MANKATO — Playing behind one of the top goaltenders in the country, Minnesota State men’s hockey freshman Jaxson Stauber has decided to return to junior hockey.
Stauber, who confirmed the move via text but had no further comment, started and played one game this season, a 4-1 win at Alabama Huntsville on Oct. 26. He made 14 saves in the game.
Stauber was behind sophomore Dryden McKay, last season’s national rookie of the year by College Hockey News and the WCHA’s all-rookie team goaltender.
On Monday, following league wins of 7-1 and 3-0 over Alaska Anchorage, McKay was named WCHA goaltender of the week for the third time this season. Stauber was listed as a scratch both Friday and Saturday against the Seawolves after parting ways with the Mavericks.
Mavericks coach Mike Hastings said Stauber wanted to play more.
“We wish him well,” Hastings said. “He’s a fantastic young man.”
A Plymouth native who played high school hockey at Holy Family Catholic, Stauber spent the last two seasons for the Sioux Falls Stampede, with whom he backstopped a United States Hockey League playoff championship last spring.
Although he had junior eligibility remaining after last season, Stauber, 20, opted to join Minnesota State this season and compete with McKay for playing time.
McKay, though, picked up where he left off after his rookie season. He has started 11 of 12 games for the No. 1-ranked Mavericks. He is 9-1-1 with three shutouts and leads the country with a 1.17 goals-against average. He’s third with a .951 save percentage. The two goalies on that list ahead of McKay, both from Harvard, have played just three games each.
Sophomore Jacob Berger is now the Mavericks’ No. 2 goaltender. The Minnetonka native has yet to appear in a regular-season game.
As for adding another goalie to the roster this season, Hasting said, “We are looking at all options.”