove).

That almost exactly replaces positions the Beavers needed with the departures they had last season (two forwards, a goalie and a bunch of defenseman).

Former head coach Steve Sertich knew what he needed to replace and it looks like he did a good job bringing in a bunch of instate talent. I don’t think new head coach Jim Scanlan will be bringing in anyone knew at this late date but there may be one or two uncommitted players out there that could walk on and add to the roster.

News NCAA rules approved

Nothing major, but the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved a few changes Friday, especially to the way replays are handled in men’s and women’s college hockey.

Basically, there are a few more scenarios where officials can review goals:

-Refs can review a goal to see if it was scored before a penalty

-A scoring play can be reviewed if an offside or too many men penalty is missed to see when the puck was in the offensive zone

-The NCAA also clarified that video for replays can come from anywhere. Before the video was required to come from the TV broadcast.

The rest of the rules are somewhat dull (like the size of goal pegs and penalty shot and faceoff procedure).

Also, there’s an experimental rule for women’s hockey only which allows the puck to be played legally with a high stick.

BSU releases 2014-15 men’s hockey schedule

Turns out if I’d have waited a day the Bemidji State hockey schedule would’ve been out already. Here’s the link to the full schedule via BSU. Here’s the press release. I’ll have the full schedule below.

As I had suspected, the Beavers do indeed take on St. Cloud State and Minnesota in nonconference action.

And if you look at the schedule, things are going to be very difficult right away for BSU.

The season opens with a home and home against UND followed by a week off then a series at Mariucci Arena. Then they’ll return home to face Alaska fairbanks before traveling to Minnesota State Mankato.

They’ll host St. Cloud State Nov. 28-29.

So to recap: The Beavers play three nonconference series and one nonconference trournament (North Star Cup).

Three of their nonconference foes (UND, Minnesota, St. Cloud) went to the NCAA tournament and obviously two went to the Frozen Four.

BSU also has at least four games against Minnesota State and two against Ferris.

They’ll also play either Mankato or Minnesota again in the championship game or the third place game of the North Star Cup.

In all that’s 13 games against 2013-14 tournament teams. That’s about the same as last season.

I’d guess the Beavers are once again going to have among the toughest schedules in the nation when all is said and done.

Anyway, the full schedule is below. You ready for October yet?

Oct. 10-11: at North Dakota, vs. NORTH DAKOTA (Home and Home)
Oct. 17-18: OPEN
Oct. 24-25: at Minnesota
Oct. 31-Nov. 1: ALASKA FAIRBANKS*
Nov. 7-8: at Minnesota State*
Nov. 14-15: MICHIGAN TECH*
Nov. 21-22: at Bowling Green*
Nov. 28-29: ST. CLOUD STATE
Dec. 5-6: at Alaska Anchorage*
Dec. 12-13: NORTHERN MICHIGAN*
Dec. 19-20: OPEN (CHRISTMAS BREAK)
Dec. 26-27: OPEN (CHRISTMAS BREAK)
Jan. 2-3: OPEN (CHRISTMAS BREAK)
Jan. 9-10: ALABAMA-HUNTSVILLE*
Jan. 17-18: at Lake Superior State*
Jan. 23: vs. Minnesota Duluth (North Star College Cup, St. Paul)
Jan. 24: vs. Mankato/Minnesota (North Star College Cup, St. Paul)
Jan. 30-31: BOWLING GREEN*
Feb. 6-7: at Michigan Tech (Winter Carnival)*
Feb. 13-14: at Northern Michigan*
Feb.  20-21: ALASKA-ANCHORAGE*
Feb. 27-28: at Ferris State*
March 6-7: MINNESOTA STATE*
March 13-15: WCHA first round
March 20-21: WCHA Final Five (St. Paul)
*denotes WCHA conference game

Piecing together the 2014-15 schedule

Apologies for the lack of updates but there hasn’t been much news on the college hockey front, especially related to Bemidji State.

Yes, the WCHA hired both a men’s commissioner and a women’s commissioner but there hasn’t been much news specifically related to the Beavers.

The BSU women have yet to announce a new head coach; and neither team has released their schedule yet.

Despite not having a full official schedule a few WCHA (and nonconference) teams have put out their 2014-15 scheduled so I can, at least somewhat confidently, at least give a visual on what part of BSU’s schedule will look like next season.

Five of the 10 WCHA schools have released their schedules (Fairbanks, Anchorage, Ferris, Tech and Huntsville) as has one nonconference opponent (Duluth). North Dakota hasn’t released theirs officially yet (save nonconference) but Brad Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald reported that BSU and North Dakota will play a home and home to kick off the season next year.

Anyway, here’s all we know:

Oct. 10-11: at North Dakota, vs. NORTH DAKOTA (Home and Home)
Oct. 17-18: ???
Oct. 24-25: ???
Oct. 31-Nov. 1: ALASKA FAIRBANKS*
Nov. 7-8: ???
Nov. 14-15: MICHIGAN TECH*
Nov. 21-22: ???
Nov. 28-29: ???
Dec. 5-6: at Alaska Anchorage*
Dec. 12-13: ??
Dec. 19-20: ??
Dec. 26-27: Guessing this will be Christmas Break.
Jan. 2-3: ??
Jan. 9-10: ALABAMA-HUNTSVILLE*
Jan. 17-18: ??
Jan. 23: vs. Minnesota Duluth (North Star College Cup, St. Paul)
Jan. 24: vs. Mankato/Minnesota (North Star College Cup, St. Paul)
Jan. 30-31: ??
Feb. 6-7: at Michigan Tech (Winter Carnival)*
Feb. 13-14: ??
Feb.  20-21: ALASKA-ANCHORAGE*
Feb. 27-28: at Ferris State*

I’m fairly certain the Beavers will also be traveling to play the Gophers again this year and hosting St. Cloud State but I haven’t confirmed either of those series and don’t know exactly when they’re going to play.

As for the series that haven’t been announced, we know they’ll play Mankato four times and will also play both Northern Michigan and Bowling Green four times (since they only saw those teams for a single series each last season).  I believe they will also face Lake Superior just twice this season, i.e., one road series.

I’m pretty sure that gets the Beavers to 36, which is the mac number of games allowed with the one Alaska trip (I think they’d get 38 games if they made two Alaska trips).

Essentially it looks like exactly the same schedule in terms of opponents this season, only minus Miami and plus Duluth in the first round of the North Star Cup. It would have been nice to see some different teams in the mix for once (maybe somebody from the East Coast) but in all it once again looks like the Beavers have one of the nation’s tougher schedules.

WEEKEND RECAP: BSU scores four against St. Cloud; WCHA has rough showing in first full weekend; Shootouts are fun?

I’ll have more on this later in the week, but even though the Beavers didn’t pick up a win against St. Cloud State, BSU was happy with their performance against a Huskies team that many expected to roll them before the games last week.

The Beavers scored two goals in each game. Unfortunately for the Beavers, as BSU head coach Tom Serratore said during the weekly press conference Tuesday, “The first to three usually wins.” It was, really, much the same kind of series BSU played last season: Both the one-goal loss on Friday and the tie on Saturday after having a two goal lead. Both of those occurrences happened often last season.

“Offense right now is a work in progress for us, no question,” Serratore said. “But it was nice getting four goals. If we’d have chipped in a power play goal, we might have won one of those games.”

The Beavers rallied from a 2-0 deficit Friday night only to see the Huskies score a shorthanded goal that turned out to be the game-winner a 3-2 win; in that game the Beavers went 0-for-2 on the power play. Highlights here.

Saturday night, BSU had four chances on the power play and couldn’t convert. They settled for a 2-2 tie. See highlights here.

Conversely, SCSU scored a power play goal and a shorty Friday and another power play goal Saturday.

BSU had goals from sophomores Markus Gerbrandt and Cory Ward on Friday and tallies from sophomore Phil Brewer and freshman Nate Arentz Saturday. If you’re scoring at home, that’s three goals from the third line and one from the top line. If the Beavers want to score more goals they’ll need more production from that top line as well as some help from the second line — which has freshmen Brenden Harms and Phil Marinaccio playing with senior Jeff Jubinville. There will be a bit of a learning curve there, to be sure, so it will take some time.

But the Beavers, I think, are happy with how the offense played after just one weekend despite the “work in progress” tag.

Continue reading

Poll Survivor: WCHA media and coaches poll, plus my ballot

With apologies to the Rolling Stones: The Bemidji Pioneer WCHA Preseason Media Poll is complete. I have survived.

Find the complete media poll here. Shane Frederick’s Mankato Free Press Coaches Poll can be found here.

As expected, Minnesota State was nearly unanimous in both polls.

In the media poll, the Mavericks garnered 22 of 25 first-place votes. Ferris State, a solid second, got two first place votes.

Now, this is where it gets weird.

Bemidji State received a first-place vote and finished eighth in the media poll.

Huh?

Yeah, that’s right. The Beavers got a first-place vote.

I’ve been asked a million times who voted for Bemidji State in the poll. I’m not in the business of telling people who voted for whom. I don’t want to throw anyone under the bus, if they want to explain their reasoning they’re free to do so, but I won’t force them to.

All I can tell you is: I didn’t vote for the Beavers to finish first. Neither did any other members of the Bemidji media.

I did have BSU higher than most: I picked the Beavers to take fifth. A little generous? Possibly. But the newly-realigned WCHA is wide open. And I think the Beavers have the potential to be a lot better than they showed last season — especially if Andrew Walsh stays hot all season and the younger front line can score with consistency.

But first place? That’s asking a heck of a lot.

Here’s my full ballot, for good measure:

1. Minnesota State

2. Ferris State

3. Alaska

4. Northern Michigan

5. Bemidji State

6. Bowling Green

7. Lake Superior State

8. Michigan Tech

9. Alabama Huntsville

10. Alaska Anchorage

In hindsight, I think I picked Tech too low. Also, Huntsville and Anchorage in the bottom two spots seems like a given — although I may have flip-flopped the two, I don’t think it matters much because I doubt either will be competing for a playoff spot this year.

I did vote for some BSU players for the All-WCHA teams. Here’s my choices for the All-League, and Player and Rookie of the year votes.

Forwards: Matt Leitner, MSU; Alex Petan, Tech; Ryan Carpenter, BGSU

Defensemen: Matt Prapavessis, BSU; Travis Binkley, Ferris

Goaltender: Andrew Walsh, BSU

Player of the Year: Leitner

Rookie of the Year: Brendan Harms, BSU

I truly think Walsh is up there with any goaltender in college hockey when he’s on. Prapavessis is also a rock-solid defenseman who, I think, deserves more credit.

As for my rookie vote: That award is a crapshoot. Harms is one guy I’d been hearing a lot about from people outside Bemidji. So I picked him. In reality: Who the heck knows with the rookie votes?

I think the main thing to glean from both the media and the coaches polls this year is that, aside from Minnesota State being really good, nobody knows anything.

Which makes this league even more fun than it had been in years past.

During the WCHA coaches teleconference on Wednesday, that was cleat. Bowling Green head coach Chris Bergeron said he wasn’t very familiar with any of the teams in the new league so it was hard for him to vote. Most of them had similar comments.

I’ll have a few more things on the upcoming hockey season this week. First, look for a piece on the BSU women’s hockey team in Thursday’s paper. They open their season this weekend (yeah, I know, it seems early) at Lindenwood in Missouri.

Media days and such

You know a given sports season is just around the corner when conferences start holding media days — you know, the schmooze sessions the conferences hold so that reporters can get a ton of the same quotes from a coach and one or two players.

Well, it’s just about a month until the college hockey season and conferences everywhere are gathering to address the media.

Both new conferences — the Big Ten and the NCHC — gathered Thursday for their media days. The Big Ten held its pow-wow at the Excel Energy Center in St. Paul while the NCHC was across the metro area at the Target Center.

(Yeah, I know. Crazy, right? The NCHC directly competing with the Big Ten? It’s almost like they started a whole new conference just to prove something… oh wait.)

Anyway, I digress.

The WCHA isn’t going to have a media day this year, but it will have a conference call next week.

I’m also excited to announce — as I have alluded to on Twitter — that the Bemidji Pioneer conducting this year’s WCHA media poll. We’ll release it next Wednesday in advance of the conference call with coaches; Shane Frederick of the Mankato Free Press is conducting the coaches poll which will be released the same day.

The NCHC and Big Ten did, however, release their media polls today.

Miami tops the NCHC poll while Wisconsin actually beat out Minnesota for the Big Ten poll. Here’s a look:

Big Ten
1. Wisconsin
2. Minnesota
3. Michigan
4. (tie) Michigan State
4. (tie) Ohio State
6. Penn State

Players to watch: Kyle Rau, F, Minnesota (unanimous pick); Alex Guptill, F, Michigan; Matt Berry, F, Michigan State; Ryan Dzingel, F, Ohio State; Max McCormick, F, Ohio State; Nic Kerdiles, F, Wisconsin; Michael Mersch, F, Wisconsin; Mark Zengerle, F, Wisconsin; Mac Bennett, D, Michigan; Mike Reilly, D, Minnesota; Jake McCabe, D, Wisconsin; Adam Wilcox, G, Minnesota; Jake Hildebrand, G, Michigan State.

NCHC
1. Miami (7 first-place votes)
2. North Dakota (5)
3. St. Cloud State (4)
4. Denver
5. Western Michigan
6. Minnesota Duluth
7. Colorado College
8. Nebraska Omaha

Bemidji State plays Minnesota out of the Big Ten and also plays all of the top three NCHC schools in nonconference play. Not too shabby.

As always follow Brad Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald for coverage of the NCHC, he’s at media day today.

Hockey East and the ECAC haven’t released their preseason polls yet but Atlantic Hockey did; looks like the league will be very balanced this year with four teams getting at least two first-place votes.

Atlantic Hockey
1. Niagara (3)
2. (tie) Mercyhurst (4)
2. (tie) Air Force (2)
4. Canisius (3)
5. RIT
6. Connecticut
7. Robert Morris
8. Holy Cross
9. Bentley
10. Army
11. American International
12. Sacred Heart
BSU women picked seventh
The Bemidji State women’s hockey team was picked to finish tied for seventh out of eight teams in the WCHA’s coaches poll.
Unsurprisingly, Minnesota was chosen to finish first and received seven first-place votes. You can’t vote for your own team in the coaches poll so Wisconsin got the charity first-place vote from Gopher coaches.
The BSU women hope to rebound this year from an awful 2012-13 season that saw them go 6-26-2 overall and 5-22-1 in the conference. They will open the season next Friday — Sept. 27 — at Lindenwood University in Missouri.
I’ll have a preview of the team next week.

I have returned: BSU hockey heads to New Hampshire for tournament

I have returned.

A combination of the holidays, my vacation and other vacations caused this blog to lie dormant for more than 14 days. My apologies for that. But I was in Texas, where it was 65 degrees on Christmas Eve. I make no apologies for this, considering it was 20-below here in the Great White North.

All that said, there is hockey being played Sunday and Monday. Well, technically, there was hockey played Thursday, Friday and Saturday, too, but it didn’t involve Bemidji State.

The Beavers are in Hanover, N.H., Sunday and Monday for Dartmouth’s Ledyard National Bank Tournament.

BSU got something of a fortunate draw in the first round. Instead of having to play No. 2 New Hampshire of No. 10 Dartmouth, the Beavers are set to take on Massachusetts-Amherst (not to be confused with Massachusetts-Lowell) at 3 p.m. Central time Sunday.

Like BSU, UMass is a middle-of-the-pack team in Hockey East. However, unlike BSU, the Minutemen are mired in a three-game losing streak which saw them get swept by No. 20 Colgate and lose another to No. 14 Yale.

The Beavers, meanwhile, are 2-0-1 in their last three games – including a 5-1 drubbing of then No. 10 Denver.

I previewed this weekend’s tournament for Sunday’s paper, so read that story here.

-Also of interest, the Brainerd Dispatch has a nice story about Brainerd native Reid Mimmack, who joined the Beavers Thursday and be in uniform this weekend (possibly… if Dugas or Walsh is scratched for some reason).

-Here’s another preview of the series from UMass hockey blog Fear the Triangle, breaking down all four teams in the tournament.

UMass is currently 5-9-2, with its last win coming Dec. 1 vs. Vermont.

-From the New Hampshire side of things, both the Concord Monitor and the Foster’s Daily Democrat have second-half previews of the No. 2 Wildcats. UNH is 11-2-2, with the only two losses coming to UMass (in overtime) and Boston University. They also tied Colorado College and Northeastern.

-Meanwhile, information on Dartmouth has been harder to come by – no idea why, but I guess Hanover is a bit isolated so they don’t have a full-time hockey beat writer? Not sure. Regardless, the Big Green do have the nation’s top penalty kill (39-for-40) and is undefeated on its home rink.

-IMPORTANT: We do not have a paper on Monday, but look for a little writeup from me on the Web after Sunday’s game. I’m not in New Hampshire (obviously), but I’m going to try and follow along online as best I can. I will try and Tweet a few updates, too. Just follow me @JackHitts.

Beaver hockey gameday: O Pioneers

This is the one time that I get to bust out my Walt Whitman reference on a hockey blog, so I’m taking full advantage:

I suppose that I could technically make this reference at any time of the day, since I work for the Bemidji Pioneer, but I’ll spare you Walt Whitman literary criticism for the time being. (You’re lucky. I have pages and pages of this stuff in my closet.)

The Denver Pioneers come in to the Sanford Center this weekend (7:37 p.m. Friday and 7:07 p.m. Saturday, and Bemidji State may need to bring its pistols and sharp-edged axes to this game.

Denver is in the midst of a six-game winless streak. They’ve played Yale, New Hampshire, Wisconsin and North Dakota in the past three weeks, and have been unable to pick up a win. They will certainly be hungry for one against BSU, who finally got on track and picked up a win last weekend against UMD. The Beaver players I talked to seemed to realize this series would be tough, but they’re eager to face the ranked Pios at home.

Not certain who is going in goal for BSU tonight, but Denver will roll with Jussi Olkinuora tonight. The sophomore from Finland has gone 0-1-2 in his last three starts but has only allowed five goals.

Shane Frederick, beat writer for the Mankato Free Press and noted Mighty Mighty Bosstones scholar, has compiled a roundup of links from around the WCHA for today’s games. I will direct you to his blog, because that means I don’t have to do as much typing and linking.

Game tonight starts at 7:37. As always, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on Twitter (@Jackhitts) so drop me a line if you have any questions. Look for lineups and line charts on there, too.

Lines for Friday’s game:

BEMIDI STATE

Ben Kinne – Aaron McLeod – Jordan George
Radoslav Illo – Cory Ward – Danny Mattson
Brance Orban – Jeff Jubinville – David Boehm
Markus Gerbrandt – Mitch Cain – Brad Robbins

Jake Areshenko – Brady Wacker
Matt Carlson – Matt Prapavessis
Sam Rendle – Sam Windle

Andrew Walsh
Mathieu Dugas

DENVER

Grant Arnold – Nick Shore – Chris Knowlton
Gabe Levin – Shawn Ostrow – Daniel Doremus
Ty Loney – Quentin Shore – Matt Tabrum
– – Zac Larraza

Dakota Mermis – Paul Phillips
Joey LaLeggia – Scott Mayfield
Nolan Zajac – David Makowski

Juho Olkinuora
Sam Brittain

Beavers travel to Mankato for key WCHA series

Working the graveyard shift tonight to make sure I get this blog post up in a timely manner.

Especially since there’s been plenty of big news from Bemidji State this week, what with BSU athletic director Rick Goeb’s termination effective at the end of the school year and the affiliated report on BSU athletics that came with the firing. You can expect much more on that report from us in the coming weeks.

But back on the ice for the Beavers, it’s business as usual. BSU travels to Mankato Friday and Saturday for another “must-win” type of series. Bemidji and Minnesota State are locked in a three-way tie for seventh with six points in the conference (along with Michigan Tech). Both teams will be wanting to take at least two points – if not more – to break the deadlock in the middle of the conference.

For BSU, Mathieu Dugas will once again start at goal on Friday, as Tom Serratore said he’s going to keep riding with the hot hand.

Dugas will be facing a red-hot Mavericks team that has been scoring a ton of power-play goals, specifically Matt Leitner.

Shane Frederick of the Mankato Free Press has a nice story on Leitner, who leads the Mavs with 15 points in 12 games and has top-notch rink vision.

Frederick’s got a quick-hits capsule on the series, which you should read.

I won’t be going down to the game but I will be attempting to follow through the radio and through the Twitter-verse. Follow me (@Jackhitts) for some thoughts culled from a radio broadcast (which may not be wise, but it might be funny).

Also, follow Frederick (@puckato). Hopefully I can convince him to live-Tweet the entire series using nothing but Wilco lyrics, something which I was too scared to do as a rookie a few weeks ago. Maybe the veteran can come through for all of us.