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.
Wisconsin, the preseason Big Ten favorite and ranked No. 3 in both national polls, will hold a Red vs. White scrimmage at 1 p.m. Saturdayat the Hobbs Ice Center in Eau Claire, Wis.
Tickets at the door are $20, but it's for a good cause. All proceeds will go to the UW-Eau Claire hockey program which won the Division III national title last season.
The scrimmage is also a homecoming of sorts for two assistant captains for the Badgers, senior forward Jefferson Dahl and junior defenseman Jake McCabe.
MAVS NAME CAPTAINS
Senior forward Johnny McInnis has been named the captain of Minnesota State Mankato this season. Alternate captains are senior defenseman Josh Nelson and junior defenseman Brett Stern.
McInnis, of Boston, has 22 goals, including eight game-winners, and 19 assists for 41 points in 92 career games.
Nelson, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., was named MSU's Unsung Hero last season and has six goals and 15 assists for 21 points in 84 career games.
Stern, Lino Lakes, has two goals and seven assists for nine points in 56 career games.
The Mavericks play with the University of Lethbridge (Alberta) in a home exhibition game 5 p.m. Sunday.
* The Gophers women's hockey team is a unanimous No. 1 this week, getting all 19 first-place votes in the USA Today national poll. Not sure why another poll was needed, only two two in the top 10 plays. No. 3 Clarkson is 1-0 and No. 9 Mercyhurst is 1-1.
Gophers play at Colgate this weekend, hoping to win their 50th and 51st games in a row. ... Three other WCHA teams are in the top 10: North Dakota at No. 4, Wisconsin at No. 6 and Minnesota Duluth, unranked last week, at No. 10.
So who votes on this poll? Coaches, media and the American Hockey Coaches officers and USA Hockey officers have one vote apiece, too.
* New Denver coach Jim Montgomery has quite a job ahead of him. Not only is he replacing longtime fixture George Gwozdecky at DU, he has 10 true freshmen on the roster. Fortunately, 10 of the Pioneers' first 14 games are at home, Magness Arena. DU, one of the eight teams in the new National Collegiate Hockey Conference, hosts Merrimack this weekend.
* Ferris State, one of the new teams in the WCHA, is the only team in that conference that plays a regular-season series this weekend. The Bulldogs are at Colgate Saturday and Sunday. ... Eight of the other nine WCHA teams play exhibition games. Only Bemidji State is idle. ... Lethbridge plays at Minnesota State Mankato at 5p.m. Sunday.
* By at least one criteria, Colorado College of the NCHC has the toughest schedule in the country The Tigers have 22 games against teams ranked in the top 15 in the USA Today preseason poll or at least receiving votes. Miami plays such foes 20 times, Notre Dame and Providence 18 times.
* Wednesday is hockey media day in Grand Forks for the UND men's and women's hockey teams.
Senior forward Zach Lehrke will not play this season for Minnesota State, Mankato, the preseason WCHA favorite.
“This is a difficult decision," he said in a Mavericks news release, "but due to a medical condition that I have been battling for some time, it has become apparent to me that I will not be able to compete for Minnesota State my senior season."
A story in the Mankato Free Press, which can be found here, said he suffered from an unnamed medical condition which caused severe cramping in the muscles throughout his body. It also said the cramping occured after workouts, practices and games.
“I’ve had a great experience here in Mankato and would like to thank the Maverick men’s hockey coaching staff, the athletic training and medical staffs in working with me on this issue in my three years with the program," Lehrke said, "and [I] wish my teammates all the best with the 2013-14 season."
Lehrke, a native of Park Rapids, Minn., had 23 goals and 31 assists for 54 career points in 104 games.
Minnesota State Mankato recently named its award winners for men's hockey.
Senior forward Eriah Hayes, La Crescent, Minn., was named the MVP. He was the team captain and had 20 goals and 16 assists for 36 points, second most on the team. His 12 power-play goals were second in the nation. He signed a free-agent deal with San Jose after the season ended.
Junior defenseman Josh Nelson, of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., was named the unsung hero. His stats were 5-9-14, all single-season career highs.
Freshman forward Taylor Herndon, Oklahoma City, Okla., was named the most improved player. He was 1-2-3 in 12 games.
Senior forward Tyler Elbrecht, of Edwardsville, Ill., received the best hustle award. He was 1-7-8.
Three-star of the year award went to sophomore forward Matt Leitner of Los Alamitos, Calif. He led the Mavericks in scoring, 17-30-47, for the second year in a row. He tied for ninth overall in Division I hockey in points. He was first in power-play points with 28. ... Only one sophomore in the country in 2012-13 had more points, that was Boston College forward Johnny Gaudreau, 21-30-51, and he was one of three finalists for the Hobey Baker..
Minnesota State went 24-14-3 in 2012-13 and earned a spot in the NCAA postseason tournament ubder first-year coach Mike Hastings.
The Wisconsin men's hockey team, which is celebrating its 50th season in the modern hockey era, will wear commemorative uniforms on Feb. 17, when it faces the Gophers in the OfficeMax Hockey City Classic.
That's the outdoor game at Soldier Field in Chicago.
The alternate uniforms the Badgers will wear that game are reproductions of those worn by Wisconsin's 1931-32 team. Inside the collars are the words, "It's a great day for hockey."
Hemmed into the bottom of each is the date of the game and the teams participating, along with the game logo.
The Hockey City Classic is the third outdoor game for the Badgers in eight seasons. The Badgers defeated Ohio State 4-2 in the Frozen Tundra Hockey Classic at Lambeau Field in 2006 and beat Michigan 3-2 at the Culver’s Camp Randall Hockey Classic in 2010.
This event features two matchups, Notre Dame vs. Miami (Ohio) at noon, followed by the Gophers vs. Wisconsin at 3:30 p.m.
The Hockey City Classic will be the first outdoor game in the modern era for the three other teams.
Tickets for the Hockey City Classic are on sale to the general public through Ticketmaster.com.
For more information, go to hockeycityclassic.com, Facebook.com/HockeyCityClassic or and on @HkyCityClassic.
The commemorative jersey is available at Buckyslockerroom.com.
HASTINGS THE LOBBYIST
Minnesota State coach Mike Hastings on Monday appeared before the Mankato city council, asking for improvements for the Verizon Wireless Center, where the Mavericks play.
He said the rink needs new boards and a new ice-making system. "We've got our fingers crossed this year that we can get through the end of the year," Hastings said. The Gophers play one game in Mankato on Jan. 26. It's a home-and-home series.
The complete story is here.
Hastings in his first season as coach of the Mavericks and he has them playing very well. MSU is on a 11-1-0 run.
LEAGUE OF OFFENSIVE D-MEN
When it comes to blue-line scoring, the WCHA is in a league of its down. Four of the top five teams in the nation in scoring by defensemen are from the conference.
The Division I leaders in points by defensemen:
1. Denver 68
2. Nebraska Omaha 59
3. Union 52
4. (tie) North Dakota 50
4. Colorado College 50
Source: North Dakota
And right behind those five are the Gophers with 49 points from their D, although to be fair, some of the U defensemen have played forward at times this season.
The top individual scoring D-men in the league and their national ranking in points for blue-liners:
1. (tie) Joey LaLeggia, Denver 7-11--18
1. (tie) Mike Boivin, Colorado Col. 9-9--18
3. (tie) Nate Schmidt, Gophers 3-13--16
3. (tie) Nick Jensen, SCSU 1-15--16
5. (tie) Nolan Zajac, Denver 3-2--15
5. (tie) Dave Makowski, Denver 5-10--15
Seven in other conferences also with 15.
Minnesota Duluth freshman forward Austin Farley is the offensive player of the week in the WCHA.
The 5-9, 170 Farley is from the hockey hotbed of Niles, Ill. He had three goals and two assists and was a plus-4 as the Bulldogs left Houghton, Mich., with three of a possible four points.
UMD beat Michigan Tech 7-3, then tied the Huskies 4-4. He has seven goals and eight assists for 15 points in 13 games.
He and teammate Tony Cameranesi (6-9-15) are tied for second in the nation in scoring among first-year players. Riley Barber (6-12-18) of Miami is first.
Bulldogs' power play, on which Farley is involved with, was 4-for-12 against Tech.
Three other players nominated for this award were Erik Haula of the Gophers, Josh Archibald of UNO and Scott Winkler of Colorado College -- the Gophers' next opponent.
CO-DEFENSIVE PLAYERS OF WEEK
Sophomore defenseman Brett Stern of Minnesota State Mankato is the co-defensive player of the week. The 6-foot-3, 185 Stern is from Lino lakes. He had a goal and an assist and was a plus-4 as the Mavericks swept Bemidji State 3-0, 6-1.
He also had seven hits and four shots on net.
Stern shared defensive honors with Wisconsin sophomore goalie Landon Peterson who beat Denver 3-1 on Saturday. He stopped 35 of 36 shots. He has a 1.88 goal-against average and a .941 save percentage in conference games.
Also nominated for this award were UNO goalie John Faulker and CC defenseman Mike Boivin.
ROOKIE OF WEEK
Stephone Williams of MSU Mankato is the WCHA's rookie of the week. He stopped 20 shots as the Mavericks beat the Beavers 3-0 on Friday and had 17 saves in a 6-1 win for a sweep on Saturday. He is 4-3-1with a 1.92 gaa and a .932 save percentage.
CC forward Jared Hanson was another nominee for this award.
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