The following is a glance at Minnesota State's players for the 2012-13 season. Today focuses on the defensemen.
Minnesota State has six veteran defenseman on its roster this season, as well as a pair of freshmen who add more size to the back end.
Senior Tyler Elbrecht is the leader of the group and of the team, sharing captain duties with forward Eriah Hayes. Elbrecht missed a big chunk of the first half of last season with a broken arm, and it was devastating for the Mavericks. I even argued that he could have been the team MVP after looking at the Mavericks' record and stats with him in the lineup vs. with him out. Elbrecht is the team's most physical defenseman and, as he showed during Sunday's exhibition game, he's always eager to defend his teammates.
Another senior, Evan Mosey, played in every game last year and has some offensive ability. As a senior, the Mavericks undoubtedly will be counting on some leadership from him as well. Junior Josh Nelson was one of MSU's most improved players a year ago after some struggles early in the season.
Sophomore Zach Palmquist is a player and jumped in on the power play as a freshman without too much transition at all. He played in every game and compiled 19 points, tops among D-men and sixth on the team. Based on what the Mavs showed on Sunday, 6-foot-2 freshman Jon Jutzi is poised to be a power-play staple as well. Hastings has had good things to say about Jutzi since the day he was hired (I wonder if that was a player he was looking at when he was recruiting for Nebraska Omaha).
The 6-3, 205-pound Buchanan is a good-sized defensive defenseman, as is sophomore Brett Stern, whom Elbrecht has dubbed his "Mini-Me." Stern had some injury issues last season and played in just 19 games. The Mavericks can't afford to have too many health problems on defense, as they are down to just seven right now. Sophomore Mat Knoll — who was voted MSU's most-improved player last year — is out indefinitely with eye issues. He has had one eye surgery and has another one scheduled for next month.
Danny Heath would have been a junior this year. He played in just five career games, including two last year. But concussions forced him to quit the game. He remains involved with the team as a student-assistant (perhaps he's the next Mike Hastings).
Minnesota State defensemen (2011-12 stats)
Zach Palmquist, so. (38 games, 6-13—19)
Evan Mosey, sr. (38 games, 2-8—10)
Tyler Elbrecht, sr. (25 games, 1-5—6)
Josh Nelson, jr. (32 games, 1-5—6)
Mat Knoll, so. (25 games, 1-1—2)
Brett Stern, so. (19 games, 0-1—1)
Nick Buchanan, fr.
Jon Jutzi, fr.