We've reached the point in the fall where teams are starting to release their rosters for the upcoming season. As a way of previewing the season, I'll be taking a look at each team's roster, and how their team looks for the upcoming season.
Up next is Minnesota State. Last season was a dismal one for the Mavericks. They finished 11th in the WCHA, with home attendance that could be described as "friends and family". The cliche is that it is darkest before the dawn, and the Mavericks are hoping last year was their nadir. With a new coach, and some skilled young talent, they're hoping this year will be a dramatic turnaround.
Here is Minnesota State's roster.
This was a group described by Minnesota color analyst Doug Woog as "just bodies" last season, in a harsh, but ultimately apt assessment. There's a lot of ice time to replace, but last year's disappointing offensive output from this group should be fairly easy to replace.
The biggest new addition for the Mavericks will be behind the bench in new head coach Mike Hastings. Teddy Blueger is a 2nd round NHL draft pick, and maybe one of the more gifted scoring talents Minnesota State has had in some while, but he still has a long ways to go in terms of filling out physically, and it may be a slower transition to the college game. In what feels like a new addition, the Mavericks also return forward Chase Grant, who missed all of last season due to injury after a promising freshman year.
This should without a doubt be the strength of the Mavericks this season. Their top two scorers last season were freshmen Matt Leitner and Jean-Paul Lafontaine. 6-4 forward Eriah Hayes has garnered some NHL free agent, and if he can develop more consistency in his senior season, he should be a top free agent prospect this year. Junior Zach Lehrke quietly put up a very impressive 13 goals last year.
Leading the defense for the Mavericks is senior Tyler Elbrecht. Through his first three years Elbrecht has had one and a half very good seasons, and one and a half very injured seasons. If he stays healthy, he should log a lot of ice time for the Mavericks. Fellow senior Evan Mosey got off to a brutal start last season, accumulating a -5 rating after his team's first seven even strength goals, but rebounded to finish the year as one of two Mavericks without a negative +/- rating. Zach Palmquist and Brett Stern showed flashes of talent as freshmen last year, and should show improvement this year.
Phil Cook returns for his senior season, and at this point, what he's capable of is pretty well-established. He's able to steal the occasional game with an outstanding performance, but on aggregate, always ends up in the lower half of the conference in terms of overall statistics. The Mavericks best hope is in freshman Stephon Williams coming in and earning the starting job.
Minnesota State should be a much improved team this year. Between the hiring of Hastings, the returning offensive talent, and the excitement of the incoming players, there finally seems to be some positive momentum for the MSU program that should translate into better effort on the ice. They're still a bit young and light on talent compared to some of the WCHA's powerhouses, but a turnaround similar to what Michigan Tech experienced last year is not out of the question.