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Matt Wellens | Duluth News Tribune | October 24, 2014

Minn.-Duluth goalie comfortable on the big stage

When Minnesota Duluth freshman goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo made his first collegiate men's hockey start at the IceBreaker Invitational against Minnesota in South Bend, Indiana, on Oct. 10, something was missing -- fans.

He gave up four goals on 18 shots in that Friday afternoon contest with an announced crowd -- not an actual crowd -- of 2,586 on the campus of Notre Dame. On Saturday, Kaskisuo was in his element when he stopped 20 of 22 shots for his first win in net as a Bulldog in front of a record crowd of 5,375 fans at Minnesota State-Mankato's Verizon Wireless Center.

Unlike the game against the No. 1-ranked Gophers, the puck dropped in primetime on Saturday after the No. 13 Mavericks unveiled their 2014 WCHA Final Five Championship banner, the first championship banner of any kind ever hung for the Mavs in their home rink.

Kaskisuo said he is more comfortable playing night games because it allows him to get into a routine while the large, boisterous crowd helped him focus and keep his mind sharp.

"It was way different," Kaskisuo said about his second start Saturday. "It was someone's home game so there were actually fans in the stands. It was a great atmosphere so that just fires me up. It was way different. I felt a lot better."

Despite the record capacity crowd in Mankato, which included a large student section and pep band, the native of Vantaa, Finland, didn't receive much heat from the hometown fans.

"I think my last name is too hard to pronounce so they couldn't chant anything," Kaskisuo said.