MANKATO — Minnesota State men’s hockey coach Mike Hastings called this week a “maintenance week” for his team.
After playing two series and having an idle weekend before beginning their Western Collegiate Hockey Association schedule at Bemidji State, the Mavericks’ primary goal this week is to “get to 100 percent,” Hastings said.
Senior defenseman Josh Nelson went through some tests on the lower-body injury that kept him out of Saturday’s game against Connecticut, and his status should be known later this week. Dylan Margonari and Brett Knowles also missed some practice time for minor ailments.
“If we were playing this week, neither (Margonari nor Knowles) would get a day off,” Hastings said.
Hastings said the early bye also gives him and his staff a chance to re-examine MSU’s first four games, which included two losses at now-No. 8 Providence and two home wins against UConn. Minnesota State moved up to No. 16 in the national rankings this week.
Hastings added that he saw improvement over the first four games, notably in the area of puck possession.
“The good thing (Saturday) was we didn’t throw the puck around,” he said. “It’s so hard to get, and we showed we can hold onto it a bit. We did a good job maintaining possession and playing with a little more poise.”
Former Minnesota State forward Tyler Pitlick made his National Hockey League debut on Tuesday night, playing for the Edmonton Oilers in a game at Montreal.
Pitlick, who played one season (2009-10) at Minnesota State, became the eighth player with MSU connections to play in the NHL. He had two shots on goal, three hits and was minus-1 in 11:58 of ice time in his debut.
As a college player, Pitlick had 11 goals and eight assists for 19 points in 38 games. He was drafted the following summer by the Oilers with the first pick in the second round (31st overall). He opted to play a year of major junior hockey in Canada before signing with the Oilers. He spent two seasons with Oklahoma City of the American Hockey League and seven games there this season before getting called up.