With a quick turnaround to the title game, the Minnesota State men’s hockey team returned to the ice today for a brief practice. Their time on the ice was short and sweet, and was more meant to keep the legs fresh for tomorrow’s title game against the University of Denver.
The Mavericks began with their normal free skate around the entire rink, before zoning in on some weaving work coast to coast across the ice. MSU continued doing two on one work, screening in front of the goaltenders before moving to some breakout and regrouping drills.
The team finished it off with their signature huddle at center ice, with practice elapsing a quick 26 minutes.
Despite Boston being a destination many of the MSU players have not gotten the chance to visit yet, going sightseeing has not crossed the agenda in the team’s dedicated schedule.
“We’ve honestly just kind of been hanging out as a team, enjoying each other at the hotel,” explained junior forward Ryan Sandelin. “Just a special moment to be here and share this with this group of guys. I think just getting to enjoy that together is what we’re focused on right now.”
It has worked for the team so far, with the Mavericks taking down the University of Minnesota in the Frozen Four semifinal game last night. Denver and Michigan dueled on the other side of the bracket, with the Denver Pioneers coming out on top in overtime 3-2.
With that, the Mavs will face the Pioneers on Saturday for a chance at the program’s first ever NCAA Division I title.
Although the Mavericks have made it to the National Championship, there is so much more beyond hockey to be worried about for the coaching staff. One of those things being recruitment of incoming freshman and transfer students.
With the ending of most teams’ seasons happening a few weeks ago, those teams are getting a head start on recruiting talent before Minnesota State and Denver will. MSU head coach Mike Hastings is aware of that, and admitted to the challenge of recruiting players while also competing for a national title.
“Right now as we’ve asked the young men to be focused on what’s going on today, they are. We have to continue to do that while we’re keeping an eye on what’s going on in the portal because there’s other teams involved in that right now,” explained Hastings.
Hastings went on later to say, “I just think the portal is continuing to become more and more part of processes of structuring the roster. Now, we’ve got our own philosophies on what we’re going to do with that. Hopefully we can stay true to those.”
The transfer portal was a big part of the Mavericks’ success this year, getting well known players like senior Benton Maass, and sophomores David Silye and Josh Groll via the portal in last year’s offseason.
“We’ve been blessed, you can see the impact that Benton has had, David Silye, Josh Groll. All three of these youngmen have had an impact on our program in a short period of time. [I] think that has to do with the makeup of the human beings and the young men themselves. They’ve come in with the idea we’re going to earn everything we get,” said Hastings.
With a win tomorrow, Minnesota State can surpass a three-way tie between themselves, Northern Michigan, and Michigan State for the second-most wins in a season at 38. With a 39th, MSU can claim the sole second place spot, only behind Maine, who finished the 1993 season 42-1-2.
Header Photo: Mavericks’ head coach Mike Hastings dangles a puck at center ice during the teams’ final practice at TD Garden before the National Championship game tomorrow night. (Mansoor Ahmad/The Reporter)
Write to Kole Buelow at firstname.lastname@example.org.