Monday, September 17, 2012

Hastings hits the ice (updated)

For the first time since spring of 2008, Mike Hastings ran a hockey practice as head coach. On Monday, the new Minnesota State coach was on the ice with the Mavericks. It was the first day of preseason practice, and coaches get two hours of ice time per week with their entire roster. The official start of the season is Saturday, Oct. 6, and MSU will play an exhibition game against Lethbridge on Oct. 7.

"It's really nice to be handling it again," said Hastings, who spent the last three seasons on the bench at Nebraska Omaha and the year before that as an assistant at Minnesota. Prior to that, he spent 14 seasons as the head coach of the USHL's Omaha Lancers.

Monday's 40-minute, up-tempo practice at All Seasons Arena was a good one, Hastings said, but it's still early.

"For me, I'm still learning about the team, and they're still learning about how things are going to be done," he said.

Other notes:

• Hastings said he wants the Mavericks to play an aggressive brand of hockey, both offensively and defensively, and much of Monday's practice seemed focused on that. "We've got a long way to go to play that type of style," he said. "You have to be in elite shape, and we're not there yet. ... But I like the group; I like what I see."

• Hastings said team captains have yet to be voted on but he's counting on the leadership of the Mavericks' seniors. That group includes last year's captain, defenseman Tyler Elbrecht, and one of the team's top goal scorers, Eriah Hayes. It also includes goalie Phil Cook, forward Eli Zuck and defenseman Evan Mosey.

• Hastings is also aware that success will depend on a big step forward by a group of freshmen coming off a solid year. That group includes three notables: WCHA All-Rookie selection Jean-Paul LaFontaine, last year's MSU points leader Matt Leitner and defenseman Zach Palmquist.

• The Wenatchee Wild of the NAHL was on hand to watch practice. The Washington-based team practiced at ASA and also toured the university. The team will do the same at other colleges throughout the state this week, according to assistant coach and former MSU goaltender Chris Clark. Good to see Chris again.

• Update: MSU has put its preseason prospectus on the web. Read that here.

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