Debriefing With Mike Hastings After The World Junior Championship

Minnesota State head men’s hockey coach Mike Hastings took a World Junior sabbatical for USA Hockey, leading Team USA to silver after a gold medal game for the ages. FloHockey got a chance to debrief Hastings up at Ferris State during a rare pause in his whirlwind hockey life. 

FloHockey: They say that silver is the most painful medal of all. Will it have a special place on your mantel?

Hastings: I feel very fortunate to have gone through what we went through with that staff and with those players. That experience, that group was special. You don’t erase 26 straight days, you don’t erase an opportunity to represent your country and go through it with a group of guys and staff like we did. It’s something that I’m very proud of.



Flo: Jack Hughes was playing with a banged-up shoulder, what did you learn about him?

Hastings: Competitor. He just wants the opportunity to go play. Sometimes when you’re in the coach’s seat you surround yourself with the people you trust, the doctors that were there who were phenomenal from Team USA, and as most players, sometimes they’re not always thinking about what’s best for them long-term, Jack just wanted to play. 

To me, the one thing I take away is he’s a competitor. He wants to succeed anytime he gets an opportunity to pull a jersey over his shoulders. He got nicked up a little bit, so he needed some time to gain some strength so he could protect himself out there. He did that, and did really well through the back end of the tournament.

Flo: You and your assistant coach Scott Sandelin are good old Minnesota boys. Your respective NCAA teams played each other in a tournament right before you played Kazakhstan at Worlds.

Hastings: When they [Minnesota Duluth] scored the overtime winner, I probably should have been censored at that time, in the coaches’ room (laughs). You know what, I’ve got a tremendous amount of respect for Scott on a couple of levels. 

Professionally, you talk about a guy who’s running the program with two national championships in the last few years, and is in the finals in between. I had an opportunity to work with him, he offered me a chance to be on his staff when the World Juniors was in Grand Forks. That’s the professional side. There’s a lot of respect there.

But personally I do too. A great human being, he’s got a phenomenal family, we’ve got his son Ryan coming in to play for us, we’ve had a relationship with that family for a long time. When you can combine those two things, it’s pretty special. It was fantastic for me, both on the professional and personal side to have Scott Sandelin part of our staff. He was a big reason we had success in Vancouver.

Flo: But what about Minnesota State’s OT loss?

Hastings: He says I still owe him a beer. (laughter)

Flo: Jack Drury was one of the few 2000-born players on your team in Vancouver. Is he being groomed as a leader for the 2020 World Juniors?

Hastings: I think Drury’s going to play hockey for quite a while. Competitor. I had an opportunity to see him play early in the year at Yale, had a big-time assist. He’s a guy that can play in all aspects of the game. He’s a first line guy for them [Harvard] right now, number one power play, penalty kill, eats a lot of minutes for them, and that’s as a freshman, so he’s reliable and someone that has a very bright future. Actually, that entire group. USA Hockey is in good shape. 

You look at that group and the opportunity we had to work with, there’s depth. There’s depth at the blue line, there’s depth up front. I thought our goaltending was outstanding, and there’s more coming. The 2000s and the 2001s are a special group. I think USA Hockey’s future is in great shape.

Flo: What do you take away from your World Junior Experience?

Hastings: That’s something that will probably be thought of a little bit more down the road, maybe in the summer, or when the season’s done, those types of things. Right now, you jump right back into the WCHA play, and you’ve got your own players and your own program. Hopefully we’re building relationships that will last a lot longer than just 26 days, that last for a lifetime.


Author Tim Rappleye just released his latest book: Hobey Baker, Upon Further Review (Mission Point Press, 2018). He can be reached @TeeRaps.

Gustav Nyquist Headlines Juicy List Of Hockey East Alums In Trade Rumors

Hockey East’s history of NHL development has been impressive and as the NHL trade deadline of Feb. 25 nears, a handful of conference alumni are in the rumor mill.

WCHA RinkRap: Bowling Green & Lake Superior State Compose A Tale Of 2 Teams

Of all the pennant races in Division I college hockey, the battle for second place in the WCHA is arguably the most compelling. Lake Superior and Bowling Green each have 47 points with two weekends to play, but they are on entirely different tracks since New Year’s. The Lakers are 11-2-1 in that stretch, winning the Great Lakes Invitational, climbing up both the standings and the PairWise rankings within smelling distance of an NCAA bid. They may be on the outside looking in, but their knocks on the door are getting louder.

UMass Launches PR Campaign For Hobey Hopeful Cale Makar

In recent years the Hobey Baker Award has taken voting to the masses, engaging college hockey fans by allowing them to vote in the first of three voting tiers, the one that whittles approximately 80 candidates down to 10 finalists. The reality is that the fan input is merely a tiny fraction of the weight of the college coaches, whose votes are the primary driver in the Hobey Award’s list of 10. But it’s fun, it keeps the debate lively and the process has prompted the energetic UMass marketing department to come up with a pin reminiscent of the “I Like Ike” political pin of yesteryear.

Providence's Jacob Bryson Among 2019's Elite Defensemen

This college hockey season has emerged as the “Year of the Defenseman.” Prompted by sports information directors in the crowded Northeast Corridor, puck scribes are plugging three high-scoring defensemen for the Hobey Baker Award—Adam Fox (Harvard), Cale Makar (UMass) and Chase Priskie (Quinnipiac), who could all conceivably be wedged into the three Hobey Hat Trick finalist slots. This is without even taking a peek west of the Appalachians, where Bobby Nardella (Notre Dame) and K’Andre Miller (Wisconsin) lead their respective teams in scoring. 

Boston University's Dante Fabbro Eyeing The NHL, But Where?

Dante Fabbro continues to grow his game for Boston University but as the Terriers’ season slips away, so too may Fabbro.

Hockey East's Top 3 Hobey Baker Candidates: Makar, Davies, & Bryson

Last April, Northeastern forward Adam Gaudette became Hockey East's 10th Hobey Baker Memorial Award winner and fourth in the past 10 seasons.

Northern Michigan Aims For A Second-Half Push In WCHA

The Northern Michigan Wildcats have had a turbulent season spent battling through roster turnover, and they’ll look to gain momentum as the WCHA Tournament nears.

Minnesota State Mavs Go Trophy Hunting

Hockey is a primal game, played by clans carrying clubs and wearing blades. Championship teams live to conquer, preferably on foreign ice, celebrating with spoils provided by their vanquished hosts. That is exactly what the pride of the WCHA—Minnesota State—did this past weekend, when it crashed Michigan Tech’s annual Winter Carnival, exiting with the hallowed MacInnes Cup after claiming five of six points in the standings. Like the ancient Roman juggernaut, they came, they saw, they conquered.  

Goalie Matchup A Highlight Of Beanpot Title Game

BOSTON — It doesn’t seem too far-fetched to think that the goaltender matchup from Monday night’s all-Hockey East title game at the 67th annual Beanpot Tournament at TD Garden might be the same one you’ll see a few years down the road in the National Hockey League.

Beanpot Consolation Loss The Latest Disappointment For BU

BOSTON — Not even a few minutes into Monday night’s consolation game at the 67th annual Beanpot Tournament at TD Garden, and it was evident that one team clearly understood what was on the line.