The Free Press, Mankato, MN

March 30, 2013

These traveling MSU hockey fans the rail deal

By Shane Frederick
Free Press Staff Writer

TOLEDO, OHIO — They came by planes, trains and automobiles.

Just to see the Mavericks play in the national tournament for the first time in a decade.

Ryan Stringfield of New Richland has season tickets to Minnesota State men’s hockey games, and makes the 45-minute trek to Mankato for every home game.

So what was another 9 hours and 15 minutes?

“I’ve been following them for a long time,” said Stringfield, who made the road trip with his dad, Jim. “I graduated from MSU in 2003 and have had season tickets since ‘06 or ‘07.”

Stringfield then pulled his phone and produced a list of arenas he and his wife, Amy, have traveled to watch the Mavericks. Including the Verizon Wireless Center, they’ve hit nine of the 12 rinks in the WCHA. Only Denver and Alaska-Anchorage were missing.  

“They’ve been fun to follow,” Ryan said. “It’s nice to see them advance.”

For brothers John and Tim McMonagle of Madelia, the sentiment was the same. The farmers have been MSU season ticket holders since the program upgraded to Division I and moved into the civic center in the late 1990s.

“With this team, I knew they could be good,” John said.

On Sunday when it was announced that Minnesota State would be playing in Toledo, Tim convinced John to make the trip.

But plane tickets were expensive and driving, especially through Chicago,

didn’t really appeal to the brothers. So they took a train.

Eleven hours on the Amtrak, Winona to Toledo.

“We’ve never seen them play in the NCAA tournament,” John said.

The Mavericks were playing in the Division I national tournament for just the second time and the first since 2003. John McMonagle said this year’s team, under first-year coach Mike Hastings, is the best he’s seen in awhile.

“I go to every game, pretty much,” he said. “They seem more in shape. And Eriah (Hayes), he really impressed me this year. He’s been a team leader.”

At nearly 700 miles away, Toledo wasn’t the most convenient place to get to. But for the diehards, they might have gone to the far reaches of the country.

“We wouldn’t have gone to Providence (R.I.), right?” Jim Stringfield asked his son.

Said Ryan: “Well, I would have.”