The No. 2-ranked Minnesota State University, Mankato men’s hockey team is prepared to finish off its non-conference slate to start the season with a meeting against no. 8 St. Cloud State this weekend.
The Mavericks boast a 3-1 overall record so far this season after sweeping Minnesota Duluth last weekend, while St. Cloud State remains undefeated at 4-0.
This weekend will mark games 70 and 71 of the long-standing rivalry between the two clubs. St. Cloud State owns an all-time record against Minnesota State of 37-24-8 with their last meetings coming in MSU’s home opener last season.
The Mavericks blanked the Huskies in game one of last year’s series 1-0, while the Huskies controlled game two 3-1.
But this rivalry doesn’t just matter for the players. Long-standing MSU coach Mike Hastings and SCSU coach Brett Larson have developed a friendly feud in their years coaching against each other.
In addition to their years with their respective clubs, the two joined forces in the 2020 winter olympics as assistant coaches to the U.S. men’s hockey team.
“There’s some friendly fire,” Hastings chuckled.
“We’re both prideful in the idea that we’re representing our programs and we want them to do well. I’ve got a lot of respect for him and his entire staff and how they do things.”
This weekend marks Minnesota State’s first away series of the season. If they’re going to be successful, the Mavericks will have to drown out the noise that this weekend will bring.
In addition to it being Minnesota State’s first away series, St. Cloud State will also be celebrating homecoming; a full crowd is expected at Herb Brooks National Hockey Center.
Hastings remains adamant on keeping his team focused heading into this weekend.
“We’ve done our do-diligence on what we think we’re gonna see from St. Cloud which is quality hockey,” Hastings explained. “At the end of the day the game is gonna be played wherever it’s at, and for us it’s been more of trying to grow our game.”
The Mavericks have continued to grow with each game they’ve played so far this season. Last week, the CCHA announced freshman goaltender Alex Tracy as rookie of the week, as well as senior forward Sam Morton earning forward of the week and junior defenseman Akito Hirose tabbing defenseman of the week.
Hirose talked briefly about the energy in the locker room and amongst the group so far this season and heading into this weekend against the Huskies. “It’s been good, we have a lot of new faces in there,” Hirose said.
“We’re a tight-knit group pretty quickly here which is nice to have. And playing these top teams gives you a Frozen Four vibe which makes it super easy to get excited for.”
Minnesota State will travel up to St. Cloud this weekend to take on St. Cloud State for their third-straight top-10 matchup so far this season. Friday’s game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 6 p.m.
Header Photo: The Mavericks will go up north to St. Cloud this weekend to take on St. Cloud State for their third-straight top-10 match up so far this season. Friday’s game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 6 p.m. (Dylan Engel/The Reporter)
Write to Karson Buelow at Karson.Buelow@mnsu.edu