Some of us never thought this day would come.
After COVID-19 cut their postseason short last March, the Minnesota State University, Mankato men’s hockey is officially back.
As many other leagues have struggled to get a season started, the Western Collegiate Hockey Association released the schedules for every team in the conference yesterday. The Mavericks start their season with back-to-back weekend match ups against Bemidji State University on Nov. 20-21 in Bemidji and Nov. 27-28 in Mankato.
“They’re always a very difficult team to play,” Head Hockey Coach Mike Hastings said. “They’re probably our greatest rival through the history of both programs.”
The Mavericks faced off against BSU five times last year — four times in the regular season schedule and once more in the Mariucci Classic, ending the season with a 3-2 record.
After COVID-19 ended the season prematurely last year, many were left with a bitter taste. With the team having one of its best seasons ever, several seniors lost their final chance at a national championship.
Seven seniors graduated and one underclassman, Connor Mackey, signed a contract to play for the National Hockey League’s Calgary Flames. That being said, Coach Hastings is very excited about the group of incoming freshmen and a couple of graduate student transfers to take their spots.
“The guys have come in in very good condition, real good shape, and their attitudes have been fantastic,” Hastings said.
Due to COVID-19, restrictions and guidelines are still in the process of determining what capacity is allowed and how it will be followed. Hastings said the team has been doing everything they can to follow these guidelines, including using two separate locker rooms, limiting the number of players in meetings and always wearing masks.
“It’s been harder I think to find different ways to develop team chemistry and team bonding because you’re not all together. You have to do things separate,” Hastings commented.
For now, all eyes are set on the first game of the season for the Mavericks.
“Us getting back together and competing, that’s the most important piece right now. I’m really looking forward to November 20,” Hastings continued.
The University hasn’t announced whether the MSU women’s team will move forward with a 2020-21 season.
Header photo: Senior captain Max Coatta (12) holds the WCHA trophy after defeating Bowling Green Falcons at the Verizon Center, March 23, 2019 in Mankato. (File photo)