The Free Press, Mankato, MN


March 26, 2013

Minnesota State getting healthier for NCAA tournament

MANKATO — When its WCHA Final Five game against Wisconsin came close to ending, the Minnesota State men’s hockey team’s bench had plenty of open spots.

“It was getting thinner by the shift,” coach Mike Hastings said in the postgame press conference.

Three players left that game with injuries, but at least two of them, including WCHA Rookie of the Year Stephon Williams, will be back for the Mavericks’ NCAA tournament game on Saturday against Miami in Toledo, Ohio, Hastings said after Tuesday’s practice.

“He’s 100 percent cleared,” Hastings said of Williams, his freshman goaltender, who left the Final Five game after being involved in a collision on the Badgers’ fifth goal.

At the time, it was called an upper-body injury. However, prior to Thursday evening’s session, Williams appeared in a ceremony honoring the WCHA’s award winners.

Hastings said sophomore forward Chase Grant is also good to go, but senior center Eli Zuck is “day to day.” Both missed the end of the Wisconsin game with lower-body injuries.

“We’re all going to battle through some pain,” senior defenseman Tyler Elbrecht said Tuesday. “It wasn’t the way we wanted things to go Thursday. But sometimes you have to get put down to get the opportunity to get back up.”

The Mavericks will practice again today and Thursday morning at All Seasons Arena before leaving for Toledo. They will charter there, along with the St. Cloud State team.

St. Cloud State will play Notre Dame in the first game of the Midwest Regional. The Mavericks and Redhawks will play in the second, and the two winners will play Sunday for a trip to the Frozen Four.

“It’s a little different,” Hastings said. “We were done playing on Thursday, and we don’t play until Saturday. We’re just trying to manage what we do, our rest and our work. We’re trying to get both in. ...

“The guys’ spirits are good.”

They should be, especially knowing they will be going into the national tournament with a full lineup. (Even if Zuck were unavailable, freshman forward Taylor Herndon has had recent experience playing in that spot.)

“We’re happy to get a second opportunity,” Elbrecht said. “For us to be there for the second time ever in the Division I era is a privilege. We need to take advantage, not only for ourselves but for the community around us.”

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
Jack White throws first pitch for hometown Tigers Byron Scott: 'This is still a Lakers town' 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 Oakland Raiders To Become San Antonio Raiders? - @TheBuzzeronFox 3 Questions with Gary Payton: Kevin Love, Andrew Wiggins and Derrick Rose Players Only: Marcus Mariota's Course Load at Oregon How We Almost Got Johnny Cowboy Donald Sterling Loses The Clippers For Good - @TheBuzzeronFox Franklin talks leaving Vandy Staten Island Man's Emotional Dunk Over NYPD Car - @TheBuzzeronFOX Michael Jordan OK With LeBron James Wearing No. 23? - @TheBuzzeronFox The Cornhuskers have gone...Loco? Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Byron Scott Reportedly New Head Coach Of Los Angeles Lakers - @TheBuzzeronFox SportsNite: Botched play Gruden: Full-speed practices key for fundamentals Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France