New team, same home

The Minnesota State men’s hockey team will look for clear skies Friday night as they take on St. Cloud State in their first series of the 2023-24 season. 

“It’s a long time coming for everyone,” said Mavs head coach Luke Strand in a press conference following the team’s exhibition loss to Nebraska-Omaha.

The debut of the “new era” of Maverick hockey will take place at home. The Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center that has seen many years of dominance and stability from the Mavericks will now see a roster with 10 new players and an entirely new coaching staff. 

The first opponent of the new season was also the last opponent the Mavs saw in the 2022-23 season: St. Cloud State. Last season, the Huskies had the Mavs’ number, winning all three of their matchups, including their final loss of the season. The Huskies sent the Mavs home in the first round of the NCAA Tournament back in March after a 4-0 win sent the Huskies to the NCAA Fargo Regional.

Heading into this matchup, Strand stressed the importance of knowing themselves first. 

“I liked our conditioning, we held true to our standards of heart-rate, workload and pace that we played with,” Strand said in a press conference preceding the team’s matchup with the Huskies. “But with defending and scoring chances, there were some good moments.”

Strand also brought up the idea of getting all three goalies involved in this weekend’s series. 

“For me, the idea is that Alex Tracy and Andrew Miller will get the majority of puck touches early,” said Strand. “We want (Keenan) Rancier to be 100% before he enters the cage in a game.”

Three Mavericks did not see action in Saturday’s scrimmage. Strand indicated mostly good things were to come for the injured players.

“We’re close. I anticipate that you will see (Lucas) Sowder and Jordan Steinmetz in the lineup. They’ve been practicing in a regular-colored jersey,” Strand said. “(Zach) Krajnik is a little ways away yet, he’s just coming back and we want to be certain just like we are doing with Rancier, that their physical confidence is at 100%.”

In terms of expectations, the Mavs are looking for more than just what you see in the box score, but at the end of the day, winning is always the goal. 

“The depth and execution of our group are big steps we want to take this week. There are a lot of chances internally for reps, opportunities and growth,” Strand said. “But we’re here to win. So we want to go out, compete and put our best foot forward to make sure the scoreboard is in our favor.”

Taking on the 10th-ranked team in the NCAA is nothing to brush off. The Huskies are coming off a weekend sweep against St. Thomas where they won their first game 5-4 in overtime on opening night and 1-0 on Sunday afternoon.

They create a lot of opportunities with their foot speed and stick skills, and they also have a goaltender who stood tall and made a lot of big saves,” Strand said. “They have shown that they can score and play close. They are a high-end opponent, but on the other side, you want to see best players play best hockey and some of their high-end players play great games for them.”

Game time Friday is 7:07 p.m. Saturday’s game starts at 6:07 p.m.

“We’re ready. It’s a metric for us to see where we’re at. We are going to make sure that we’re taking steps to play properly and make sure our club is moving forward,” Strand said.

Write to Hayden Lee at

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