Minnesota State is boasting an early 3-1 record this year, and they will look to add to their winning ways as they get ready for a weekend series against the 0-5-1 Alaska Nanooks of Fairbanks.
After opening the season with a pair of home wins against then 8th-ranked Boston University, the Mavericks spent last weekend in Grand Forks against the University of North Dakota.
Despite the Mavericks having a poor track record on the road against UND, they were able to leave with a win on Friday and a loss on Saturday. This must have been right in line with what was expected of the Mavs, as the latest USCHO poll kept MSU at 7th nationally.
They are currently ranked behind three in-state foes: St. Cloud State is at 2nd, followed by defending national champions Minnesota-Duluth in 3rd and Minnesota in 5th.
Alaska has started off the season slow, but things have been getting better for the Nanooks.
After getting pummeled by Arizona State in their opening series, they dropped another series to St. Cloud State before travelling to Denver where, after dropping the first game, stole a tie on the road against the #9 team in the nation. They will definitely be clamoring for a statement win against MSU, especially as the season continues to roll on. If they want any chance to win, they will have to keep up with an MSU offense that has been lights out to start the year, scoring 19 times over the first four games.
While Minnesota State’s offense has kept up the pace from last year, they have struggled somewhat with keeping all five skaters on the ice. They are averaging nearly seven penalties per game and, while it is still a lower average than their opponents, allowing that many power play opportunities is an invitation to be scored on.
The Mavs currently have a freshman goalie in Dryden McKay who would surely benefit from a reduction in power plays, as he is currently allowing goals on 25% of power plays.
Minnesota State was 3-1 last year against Alaska, but the Nanooks are no pushovers. While MSU traditionally wins most of their matches against Alaska, they will usually keep a tight game in check.
Additionally, Alaska managed to hand the Mavs their worst loss of the season last year, a 5-0 drubbing in Fairbanks. The only other team to shut out the Mavs last year was St. Cloud State, putting Alaska in some pretty good company.
The games will be played this Friday and Saturday. Both games will start at 7:07 p.m.
Feature photo by Mansoor Ahmad | MSU Reporter.