The Strand era off to strong start 

After falling to Michigan Tech in the semi finals of the CCHA playoffs, the Minnesota State men’s hockey team ended the 2023-24 season with an 18-15-4 overall record, and a 12-10-2 conference record. 

The Mavericks were faced with many challenges heading into this season, which caused many questions to be asked from the fans, along with much doubt for the season ahead of them. 

The Mavericks lost longtime head coach Mike Hastings who was at the helm of the 2022 NCAA Frozen Four run. The Mavericks also lost 14 players in the process, which amounted to half of their team. 

Hastings had been the backbone of this Maverick team. Leading them to seven NCAA tournaments, reaching the Frozen Four in 2022, capturing three WCHA post season tournament titles and the MacNaughton Cup, while never having a losing season in his time. 

The Mavericks hired Luke Strand not too long after Hastings’ departure, and with this came much pressure to continue the dominance and winning ways of the Hastings era. 

With the Mavericks losing more than half of their team, the pressure was put on the veteran players who stayed as many didn’t expect them to do so. 

Head coach Strand signed 10 new players in response to half the team leaving. 

The 2023/24 season saw the emergence of Sam Morton as the star of the Mavericks. Morton had a CCHA-leading 24 goals, while dishing out 10 assists and accumulated 34 points. Morton’s breakout season earned him CCHA Player of the year, CCHA forward of the year, All-CCHA First Team and Hobey Baker top 10 finalist.  

The veteran duo of Lucas Sowder and Morton emerged throughout this season, and both players led the Mavs in points for a combined 61 points. 

Freshman Evan Murr was a breakout star for the Mavericks as he scored six goals and dished out 20 assists for 26 points, which made him a CCHA Rookie of the Year finalist, All-CCHA Second Team and the CCHA All-Rookie Team. 

The Mavericks got their season off to a fairly good start after sweeping St. Cloud State, but soon saw themselves fall under some inconsistency with losses in October and November. The Mavericks went 5-7-1 in this stretch. 

From that point on, the Mavs began to catch heat and find some more consistency, winning games and putting on a run to contend for the MacNaughton Cup. The Mavs went 11-8-3 during this stretch, and didn’t get swept until the final regular season series against Bemidji State. 

Throughout the season, the Mavericks struggled with starting games and found themselves struggling during the first game of a series, but would respond during the second game which was what helped them not get swept during that stretch. 

The Mavericks entered the postseason as the No. 4 seed where they faced No. 5 seed Northern Michigan in the quarterfinals of the playoffs. The Mavericks, backed by the support of their fans, swept Northern Michigan in a dominant display winning 2-1 and 6-1. 

The Mavericks went into the semi finals with their offense being on a roll, and seven Maverick players accumulated 20 plus points. 

The Mavericks proceeded to face Michigan Tech in a single-game elimination in the semifinals of the post season where they were ultimately eliminated after a thrilling game. The Mavs took control throughout the first two periods, but a penalty goal and a lucky bounce of the puck ended their season in a 4-3 loss. 

The Mavericks are losing eight seniors after this season: Sam Morton, Lucas Sowder, Jordan Powers, Brandon Koch, Jordan Steinmetz, Tony Malinowksi, Tanner Edwards and Connor Gregga. Morton was signed by the Calgary Flames (NHL) on a one year deal. 

Header Photo: The Minnesota State men’s hockey team’s first season under first-year head coach Luke Strand came to an end after suffering defeat in the CCHA Semifinals against Michigan Tech. (Dylan Long/The Reporter)

Write to Ahmed Hassan at

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