Minnesota State was on the Verizon Wireless Center ice for the first time on Saturday, the first official day of the Division I men's season. No more two-hours-a-week limitations; the Mavericks had two practices on Saturday and will host Alberta in an exhibition game on Sunday afternoon.
MSU players finally got into the arena that they eventually will call their permanent home and saw the renovated hockey facility that includes new locker rooms, dress-down areas, strength-and-conditioning center, athletic training areas (including hot/cold therapy tubs), coaches offices and lounge.
Work remains (including fundraising) on that project, including signage, lighting and other displays, along with furniture and other final touch-ups. The hope is all will be completed in time for the men's and women's teams to move down there fulltime later this month.
Still, the players liked what they saw. Senior Teddy Blueger even compared the facility to NHL rinks he's seen.
"(I'm) a little bit of awe," Blueger said. "Pretty amazing. I think it's better than we ever expected. ... I never thought we'd have anything like this coming in. This is one of the best."
In the meantime, MSU will use what it can for some limited practices as well as Sunday's exhibition and next weekend's season-opening series against Nebraska Omaha. After that series (the MSU women will play North Dakota down there that weekend, too), the teams will go back to All Seasons Arena for two weeks as they play on the road, giving workers time to add the finishing touches and assemble and install the new video scoreboard above center ice.
"I just want to get down here fulltime as soon as possible," Blueger said. "Some guys are saying they'll never want to go home."