Wednesday, November 08, 2006

MSU-M Preview: I Didn't Do It

While pondering what to write and how my limited knowledge of the Mavericks would be exposed this week I received an email that saved the day. Maverick and WCH blogger Chris Dilks suggested that we each write a preview of our respective teams and exchange them. So faced with writing about a team I know well or writing about a team I don't know well, I opted for the easy road. What follows is Chris' preview of the Mavericks ...

There's really only two words you need to know: Travis Morin. Ok, you probably need a little bit more than that. Morin is having an outstanding season for the Mavericks so far. He's one of only two non-Ivy League players in the country that has a point in every one of his team's games. He gets very little credit, and looks more like a math dork than a hockey player, but he's a superstar on the ice.

Joining Morin on the Mavericks top line are two pesky kids from Alberta. Sophomore Jon Kalinski is probably the next biggest scoring threat for the Mavericks. He always plays with a lot of energy, and has pretty good stickhandling ability in tight spaces. His other linemate is freshman Kael Mouillierat. He's not a big guy, but he's always willing to throw his body around and play with reckless abandon. They are clearly the Mavericks top line, and play about every third shift, or every other shift if the Mavericks have good momentum going and want a goal, or if it is late in the game.

The second line has junior Joel Hanson, who has developed into a legitimate scoring threat, and two freshmen in Trevor Bruess and Ryan Gunderson. Bruess is a hard worker with pretty good skills. Gunderson takes the spot of speedy freshmen Zach Harrison who hurt his knee last week against Bemidji. There's a chance that Harrison could play this weekend, but it doesn't look good.

The third line is sophomore Mick Berge, freshmen Jerad Stewart, and freshmen James Gaulrapp. Berge has become an effective powerplay specialist this year. Stewart is still very raw, as he came to MSU straight from high school, but he was a football star in Minnesota, and it shows. He's very fast and very strong. Gaulrapp got into the lineup thanks to an injury to freshmen Jason Wiley, who may or may not return this weekend, but seems to have earned a place there. He already has 4 points in his first 5 games, which is about 4 more points than some people thought he would score this year. The fourth line has Kevin Huck, Kurtis Kisio, and Matt Tyree. Huck and Tyree are more grinders, while Kisio is a small playmaker. They have the potential to generate offense from time to time.

The Mavericks took a huge loss last weekend when top defenseman Brian Kilburg went out with what looked like a serious knee injury. Kilburg had been paired with Steve Wagner as the Mavericks top D pairing, which matched up with the opponents top line when at home. If Kilburg can't go, Lucas Fransen will take his spot. The second pairing is senior defensive defenseman Chad Brownlee, and freshmen defenseman Nick Canzanello. Canzanello loves to rush the puck up the ice when he gets the chance. The third pairing is Blake Friesen and R.J. Linder. They're serviceable as 5th and 6th defenseman, but do make mistakes from time to time.

This position hasn't been the strength that most people thought it would be. Sophomore goalie Dan Tormey has struggled statistically, though the problem has been more the team playing in front of him. Tormey hasn't let in many bad goals. He's just fallen victim to a lot of rebound goals, or bad turnovers, or screened shots. If the Mavericks can avoid bad mental errors, and let Tormey see the puck, he should be fine.

Special Teams
This has been completely hit or miss for the Mavericks. The Mavericks have the worst penalty kill in the WCHA, but kept St. Cloud 0 for 10 on the powerplay in their win at St. Cloud, and held Bemidji to 0 for 12 on the powerplay last weekend. Will the powerplay that went 5 for 15 against North Dakota show up, or will the powerplay that went 0 for 14 against Bemidji show up? If it's any special teams situation, expect to see Travis Morin on the ice a lot. Mick Berge has 4 powerplay goals on the season. The Mavericks like to keep a forward on the point on the powerplay, which is partly to blame for the 4 shorthanded goals they've given up.


Suze said...

Another team who puts forwards on the point for pp's. UAA does that as well, to our dismay.

Donald said...

I'll be interested to see if Shyiak stays with that. Against Wisconsin we saw defensemen manning the point.

The argument for putting forwards on the point is the expectation that forwards handle the puck better than defensemen.

The argument against putting forwards on the point is the expectation that forwards don't know how to "hold" the point and keep the puck in the zone.

UAA's defensemen are very capable puck handlers so I hope Shyiak goes with that. Otherwise we'll very rarely get to see Shane Lovdahls rocket shot or Chad Anderson's intelligent shots.

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