Wisconsin welcome Minnesota State in for the weekend series at the Kohl Center and while the Badgers haven't exactly been great the Mavericks have been worse, at least in the results area. So, to get a feel for what has been going on in Mankato under the helm of first year head coach Mike Hastings we spoke with Shane Frederick of the Mankato Free Press.
Here is our conversation with Shane and make sure to check out his work via Twitter @Puckato.
MTB: MSU has lost 5 of their last 6 games, but they've all been close contests. What is the attitude of this team following those results?
Shane: The Mavericks were very disappointed they were unable to get points against Denver, especially at home two weeks ago. Having said that, I think the attitude is pretty good. There's still some freshness with the new coach, Mike Hastings, and what he's brought to the program. I think there's still a belief that changes are happening at MSU and from the win over Minnesota and two close games over Denver (despite the disappointment), that progress is being made.
MTB: Looking at the Mavericks stats this season it appears it's been goal scoring by committee, who are players Wisconsin fans should familiarize themselves with from MSU offense?
Shane: I would say their leaders from last year: sophomore centers Matt Leitner and Jean-Paul LaFontaine. They were on the same line together for much of last year, but LaFontaine has been moved from wing to center and has been scoring since then. Senior captain Eriah Hayes, a big, strong power forward, and junior wing Johnny McInnis have had good starts. Sophomore defenseman Zach Palmquist is the QB on the top power play.
MTB: Both teams seem to have trouble staying out of the penalty box, has that translated into problems for the Mavericks in terms of allowing Power Play success for their opponents?
Shane: Most definitely. The Mavericks' penalty kill has gotten better over the last few games, but the combination of too many penalties/struggling penalty kill and goaltending is not a good one. It's been a long-standing problem for Minnesota State and a part of the MSU culture that Hastings is trying hard to change.
MTB: What would you consider a successful weekend for the Mavericks and how do they get points this weekend, if at all?
Shane: Success has to come with points. No moral victories here. Hastings was adamant about that following the Denver series, that the Mavericks got nothing where it counted — in wins and losses. I'm sure the Badgers are saying the same thing.
MTB: Prediction time… If you dare?
Shane: Looking at what these teams have done so far this season, I have to be boring and go with the series split.