This weekend, the No. 17 Minnesota State University, Mankato Men’s Hockey team will return home for the first time since Dec. 16 as they host unranked Lake Superior State for a set of CCHA conference games. The Mavericks come into this weekend having won four straight games against quality opponents, including a 5-0 shutout win last Saturday against Arizona State.
“When you can start to talk about multiple veterans and then some secondary young guys contributing offensively in addition to the goaltending we’ve been getting from Keenan Rancier, we’ve become more difficult to out,” said Minnesota State Head Coach, Mike Hastings. “Hopefully that continues this weekend.”
In addition to the momentum that has brewed to start the second half of this season, the Mavericks are looking to bring a little extra intensity this weekend and pick up their first home win since Nov. 19.
“It’s been a while since we’ve played a home weekend here and we know the last two weekends what happened with not getting any points,” said senior captain, Cade Borchardt. “So that’s been sitting with us for a while and we need to be ready and show the fans what we’re about again.”
While the Mavericks have been able to win four straight to start the new year, the Lakers have been struggling, losing three out of four games against conference opponents. The Lakers currently sit dead last in the CCHA standings with a 4-18-2 overall record and 3-12-1 in conference play.
The Lakers have also been struggling so far this season in player scoring, with only two players sitting above 15 pts on the season. Junior defenseman, Jacob Bengtsson, and senior forward, Louis Boudon, currently lead the team with 16 pts.
For the Mavericks, goaltending was a question mark heading into this season with the departure of Hobey Baker winner, Dryden McKay. But it seems as though Rancier has silenced the critics in his last four starts.
Having accumulated 100 saves and a shutout in his last four starts, the Victoria, British Columbia native has given his team a lot of confidence and is a key aspect of the win streak the Mavericks have put together.
“He’s definitely given us a lot of confidence,” said Borchardt.“He’s looked really good in practice and the games. When you’re making saves like that and keeping them off the board when they get good chances, it really helps us out a lot as a group.”
In addition to solid performances from several Mavericks the past two weekends, Hastings mentions that the possibility of seeing freshman forward, Simon Tassy, in the lineup this weekend is high.
“Simon’s doing great and he’s completely cleared,” Hastings said.“We’ve been patient because we want to put him in a position where he can succeed. He’s been training like an absolute madman and he’s prepared for the weekend, so I look forward to him having that opportunity.”
Minnesota State will return home this weekend as they play host to Lake Superior State for a CCHA conference clash. Puck drop is set for 7:07 p.m. Friday and 6:07 p.m. Saturday.
Write to Karson Buelow at Karson.Buelow@mnsu.edu
Header Photo: MSU Men’s Hockey team holds their first two-game home series of the spring semester against Lake Superior State Friday, Jan. 20 at 7:07 p.m. and Saturday, Jan. 21 at 6:07 p.m. (Dylan Engel/The Reporter)