Prime goalie: junior Dryden McKay (21-3-0, 1.39 GAA, .931 SV%)
Why they may win the nationwide championship: At this level, they’ve already exorcised one demon. Simply profitable a sport within the NCAA event was an enormous step for the Mavericks, who had been beforehand 0-6 all time within the postseason of their Division I period.
However by beating instate rivals Minnesota — handily — within the regional remaining was a heck of an encore and an enormous assertion that this group is for actual. Possibly most encouraging is that MSU’s aim scorers within the regionals weren’t essentially their large stars. If they’ll get that scoring depth to click on in Pittsburgh, there’s no purpose why they’ll’t win all of it.
Why they won’t win the nationwide championship: Final week we talked about that the Mavs’ gradual begins may very well be their Achilles’ Heel.
It practically stopped their tourney run earlier than it began. MSU was down 2-0 to Quinnipiac after one interval of their first-round sport. They did handle to rally and tie the sport from down 3-1 with two targets within the third interval, however in opposition to the stronger groups left within the Frozen 4, it’s going to be quite a bit tougher for the Mavericks to claw again from an early deficit like that.
For the previous decade, Minnesota State has largely been considered one of many mannequin applications of school hockey. Prior to now 10 years, they’ve gained six convention championships, three convention event titles and appeared in six NCAA tournaments. 4 Mavericks have been named All-People. They’ve continually been ranked within the high 5 within the nation.
Earlier than this season, just one factor had eluded them: A NCAA event win.
However now that’s previously. The Mavericks gained the NCAA West Regional in Loveland, profitable their first event sport, their first regional championship and their first Frozen 4 look. Not a nasty option to get just a few monkeys off your again. MSU rallied to beat Quinnipiac in extra time to win their first sport earlier than blanking Minnesota to earn their first Frozen 4 berth.
“Clearly we hadn’t gained an NCAA sport, and to have the ability to discover a approach after placing ourselves within the spot that we had been in,” MSU head coach Mike Hastings mentioned. “To discover a option to get again and get our first win after which put collectively the sport we put collectively on Sunday to provide us the chance to be within the Frozen 4 was a really large step for our program.”
One other large step for Minnesota State was introduced simply days after their Frozen 4 berth. Junior goaltender Dryden McKay was named certainly one of three Hobey Baker Hat Trick finalists — one other first for Minnesota State.
McKay has recorded 10 shutouts this season and gained the WCHA goaltending championship this season with a targets in opposition to common of 1.07. He’s solely the second goaltender in WCHA historical past to win three consecutive goaltending titles. (The opposite one was a man named Tony Esposito.)
“If there’s one phrase I can throw out with Dryden aside from calm and picked up, could be ‘constant,’” Hastings mentioned. “He’s been our most constant participant during the last two years.”
That description, although, can apply to the Mavericks as a group along with McKay as a person. MSU doesn’t have anyone with insane aim scoring numbers, however what they do have are quite a lot of gamers with seven, eight and 9 targets. They’ve 4 20-point scorers and eight extra in double-digits.
Not often this season has MSU been utterly out of a sport. They solely misplaced 4 occasions all the season, and the one sport by which they appeared completely outclassed was within the WCHA semifinal sport in opposition to Northern Michigan on March 19. NMU gained 5-1 in a sport that wasn’t that shut. McKay was pulled within the second interval.
Hastings mentioned shedding that sport was a wakeup name for his group.
“We lose to Northern Michigan within the semifinals right here in our personal constructing, and we weren’t fascinated with going to the Frozen 4, we had been fascinated with choosing the items up and going again to our sport,” Hastings mentioned. “As you noticed, even within the weekend in Loveland, it took us a short while to get again there. Quinnipiac jumped on us straight away and we needed to play from behind. And because the sport went on, we discovered our id just a little bit. Then after the primary sport we put collectively a extremely good sport on Sunday.”
Enjoying in opposition to a group like St. Cloud State on the Frozen 4 this week shall be tough. The Mavericks and the Huskies know one another effectively as instate rivals, and Hastings is pleasant with St. Cloud State head coach Brett Larson. However on the finish of the day, for Hastings it will likely be about doing what the Mavericks do.
“We’ve obtained an thought of what’s occurring in St. Cloud and what they’re doing, however on the finish of the day we try to deal with what we’re doing and our preparation,” Hastings mentioned. “We’re going to remain true to what we’re that approach. We’ll strive and ensure we give the blokes we give them the knowledge that they want, tendencies and that type of factor, however on the finish of the day we now have to exit and play our sport.”
The Mavericks will now carry the banner for the WCHA in its remaining season as a males’s league. MSU’s failures to win a event sport previously may have been learn by some as an indictment of the league. However this season, the league had one of the best displaying it’s had since realignment.
Other than MSU’s success, Bemidji State additionally shocked many with their large win over Wisconsin as a No. 4 seed. Lake Superior State was knocked out within the first spherical by UMass however had been probably the greatest groups within the convention down the stretch. All three groups shall be taking part in within the CCHA subsequent season.
“I believe it opened some individuals’s eyes to what we do in our league,” Hastings mentioned of the WCHA. “It’s a tricky league to play in and we’re displaying it proper now. Hopefully we are able to proceed to try this not just for the league shifting ahead however for ourselves as a program.”