MANKATO — In each of the first two seasons under coach Mike Hastings, the Minnesota State men’s hockey team has gotten a big boost from its freshman class.
The coach expects that to continue in his third year.
“When you can have competition at each position, you have the ability to push and build an environment of development from a competitive standpoint,” he said.
On Thursday, Hastings announced three players who signed National Letters of Intent with the Mavericks. The group brings the size of next season’s freshman class to five.
The most recent signees include forward Brad McClure, goaltender Aaron Nelson and defenseman Jaden Schmeisser.
McClure is a 5-foot-11, 175-pound forward from Stratford, Ontario. He played for the British Columbia Hockey League’s Penticton Vees, with whom he had 85 goals and 74 assists in 137 games over two years. He was the Vees’ captain and scoring leader this past season. His 80 points ranked fourth in the BCHL, and his 41 goals ranked. McClure was invited to attend this summer’s Pittsburgh Penguins developmental camp.
“I’m excited,” Hastings said. “You want a guy who can play in all situations, and if you look at what he did for (Penticton), the number’s don’t lie. He’s a finisher.”
Schmeisser is a 6-2, 176-pound defenseman from Qualicum Beach, British Columbia, who last played for the BCHL’s Victoria Grizzlies. He had seven goals and 29 points in 41 regular-season games with the Grizzlies and West Kelowna Warriors this season. He also had six goals and six assists in 14 playoff games.
“You look at the areas we need to get better at,” Hastings said, “and to be a puck-possession type of team, you want defensemen who can get up in the play and push the puck.”
Nelson is a 5-9, 165-pound goalie from Bismarck, N.D., who played three seasons in the North American Hockey League. This season with the Bismarck Bobcats he went 29-18-3 with a .915 save percentage and a 2.32 goals-against average. He led the NAHL in games played (51) and minutes played. Hastings said he expects Nelson to provide competition for Cole Huggins and Stephon Williams.