NORTH MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — Two weeks remain until the Maverick’s hockey programs have a week off for the holidays, so there is a lot to squeeze in before then. Time to break it all down in your weekly Maverick Hockey Quick Hits. Lets start out by taking a look at national rankings. This week’s USCHO men’s poll shows something special.
For the second week in a row, three programs located in Minnesota hold spots in the top-6. The top-4 have all yet to lose a game this season. First-ranked powerhouse North Dakota is actually 4-0 now having defeated top-ranked Denver twice, Western Michigan and Miami. On Thursday they face Minnesota Duluth. Number-two Boston College has swept two top 20 teams, Massachusetts and Providence, to remain undefeated. Duluth holding strong at third, Thursday’s match-up with North Dakota will be the ultimate test for the Bulldogs. At number-four, the Minnesota Gophers have shown no signs of slowing down with a tough big 10 schedule. Michigan is at five and at the number six spot again... the Minnesota State Mankato Mavericks who are 2-1 so far this season.
Here to talk more about the Maverick men’s team, who have faced great adversity, Sports Director Rob Clark. Hey Rob...
Rob Clark: Hey Mary. MSU men’s hockey team returning to the ice for the first time this past week since November 22nd. Mavericks lose for the first time this year versus Michigan Tech. The offense didn’t struggle to create opportunities, but they did struggle to put the puck in the back of the net in a 3-1 loss to the Huskies. But, that unit bounced back in game two of the series against Michigan Tech, scoring twice in a 2-nothing victory for the Mavericks. Of course, goaltender Dryden McKay, that’s career shutout number-16 for the junior. Now, looking ahead to this upcoming weekend series. Mavericks were supposed to be playing Northern Michigan, that game got canceled because the Wildcats are still dealing with COVID-19 related protocols and issues. So, the Mavericks instead Milwaukee School of Engineering, a Division III school, this will be a good opportunity for the Mavericks to look to continue improving and kind of stay in action after already being on one layoff, nice to see them play games regularly here for a stretch now.
Exactly right Rob, the series with MSOE is the first meeting between the two schools. The last time the Mavericks faced a NCAA DIII program was during the 1996-97 season, the year I was born, when playing an NCAA DI independent schedule and the Mavericks had Gustavus Adolphus, UW-Stevens Point, St. Thomas and St. John’s as opponents.
Now to talk about the (1-3) women’s team. The purple and gold had this past weekend off as a result of Bemidji State having to execute mandatory COVID-19 protocols. Then, on December 4th, the Mavericks learned they would be facing the number-3 Minnesota Gophers for a home and home series beginning Thursday at the Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center. The Gophers were also off from competition last weekend after the Border Battle series with the Badgers was postponed. In a season of unpredictable, the Mavericks will be looking to upset the Gophers who own an all-time 93-3-3 record against Mankato. MSU most recently defeating St. Cloud State on the road. Puck drop both nights is at 6:07.
VIEWER QUESTION: Finally for this edition of your Maverick Hockey Quick Hits, we revisit a question from week one when a viewer asked who the team captions were for the men’s 2020-21 season. At that time ahead of week one, head coach Mike Hastings hadn’t made a final decision, but we now know the answer! In his first year serving as captain of the Mavericks is senior defenseman Riese Zmolek, while senior defenseman Jack McNeely, and senior forwards Dallas Gerads and Jared Spooner are serving as alternate captains. Lots of leadership needed under this year’s circumstances, so great to see the veterans doing so.