The Free Press, Mankato, MN


March 28, 2014

Despite expectations, things didn't come easy for Mavs

MSU needed 13-game unbeaten streak to end season

The bar was raised a year ago. The standard set. The expectations high.

The Minnesota State men’s hockey team was supposed to be here, right? Twenty-plus wins. A real chance at the MacNaughton Cup. A Broadmoor Trophy championship. A spot in the national tournament for the second year in a row.

“We think we’re going to make a run every year,” junior forward Jean-Paul LaFontaine said.

Mike Hastings turned things around a season ago, his first year as the Mavericks’ head coach. Minnesota State qualified for the WCHA Final Five and earned a berth to the NCAA tournament for the first time in a decade.

All signs pointed to trend, rather than chance.

“I think one of the reasons hockey is special is because it does mirror life,” Hastings said Wednesday, following practice and preparation for Saturday’s NCAA Northeast Regional game against UMass Lowell. “In life, you have to earn what you get. If it’s business, if it’s academics, if it’s sports, nobody is out there just giving things away. You’ve got to earn them.”

What the Mavericks found out this season was that getting back to this spot was neither automatic nor easy.

“We were 4-7 at one time,” Hastings said. “We had to earn this opportunity.”

Indeed, things were a little rough in mid-November. The Mavericks didn’t look like the WCHA’s unanimous preseason favorite or a team that would be playing deep into March.

The season looked more like those that followed MSU’s other good seasons — 2003-04 when the Mavericks followed up its first national-tournament appearance with a mere 10 wins or 2008-09 when there was motivation to overcome the previous year’s NCAA snub only to have the season end with a thud.

Zach Lehrke had retired due to a medical condition. Josh Nelson was injured and feared lost for the season. Matt Leitner had just three points through 10 games. Stephon Williams struggled to regain his freshman-year mojo in goal.

Text Only | Photo Reprints

Latest auto racing news
Featured Ads
Live Moondogs coverage
Shane Frederick's Twitter updates
Chad Courrier's Sports Report
Latest NCAA basketball news
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
NDN Video
Morosi: Tigers pick up Price from Rays Rice intends to become advocate of domestic violence with wife Janay when time is right Ray Rice issues apology for his part in a domestic violence incident A's Acquire Lester, Gomes For Cespedes Price on dealing with trade rumors Arian Foster Answers Questions With Same Boring Answer - @TheBuzzeronFox Pitch Invading Morons Cause Chaos - @TheBuzzeronFOX Cardinals make Peterson highest paid CB Tiger Woods: 1 on 1 Stephen A. Smith -- I Accept ESPN Suspension ... 'It Was My Mistake' Oakland Raiders To Become San Antonio Raiders? - @TheBuzzeronFox Byron Scott: 'This is still a Lakers town' Jack White throws first pitch for hometown Tigers LeSean McCoy explains how Chip Kelly has helped his productivity Chicago Cubs win longest game in team history Will Browns have enough without Gordon? Anderson Silva To Return To UFC, Face Nick Diaz - @TheBuzzeronFox Bills Legend on Bon Jovi's Bid: "F-ck Bon Jovi" - @TheBuzzeronFOX Settlement sets new standards for NCAA Possible MLB trades before deadline