Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Hastings to do Wild's "Let's play hockey" open

Minnesota State men's hockey coach Mike Hastings will do the Wild's traditional, "Let's play hockey!" announcement to open tonight's playoff game against the St. Louis Blues at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

This year's national coach of the year also will make the media rounds leading up to the pregame ritual. According to MSU sports information, he'll be on WCCO-TV at 5:20 p.m., Fox9 at 5:40 p.m., KFAN radio at 7:55 p.m. (during the pregame show) and be on the mic in the arena at 8:10 p.m.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Finalists named for women's coach

Minnesota State will interview three candidates — Amber Fryklund, John Harrington and Laura Schuler — for the vacant women's hockey coaching position next week. The university announced Thursday the three finalists on Thursday, who are vying to become the program' fourth coach.

"This is a talented group of candidates with very diverse backgrounds and a variety of professional experiences," athletic director Kevin Buisman said in a statement. "We have heard a lot of wonderful things about what each of these candidates might bring to our program, and I feel very good about these finalists."

Fryklund is an assistant coach at Bemidji State, her alma mater, a position she has held for four seasons. The Hibbing native and BSU's all-time leading scorer was a finalist for that school's head-coaching opening last summer. She also has coached high school hockey in Duluth for five years.

Harrington was the men's coach at St. John's University (1993-2008) and currently works as a scout for the NHL's Colorado Avalanche. In between, he coached professional hockey in Switzerland and Italy. The 1980 Olympian and former Minnesota Duluth player worked on Division I college staffs at St. Cloud State and Denver. He interviewed for the MSU men's job in 2000 when Troy Jutting was hired and also interviewed for the vacant St. Cloud State women's position last summer.

Schüler is an assistant coach at Minnesota Duluth and has been since 2008. She also was the head coach at Northeastern (2004-08) and Massachusetts-Boston (2001-2004). As a player, the Northeastern graduate and Hall of Famer, was a member of the Canadian National Team, including that country's 1998 Olympic team.

You can read full bios on the candidates here.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Mavericks ink 3, up incoming class to 8

As expected, Minnesota State added three players to next season's incoming class on Wednesday when the national signing period began.

The Mavericks will have eight new players next season, as the latest three join the five who signed NLIs in November.

The latest group includes one player from each position:

Chandler Madry
Chandler Madry, F, Fairbanks Ice Dogs (NAHL). The 6-foot-0, 181-pounder ranked second in scoring in the NAHL this season with 77 points, including a league-high 55 assists, in 60 games. It was his third season with the Ice Dogs. He helped them to a Robertson Cup championship last year and has totaled 114 points in 146 career games. He's a Bakersfield, Calif., native. Madry missed the NAHL scoring championship by three points. 

Daniel Brickley
Daniel Brickley, D, Topeka Roadrunners (NAHL). The 6-3, 205-pound left shot had 12 goals and 25 assists in 58 games, ranking tied for for sixth in the NAHL in scoring by defensemen. He also led his team with 102 penalty minutes. He's a native of Sandy, Utah.

Jason Pawloski
Jason Pawloski, G, Green Bay Gamblers (USHL). The 6-0, 198-pounder goaltender went 10-21-5 with a .901 SV% and 3.33 GAA this season. A year ago, he was the Clark Cup MVP while playing for the Indiana Ice of the USHL. He went 27-8-6 with a .904 SV% and a 2.46 GAA last season. A year earlier, the Omaha, Neb., native played for Austin of the NAHL.

They join a class that includes forwards Max Coatta (Waterloo, USHL), Steen Cooper (Penticton, BCHL) and Ryan Schwalbe (Sioux Falls, USHL) and defensemen Clint Lewis (Sioux Falls, USHL) and Alec Vanko (Madison, USHL).

Lewis, who played one year at Cornell before leaving school and returning to junior hockey, will come in as a sophomore.

The Mavericks graduated six players from this past season — forwards Matt Leitner, Jean-Paul Lafontaine, Chase Grant and Max Gaede and defensemen Zach Palmquist and Brett Stern — and also lost goalie Stephon Williams a year early to the NHL.

By my count, Minnesota State has verbal commitments from eight other players for 2016-17 and beyond. There will be six seniors on next year's team.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Providence is No. 1, Mavs slip to 6/7

The Associated Press
For what they're worth, the final college hockey rankings came out on Monday, putting a bow on the 2014-15 season, and Minnesota State fell from it's pre-NCAA tournament No. 1 ranking to No. 7 in the USCHO poll and to No. 6 in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll.

The Associated Press
Of course, Providence rose to the top after its fantastic run to the title — the first for the Friars — knocking off a string of top-10 teams in Miami, Denver, Nebraska Omaha and Boston University along the way.

The championship game against BU was a classic, although a goaltending gaffe by the Terrier's Matt O'Connor will be the play so many people remember (it jogged an old MSU memory and inspired my column for this week, too).

Here's what the final rankings looked like in each:

1. Providence
2. Boston University
3. North Dakota
4. Nebraska Omaha
5. Denver
6. Minnesota Duluth
7. Minnesota State
8. Miami
9. Michigan Tech
10. St. Cloud State
11. Harvard
12. Minnesota
13. Boston College
14. Quinnipiac
15. Yale
16. RIT
17. UMass-Lowell
18. Bowling Green
19. Colgate
20. Michigan
Others receiving votes: Vermont, Robert Morris, St. Lawrence, Mercyhurst, New Hampshire, Dartmouth, Michigan State.

USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine
1. Providence
2. Boston University
3. North Dakota
4. Nebraska Omaha
5. Denver
6. Minnesota State
7. Minnesota Duluth
8. Miami
9. Michigan Tech
10. Minnesota
11. Harvard
12. St. Cloud State
13. Quinnipiac
14. Boston College
15. Yale
Others receiving votes: UMass-Lowell, RIT, Bowling Green

What will the top 10 look like to start next season? Where will the Mavericks be? In the top 10? We're already less than six months away from the first preseason poll.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Leitner, Palmquist named All-Americans

The Free Press
More post-season honors are coming in for Minnesota State. On Friday, senior forward Matt Leitner and senior defenseman Zach Palmquist were named AHCA/CCM All-Americans, with Leitner becoming MSU's first West First Team pick since the program went Division I. Palmquist is a West Second Team pick.

They are the fourth and fifth Mavericks to be named All-Americans, joining forwards David Backes (West Second team in 2006), Grant Stevenson (West Second Team in 2003) and Shane Joseph (West Second Team in 2003).

The Free Press
Leitner (top photo) is the only player in the history of the MSU program to lead the team in scoring in four consecutive seasons. He finished his career with 162 points, second on the Mavericks' Division I-era scoring list, including 41 this season. He led the country in power-play points (22) and was eighth in face-off wins (475) and 11th in faceoff winning percentage (.583).

Palmquist had 29 points this season and 96 for his career, which tied for first for defensemen in MSU's D-I history. He did not miss a game in his college career and set a school record by playing in 160 consecutive games.

Both players are two-time First Team All-WCHA selections, including this season.

They are two of four WCHA players named All-American on Friday, the others being Michigan Tech forward Tanner Kero (West First Team) and Alaska defenseman Colton Parayko (West Second Team).

To see the full list of college hockey All-Americans, go here.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Hastings wins Penrose Award as nation's top coach

The Free Press
Minnesota State coach Mike Hastings was chosen as the Spencer Penrose Award winner as the top Division I men's hockey coach of the year by the American Hockey Coaches Association, the group announced on Wednesday.

Hastings, who will be honored at the AHCA convention on May 2 in Naples, Fla., along with assistant coaches Darren Blue and Todd Knott, led the Mavericks to a 29-8-3 record and the WCHA regular-season and tournament titles.

In three seasons with at Minnesota State he is 79-36-7, with the 79 victories being the most by any program over that period.

Hastings is the first WCHA coach to win the award since Denver's George Gwozdecky received it in 2005, although Ferris State's Bob Daniels won it in 2012 when his team was still in the CCHA. Ferris State is now in the WCHA. Daniels also won in 2003.

The runner-up for this year's award was David Quinn of Boston University.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Stern signs with Orlando of ECHL

The Free Press
Brett Stern, the Minnesota State defenseman who just wrapped up his college career, signed with the Orlando Solar Bears of the ECHL, that team announced on Tuesday.

Stern played 137 games for the Mavericks, scoring six goals, assisting on 24 others and going +14. An MSU co-captain this season, Stern scored three goals, including two game-winners and was +8 in 40 games. For the second year in a row he was a member of the WCHA Final Five All-Tournament Team.

Orlando is an affiliate of the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs and the AHL's Toronto Marlies.

Williams starts strong

Bridgeport Sound Tigers
Former Minnesota State goaltender Stephon Williams is off to a great start as a pro, winning his first two starts with the AHL's Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

On Saturday, he stopped 30 of 32 shots in a 3-2 victory over the Syracuse Crunch, and, as he had done with the Mavericks so many times, he "stole the show." On Monday, he defeated former teammate Eriah Hayes and the Worcester Sharks, stopping 31 of 32 shots (including three by Hayes) in a 4-1 victory.

In both games, Williams received a little offensive support from another former Maverick, forward Kael Mouillierat, who scored a goal each night.

Read my column about Williams' ability to make memories in Tuesday's Free Press.

Yep, he'll definitely be missed at Minnesota State. Now, it will be Cole Huggins' chance to do what Williams did last year, and that's to rebound from a sophomore slump and regain the form of his rookie season.

As for the possibility of other early departures, I'm hearing that, as of now, the Mavericks' other underclassmen are planning to return for next year.

Meanwhile, another new pro, Zach Palmquist, made his pro debut on Friday and had an assist and was +2 in the Iowa Wild's 6-0 victory over the Rochester Americans. Iowa will play the Texas Stars tonight (Tuesday) in Des Moines.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Hastings finalist for Penrose award

Mavericks coach Mike Hastings was named one of eight finalists for the Spencer Penrose Award, which goes to the national coach of the year in men's college hockey. The winner winner will be announced on April 8.

Hastings just wrapped up his third season with Minnesota State and was named WCHA coach of the year for the second time. MSU won the WCHA championship for the first time and the Final Five for the second time. It also went to its third consecutive NCAA tournament.

The Mavericks went 29-8-3 this year and are 79-36-7 under Hastings' watch. The 79 wins are more than any other team in the country over that same stretch.

Finalists for the Spencer Penrose Award are conference coach-of-the-year winners and those who have led their teams to the Frozen Four.

The other finalists are: Omaha's Dean Blais, St. Lawrence's Greg Carvel, Penn State's Guy Gadowsky, North Dakota's Dave Hakstol, Providence's Nate Leaman, Boston University's David Quinn, Robert Morris' Derek Schooley.