In today's Free Press column, I wrote about how this year's freshman class is the first full recruiting class for Minnesota State coach Mike Hastings. The continuity of the program, thanks to keeping assistant coaches Darren Blue and Todd Knott and Hastings' blind trust (a term he used on Sunday night) in them has, perhaps, made it easy to forget about that. Also, it's hard to ignore the impact Hastings made on the veteran players and rookies in his first season with the program.
But now, with Zach Stepan, Michael Huntebrinker, Jordan Nelson, Casey Nelson, Carter Foguth, Sean Flanagan and Cole Huggins on the roster, we're getting a closer look at how Hastings is building his team here.
One can also look ahead to the recruits committed for next season and beyond.
On Monday night, the Penticton Vees of the BCHL announced that their leading scorer, Max Coatta, has committed to Minnesota State for 2015. Coatta is a Minnetonka High School graduate and holds that program's career records for goals (89), assists (101) and points (190) after playing four seasons on the varsity. As a senior he led the Skippers with 59 points in 27 games.
"I felt really comfortable with coach Hastings and his staff," Coatta said in the Vees' press release. They're coming off a great season, and they've recruited well. It's exciting to be going to a program that's on the rise."
Said Vees coach/GM Fred Harbison: "In a short period of time Max has become a go-to guy in all situations. His maturity and approach matched with his offensive instincts make him a dynamic player who will have continued success at both the Junior A and NCAA level."
As for 2014, the Mavericks appear to have done well. Among the players expected to sign in November are Sioux Falls Stampede players Zeb Knutson and C.J. Franklin, who are off to great starts. Knutson has nine points in five games, which ranks second in the USHL, and Franklin is sixth with eight points in five games. Ryan Schwalbe, a Shattuck graduate who played in the BCHL last year is with Youngstown of the USHL now. Steen Cooper of Cowichan Valley of the BCHL, is off to a good start with nine points in 12 games.