By Shane Frederick
Free Press Staff Writer
The 18th-ranked Mavericks (10-6-2) are on the road this weekend, playing in Connecticut’s 20th annual tournament. Minnesota State will face Brown (3-5-4) today and either American International (4-8-3) or the host Huskies (4-7-2) on Sunday. Today’s AIC-UConn game counts for the Atlantic Hockey standings. The Mavericks are 1-2-0 all-time against Brown, 3-0-1 against AIC and 2-0-0 against Connecticut.
Five things to know about the matchups:
1. Second half begins: This weekend marks the start of the second half of the Mavericks’ season and follows one of the most successful first halves of the program’s Division I era. Under first-year coach Mike Hastings, they have outscored opponents 57-46 and just saw a seven-game winning streak come to an end with a 5-1 loss at Nebraska Omaha on Dec. 15.
2. Leading the way: The Mavericks are led in scoring by sophomore forward Matt Leitner (5-16—21), who has at least one point in 11 of the last 12 games, followed by Jean-Paul LaFontaine (4-12—16), Eriah Hayes (10-5—15) and Johnny McInnis (8-6—14). Rookie goaltender Stephon Williams (.921, 1.95) has started 10 straight games.
3. Playing without Teddy: With freshman Teddy Blueger, Minnesota State’s third-line center, playing for Latvia in the World Junior Championships this week, Hastings will have to shuffle his lineup a bit this weekend and next. Latvia is 0-2 at the tournament, which is taking place in Russia, and is scheduled to play Sweden today.
4. Scouting Brown: The Bears are led in scoring by sophomore forward Matt Lorito (9-5—14), followed by junior defenseman Dennis Robertson (1-7—8), a Toronto Maple Leafs draft pick. Junior goalie Marco DeFilippo (.904, 3.27) has played 10 games in goal. MSU last played Brown on Jan. 2, 2011, winning the championship of the Shillelagh Tournament in suburban Chicago.
5. Checking in on UConn, AIC: The Huskies are led in scoring by senior forward Sean Ambrosie (4-4—8), while senior Garrett Bartus (.917, 2.54) has gotten most of the action in goal. For the Yellow Jackets, senior forward Adam Pleskach (4-8—12) is the team’s top scorer. Senior forward Richard Leitner (2-2—4) is the brother of MSU’s Matt Leitner. The Mavericks last played AIC on Jan. 8, 2011, but hasn’t faced UConn since the 1998-99 season.
AROUND THE RINKS
MSU women: The Mavericks (6-11-3) step out of WCHA play and will take on Lindenwood (1-14-1) on Tuesday and Wednesday in Missouri. Minnesota State hosted the Lions on Oct. 12-13 and won 3-0 and 4-1.
Gustavus: The women’s team (10-0-0) left Wednesday for a nine-day European tour in which they will play two games in Austria. The men’s team (7-6-1) is off until Friday when it plays at St. Scholastica.