Men’s hockey takes on Tommies in new rivalry

It’s been a fantastic start to the Minnesota State men’s hockey conference schedule, and they will look to continue that this week in a home-and-home series against St. Thomas.

This will mark the first time the Mavericks have faced off against the Tommies since December of 1996. The Mavericks have won nine of the 14 contests when both programs were Division II, and the rivalry of another Division I Minnesota hockey team is ready to be reignited. 

“It’s pretty cool to start that rivalry early this year and it’s a rivalry that will grow over time,” defenseman Jack McNeely said.

This is the first season St. Thomas is playing in Division I hockey when they were removed from MIAC due to concerns about athletic competitive parity. 

Since St. Thomas joined the CCHA, they are 1-11-0 (1-7-0 CCHA), with their first and only win coming against Ferris State in a 5-2 contest.

When talking about another Minnesota team joining Division I hockey and the CCHA, Hastings mentioned how this is exactly what his former head coach at St. Cloud State University, Herb Brooks, would have wanted.

“One of Herb’s calls was, ‘Can we see what we can do to get as many Division I programs in the state of Minnesota as possible?’” Hastings said. “Back in the day, Herb was looking at the state of Michigan, and he wasn’t too happy that there weren’t as many Division I programs in Minnesota as there were in Michigan, and that was a goal of his.”

The Mavericks have started this season as a top three team in the USCHO NCAA Division I rankings every single week, with two stints as the No. 1 ranked.

Minnesota State has gone 9-3-0 (5-1-0 CCHA) in the first leg of the season to get to that point, and have done so in dominating fashion. MSU took down Bowling Green last weekend in a sweep to jump out to a three-game winning streak and the No. 1 seed in the CCHA with 15 points, tied with Bemidji State.

Nathan Smith leads the scoring for the Mavericks with a 6-11-17 stat line and a .176 shooting percentage.

Brendan Furry, Cade Borchardt, and Reggie Lutz are all next in line behind Smith, and all of whom have hat tricks in this short season already.

Dryden McKay stands tall between the pipes, per usual, holding a 1.78 goals against average, .911 save percentage, and a 9-3-0 record with three shutouts while starting and playing every game this season for MSU.

Earlier this season, Dryden McKay broke the NCAA men’s all time shutout record with 27 in his career following his 7-0 shutout win over Northern Michigan.

The Mavericks will play in Mankato tonight, and play game two at St. Thomas University Saturday.

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