Reusse: MSU Mankato ending 11-day road trip in new WCHA

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 11, 2014 - 12:03 AM

Teams like Minnesota State Mankato can regroup at midseason break.

There were once seven “western’’ colleges with major hockey programs: Minnesota, Michigan, Michigan State, Michigan Tech, North Dakota, Denver and Colorado College. In 1951, those schools formed the Midwest Collegiate Hockey League, and then changed the name to the Western Intercollegiate Hockey League.

The league was disbanded after the 1958 season, in a feud over the use of players from major junior hockey in Canada. The main antagonists were Denver’s Murray Armstrong, who had built a powerhouse with those Canadians, and the Gophers’ John Mariucci.

The league was reformed as the Western Collegiate Hockey Association in 1959, even though Mariucci refused to have Denver on his regular-season schedule. The Gophers didn’t schedule Denver from the winter of 1960-61 until a series in 1972, when Ken Yackel was the interim coach.

Minnesota Duluth had become the WCHA’s eighth team in 1966 and Wisconsin the ninth in 1969. The biggest shakeup came in 1981, when Michigan and Michigan State — always strong rivals for the Gophers — left for a new, more regionalized Central Collegiate Hockey Association.

Now, Michigan and Michigan State are back with the Gophers in a six-team Big Ten, the CCHA has disappeared, the National Collegiate Hockey Conference [NCHC] has appeared, and the WCHA is unrecognizable.

So, how’s it going, Coach?

“It’s too early to say … for us, for the NCHC, and for Big Ten hockey,’’ said Mike Hastings, the coach at Minnesota State Mankato. “We haven’t had a lot of home games, and we’ve had some of the ‘lighter’ attractions, so I don’t have a real read on how our fans are reacting.

“I have heard that our advance sale for the Ferris State series is strong, and that’s good news.’’

Mike Hastings was in his first season at Minnesota State in 2012-13. The Mavericks were a surprise success and he was voted Coach of the Year. And then the college hockey scene dived into the great unfamiliar, and Hastings and the Mavericks found themselves going from feel-good underdogs to preseason WCHA favorites.

“To handle the expectations, we had to make a step forward from last season, and we weren’t really doing that,’’ Hastings said. “We decided to have some practices like it was preseason, took things down to the basement and build it back up.’’

The Division I college hockey schedule almost dictates that approach. The games start in early October and then there’s an NCAA-mandated two-week break in December.

Hastings agreed with this comparison: A D-I hockey season is roughly equivalent of the first-half, second-half season splits you see in minor league baseball.

And the “second half’’ has started in unconventional style for MSU Mankato. The new, 10-team WCHA includes both Alaska (Fairbanks) and Alaska Anchorage, and in this first season, the Mavericks were scheduled to be on the road against both.

Hastings and his troops left for Alaska on Thursday of last week, flew to Anchorage and then Fairbanks, split a two-game series with the Nanooks last weekend, stayed overnight and then took a 6½-hour bus ride back to Anchorage. The Mavericks played the Seawolves on Friday night and will complete the series on Saturday, and then head back to Minnesota … 11 days from departure to a return to Mankato.

“We didn’t take the bus from Fairbanks to Anchorage on Sunday to save a few bucks,’’ Hastings said. “It was more to burn some time and let the players experience more of Alaska. We got to see moose along the way, saw a herd of caribou.

“Johnny McInnis, our player from Boston, couldn’t believe what he was seeing. He kept saying, ‘This isn’t real.’ ”

Zach Stepan, a freshman forward from Hastings, had the most interesting journey to Alaska. He was playing with the U.S. team in the World Junior Championships in Sweden. The Yanks lost to Russia in the quarterfinals on Thursday of last week. He wound up back in the States, was connected to Seattle, to Anchorage and then to Fairbanks, arriving at 11:30 p.m. Friday.

The Mavericks had lost that night 4-2. Stepan was in the lineup Saturday and scored the first goal in a 6-4 victory.

  • related content

  • Friday's college hockey roundup

    Friday January 10, 2014

    roundupBig TenLinemates lead Badgers• WISCONSIN 5, MICHIGAN 2: Michael Mersch and Jefferson Dahl both had four points as the No. 14...

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Atlanta 6 FINAL
Detroit 4
Philadelphia 3 FINAL
Houston 6
St. Louis 4 FINAL
Miami 1
Baltimore 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay 2
NY Yankees 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
Chicago Cubs 6 FINAL
San Francisco 8
Los Angeles 6 FINAL
Chicago WSox 1
San Diego 4 FINAL
Seattle 9
Cleveland 9 FINAL
Cincinnati 3
Milwaukee 2 FINAL
LA Angels 3
Oakland 2 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 2
Texas 4 FINAL
Kansas City 5
Colorado 3 FINAL
Arizona 4
NY Mets 4 Bottom 6th Inning
Washington 3
Boston 0 Bottom 1st Inning
Minnesota 0
Toronto 0 Bottom 1st Inning
Baltimore 0
Oklahoma City 7:00 PM
Dallas 9:30 PM
Calgary 0 1st Prd 12:55
Boston 0
St. Louis 0 1st Prd 11:15
Philadelphia 0
Minnesota 0 1st Prd 13:46
Washington 1
Toronto 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Dallas 6:30 PM
NY Islanders 7:00 PM
Vancouver 8:00 PM
Montreal 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Morgan State 76 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 89
Niagara 54 FINAL
Siena 71
Holy Cross 13 1st Half 12:24
Bucknell 12
Western Ky 12 1st Half 11:49
Charlotte 18
Navy 9 1st Half 12:38
Colgate 10
Temple 6:00 PM
East Carolina
UAB 13 1st Half 12:43
Fla Atlantic 7
Boston Univ 10 1st Half 13:39
Lafayette 4
American Univ 10 1st Half 11:50
Lehigh 11
Wisconsin 22 1st Half 10:31
Minnesota 12
Fairfield 5 1st Half 15:08
Saint Peters 0
Arkansas 24 1st Half 11:38
South Carolina 12
Morehead State 21 1st Half 10:17
UT Martin 13
USC Upstate 13 1st Half 11:11
Fla Gulf Coast 7
Lipscomb 15 1st Half 11:24
North Florida 17
Southern Ill 7 1st Half 15:45
Missouri State 6
Texas State 6:30 PM
Appalachian St
SC State 6:30 PM
Delaware State 6:30 PM
Coppin State
Middle Tennessee 6:30 PM
Texas-Arlington 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Norfolk State 6:30 PM
NC A&T 6:30 PM
NC Central
Savannah State 7:00 PM
Florida A&M
Southern Miss 7:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Georgia State 7:00 PM
Marshall 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Rice 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Ark-Little Rock 7:15 PM
South Alabama 7:30 PM
Arkansas State
Alabama State 7:30 PM
Grambling St
Alabama A&M 7:30 PM
Jackson State
Sam Houston St 7:30 PM
Central Arkansas 7:30 PM
Portland State 7:30 PM
Northern Ariz
Southern U 7:30 PM
Prairie View
Alcorn State 7:30 PM
Texas Southern
Houston Baptist 7:30 PM
SE Louisiana 7:45 PM
New Orleans
California 8:00 PM
Eastern Ill 8:00 PM
Memphis 8:00 PM
VA Commonwealth 8:00 PM
Ark-Pine Bluff 0 Postponed
Miss Valley St 0
Marist 8:00 PM
Sacramento St 8:00 PM
Southern Utah
Northwestern St 8:00 PM
Stephen F Austin
North Texas 8:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Colorado 8:00 PM
Idaho 8:00 PM
Weber State
Abilene Christian 8:00 PM
Incarnate Word
Eastern Wash 8:05 PM
Idaho State
Bradley 8:35 PM
Cal State Fullerton 9:00 PM
UC Irvine
CS-Northridge 9:00 PM
Long Beach State
UC Riverside 9:00 PM
UC Davis
Stanford 10:00 PM
Arizona State
Utah 10:00 PM
Washington St
Monmouth 68 FINAL
Canisius 56
Wake Forest 85 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 79
Saint Louis 65 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 58
Saint Peters 62 FINAL
Rider 54
UNC-Asheville 51 FINAL
Liberty 59
UNC Greensboro 44 FINAL
(17) Chattanooga 78
Michigan State 69 FINAL
Michigan 49
Arkansas 72 FINAL
Ole Miss 61
Manhattan 51 FINAL
Niagara 57
Massachusetts 63 FINAL
Richmond 67
Virginia 52 FINAL
Miami-Florida 62
Jacksonville St 45 FINAL
Belmont 55
Morgan State 65 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 50
Campbell 65 FINAL
Winthrop 52
Furman 65 FINAL
Samford 54
Oregon 64 FINAL
Washington St 66
Indiana 52 FINAL
(23) Rutgers 63
Pepperdine 67 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 68
Auburn 47 FINAL
(18) Texas A&M 57
Morehead St 66 FINAL
Tennessee St 81
George Mason 43 FINAL
Saint Josephs 71
Western Carolina 53 FINAL
East Tenn St 73
Arizona 62 FINAL
Texas State 55 FINAL
Appalachian St 61
TX-Arlington 66 FINAL
Georgia Southern 41
Norfolk State 49 FINAL
Hampton 64
NC Central 46
SC State 48 2nd Half 3:43
Bethune-Cookman 50
Delaware State 51 2nd Half 0:31
Coppin State 80
Portland 49 2nd Half 2:31
Santa Clara 58
Savannah State 49 2nd Half 17:00
Florida A&M 29
Virginia Tech 27 2nd Half 15:54
Pittsburgh 22
Central Arkansas 32 2nd Half 11:29
Nicholls 38
Houston Baptist 37 2nd Half 15:47
TX A&M-CC 49
Gardner-Webb 47 2nd Half 13:37
Radford 27
Georgia 38 2nd Half 17:53
Missouri 29
Old Dominion 41 2nd Half 13:00
Marshall 39
Ark-Little Rock 39 2nd Half 17:15
Louisiana 25
South Alabama 40 2nd Half 15:27
Arkansas State 49
Georgia State 32 2nd Half 17:52
ULM 32
Sam Houston St 29 2nd Half
Lamar 39
SE Louisiana 31 1st Half 2:42
New Orleans 35
Northwestern St 22 2nd Half
Stephen F Austin 18
Alabama A&M 31 2nd Half
Jackson State 27
Alabama State 21 1st Half 3:54
Grambling 24
Southern U 31 1st Half 3:54
Prairie View 14
Alcorn State 24 2nd Half
Texas Southern 40
Ark-Pine Bluff 0 Postponed
Miss Valley St 0
Wofford 22 2nd Half
Mercer 31
Abilene Christian 17 1st Half 11:38
Incarnate Word 4
La Salle 15 1st Half 11:31
Rhode Island 8
Illinois 3 1st Half 14:52
Nebraska 13
TX-San Antonio 6 1st Half 13:55
Rice 10
Valparaiso 7 1st Half 11:56
Oakland 8
Missouri State 9 1st Half 13:46
Indiana State 12
Georgia Tech 7:00 PM
(15) North Carolina
Presbyterian 7:00 PM
High Point
Charlotte 7:00 PM
Western Ky
Florida Atlantic 7:00 PM
Texas-El Paso 7:00 PM
North Texas
Wichita State 7:00 PM
Loyola-Chicago 7:00 PM
Northern Iowa
Bradley 7:05 PM
Vanderbilt 7:30 PM
(12) Kentucky
Colorado 8:00 PM
San Francisco 8:00 PM
FIU 8:00 PM
Middle Tennessee
Idaho State 8:00 PM
Eastern Washington
Weber State 8:00 PM
Purdue 8:25 PM
Cal-Irvine 9:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Long Beach St 9:00 PM
Hawaii 9:00 PM
UC Santa Barbara
UC Davis 9:00 PM
Northern Ariz 9:00 PM
Portland State
Southern Utah 9:00 PM
Sacramento St
Utah 10:30 PM
BYU 10:30 PM
St Marys-CA
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Who is the best center on a Twin Cities sports team?

Weekly Question