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Soon after the Minnesota State men’s hockey team’s season was ended by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, 2020, preparation began for an offseason unlike any other.
Strength and conditioning coach Tom Inkrott made individual workout plans for each player based on the equipment they would have available wherever they were spending their offseason, with most players leaving campus immediately after the season ended.
When summer rolled around, a handful of MSU players returned to campus for dialed-back team workouts and on-ice sessions, but it was nothing like the full-team workouts that normally occur in the summer.
As the traditional start date for the season inched closer, it became clear that it was going to be delayed. The WCHA was trying to streamline all of its COVID-19 protocols, from testing to game-day procedures, something that proved to be a difficult task.
“The strategy is test, trace and isolate,” MSU athletics director Kevin Buisman said in October. “The more that we can do the testing and then when we have positives, do the contact tracing and isolate those individuals ... the more likely we are to be able to move forward with competition.”
On Oct. 28, the WCHA announced an 18-game regular-season schedule, with almost all league games to be played in January and February. Teams were also able to schedule nonconference games, with most of those coming in November and December.
As part of MSU’s safety procedures, it was announced that no fans, including parents and family of players, would be allowed into MSU games through the end of 2020.
Minnesota State strength and conditioning director Tom Inkrott isn’t one of the more recognizable people in the Minnesota State men’s hockey program.