The No. 8 ranked Minnesota State Men’s Hockey team returns to action this weekend, hosting unranked Northern Michigan University in their third conference series of the year. The Mavericks come into this weekend after a much-needed bye-week with a 7-3-0 overall record and remain undefeated in conference play at 4-0-0. On the other side of the ice, the Wildcats roll into town sporting an 8-6-0 overall record and are 4-2-0 in conference play.
Minnesota State and Northern Michigan are no strangers to each other as the two teams have met 32 times in their storied histories, five of which came last season. The last time the two teams met came in the CCHA playoff semifinals last season where the Mavericks dominated the Wildcats en route to an 8-1 win on home ice.
The Mavericks are hungry to repeat last year’s lopsided victories but will have to do so without senior forward, Sam Morton. Minnesota State head coach Mike Hastings ruled Morton out this weekend after suffering a lower-body injury during their last matchup against St. Thomas.
The Mavericks will be gaining junior defenseman, Akito Hirose, back into the lineup this weekend after the Calgary native left game one against the Tommies with an injury. The injury-plagued Mavericks were fortunate enough with a timely off-week to help rest and rejuvenate the squad, something that Hastings is very appreciative of.
“It was a real good week for us,” Hastings said. “I think the guys came back on Monday feeling energized and really tried to get back into our game because we’re going to be playing a team that is motivated and a handful offensively.”
In the absence of Morton, Hastings believes that junior forward, David Silye, has formed a new role as a very diverse player. The Arnprior, Ont. native excelled during Minnesota State’s matchup with St. Thomas with two multi-goal outings and could be a threat this weekend against Northern Michigan.
In addition to Hastings, Silye also expressed his gratitude for the much-needed bye-week. But despite the timely rest, Silye hopes the week off won’t affect the Maverick’s pace of play early this weekend.
“There’s nothing that really replicates playing two games on a weekend,” Silye said. “I think the game plan is to get in the game early and get our legs into it. They’re a hot team coming into it so we gotta be ready.”
Hastings remained adamant that the Wildcats are loaded with offensive talent that the Mavericks need to be prepared for. Four Wildcats, including two on their top line, have amassed over 10 points so far this season.
The Mavericks return to action on Nov. 18 and 19 to host Northern Michigan University at the Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center in Mankato. Puck drop is set for 7:07 p.m. on Friday and 6:07 p.m. Saturday.
Header Photo: The Minnesota State Men’s Hockey team is set to play a two-game series against Northern Michigan at the Mayo Clinic Heath System Event Center Friday, Nov. 18 at 7:07 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 19 at 6:07 p.m. (Dylan Engel/The Reporter)
Write to Karson Buelow at Karson.Buelow@mnsu.edu