Minnesota State’s men’s hockey team will look to bounce back from a season that may have been a let-down from the year before. After earning a victory in exhibition play, they are ready for the regular season.
The 17th ranked Mavericks will face off against the 19th ranked Michigan Tech Huskies this weekend at the Verizon Center. The Mavericks currently hold the all-time series record against the Huskies, standing at 32-17-7. The Huskies have not fared well in playing the Mavericks at the Verizon Center, as MSU holds the advantage with a 19-4-3 record. Minnesota State is hoping a team consisting of mostly underclassmen (11 upperclassmen) will be able to learn the ropes under Head Coach Mike Hastings.
The Mavericks will be leaning on captains Carter Foguth and C.J. Franklin for leadership this season. The Senior defenseman Foguth is entering his second-consecutive season as a captain for Minnesota State, and led the team in the 2015-2016 season with 79 blocks. The junior forward in Franklin scored 14 goals with 11 assists, adding up to 25 points last season.
In last season’s contests, the Huskies and Mavericks tied in one game and the Huskies were triumphant in the other. Both games were close, ending in scores 2-2 and 3-1. The games were both played in Houghton, Michigan. Before losing to them last season, the Mavericks had not lost to Michigan Tech since the 2011-2012 season.
The Huskies have already begun their season, and lost both games they have played. They lost to the 6th ranked Minnesota Duluth team 6-0 and 4-3, respectively. Senior forward Tyler Heinonen leads the Huskies in career goals currently with 32. He was ranked third on last year’s team in goals with 15. Junior forward Joel L’Esperance was tied for second-most goals on the team last year with 16. He currently has 24 career goals. Senior defenseman Shane Hanna has played for the second-most games in Divison-I hockey going into this season, playing all 120 games of his career.
MSU’s Senior goaltender Cole Huggins will be entering his final season, and will play a vital role in the hockey team’s success for this season. He is tied for second in the Nation for active players in terms of career wins (38) and is tied for first with ten career shutouts. Huggins will be the career leader at Minnesota State if he achieves one more shutout, passing former goaltender Stephon Williams (2012-2015).
The Mavericks struggled at times putting the puck in goal on offense, averaging 2.6 goals per game. The defense and goaltending were something to proud of, only allowing 2 goals per game. What remained a strong point for last year’s team was their conference play, as they finished in second place in the conference with a 18-6-7 record in the WCHA. The Huskies meanwhile were first in the WCHA with a 18-7-3 record.
The puck will drop at 7:07 p.m. Friday, as well as the same time Saturday at the Verizon Center. The Mavericks are looking to start their season off on the right foot a bit better than last season, as they started the season 0-5, including three-straight losses at home.