Thursday, April 18, 2013

Minnesota State Mavericks 2012-2013 Season Wrap Up

As an MSU student and hockey fanatic, I thoroughly enjoyed watching the Mavericks have their best season in the Division I history of the program. I knew last spring when Mike Hastings was hired as the new head coach after the departure of longtime coach Troy Jutting that the program was headed in a new direction. Hastings coached the Omaha Lancers of the USHL for 14 seasons, none of which were losing seasons. He also was an assistant coach at the University of Minnesota in 08-09 before
Maverick players celebrate a goal versus Wisconsin
assisting Dean Blais for three seasons at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. With a large amount of credibility under his belt, Hastings seemed like a perfect fit to turn this program around. The only problem being that he had to do it with Jutting's recruits, who finished 11th in a twelve team conference the last two seasons. A problem for Hastings? Not at all. He inherited a great amount of talent in the Mavericks, the talent just wasn't shown in the systems of Troy Jutting. Under the watch of Hastings, the Mavericks made their first WCHA Final-Five and NCAA Tournament appearances in ten years. Hastings led the Mavericks to a 24-14-3 record in his rookie season as the Mavericks' head coach. Minnesota State fell 4-0 to Miami of Ohio in the Midwest Regional semifinals to end their season. Here is a look into next season.
    With the WCHA as we know it being gutted for the Big 10 hockey conference and the NCHC forming, Minnesota State might be an early favorite to win the new WCHA conference. The new WCHA will consist of Minnesota State, Bemidji State, Lake Superior State, Ferris State, Bowling Green, Alabama-Hunstville, Alaska Anchorage, Alaska (Fairbanks), Michigan Tech, and Northern Michigan. Minnesota State will be the only team in the new WCHA who made the NCAA tournament in 2013, as well as the WCHA Final Five (only Anchorage, Bemidji, and Michigan Tech were members of the WCHA prior to 2013-2014). While losing a few key players, the Mavericks should be back next season contending for an NCAA tournament spot, and attempting to win their conference for the first time in Division I school history. With their conference schedule, they should put themselves in a good position to make it there, but winning the conference would assure a spot, a goal I'm sure Hastings and the Mavericks are hoping to achieve.

2012-2013 Maverick player recaps.

Teddy Blueger, Fr., F- Blueger had a lot of hype coming into the season despite low expectations for the Mavericks as a team. The Riga, Latvia native was taken 52nd overall in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins. Blueger finished the season with 6 goals and 13 assists for 19 points in 37 games, respectable numbers for a freshman. I expected a little more offensive output for Blueger, but he was a true freshman. I expect his role will increase next season with the departure of his often times linemate, Eriah Hayes.
Nick Buchanan, Fr., D- Buchanan recorded one assist in 24 games with the Mavericks while often playing on the third set of defenseman. With the graduation of Mosey and Elbrecht, he could see more ice next season.
J.P. Burkemper, Jr., F- Played three games for the Mavericks before an injury ended his season.
Phil Cook, Sr., G- Held a record of 3-2-1 in his senior campaign, most notable a home win over Minnesota in the first of two series with the Gophers.
Tyler Elbrecht, Sr., D- Scored one goal and seven assists for eight points playing in all 41 games for the Mavericks. A co-captain on the team, Elbrecht was known for his steady defense and physical play rather than offensive output. With his size and defensive defenseman mentality, he could maybe crack on AHL squad next season, or play in the ECHL if he doesn't play overseas.
Max Gaede, So., F- Scored his lone goal of the season in the series clinching game to send the Mavericks to the Final Five over Nebraska-Omaha. Added ten assists for eleven points on the year while playing in all 41 games. Plays hard and very physical, but will probably remain in a third line role next season
Bryce Gervais, Fr., F- Scored eight goals and added five assists playing in every game this season. Bounced around quite a bit between lines, but his history of being a goal scorer will likely land him among the top two lines next season.
Chase Grant, RS So., F- Grant was a redshirt sophomore after he suffered a season ending injury last season. He scored seven goals and added twelve assists for 19 points in 41 games. Recorded a hat-trick in the season opener against Alabama-Huntsville, and scored the overtime game winner against Nebraska-Omaha in the first round of the WCHA playoffs in game one. Grant has size and skill, but his discipline cost his team a few too many bad penalties. He could make his way up to one of the top two lines with experience and ability to score goals, if he can stay consistent.
Hayes was the first 20 goal scorer for the
Mavericks since 2008-2009
Eriah Hayes, Sr., F- Set a personal best 20 goals this season, and finished second in the nation with 13 power play goals. added 16 assists for 36 points, another personal best. The Mavericks will miss
him on their power play next year, but they return Leitner who will find someone new to setup in front of the net. Hayes signed a deal with the San Jose Sharks and is playing for their AHL affiliate the Worcester Sharks, where he has scored two goals and an assist in four games so far. With his NHL caliber size, he could possibly work his way in for a few NHL games next season, but will likely spend the majority in Worcester.
Taylor Herndon, Fr., F- Tallied a goal and three assists while only playing in 12 games. Provided stability in a fourth line position and was able to make some good plays. May not see much more ice next season with some good recruits coming in, but may see himself playing around the same amount of games.
John Jutzi, Fr., D- Played in all 41 games, recording nine points off of a goal and eight assists. Jutzi, like Elbrecht, played steady defense. His one downfall was the lack of physical play. Playing in every game as a freshman is a sign of faith by the coach, and he will likely be in a similar position next season.
Evan Karambelas, Jr., G- Didn't see any minutes this season, but with Cook graduating that might change next year. The third-string goaltender has stuck it out this long without seeing much time in three years, so he may have earned himself a few minutes next season.
Mat Knoll, So., D- Redshirted this year after a detached retna ended his season before it even started. Played a decent amount of time as a freshman, and with two graduating defenseman will find himself a regular spot in the lineup.
Brett Knowles, Fr., F- Scored five goals and nine assists for 14 points in 40 games, most notably the game winning goal over Minnesota with about a minute remaining at Mariucci in the second series against the Gophers this season. Played mostly a third/fourth line role, which may not change much next season, but his fast and gritty game could get him to around the 20 point total next year and maybe reaching around the 10 goal plateau.
Jean-Paul LaFontaine, So., F- Had a great freshman campaign, and although his goal total dipped slightly, he had a better sophomore season. After a slow start, LaFontaine scored nine goals and 26 assists for 35 points on the year which was good for third on the team. Will likely be counted on heavily next year as one of the top returners, and will play on either of the top two lines. 40 points would be a good continual progression for LaFontaine.
Zach Lehrke, Jr., F- Lehrke tied for the lead in goals as a sophomore at 13. Added an additional two points on to last year's total when he collected eight goals and 17 assists for 25 points in 41 games. A lot of skill for a guy who played the majority of the season on the third/fourth lines despite often being on the power play. I see him as a player who will be on the top two lines next year, and one of the go-to goal scorers next season. Could end up in the 30-35 point range, possible collecting around 15 goals.
Matt Leitner led the Mavericks with 47 points
Matt Leitner, So., F- During the Frozen Four, ESPN put Leitner in their top three Hobey Baker hopefulls for next season, which says a lot about him. As a freshman, he led his team with 29 points. When his sophomore season concluded he was in the top ten in the nation for points. He finished with 17 goals and 30 assists for 47 points in 41 games. His goal and point totals went up from last year, and
I expect he will continue to add on to that next season. He will be the player most heavily relied on, and has a lot to live up to. If he produces the same or better numbers again next year I would expect him to be a top ten Hobey Baker Candidate, maybe even top three. I expect him to end up with 50+ points playing against a considerably weaker conference schedule next season.
Dylan Margonari, Fr., F- Led all rookie Mavericks in goals with ten, and tied Blueger for the lead in freshman scoring with 19 points. Has a great deal of speed and skill, but tried to stickhandle a little too much early in the season. Bounced around in the lineup, and could end up anywhere in the lineup, but likely a top two line player. Could end up in the 13-15 goal range and finish with around 30 points.
Johnny McInnis, Jr., F- Finished third on the team in goals with 13, while adding nine assists for 22 points. Played third line almost the entire year, which I don't see changing next season. Although he can put the puck away, McInnis' game is a gritty, in front of the net type of game, He was able to score 13 goals while playing on the third line, so Hastings might not want to tamper with that too much.
Evan Mosey, Sr., D- Mosey was a solid defenseman, but sometimes liked to jump up in the play too much. Finished with four goals and eight points while playing in 26 games. Could play ECHL next season but I expect a player like him to try his chances overseas for a few years.
Josh Nelson, Jr., D- The biggest surprise for me this season. When I watched him the last two seasons he never stood out to me; he didn't hurt the team when he was on the ice, but just didn't stick out. This season Nelson looked very confident with the puck and was able to make some great plays. Tallied a career high in goals, assists, and points with five goals and nine assists for 14 points in 36 games. As a senior next season, Nelson will see a lot of ice time for the Mavericks. I could see him around the 20 point range, while his goal production may not change much.
As a sophomore, Palmquist led Maverick
defenseman in scoring
Zach Palmquist, So., D- Palmquist led all Maverick defenseman in scoring with seven goals and 18 assists for 25 points, good for fourth on the team. Will likely run the top of the power play unit like he
did for much of this season, and with a weaker conference schedule could end up with 30+ points.
Brett Stern, So., D- Stern scored two goal, including a highlight reel caliber shorthanded goal at homer vs. Providence. He added six assists for eight points in 37 games. As he gets more playing time I expect him to chip in a little more offensively. Plays steady defense, and will be a regular in the lineup next season.
Charlie Thauwald, So., F- The walk-on sophomore saw action in one game this season, bringing his career total to eight. May not see many games next year, but may see a few from working hard and sticking with the program.
Stephon Williams, Fr., G- There was hardly any question at the start of 2012-2013 as to whether or not Phil Cook would be the starter. Mike Hastings put the senior goaltender on the bench in favor of freshman Williams, and that right there may have been the most important ingredient in their recipe for success this season. Williams was named First-Team All-WCHA, WCHA Rookie of the Year, and WCHA Goaltender of the Year. He will undoubtly be the starter next season.
Eli Zuck, Sr., F- Zuck battled injuries late in the season, and finished with two goals and nine assists for eleven points. Zuck was a great penalty killer, and was mainly a fourth line role player for his career at Minnesota State. He will probably hang up the skates after graduating next month, but may make an attempt at a career overseas.

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