Preview: Hockey Day Minnesota 2019
All eyes across the State of Hockey will be on Bemidji for the 13th annual Hockey Day Minnesota on Saturday afternoon. The birthplace of Paul Bunyan will host three games adjacent to Lake Bemidji — two high school contests and one collegiate clash — while the festivities spread across to Duluth, St. Cloud and eventually, the state capital for the Minnesota Wild’s battle with Columbus. So what do you need to know before watching all these games on FOX Sports North? Here’s a preview:
Andover vs. Minnetonka (boys high school hockey)
What better way to drop the puck on Hockey Day Minnesota than a matchup between the two top teams in the State of Hockey? No. 2 Andover faces off against top-ranked Minnetonka, two teams that feature a stifling defense. Minnetonka, the defending Class AA state champions, hasn’t lost a hockey game since Jan. 25, 2018 –a span of 371 days. The Skippers allow a mere 1.25 goals per game, thanks to stellar goaltending from Charlie Glockner. Andover counters with Ben Fritsinger in net (0.83 GAA) and an overall record of 16-0-1.
Minnesota State vs. Bemidji State (women’s college hockey)
The second game on Hockey Day Minnesota will be a good one, as Bemidji State hosts Minnesota State on the shores of Lake Bemidji, just a few steps away from the Beavers’ home ice on campus. Bemidji State’s record doesn’t look great at 8-14-1, but the Beavers have won six of their last eight contests. Clair DeGeorge leads the Beavers with seven goals and eight assists. On the other bench will be Minnesota State, who will be playing the second game of a back-to-back after visiting St. Cloud State on Friday afternoon (3 p.m. on FOX Sports North PLUS). The Mavericks own an 8-10-4 record and haven’t won a game since a 3-0 victory over Ohio State on Dec. 1. The Beavers hold a 40-28-11 all-time advantage in the rivalry matchup.
Ohio State vs. Minnesota Duluth (women’s college hockey)
Minnesota Duluth with have its hands full with No. 5 Ohio State at Amsoil Arena. The Bulldogs will be looking for a bit of revenge after being swept in two games by Ohio State in November by a combined score of 7-2. Leading the way for UMD will be Gabbie Hughes, who’s registered 20 points in 20 games played and seven goals in her last eight contests.
Greenway vs. Bemidji (boys high school hockey)
The final high school game of the day will be Greenway (6-12) wrapping up action on Lake Bemidji against the hometown Bemidji Lumberjacks (6-9-1). The Lumberjacks have navigated through the tough Mariucci Conference to a 6-9-1 overall record and have lost just one of their last five contests. Hunter Olson, whose sister Heather will also be playing on Hockey Day Minnesota for Bemidji State, tops Bemidji with 11 goals and 11 assists. Donte Larson is Greenway’s biggest offensive contributor, tallying 19 goals and 13 assists in 18 games played. Greenway owns an impressive penalty kill (84.8 percent), while Bemidji converts on 22.4 percent of power plays.
Western Michigan vs. St. Cloud State (men’s college hockey)
Ranked at No. 1 for a good chunk of the season, St. Cloud State fell out of the top spot this week after suffering a 3-1 loss to UMD last weekend. The Huskies have a good chance at boosting their resume further with a weekend series against No. 10 Western Michigan. The Broncos have rattled off 10 straight victories to bring their record to 13-6-1 overall, a run that includes impressive wins over UMD, North Dakota and Miami. St. Cloud State won the season series 2-1-1 last year.
Minnesota Wild vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
General manager Paul Fenton has tinkered with the roster this week, trading away forwards Nino Niederreiter and Justin Kloos for Victor Rask and Pontus Aberg in two separate trades.