The MSU men’s hockey team goes into the weekend 5-1 and is currently the No. 4 team in the nation. They will face arguably their toughest opponent yet this weekend in a home-and-away series with the University of Minnesota.
The Golden Gophers had started the season off well, thanks to a tie and win over No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth, but a loss to No. 17 North Dakota saw them get dropped in the rankings from fifth all the way down to No. 10.
Meanwhile, the Mavericks have made steady progress in the polls ever since the season-opener against Boston. After starting the season down in the 10th, they managed to sweep Boston and Alaska, as well as split games with North Dakota.
It is not known who will start in goal for the Mavericks.
Freshman Dryden McKay started the first four games for the Mavs, but was benched for the Alaska series in favor of senior Mathias Israelsson.
What is known is that MSU’s offense is still as hot as it was last year. They are currently 8th in total offense with 4.3 goals per game, and they are currently converting on 29% of power plays.
Junior forward Parker Tuomie is tied for 3rd in the nation in points with 11, thanks to his 4 goals and 7 assists on the year.
The weak point for the Mavericks is obviously on the defensive end.
The Mavs have been allowing 2.5 goals per game, good enough for 19th in the nation. However, they have done a pretty good job of killing penalties, allowing goals on just 16% of power plays.
Also, they had one of the best defensive performances in school history against Alaska on Friday, allowing six shots on goal for the entire game. That was three shots fewer than any game in the Mavericks’ Division I history.
Minnesota has started the year 1-1-1, and they have so far haven’t done much to separate themselves from other top teams. They are scoring only three goals per game, but they have only played two teams that are both ranked.
They entered the year at 13th in the polls, and rose as high as 5th thanks to the win over defending champions Duluth. A disappointing result against North Dakota brought them back down, but this is a team that is still a contender in the wide-open Big Ten.
Minnesota had traditionally gotten the best of the Mavericks, as they hold the all-time series lead 37-14-6. However, the Mavericks have begun to compete on an even level with the Gophers, and both schools have split the last 12 matches. Also, while Minnesota State made the playoffs last year, Minnesota missed the playoffs and finished 5th in the Big Ten.
Friday’s game will be played at the 3M Arena in Minneapolis, and Saturday’s game will be played at the Verizon Center in Downtown Mankato. Both games are scheduled to start at 7:07 p.m.
Feature photo by Mansoor Ahmad | MSU Reporter.