College Hockey Series of the Week: Minnesota State vs. Bowling Green

Story posted February 3, 2021 in Sports, CommRadio by Christopher Hess

In the final season of the WCHA, two of the conference’s best will go to battle against each other as No. 8 Bowling Green (16-4) will travel to No. 6 Minnesota State (9-2-1) for a weekend series.

The Falcons have been one of the most prolific and electric offenses in all of college hockey, averaging 3.83 goals per game, which ranks them sixth out of the 51 teams playing this season.

That quick strike offense is led by senior forward Brandon Kruse. His stat-line is rather impressive in 20 games played recording 10 goals, 15 assists, 25 points and a plus-minus rating of plus-24.

Bowling Green also has two other forwards with more than 20 points as seniors Cameron Wright and Connor Ford have 22 and 21 points, respectively. Ford is also tied with Kruse for the team lead in goals.

Defensively, the duo of Will Cullen and T.J. Lloyd rules the roost as those two have been a tough nut to crack for the opposition thus far.

They have teamed up for 28 points with 23 of them coming via assists. Like a point guard in basketball, these two slow the game down and are like magicians with the puck on their sticks.

Lloyd’s plus-minus rating of plus-19 is good for third on this loaded Bowling Green lineup and he is expected to make a big impact this weekend.

In net, why have just one fantastic goalie when you can have two? The Falcons have just that with senior Eric Dop and sophomore Zack Rose.

Dop has seen action in 12 games with a 9-3 record, a 2.09 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage.

Rose has played in eight games and has tallied a 7-1 record, a 1.51 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage as well.
So, it’s safe to say that both of these netminders give the Falcons a chance to win on any given night.

The Mavericks present an interesting challenge this weekend as they too, are loaded at almost every single position, and it starts with Dryden McKay.

McKay is one of the top goalies in the nation and his stats are just straight up laughable. In 10 games played, the junior has a 9-1 record, a 0.90 goals-against average, a .954 save percentage and six shutouts.

He is also seven shutouts away from breaking Michigan State legend Ryan Miller’s NCAA record of 26 career shutouts.

Four Mavericks currently stand in double figures for points as sophomore forward, Cade Borchardt, has himself 15 points consisting of six goals and nine assists.

Minnesota State also sits ranked No. 14 nationally in scoring with 3.39 goals-per-game.

Julian Napravnik, Nathan Smith and Reggie Lutz round out the group with 10 or more points and other players such as Dallas Gerads and Jake Jaremko have seen a lot of action in their careers, combining for 222 games played.

The Mavs have the No. 1 scoring defense in the land, averaging 1.24 goals-against per contest and that’s no fluke.

Riese Zmolek, Jack McNeely, Wyatt Aamodt and Akito Hirose have been the quartet that helps make McKay’s job easy as they too, have been virtually unstoppable.

Hirose, the little brother of former Michigan State standout and current Detroit Red Wing Taro Hirose, leads all freshmen and defensemen in scoring with eight points alongside having the best plus-minus rating of plus-10.

This series has the potential to be the series of the year in the WCHA’s final lap in college hockey before it becomes the CCHA, and this will be worth the price of live-streaming.

Both sides love to score, but are also not afraid to let the goaltenders steal the show.

Expect either one of the Bowling Green goalies and/or McKay to provide some highlight reel saves while also having a flare for the dramatic.

Minnesota State has won four out of the last five against the Falcons with that streak starting in the WCHA championship game during the 2018-2019 season.

But in this wild and wacky season, anything can happen.

Prediction: Split

Game 1: Minnesota State 2, Bowling Green 0

Game 2: Bowling Green 3, Minnesota State 2

 

Christopher Hess is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email christopherhess22@gmail.com.