MANKATO — Johnny McInnis couldn't wait for the weekend. He just had to sneak down to the Verizon Wireless Center early last week to catch a peek at his home arena.
“It was awesome to see our colors,” the Minnesota State men's hockey captain said after his team's 7-1 exhibition victory over Lethbridge, a Canadian university team, on Sunday evening.
Offseason renovations to the building included new, purple seats, as well as an entire new playing rink — boards, glass, benches, floor and ice-making system.
“The ice is a lot better,” McInnis said.
Said coach Mike Hastings: “The facility looks fantastic. Coming out of the locker room, it looks like home.”
But the arena wasn't the star of Sunday's show.
That billing belonged to the home team, which is entering the 2013-14 season with some lofty expectations and preseason hype.
The Mavericks put on an offensive show for the 2,127 in attendance, outshooting the Pronghorns 52-11 and getting goals from seven different players.
Sophomore center Teddy Blueger was dazzling with a goal and three assists, and his line, which included McInnis (one goal, two assists) and sophomore Dylan Margonari (goal), had eight points, including three on the game's opening goal, a Margonari breakaway at 4:37 of the first period.
While MSU's line combinations are hardly set in concrete just a couple of days into the season, that group has a unique makeup.
“Johnny's got a great shot, and Dylan's got great speed and strength,” Blueger said. “I'm more of a passer. We all have certain strengths.”
Blueger was the best player on the ice, especially in the first and second periods, as he showed off his rink vision and quick hands.
“He's smart,” Hastings said. “His greatest strength is what he has between the ears as far as hockey sense. The impact he made tonight, he needs to make every night, and I think he's ready for that role.”