The No. 2 Mavericks (2-0-0) continue their four-game homestand to start the season by hosting the No. 16 Fighting Hawks (2-0-0) in a nonconference series. It’s the first time since the 2012-13 season, the last year of the old WCHA, that North Dakota is playing at Mankato. The teams played last season, Oct. 19-20, 2018, at Grand Forks, North Dakota, and split that series, with Minnesota State winning 7-4, then losing 4-3. The Mavericks are 12-39-7 all-time against North Dakota.
Five things to know about the matchup:
1. Start spreading the scoring: Minnesota State senior forward Marc Michaelis scored three goals in last weekend’s sweep over Arizona State, but six other players had one goal apiece, including sophomore Julian Napravnik and freshman Lucas Sowder, who each added a pair of assists. Senior defenseman Ian Scheid had a four-assist series and leads the Mavericks in points. Michaelis moved into seventh place on MSU’s Division I-era scoring list last week and now has 121 points, passing David Backes (119).
2. Learning curve: Mavericks sophomore goaltender Dryden McKay has lost just seven games in his young career, winning 26. His first loss came a year ago at North Dakota. Although he also won the opener there, he allowed seven goals in the series. “I think that North Dakota weekend might have been my biggest learning point from last year,” McKay said. “I made some mistakes there. I had some moments when I learned some things about my game and about college hockey up there.”
3. Out-of-league experience: Including last weekend’s 4-1 and 5-0 victories over Arizona State, Minnesota State is 16-5-1 in nonconference regular-season games in the last three-plus seasons. Over that stretch, they are 9-4-0 against teams from the old WCHA (North Dakota, Minnesota, Minnesota Duluth and St. Cloud State). “When we’ve had successful seasons where we’ve been able to qualify for the NCAA tournament, we’ve had really good nonconference records,” MSU coach Mike Hastings said.
4. Motivated team: After a run of 15 straight appearances, North Dakota missed the national tournament the last two seasons. The last time they missed out on the NCAAs twice in a row was 1995 and 1996, the last two years of a six-year drought. Coach Brad Berry’s team went 18-17-2 a season ago. Last weekend, the Fighting Hawks opened at home with wins of 5-0 and 8-1 over Canisius. Sophomore goalie Adam Scheel stopped 22 of 23 shots in the series.
5. Scouting the Fighting Hawks: North Dakota has 10 NHL draft picks on its roster, including defenseman Jacob Bernard-Docker, a first-round pick of the Ottawa Senators, who, on Saturday, was the first UND player to record a four-assist game in more than eight years. Ten different players had goals against Canisius. Senior forwards Cole Smith, and Dixon Bowen and junior defenseman Gabe Bast had two goals each. “We’ll have our hands full,” Hastings said. “They’re very well-coached.”
Around the rinks
Minnesota State women: The Mavericks (2-4-0, 0-4-0 in WCHA) return home after a pair of losses at Minnesota Duluth and will host Ohio State (4-2-0, 2-2-0) at 2:07 p.m. today and Saturday at the Mankato Civic Center. Freshman Kelsey King (0-5—5) leads the Mavericks in points. Mariah Gardner (3-1—4) is the goals leader. Abigail Levy (.904, 2.99) and Calla Frank (.878, 3.67) have split starts in goal. The Buckeyes are led by junior Emma Maltais (5-5—10). She has 93 career points. MSU has one win in each of the last three seasons against Ohio State.