Next on tap for the Minnesota State Men’s Hockey team is a date this weekend with the University of St. Thomas. The Mavericks, having enjoyed recent success, come into this weekend riding an eight-game win streak and are 18-9-1 on the season.
The Mavericks have also enjoyed recent success against the Tommies as they are 17-5-0 all-time, dating back to 1985 when both teams were considered division II. Since making the jump to division I last year, the Mavericks are undefeated against the Tommies, which includes two wins to knock the Tommies out of last year’s playoffs.
Though this success is fortunate for the Mavericks, this weekend’s series isn’t one to brush aside and consider an easy sweep. Since Nov. 25, the Tommies have been able to garner up points in every series they’ve played in which includes their first sweep as a division I program.
Junior Tommie forward, Mack Byers, has been a key part to St. Thomas’ recent success, having accumulated 18 points through 26 games played this season. In addition, Byers currently sits fourth in the CCHA in goals scored at 13, tied with senior Maverick forward, Ryan Sandelin.
Freshman goaltender, Aaron Trotter, has been consistent for St. Thomas in terms of performance and statistics. The Victoria, B.C. native currently holds a considerable .902 save percentage, despite an underwhelming 7-15-2 record for him this season.
But the Mavericks will be bringing their best this weekend, as well, as they own the CCHA leader in goals and third place for NCAA division I goals per game, David Silye. Silye, who’s been Minnesota State’s most consistent player this year, has had his own recent success against St. Thomas, having put up eight goals in the last five games against the Tommies.
“I guess that’s just the way hockey works out sometimes,” said Silye. “We have a chance to rewrite our season after a tough first half and it just so happens to be against St. Thomas who I’ve had success with in the past. It just adds to how special this weekend can be.”
In addition, both teams will have the added pressure of this weekend’s series being a “home-and-home,” where the teams will get the chance to play on their home ice once during the series. The uniqueness of this type of a series will challenge the players to make a quick mental shift playing in front of two different crowds.
“It’s different and it’s gotta be a quick mental shift,” said Silye. “We’ve had some experience earlier in the year with Minnesota and St. Thomas. So we gotta be ready to go on Friday and then do the same thing up in St. Thomas on Saturday.”
Puck drop for Minnesota State and St. Thomas is set for 7:07 p.m. Friday and 6:07 p.m. on Saturday.
Write to Karson Buelow at Karson.Buelow@mnsu.edu
Header photo: MSU Men’s Hockey team plays a home-and-home series against St. Thomas Friday, Feb. 3 at home and Saturday, Feb. 4 at St. Thomas. (Dylan Engel)