Early MSU hockey

Coach Don Brose (right) stands next to one of the first Minnesota State hockey teams on an outdoor rink in Mankato. Photo courtesy Minnesota State athletics

This season marks the 50th year of Minnesota State hockey. Over the last five decades, the Mavericks program has grown from a fledgling team that played on outdoor ice to the best team in Division II to a regular contender at the Division I level.

“I’m happy that it continues to grow and be very successful,” said 78-year-old Don Brose, who coached the team for 30 years.

Brose recalled those early days, securing ice at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter or Shattuck-St. Mary’s School in Faribault, as well as playing outside on terribly cold days that gave players frostbite and, in other cases, in weather too warm to keep the ice frozen.

The team moved indoors in 1973-74, and, six years later, celebrated a national championship.

“That was the pinnacle, 1978-1981,” Brose said. “We took third in the nation, second, won the national championship and then took one last third.”

Brose worked to get Minnesota State upgraded to Division I and pushed, along with his players, for a downtown-Mankato arena to call home. The Mavericks got into the WCHA, and Brose stepped down after one season in the prestigious conference.

His former player and longtime assistant coach Troy Jutting took the reins for 12 years, and Mike Hastings has led the team for the last six.

“I’m humbled and blessed to have the opportunity to be the coach of this program and to have been a small piece of that 50 years,” Hastings said. “My hope is to continue to grow it while appreciating what others have done before me, Don Brose, Troy Jutting and the players over their time here.”

In celebration of 50 seasons of hockey, here are 50 memorable Maverick moments:

1. In November of 1969, the first intercollegiate hockey team at Minnesota State (then Mankato State College) team took the ice for practice. Don Brose was the coach after working the previous four years as coach of the club team.

2. On Jan. 16, 1970, the first hockey game in program history was played, an 8-2 loss to St. Cloud State. Jim Lang scored the first-ever goal for the team then called the Indians. The game was scheduled to be played on an on-campus outdoor rink but was moved to Shattuck Academy in Faribault because of weather.

3. The first victory in school history was a 5-2 win over another first-year program, Wisconsin-Stout, on Jan. 24, 1970, in Menomonie, Wisconsin. Dave Kramer had a hat trick in the game.

4. The team’s first season ended with a 5-8-1 record. Bill Techar led the Indians in scoring with 23 points, including 14 goals.

5. In the team’s fifth season, 1973-74, the program got its first indoor facility to play in as All Seasons Arena, then called The Ice Palace, opened in Mankato.

6. The Mavericks made their first postseason appearance in 1978. Steve Forliti scored two third-period goals in a 7-3 victory over Illinois-Chicago. The team went on to win the third-place game in the NCAA tournament, a 5-3 victory over Elmira.

7. The Mavericks did one better the next year, advancing to the Division II national championship game. They came home in second place, falling to Lowell 6-4 on March 22, 1979, in North Andover, Mass.

8. Paul Mattson scored six goals, and Steve Forliti had seven assists and nine points — all school records — in a 13-2 rout over Wisconsin-Eau Claire on Dec. 7, 1978.

9. On March 16, 1980, the Mavericks reached the pinnacle, capturing the Division II national championship with a 5-2 victory over Elmira in Elmira, N.Y. All-American goaltender Steve Carroll made 42 saves in the final. The team’s 30 wins that season still stand as the school record.

10. The Mavericks’ run of four straight national-semifinal appearances ends in 1981 with another third-place finish. Playing in North Andover, Mass., they defeated Concordia 9-7 after an 8-7 overtime loss to Lowell in their first game.

11. In the 1982-83 season, All-American Tom Kern set single-season team records for goals with 43, while teammate Pat Carroll, who had 42 goals, set the mark for points with 88. Kern finished that season, his last, with career records for points (239) and goals (129).

12. The Mavericks advanced to the national semifinals again in 1986, dropping both games in Bemidji to take fourth place in the nation. They lost 7-5 to Plattsburgh State and 6-0 to Rochester Institute of Technology.

13. MSU went to the final four again in 1990-91 and finished as the national runner-up, losing to NCHA foe Wisconsin-Stevens Point 6-2 in the finals after a 7-3 victory over the host school, Elmira.

14. In 1992, Minnesota State wrapped up an 11-year run as a member of the NCHA. Over that time, the Mavericks won three conference co-championships.

15. In 1992 MSU announced its intention to move up to Division I but was shot down by the Minnesota State University Board.

16. On Feb. 3, 1995, the Mavericks moved into Mankato’s new downtown civic center and defeated Alabama Huntsville 6-3. The Mavericks’ Chris Hvinden scored the first goal in the building.

17. In the summer of 1995, Minnesota State took another stab at Division I and that time was approved to make the jump to the next level.

18. On March 2, 1996, the Mavericks played their last game as a Division II-III member, falling at home 4-3 to eventual national champions Alabama Huntsville.

19. Minnesota State began its first season as a Division I independent program in October 1996, going to Ferris State for two games. It split the series, falling 5-4 and winning 5-4 in overtime for its first D-I victory.

20. Minnesota State finished its first season of Division I hockey with a 17-14-3 record. The season included another victory over Ferris State and wins over Notre Dame and Air Force.

21. The Mavericks got a full D-I schedule for the 1997-98 season and played in the WCHA tournament as a No. 10 seed. They opened the season at Minnesota Duluth with a 2-1 victory, getting 36 saves from goalie Des Christopher.

22. On May 1, 1998, the WCHA announced that Minnesota State will join the conference for the 1999-2000 season.

23. On Oct. 23, 1998, the Mavericks defeated Canisius 11-3 for Don Brose’s 500th career victory.

24. Still playing as a WCHA affiliate member, Minnesota State stunned No. 1-ranked and conference-leading North Dakota with a 3-2 overtime victory in the first game of a best-of-three playoff series in Grand Forks on March 12, 1999. Andy Fermoyle scored the OT-winner. North Dakota went on to win the series, though, with wins of 3-2 and 10-0.

25. Goaltender Eric Pateman stopped 39 shots and the Mavericks upset No. 1-ranked Wisconsin 3-0 on Jan. 22, 2000, at the Mankato Civic Center. A week later, MSU scored its first-ever win over Minnesota a 6-5 overtime victory in Minneapolis with Andy Fermoyle scoring the game-winner.

26. Minnesota State finished its first year in the WCHA with a record of 15-10-3, finishing in fourth place in the standings. It swept Alaska Anchorage in a WCHA playoff series and went to the Final Five at Target Center where it fell to Minnesota 6-4.

27. The 1999-2000 season also ended Aaron Fox’s career. The forward scored 164 career points for the Mavericks, which still stands as the team’s Division I-era record.

28. After the 1999-2000 season Don Brose called it a career. After being named WCHA Coach of the Year in his team’s first season in the league, Brose retired with a career record of 536-327-72. He still ranks 22nd on the all-time NCAA coaching wins list.

29. On March 27, 2000, longtime assistant coach and former player Troy Jutting was named the second coach in program history.

30. On June 21, 2000, Tim Jackman became the first MSU player to get selected in the NHL Draft. The Columbus Blue Jackets took the forward in the second round with the 38th overall pick.

31. On Feb. 21-22, 2003, the Mavericks swept North Dakota in Mankato to extend their unbeaten streak to 17 games. The streak ended a week later at Colorado College, but MSU finished the regular season tied for second in the WCHA, and Troy Jutting was named league coach of the year.

32. Led by All-Americans Shane Joseph and Grant Stevenson, who had 65 and 63 points, respectively, the Mavericks made it to their first NCAA Division I tournament. They lost to Cornell 5-2 to finish the season with a 20-11-10 record.

33. On Dec. 20, 2003, Minnesota State came back from a 7-1 deficit at home against eventual national-champion Denver to win 8-7. Shane Joseph had a hat trick, and Chris Clark, the Mavericks’ third goalie of the game, stopped all 13 shots he faced in his first college action.

34. On the same day as his college team was pulling off a great comeback Tim Jackman made his NHL debut, becoming the first former Maverick to skate in NHL. On Dec. 22, 2005, Jackman and Grant Stevenson squared off in a game between the Coyotes and Sharks, marking the first time two former MSU players faced off in an NHL game.

35. On Nov. 5, 2006, Minnesota State retires the number 99 in honor of Anthony Ford, a 9-year-old Mankato boy who died of leukemia. During his 18-month battle with the disease, he grew close with the Mavericks.

36. In the summer of 2007, Ryan Carter brought the Stanley Cup to Mankato after he became the first Mavericks player to win the cup, helping the Ducks on their championship run that year.

37. On the weekend of March 16-18, 2008, Minnesota State and Minnesota played a total of five overtime periods in an epic WCHA playoff series in Mankato. The Mavericks won the first game 1-0 in double overtime on Trevor Bruess’ goal, but the Gophers won the next two games, 2-1 in overtime and 3-2 in double overtime to advance to the Final Five.

38. On Oct. 17, 2008, Zach Harrison had a hat trick with all three goals coming short-handed in a 5-1 home win over North Dakota. Harrison’s stick was sent to the Hockey Hall of Fame to commemorate the rare feat.

39. Mavericks All-American David Backes became the first former MSU men’s player to play in the Olympics during the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, helping Team USA win the silver medal.

40. Following the 2011-12 season, Troy Jutting was fired after 12 seasons as coach. He finished his tenure with a record of 184-224-55.

41. On April 13, 2012, Mike Hastings became the third head coach in Minnesota State history.

42. In March of 2013, Minnesota State returned to the NCAA Division I tournament for the first time in 10 years. The Mavericks fell 3-0 to Miami in Toledo, Ohio, and Mike Hastings’ first season ended with a 24-14-3 record.

43. On March 22, 2014, the Mavericks captured their first Broadmoor Trophy as WCHA playoff champions, defeating Ferris State 4-1 at the Final Five in Grand Rapids, Mich. Minnesota State went to the NCAA tournament the following week, falling to its old Division II foe, UMass-Lowell, in Worcester, Mass.

44. On Feb. 28, 2015, the Mavericks drew their largest crowd ever at the Verizon Center as 5,446 people attended a late-season game against Michigan Tech.

45. The 2014-15 season was the Mavericks’ best yet as a Division I program, as they went 29-8-3. They won the MacNaughton Cup as WCHA regular-season champions for the first time, won the Broadmoor Trophy at Xcel Energy Center and entered the NCAA tournament as the No. 1 team in the country. However, they were upset in the first round, losing 2-1 to RIT in South Bend, Ind.

46. Following the 2014-15 season, Mike Hastings won the Spencer Penrose Award as national coach of the year, while forward Matt Leitner and defenseman Zach Palmquist were named All-Americans.

47. At the end of the 2015-16 season forward Bryce Gervais set the MSU record for games played with 163, passing 160 set by Zach Palmquist the previous season.

48. In 2018, All-American forward C.J. Suess became the first Minnesota State player to win WCHA Player of the Year honors and to be named a Top 10 Hobey Baker Award finalist.

49. Minnesota State returned to the NCAA tournament on March 23, 2018, after two seasons away. They experienced another loss, however, falling 3-2 in overtime to Minnesota Duluth in Sioux Falls, S.D.

50. In October 2018, Minnesota State celebrates the beginning of its 50th season of hockey. The team unveiled its inaugural class of its Legends of Maverick Hockey program, honoring first coach Don Brose, first captain Karl Ulrich, 1980 national-championship captain Steve Forliti, first NHLer Tim Jackman and first NHL captain and Olympian David Backes.

Follow Shane Frederick on Twitter @puckato

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College hockey, general sports reporter