It’s been a year and a half since the Minnesota State Mavericks have played in front of a full home crowd.
Friday, that day will come as the Minnesota State men’s hockey team takes on No. 2 St. Cloud State University.
The last time the two teams met, the St. Cloud State Huskies took down the Mavericks in the NCAA Frozen Four semi-finals by a score of 5-4. The Huskies ended the Mavericks season and their longest run in program history, going on to lose to UMass in the National Championship 5-4.
The Mavericks are coming off a weekend sweep against the defending National Champions, beating UMass 2-0 and 6-3.
In Sunday’s game against the Minutemen, Minnesota State made a massive third period comeback with five goals in the third period, earning the Mavericks the No. 1 ranked team in the country.
St. Cloud took on the newest addition to NCAA Division I hockey, in the St. Thomas Tommies.
St. Cloud embarrassed the brand new squad, winning their first game of the season 12-2.
Penalties played a major factor in this contest, with nine of the 14 goals being scored on the powerplay and two shorthanded goals.
Game two was a much closer contest between the two teams, with just a 2-0 shutout win to close out the first weekend of Division I hockey for St. Thomas.
The Mavericks are coming into this matchup with a reason to win.
“We’re going to use it as motivation more than anything,” senior Julian Napravnik said about their NCAA semi-finals loss to the Huskies last April.
Napravnik, the 2020-21 leading goal and point scorer for the Mavericks, came out of UMass with two goals and an assist in the two wins. Napravnik led the team with an astonishing 12 shots over two games as well.
Junior Nathan Smith is the leading point scorer for the Mavericks through two games, with two goals and three assists.
“Nathan is someone who just loves the game of hockey,” head coach Mike Hastings said about the CCHA Forward of the Week. Smith also nabbed the CCHA Preseason Player of the Year award before the season began.
The Mavericks roster one of the top goaltenders not just in the CCHA, but all of NCAA Division I hockey in Dryden McKay.
McKay came out of the weekend in Amherst with two wins under his belt, a 1.52 goals against average, and stopping 37 of the 40 shots he faced (.925 save percentage).
Historically, the Huskies have gotten the best of the Mavericks, with MSU holding a 23-36-8 record in a series dating back to 1985.
In the last ten matchups, the Mavericks are 3-7, with St. Cloud taking the last two wins.
The Mavericks are hot right now with the No. 1 rank in the country, and tomorrow will be their chance to get revenge on the team that ended their season six months ago.
Feature photo by Mansoor Ahmad/The Reporter