After coming off a historic season for the men’s Maverick hockey program, Head Coach Mike Hastings has no plans of slowing down anytime soon.
Hastings enters the season as the reigning Spencer Penrose award winner, fourth straight MacNaughton Cup winner, and NCAA Frozen Four finalist, a resumé that no other coach in Minnesota State University history has put together, all while living and working through the likes of COVID.
“The one thing that’s become consistent is unpredictability,” said Hastings. With COVID numbers beginning to surge again, that consistency may stay true through the 2021-22 season for the Mavericks in their first year under the CCHA.
The squad will introduce ten new players to the roster this season, including transfers Josh Benton Maass (New Hampshire), Groll (Michigan), and the younger brother of Maverick alumni Riese Zmolek, Bennett Zmolek.
“When you’re turning over 35% of your roster, it’ll be different…But I like the group we have returning and I like the group we have coming in.”
Bennett Zmolek comes into Minnesota State University, Mankato as a freshman, with what Coach Hastings sees as an opportunity to prove himself.
“We expect him to become his own player…[Zmolek] has a respect for opportunity and a work ethic. [Zmolek] doesn’t expect to be given anything,” Hastings Said.
Zmolek will be fighting for his spot on the roster for the first series in the beginning of October, in what is arguably the toughest first two weekends in college hockey. The Mavericks will face off against the defending National Champions, University of Massachusetts in Amherst October 2&3. Then, the Mavs will come back home for their home opener against the St. Cloud State Huskies, the national runner-ups after falling to UMass in the championship game. Minnesota State will travel to Duluth the following weekend to play in the Ice Breaker Tournament hosted by the Bulldogs, with Michigan and Providence College as the other participants.
“We tried to schedule as aggressively as possible.”
Well, it can’t get any more aggressive than the top two teams in the nation back-to-back.
“They’re going to be a very tough out. You want to judge yourself against quality, and they’re quality, both of them,” Hastings said. “Our goal is to win a National Championship.”
Header photo by Mansoor Ahmad/The Reporter.