The WCHA weekend preview for October 26th-28th
Here is this week's WCHA preview. Ten of the league's 12 teams have conference games, making for a pretty exciting weekend.
Wisconsin at Minnesota-Duluth, Friday and Saturday
Wisconsin's Derek Lee will miss this series after suffering a minor injury when his scooter collided with a car earlier this week. Lee had been quarterbacking Wisconsin's power play, so that's a significant loss.
Nic Kerdiles won't be playing this weekend, but did have his NCAA suspension reduced down to 30% of the season, meaning eight more games. Instead, reports Thursday night were that Kerdiles would be suiting for his old NTDP U18 team in exhibitions against Minnesota and St. Thomas.
With the upcoming conference changes, this may be Wisconsin's last ever trip up to Duluth. UMD is pretty healthy heading into the weekend, so there shouldn't be any major lineup changes from last weekend. I still haven't seen any word on who will be starting in the goalie battle between Aaron Crandall and Matt McNeely, though I wouldn't be surprised if both got a start this weekend.
UMD is also celebrating the 20th anniversary of their 1993 MacNaughton Cup victory this weekend. In that article, former UMD coach Mike Sertich dropped this gem: ""Derek [Plante]'s senior year was utterly fantastic. He and Greg Johnson (North Dakota) were the two best players in the country. (Maine's Paul) Kariya won the Hobey, but I still don't believe that he was the best." I'm not even sure what to say, besides no.
Alaska-Anchorage at North Dakota, Friday and Saturday
These two teams played last week, a 5-0 North Dakota win in Fairbanks, but it will be a much different looking North Dakota team this time around. Michael Parks is still injured for the Sioux, but all nine players that missed at least one game last weekend due to suspension for North Dakota are back in the lineup.
Aside from the oddity of seeing the same team two weekends in a row, Alaska-Anchorage also has bye weeks in two out of the first four weekends of WCHA league play.
UAA is 3-26-3 all-time in North Dakota, and just 1-6-1 in Grand Forks under head coach Dave Shyiak.
Bemidji State at Nebraska-Omaha, Friday and Saturday
UNO is probably considered the favorite in this series, but Bemidji State has had UNO's number in recent match-ups. Last year, the Beavers and Mavericks split their four-game series at 1-1-2, but in the previous season, Bemidji went a surprising 5-0-1 against the Mavericks, including a road sweep in the playoffs in each team's first WCHA season.
UNO goalie Jon Faulkner is back as a fifth-year senior,and with Ryan Massa taking the year off from hockey, and talented freshman Anthony Stolarz still a bit green, Faulkner is showing the form he did earlier in his career.
Minnesota State at St. Cloud State, Friday and Saturday
I'll be in the press box for Saturday's game, so expect some live coverage. The last time I covered a game at the National Hockey Center, SCSU assistant coach Garrett Raboin was a freshman for the Huskies.
Shane Frederick has reached the final Kubler-Ross stage of acceptance on the death of the WCHA.
Alum and former NHLer Mark Parrish will take over the spot held by his former high school coach Tom Saterdalen as color commentator on St. Cloud's television broadcasts.
St. Cloud freshman Jonny Brodzinski had a great weekend against Alabama-Huntsville last week.
Michigan Tech at Denver, Friday and Saturday
Michigan Tech's Pheonix Copley made a strong case for more playing time in Michigan Tech's three-goalie race for the starting job last weekend, earning WCHA rookie of the week honors for his performance against Minnesota.
Tech Hockey Guide previews this series.
The Denver Post's Mike Chambers says he isn't so sure the Pioneers miss Drew Shore and Jason Zucker.Sam Brittain will most likely start Friday's game, while Juho Olkinuora will get the start on Saturday.
Colorado College at Cornell, Friday and Saturday
This will be a really tough road test for Colorado College, in what is one of the toughest venues in college hockey.
Cornell, meanwhile, is playing their first official game of the season, since Ivy League schools get a late start, and only Cornell alums will tell you that Cornell is an Ivy League school. The Big Red tied Canadian university Brock 2-2 in their exhibition. As a point of reference, Michigan Tech beat Brock 6-2, and Northern Michigan beat them 2-0.
Canisius at Minnesota, Sunday
Minnesota and Canisius compete for the right to claim the title of best college hockey team with 'Golden' in their nickname. It's too bad Kent State doesn't have a program anymore to compete as well.
Minnesota warms up with an exhibition against the NTDP U18s on Friday. The light schedule will give the Gophers the opportunity to sit a couple players with minor injuries. Freshman Brady Skjei won't play this weekend, while Mark Alt and Kyle Rau will skip the exhibition, and are questionable for Sunday's game.
Canisius has a couple Minnesotans on their roster making a homecoming, including freshman goalie Keegan Asmundson, who was excellent in the one game he's started so far. Canisius appears to be a pretty tough defensive team that struggles to score goals.