Minnesota State Need To Find A Way To Keep Winning In The NCAA Tournament

“Just win, baby.” It’s sports’ time-honored phrase, immortalized by Oakland Raiders’ rogue coach and owner Al Davis. The unwritten rejoinder to that phrase is often simply understood: “…by any means necessary.”

And that’s what the Minnesota State Mavericks have done all year long. With the exception of a four-game winless streak in late December when the Mavs were without head coach Mike Hastings (World Juniors) and scoring ace Parker Tuomie (lower body injury), this club from Mankato has been a juggernaut, piling up the nation’s best 32 wins as they roar into the NCAA Tournament on a seven-game winning streak.  

Their wins aren’t always pretty, but escaping with Ws has become a habit. The most glaring example was Saturday night at the Verizon Center, trailing by a pair of goals with under two minutes to play. But Minnesota State found a way to crush Bowling Green’s championship dream in overtime. 

Those who follow the Mavs carefully would recall their MacInnes Cup victory last month up at Michigan Tech. On consecutive nights they overcame deficits, the clinching game salvaged with under a minute to play, forcing overtime and then letting their skill guys drive home the nail. In January, struggling Ferris State had the men in purple hanging by a thread, as the Bulldogs’ captain tore in on a breakaway in overtime. But freshman Dryden Mackay turned aside the threat, Hastings battled every zebra in sight and the Mavs stole another W. By any means necessary.

Along with their NCAA-leading 32 wins, Minnesota State has amassed a collection of hardware this season that threatens to collapse their trophy case. In addition to the MacInnes Cup, the Mavs now possess the oldest hockey trophy in America—the MacNaughton Cup as WCHA regular-season champs, and now the freshly minted Jeff Sauer Trophy as WCHA tourney champs. Mankato has become title town, the holder of three trophies, but they are hardly satisfied. “This one was the sweetest,” said Tuomie above the celebratory cacophony on the Verizon Center ice Saturday, “But there is another one we want.”

NCAA immortality is still four wins away, and for the Mavericks, the first win will be their first. They are an imperfect 0-5 in the NCAA tourney, losing in the cruelest ways imaginable. And despite their current identity as college hockey superpower, the committee has shipped them east to begin the 2019 tournament in hostile territory: in Providence, against Providence. The Maverick fan base is outraged, but Hastings represents the cooler heads in this debate.

“To me it’s hockey,” said Hastings to reporter Shane Frederick. “We’re going to have to be good to move on.”

Heading east with a chip on their shoulder might be the perfect recipe for Minnesota State. Feeling disrespected is often a recipe for success. This band of Mavericks has made the art of capturing a two-game series a rote formula, one that harkens back to the motto from the original man in black, Al Davis. “Just win, baby.”

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

New Flames Signing Connor Mackey Happy With Final Season In Mankato

Minnesota State junior Connor Mackey is the poster child for NHL late bloomers. After being an afterthought during his teenage draft-eligible years, the 23-year-old Mackey was the prize of the NCAA free-agent signings, as the Calgary Flames landed their big fish late last week.

How Fans Are Getting Through The Coronavirus Hockey Hiatus

Since the NHL’s mandated season suspension, hockey fans have longed for action for nearly two weeks, but creativity and spontaneity have helped satisfy during the outbreak of COVID-19.

WCHA Commissioner Bill Robertson Talks COVID-19, League Future & More

When it comes to crisis management in sports, WCHA Commissioner Bill Robertson has earned a PhD. The man affectionately known as “Billy Rob” was public relations director for the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim during the NHL’s 104-day lockout in 1994-95, and he held the same post for the Minnesota Wild when the NHL shut down their entire season a decade later. 

Coronavirus Another Threat To NHL Records Of Ovechkin, Crosby & More

As the NHL hiatus continues due to the threat of the coronavirus, the potential loss of regular-season games is a reminder of missed opportunities among NHL superstars.

Army's Brian Riley Reflects On 'What If' In A Season Lost To COVID-19

The cruelest two words in sport: “What if?” 

NHL Signings To Watch For Following COVID-19 NCAA Cancelation

As coronavirus concerns spread and precautions are taken, the NCAA is just one of many entities that has announced the cancelation of the 2019-20 season, which could be followed by a wave of NHL signings.

The Strangest Ending: The Inside Story Of COVID-19 Dismantling NCAA Hockey

“You’re not in the locker room . . . guys sitting in their gear. WE’RE ON A BUS JUST TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHAT THE HELL WE’RE GOING TO DO!”

NCAA Hockey Canceled For The Remainder Of The Season Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

College hockey is done for the season. 

2020 Atlantic Hockey Playoffs Canceled Due To Coronavirus Concerns

Shortly after the WCHA canceled the remainder of their season due to concerns around the spread of the coronavirus, Atlantic Hockey has followed suit. The rest of the playoffs have been canceled. 

Remainder Of The WCHA Postseason Canceled Among Coronavirus Concerns

The remainder of the 2020 WCHA playoffs have been canceled. You can read the full press release below issued by the conference.