A tough stretch on the schedule has turned into a rough patch in the standings as the Minnesota State Mavericks have gone winless in their past four.
There was a lot of anticipation for the Mavericks entering the 2018-19 season but after a 14-2 start to the campaign, the win column has gone barren. With their last win coming on Dec. 8, a 0-3-1 slide over their past four games has shown gaps.
The largest such gap will continue for one more series heading into this weekend’s matchup with WCHA rival Michigan Tech, which holds the top spot in the conference standings. Minnesota State has been without head coach Mike Hastings over the past two series as he has led Team USA into the semifinals at the 2019 World Junior Championships (WJC).
Hastings is the winningest coach in NCAA hockey over the past six seasons and his absence has proven to have a damaging effect in Mankato.
“Right now, we're in a bit of a funk. Our confidence is shaken a bit,” associate coach Todd Knott told Shane Frederick of The Mankato Free Press. “You never want to go through that in a season, but we have to find a way out of it.”
Throughout Hastings’ absence, the Mavericks have looked off. The offense has registered just seven goals in four games. In the first series without Hastings, leading scorers Marc Michaelis, Parker Tuomie and Jared Spooner combined for a single assist, creating a domino effect through the lineup.
In the next two games at the Desert Hockey Classic Michaelis had a goal and an assist while Spooner went dry, and Tuomie missed the tournament with an injury.
In contrast, those three players combined for eight points (4 G, 4 A) in the four games before Hastings left for the WJC, and the Mavericks accumulated 17 total goals in those same four games.
But it’s been more than a lack of offense. In Hastings’ last four games, the team surrendered just three goals; during their current skid they’ve allowed 14 goals, or an average of 3.5 goals-against per-game.
It’s a case of the age-old “better now than later” scenario — if you’re going to lose then do it before it matters most — as the Mavericks have an eye on NCAA Tournament success in the coming months.
But that doesn’t make the winless stretch an easier, for players or coaches. With the Mavericks’ remaining schedule purely WCHA foes and no weeks off until mid-February, the importance of wins increases with each passing series.
That starts this weekend as the Mavericks host Michigan Tech, putting their perfect 9-0 home record on the line.
Don’t miss the Mavericks taking on the Huskies this weekend as they look to get back on track prior to the return of Hastings. You can stream the series live, right here on FloHockey this weekend.
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