Roman Augustoviz spends Minnesota's winters covering college hockey, specifically the Gophers, and other University of Minnesota sports. During the summer, he writes about the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx, with a dose of U sports sprinkled in. Follow him on Twitter @RomanStrib.
No. 3 Denver had to battle to beat Minnesota State Mavericks 4-3 Friday in its first road game of the season.
“We’ve had some great, great wins here [at the Verizon Center]; some big wins,” DU coach George Gwozdecky said in a Pioneers' news release. “We’ve also had some tremendously heartbreaking losses as well. Whenever these two teams get together, no matter what year it is, it’s always going to be an interesting game. It’s always going to be topsy-turvy, swings of emotion, and tonight certainly was.”
Only 3,184 fans came to watch those swings. The win gave the Pioneers (6-1-0, 4-1-0) sole possession of first place in the WCHA.
Goals by freshman Nolan Zajac, sophomore Joey LaLeggia and senior Shawn Ostrow put the Pioneers 3-0 early in the second period. But they needed sophomore Daniel Doremus' goal in the third for the game-winner.
Junior goalie Sam Brittain made 33 saves, including a kick-save with six seconds left off a face-off shot from Eriah Hayes that would have tied that score.
“I thought we started out reckless on the power-play, and Sam Brittain made some great saves to ‘save our bacon,’ so to speak,” Gwozdecky said.
The Mavericks (3-4-1, 1-4-0) got goals late in the middle period, at 15:43 and 17:16, from Jean-Paul Lafontaine and Hayes to close within 3-2.
For the Pioneers’ final goal, Ostrow, from behind the net, threw the puck up to Doremus, alone above the near hash mark. He then snapped a wrister that beat goaltender Stephon Williams just below the cross bar to make it 4-2. It was the only shot on goal DU had in the third period when they were outshot 13-1.
Lafontaine' second goal at 18:09 cut the Pioneers’ lead to one goal again.
The Mavericks used two goals. Phil Cook was pulled after the Pioneers' third goal. He had nine saves in 23:28. Stephon Williams had seven saves the rest of the second period, none in the third.
MSU probably deserved a better fate than a loss.
Three stars of the game were Lafontaine of MSU, Ostrow and Nolan Zajac of DU.
The Gophers plays Minnesota State Mankato this weekend in a home and home series.
The Mavericks are off to a 2-2-2 start after being swept by St. Cloud State last weekend in two 5-1 games. The scores were the same, but the games not.
On Friday at the National Hockey Center, St. Cloud State took a 3-0 lead in the first period. On Saturday, it was a 1-0 game into the third period when the Huskies scored two quick goals in the third period.
Hopes were high in Mankato for this team, loaded with young, promising forwards. But two of them are not scoring goals.
Matt Leitner, a sophomore center from Los Alamitos, CA., led the Mavericks in assists and points last season. He had 11 goals, 18 assists and 29 points. But in six games so far, he has one goal and five assists for six points.
Jean-Paul LaFontaine was a member of the WCHA all-rookie team last season and tied for the team lead in goals and was second in points. He had 13 goals -- eighth on the power play -- 15 assists and 28 points. He has one assist this season. He was the left wing on the Mavericks' second line in their last game.
LaFontaine's uncle Pat was an NHL Hall of Famer, he played for both New York teams and Buffalo. So he has the blood lines.
Another intriguing prospect up front is freshman Teddy Blueger, from Riga, Latvia. He has one goal and two assists and is a plus-4. Pittsburgh took him in the second round of the 2012 NHL draft.
The two goals last weekend MSU scored were both by senior defenseman Evan Mosey, one was short-handed.
First-year head coach Mike Hastings was the associate head coach at Nebraska Omaha the past three seasons and before that was a Gophers assistant for one season. ... Eight of his 27 players are from Minnesota.
* The Gophers lead the all-time series with MSU 30-7-6, but the Mavericks were on a 5-1-0 roll until losing twice to the Gophers last season.
* The Mavericks have outshot opponents 218-169. Last weekend the Huskies had a 28-23 edge in shots the first night, the Mavericks outshot SCSU 38-30 the second. ... MSU has outscored opponents 10-8 in the third period.
* Special teams is one problem area for Hastings. Opponents are eight for 28 on the power play, or 28.6 percent. Too high. The Mavericks are four for 27 with a man advantage, 14.8 percent. Too low.
* Leitner's wings are sophomore Chase Grant, who has three goals and two assists, and freshman Bryce Gervais, who has one assist. Gervais was a teammate of Gophers Mike and Ryan Reilly on the Penticton Vees in the BCHL last season. The Vees won the Junior A national title in Canada.
WISCONSIN FORWARD HURT
Wisconsin freshman Nic Kerdiles was given permission to play for the under-18 U.S. national development team even though he was under NCAA suspension for 10 games for violating amateur rules.
That looked like a big positive for him. Well, it has not turned out so well. Kerdiles played against the Gophers in a 2-2 overtime tie, but sprained one of his knees the next night in an exhibition game against the University of St. Thomas. So he won't be skating for a while but probably should be ready when the Badgers play at Denver on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 and his suspension is lifted.
The Gophers are No. 1 in the USA Today poll after being tied with Boston College for the top spot last week.
None of the top 15 teams have played a game yet, so at least two voters must have changed their minds. Minnesota had only 12 first-place votes last week. Now the Gophers have 14 while the number of first-pace votes for BC fell from 20 to 19 and for Michigan from two to one.
Boston College, the defending NCAA champion is still No. 1 along in the USCHO.com poll.
Union, a Frozen Four team last April, is the only team in the top 15 in the ratings that has played a game. The Dutchmen lost to Merrimack 4-1.
Rank School Last Week's Ranking
1 University of Minnesota, 483 (14) 1
2 Boston College, 482 (19) 1
3 University of Michigan, 429 (1) 3
4 University of North Dakota, 406 4
5 Cornell University, 284 6
6 UMass-Lowell, 263 7
7 Western Michigan University, 250 11
8 Miami University, 234 9
9 Union College, 227 5
10 University of Denver, 200 8
11 Ferris State University, 176 14
12 Minnesota Duluth,140 12
13 Notre Dame, 136 10
14 Boston University, 119 13
15 Wisconsin, 63 15
1 Boston College (37) 978 1
2 Minnesota (12) 948 2
3 Michigan ( 1) 871 3
4 North Dakota 837 4
5 Cornell 704 6
6 Mass-Lowell 680 7
7 Denver 624 8
8 Miami 588 9
9 Western Michigan 584 10
10 Union 0- 1-0 581 5
11 Ferris State 466 11
12 Boston University 429 13
13 Minnesota-Duluth 404 12
14 Notre Dame 400 14
15 Wisconsin 242 18
16 Michigan State 222 16
17 Harvard 179 17
18 Quinnipiac 1- 0-0 126 NR
19 Merrimack 1- 0-0 120 NR
20 Maine 0- 1-0 102 15
Minnesota State Mankato handled th University of Lethbridge on Sunday night about as easily as the Gophers the night before.
The Mavericks routed the Pronghorns 7-1. Freshman Bryce Gervais had two goals for the home team at the Verizon Wireless Center. Lethbridge scored first but Gervais' first goal made it 1-1 after the opening period.
Senior Eriah Hayes, freshman Dylan Margonari and sophomore Leitner made it 4-1 Mavericks after two periods.
“It was nice to see them build on a lead,” MSU coach Mike Hastings said. “I thought they would come out quick in the period.”
The Mavericks outshot Lethbridge 29-1 in the period and got three more goals.Junior Johnny McInnis, Gervais and senior Evan Mosey scored.
“Bryce is just a pure goal scorer,” said Leitner, who had a goal and three assists. “He has an ability to put the puck in the net.”
“Leitner is an easy guy to play with,” Gervais said. “He’ll always find the open guy.”
Said Hastings, the former Gophers assistant coach, “We got a long way to go. I like how we played for 60 minutes, but we have a lot of work we need to do between now and Friday."
The Mavericks play at Alabama-Huntsville Friday and Saturday.
* The Gophers beat the Pronghorns 7-0 last Saturday.
Senior Mathieu Dugas (L'Assomption, Quebec) played the first 30 minutes and 28 seconds in goal and stopped all 11 shots he faced. Freshman Fabian Sivnert (Holviken, Sweden) finished and gave up three goals on 14 shots.
The Beavers were out shot 28-26. Each team was 0-for-4 on the power play.
The Beavers play the U.S. Under-18 Team in another exhibition game Saturday at 7:07 p.m., then host Lake Superior State University to open the regular season on Oct. 19 and 20.
U WOMEN STILL NO. 1
The Gophers women's hockey team (4-0-0) remains No. 1 in USCHO.com's national ratings. It receiced all 15 first-place votes.
Other WCHA teams in the top 10 are Wisconsin at No. 4, North Dakota at No. 6 and Ohio State at No. 10.
Mike Hastings is smooth -- as a talker.
The new Minnesota State men's hockey coach talked about commitment, family, getting better every day and a number of other topic on Monday during a news conference in Mankato.
He was named the third Mavericks coach ever on Saturday, replacing Troy Jutting who held the job for 12 seasons.
Hastings was the associate head coach at Nebraska Omaha the past three seasons and before that a Gophers assistant for one.
A video of his news conference is here.
I always got along with him well when he was on the Gophers staff in 2008-09. He seemed sharp, passionate, two admirable qualities.
On Monday, he said, "I am excited. I want to hit the ground running."
Hastings said he went after his new job hard and will have a list of needs and wants.
He said the improvement in facilities that MSU's hockey program needs will get done. "We will find a way. ... We are going to come up with answers," he said.
He said the Mavericks will be competing for championships and called Mankato and the university "a special place, a place I am going to call home."
His priorities, he said, would be to take care of the athletes already in the porgram, to let them know the coaching staff and school is committed to them. He also wanted to widen the recruiting base of MSU and accomplish something every day.
PROSPECTS GAME COMING
USA Hockey, in an effort to raise the visibility of American-born players, is starting as an all-american prospects game. It will be held Sept. 29, 2012 in Buffalo, N.Y. The Buffalo Sabres are partners in the endeavor.
Forty of the top players eligible for the 2013 NHL draft will be invited to play.
"Players will come from junior hockey and college hockey, as well as the high school and prep school ranks," said Jim Johannson, assistant executive director of hockey operations for USA Hockey in a news release. "We'll be in contact with NHL Central Scouting as we build the final list of players invited to compete in this inaugural event."
Invitations will go out in late June or early July. A few Minnesota kids should get one.
Mike Hastings has been named the new MSU Mankato men's hockey coach.
He has been coaching in the WCHA the past four seasons, serving as an assistant on Don Lucia's Gophers staff in 2008-09 and then as an associate head coach on Dean Blais' Nebraska Omaha staff the past three seasons.
Before that he was the coach and general manager of the Omaha Lancers. In 14 seasons, he had a record of 529-210-56, making him the winningest coach in USHL history.
The Mavericks will play the Gophers twice this coming season, probably in home-and-home series before the Gophers leave for the Big Ten Conference in 2013-14.
"I believe we can win here and we're thrilled to get started," Hastings was quoted as saying in a MSU news release.
Hastings is only the third coach in MSU history. Don Brose led the program from 1969 yo 2000 and Troy Jutting since then before being reassigned to other administrative duties on April 1.
He starts the job Monday and, according to AD Kevin Buisman, will have a four-year contract at a salary of $225,000, part of privately funded.
A GOOD HIRE
I talked with Hastings numerous times when he was a Gophers assistant. He seems like a good hire. He is obviously very knowledgeable about the game, and comes across as enthusiastic and passionate about his sport.
With the Gophers, he worked primarily with the forwards.
He should be a strong recruiter, especially if improvements are made to the Mavericks' rink. His friendship with Lucia should add another twist to the Mavericks-Gophers rivalry, too.
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