1. Exhibitions mean nothing
Minnesota State played Trinity Western on Sunday night and won 12-1. Nebraska Omaha played Northern Alberta on Monday and lost 4-0. What was learned from those preseason games? When the Mavericks played the Mavericks on Friday night in Omaha, the answer was revealed: Not much. Minnesota State was slow out of the gate and played without poise, while Omaha tic-tac-toed the puck around the rink and scored five times. The next night, Minnesota State turned the tables for the series split. Now we can officially stop talking about preseason exhibition games — until next year.
2. League scores important wins
The most stunning result of the weekend was Bemidji State’s 5-1 road victory over No. 2 North Dakota. It was the Beavers’ first win in Grand Forks since 1970. It was an important victory, to be certain, for Bemidji State, which won just 10 games last season. But it was also big for the WCHA, as its coaches talked about trying to improve its nonconference record. Alaska and Alaska Anchorage each went 2-0 at Anchorage’s Kendall Hockey Classic, beating Maine and Wisconsin, Bowling Green split with Miami and Minnesota State split at Omaha.
3. Freshmen fare well
I was in Omaha this weekend and saw Minnesota State freshman forward Brad McClure scored two goals, including Saturday’s game-winner. A quick glance at the league scoring shows a few other freshies who had solid sotarts to their career. Bowling Green defenseman Nolan Valleau had a four-assist series, and Anchorage forward Tad Kozun finished with two goals and an assist. Then there were the goalies. Bemidji State’s Michael Bitzer stopped 25 of 26 shots to win at North Dakota, and Anchorage’ Olivier Mantha won his first start, making 27 saves in a 4-2 win over Wisconsin.