March 14, 2016
The Minnesota State Mavericks ran the show during last year’s NCAA regular season, earning the unanimous choice as the No. 1 overall seed in the National Tournament. This year has been much different, as they’ve had to scratch and claw to stay alive in the postseason hunt.
Thanks to Teddy Blueger, Minnesota State’s season chugs along.
Pushed to a do-or-die Game 3 in the first round of the WCHA Playoffs by Lake Superior State, Blueger had a goal and an assist in the Mavericks’ 3-0 win on Sunday. The victory keeps Minnesota State in the National Tournament hunt, as it appears as if a WCHA title is the only thing that will secure Blueger and the Mavericks a spot in the field of 16.
This past weekend’s performance was not the first time that the Latvian native came up big for his team desperate to reach the tournament for the fourth-straight season. Blueger, drafted 53 overall by Pittsburgh in 2012, finished the regular season on a tear, recording 15 points (5G-10A) in the last 12 games of the 2015-16 campaign.
That late-season push catapulted the senior into first place on the team in points with 35, 10 more than the runner-up.
If Blueger can continue to carry Minnesota State on the run to a WCHA Championship, the Mavericks will have qualified for the National Tournament in all four of his seasons in Mankato.
Daniel Sprong had a pretty nice weekend. Six assists in two games was good enough for Sprong to be named the QMJHL’s second star of the week. His four assists vs. Maritimes Division leading Sea Dogs on Friday was Sprong’s third four-point game of his QMJHL career. On Saturday, the Netherlands native reached the 200 points by picking two apples in a 6-2 win over Halifax. Since Pittsburgh returned their first pick in 2015 to Charlottetown, Sprong has collected 44 points (15G-29A) in 31 games. He also turns 19 this Thursday, Mar. 17.
Jake Guentzel wasn’t as fortunate as Blueger and saw his season at the University of Nebraska-Omaha come to an end despite his valiant effort. In two games during the opening round of the NCHC Tournament, Guentzel posted two goals and two assists for four points. The Mavericks lost both tournament games to Denver, and because they’re outside the top 16 in the Pairwise before conference tournaments have been wrapped up, they’re unlikely to qualify for the big dance. Guentzel finishes his junior season leading Nebraska-Omaha with 46 points (19G-27A).
Jeff Taylor, picked up by Pittsburgh in the seventh round (203rd overall) of the 2014 draft to little fanfare, quietly goes about his business as one of the most efficient two-way defensemen in college hockey. For those hockey fans who are analytically inclined, Taylor has been consistently one of the Union College Dutchmen’s best possession blue liners in his three NCAA seasons. In fact, this season Taylor led all Union defenders with 130 even strength shot attempts and was tops among all Dutchmen in power play shot attempt as well as power play shots on goal.
Anthony Angello‘s Cornell Big Red gave the country a scare when they toppled season-long powerhouse Quinnipiac to force a Game 3 in the second round of the ECAC Tournament. The Bobcats prevailed, however, ending Cornell’s surprise run. Angello finished second on Cornell in scoring with 24 points (11G-13A), which was also good enough for fifth-best among all ECAC freshmen.