Two teams are set to play their first game in Mankato against one another after knocking off ranked teams in their season debut series.
Newly ranked No. 19, Minnesota State is the only remaining undefeated team in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association after its opening weekend sweep of St. Cloud State.
In addition to the triumph of victory, goaltender Alex Tracy was named CCHA goaltender of the week for the second time in his career. His 50 saves, .943 save percentage while allowing only three goals over two games provided a backbone for the Mavs as they skated to victory.
The University of Massachusetts Minutemen are 1-2 coming into the weekend, with their lone victory coming over then No. 6 ranked Michigan in a 6-3 contest. The Minutemen, who are in their 30th season of Division I hockey, feature 13 NHL draft picks on their active roster, including goaltender Cole Brady.
With all of their success in each program’s history, It is about time these two teams went head-to-head in the home of the Mavs. The two teams have met only once before, when the Mavs traveled to Amherst, Mass. in the 2021-22 season and came away with an opening weekend sweep.
Heading into his second series as head coach of the Mavs, Luke Strand is excited to get back to work.
“We have to take some pieces from the things we went through a week ago, grow in some areas and buy in on others,” Strand said in a press conference. “We now have to prepare for a very talented UMass team with a lot of depth and stick skill. They have a really active defense, good goaltending and they are a really good team.”
Strand also emphasized the importance of bringing in larger teams like UMass in non-conference matchups during the regular season.
“We have to play talent,” Strand said. “Iron sharpens iron. When you play good teams you get better yourself and you learn a lot about yourself. Winning those games become benchmarks for not only ourselves, but nationally. I want to play the schools that are going to have a global effect on what we do here day-to-day.”
In the preseason, Strand said that MSU would finish in the lower half “over his dead body,” and he is hoping his attitude rubs off on the team.
“I hope they feel that message every day here,” Strand said. “We’re definitely in a development phase. When the lights come on, the competitiveness has to be at a high.”
Those lights will come on at 7:07 p.m. Friday and 6:07 Saturday night at Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center when the Mavs and Minutemen get set for puck drop.
Header Photo: How will the new era Mavericks team play after taking home a huge opening weekend series win? (Lilly Anderson/The Reporter)
Write to Hayden Lee at email@example.com