The seniors on the Minnesota State roster have fallen one score short of their goal twice in the past three years. It’s the Mavericks’ goal to reach the WCHA Final Five each year, and the past two seasons, MSU was a goal away from a trip to St. Paul.
The Mavericks couldn’t get a goal in a three-overtime loss to Minnesota in Game 3 of WCHA first-round series in 2008. They blew a late lead in a Game 3 at St. Cloud last season and lost in overtime to end the season.
“Some of the seniors have been very close two out of their three years here,” Jutting said. “So there’s obviously that motivation, but there’s motivation no matter what happened the year before.”
The Mavericks are projected to finish 10th in both the WCHA coaches and media polls but the goal remains the same: get to St. Paul.
The Mavericks lost their entire top line and their top three centers from a year ago. Senior captain Rylan Galiardi tied for the team lead in forwards scoring last season with 25 points. Jutting expects Galiardi to be a big part of the MSU offense along with junior forwards Michael Dorr and Mike Louwerse.
“The guys who left contributed a lot but we didn’t have any prolific goal scorers,” Jutting said. “Mike Louwerse went from a 13-goal season to a seven-goal season so he needs to get back on track. Mike Dorr finally got to play again last year after being out for almost two full years. Those two kids have got to score for us.”
Dorr became eligible to play for the Mavericks in December after he transferred from Minnesota before the 2009-10 season. He led MSU with .727 points per game. Louwerse scored 13 goals with 13 assists as a freshman but posted just 13 points last season.
Three Minnesota State recruits were in Fargo’s (USHL) top four in scoring last season, including Matt Leitner (25-41–66), Corey Leivermann (20-35–55) and Chase Grant (28-22–50). Leitner is ineligible to play this season.
On the blue line
Senior Ben Youds returns as Minnesota State’s top scorer with 26 points despite scoring just three goals last season. He enters this season as the Mavericks’ only member of the preseason all-WCHA second team.
“[Youds and senior Kurt Davis] are two of the better offensive defensemen in our league,” Jutting said. “That’s something we’ve never had in my 25 years of being associated with this program. Most teams are fortunate to have one [defenseman that can score].”
Davis scored 23 points last season after tying for the team lead in points (31) in 2008-09.
“We’re probably the only team in the country that has two defensemen that have led their team in scoring,” Jutting said. “I like our experience back there and our ability to score from the blue line.”
In the crease
The Mavericks have two capable goaltenders in Phil Cook and Austin Lee. Cook started most of the games down the stretch and played his best against St. Cloud State in the last weekend of the season and in the first round of the WCHA playoffs.
“With the way Phil played the last half of last season and Austin, we have two kids who’ve played at this level so I like where we are at,” Jutting said.
Cook posted decent stats after he got his first start near the midway point of the season. He had a .859 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage through 18 games.
Lee started more than half of the Mavericks’ games with a 2.85 GAA and a .907 save percentage in 20 games.