Backes on Minnesota State: ‘It’s pretty exciting to see where that program has come’

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota State is looking to capture its second straight WCHA Final Five championship Saturday night at the Xcel Energy Center.

The Mavericks’ most notable alum warmed up the ice for them this afternoon, but the team’s fans will hope to get more favorable results than David Backes’ St. Louis Blues.

The Blues were beaten 6-3 by the Minnesota Wild on Saturday afternoon in the same building. Backes registered an assist in the game. Although the results weren’t favorable for him, the Minneapolis native was more than happy to talk about the success his alma mater has been having recently.

“It’s pretty exciting to see where that program has come,” he said. “I never sniffed a Final Five and they’re a No. 1 seed.”

Backes scored 46 goals and had 73 assists during his three seasons in Mankato. The Mavericks steadily improved during Backes’ stint with the club, winning 10 games his first year, 13 his second and 17 his third, but that doesn’t compare to where the program is today.

Backes said that he joked with assistant coach Darren Blue about why they never got to stay in the Saint Paul Hotel, a luxury hotel in downtown St. Paul, like the team did this weekend. He said Blue responded by simply saying, “We were never the No. 1 seed for the Final Five.”

“All things in perspective, it’s pretty cool to see them here,” Backes said. “I got to watch them practice. It brings back a lot of great memories. To think it was 10 years ago that I was there, time flies. I’ve relished every minute in the pros and that I had at Mankato. It’s flying by. I wish them the best, hopefully they can win another Broadmoor [Trophy], get a good seed and break that egg in the national tournament and get a few wins there and see what happens.”

Since leaving Mankato a decade ago, Backes has gone on to be one of the main players on one of the NHL’s best teams. He broke into the NHL during the 2006-07 season and has since become the captain of the Blues.

Backes missed Friday night’s Mavericks game because of a family birthday party and will miss Saturday’s because the Blues will be on their way to Detroit, but he said he enjoyed seeing people from Mankato this weekend in St. Paul.

There were 11 players from the WCHA playing for the Wild and Blues on Saturday and college hockey players litter the locker room for both teams. Backes said that, even though it’s tough with the season overlapping, they all try to keep up to date on their former teams.

“It’s tough with how busy we are, typically playing Fridays and Saturdays, to follow up with them but we’ve got a few characters in here that played college hockey that keep asking how everyone’s doing, trying to rub it in,” he said. “Having bragging rights all year has been pretty fantastic; I owe a lot to those guys. [Jaden] Schwartz from [Colorado College], they’ve kind of had a down year. He’s normally the one asking and now I get to ask a little bit more how CC’s doing.”

Injured Minnesota Wild forward Ryan Carter, who also played at Mankato, said his wallet was a little fatter after Friday night’s game. Backes said he anticipates making some wagers with his teammates once the NCAA tournament rolls around.

“We’ve got [Denver] and North Dakota and few other guys in here that played,” he said. “We’ll see if we get those opportunities, especially this year I’m going to maybe double down and get some money back from previous years.”

The Mavericks have yet to win a game at the Division I level of the NCAA tournament.

Backes played for Troy Jutting, not Mike Hastings, but said that he has met the Mavericks’ current bench boss and had glowing reviews.

“I’ve actually got to golf with Hastings and have a couple meals with him,” he said. “He’s a great hockey mind, a great family man and you can see how far he’s taken the program since he’s taken over.”

He also had high praise for the players that will try to raise the Broadmoor for the second year in a row.

“The results don’t surprise me,” Backes said. “They’ve got a great group of guys down there. They work their butts off and they’re well coached and they’ve done a heck of a job.”

151 COMMENTS

  1. A little shocked with the mention of Mello and York, but not Kinkaid. Kinkaid only leads NCAA with a 1.93 GAA and has a .923 save percentage. Just wait til he hits center stage during the NCAA tourney.

  2. A little shocked with the mention of Mello and York, but not Kinkaid. Kinkaid only leads NCAA with a 1.93 GAA and has a .923 save percentage. Just wait until he hits center stage during the NCAA tourney.

    • I agree wholeheartedly. Even though Kinkaid’s numbers aren’t on par with “Ryan Miller Numbers,” for a team that just won the league’s regular season after 14-1-1 of recent ECAC play, he backed them up incredibly the entire way. He at least deserves a mention, if not more extensive consideration.

  3. I did a little research on the goalies. I looked at all league games that Kinkaid, Mello and Rondeau have played since the new year, since these games are considered “crunch time” games. Kinkaid was 14-1-1 and gave up 29 goals. Mello was 7-6-1 and gave up 31 goals and Rondeau was 10-3-1 and gave up 29. goals.

  4. Anyone who has seen York play this year knows that he should be in the conversation. He’s been at the top of the list for goaltender’s stats all season, and while he might not be as good as Kinkaid, his SV% is better than everyone above him in the GAA list. I think that’s a testament to how good he’s made RPI’s defense look.

  5. I’ve watched Kinkaid and York play a whole lot, and York is a significantly better goalie and prospect. He has better control of rebounds, makes more astounding saves, plays the puck extremely well, and has kept RPI in a lot of games they should have lost. Kinkaid is on a higher scoring team and quite frankly, Union has a more consistent defense than rpi’s which has been up, down, and injured all season. Forget numbers, just watch them both play and its pretty obvious that York is the better goalie

  6. I’d say that the key thing is: Can player-X change the game? Ryan Miller, and for that matter all of the Hoby candidates need to fit under that bar, more than just their numbers.

  7. Paula: Here is the Pumpkin Bread recipe:

    2 eggs beaten
    11/2 cups white sugar
    1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
    1/2 cup veg oil
    1/4 cup water
    1/4 tsp baking powder
    1 tsp baking soda
    1/2 tsp cloves
    1/2 tsp cinnamon
    3/4 tsp salt
    12/3 cups flour
    1/2 cup raisins or nuts (optional)

    Combine eggs and sugar; mix well. Add Pumpkin, oil and water; blend well. Mix dry ingredients in a small bowl; add to pumpkin mixture. Grease and flour a 9×5″ loaf pan. Add raisins and nuts to batter and bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes. Makes 1 loaf. This recipe can be easily doubled.

    I hope you enjoy it. I’ll tickle you on twitter to let you know it is posted here.

    Yostmeister

  8. So much for bracket integrity. So number 1 overall doesn’t get number 16? I love how Moy makes ZERO mention of bracket integrity and protecting the overall number 1 seed.

    • Sounds like you are afraid of your fighting Hawks having to play the gophers. According to you, the gophers are the worst team ever. Not sure why you sound so nervous then.

      • Who said anything about being nervous. Those are your own words. I asked what happened to bracket integrity that they are always preaching with always protecting the overall number 1 seed.

    • God, what a crybaby. Minnesota is a host school. It is either move UND to Cincinatti or have them play the Gophers in St. Paul. You have complained about both! Why would you even care about having to play the Gophers? They are awful.

      • Yeah, I can totally see why NoDak would need to be protected from #15 Minnesota. Funny how they never seemed to mind going into St. Paul for Final Fives every year, amirite? Of course, if UND loses in their tournament, they can drop out of that nasty #1 seed and maybe go east where they’ll feel safe.

        • And when was the last time the #1 overall seed didn’t play the #16 seed? You can’t preach about bracket integrity last month and say the #2 overall seed should play the #15, not #16 seed and then flip flop that statement this month. Which is exactly what was said a month ago.

          • You might want to address your scolding to someone who actually *was* preaching about bracket integrity. I don’t necessarily disagree with you. However, as we have seen in previous columns, and in the committee’s actual practice, seeds get moved around all the time – both to avoid first-round conference matchups, and to try to boost attendance at specific sites. I have no problem with any of that. Of course, I’m not in a panic about having to play a rival from a league that I’ve bad-mouthed since it’s inception either…

          • Minnesota is the host team, they MUST play in St. Paul. UND as the #1 seed gets to play closest to home.

          • Agree, but would you want them to ship the Sioux to Worcester to play RMU? That is really the only option with Gophers at #15.

          • That would work perfectly by the numbers. By keeping Michigan in Cincy, you would have #1/#8 matchup also. Would Sioux fans prefer travel to Cincy over St.Paul though?

          • Might be harder, but we do travel. I think UND fans are spread out around the country. I think Cincy would be hurting for fans no matter who was there. Its still 4 hours for Michigan, and who knows how well they travel.

          • I agree, Cincy will be hurting for fans unless Miami wins our tourney. Even then, don’t know how much it would help. That is what the NC$$ gets for picking these sites that are not conducive to college hockey. How many Packers fans attended Green Bay regional?

      • I’m well aware that the rodents are a host team. They are the stupid host every other year. Then they would move UND to Cincy. Each year Moy talks about having to protect the overall number 1 seed by having them play number 16….but apparently he just throws that out the door here. Plus, the host school thing has to go. Create regionals and then start placing teams based on pairwise.

        • Choker, don’t worry about playing Goldy in St Paul. They’re going to lose to no matter who they play in that regional, regardless. That’s IF they make the tournament.

          • I’d love for UND to be in St. Paul, then I can go cause its a lot closer than Cincy. But its just amazing that week after week, Moy preaches about having to protect the overall number 1 and then doesn’t mention a single thing about it this week.

          • You cannot fix stupid! we get on here to discuss bracketology and get attacked as being scared of the Gophers. Maybe if this clowns team was in contention more often he would know that storied programs like ours do not worry about such petty BS as Tipsy McSlappy is arguing about. Go Sioux!

          • Simply amazing one can say it should be 1 vs 16 and that immediately means you are scared of the ground rodents. Hilarious.

        • You complain no matter what. This was you last week: “The almighty selection committee has pulled some bonehead moves before……you’d think a higher seed would be the closest to home…but they’ve shipped teams off for really no reason or their so called “attendance” BS” So he puts you closer to home and you complain anyway.Fighting Hawks fans wanting to be “protected” from the mighty Gophers.

          • Please remind me where I said protected from the rodents? Go ahead and find it. You’ll be looking for a while. We are talking about actual bracket integrity.

          • “I love how Moy makes ZERO mention of bracket integrity and protecting the overall number 1 seed.” You are asking for the number 1 seed (UND) to be protected from the number 15 seed (Gophers). Bracket integrity isn’t destroyed by having the #1 seed play the 15, who happens to be tied for 17th in the PWR, instead of the 16, who is 21st in the PWR.

          • Nice try to spin words. That is definitely not even close. If you could comprehend what you are reading. I said number 1 should be protected in playing number 16. They have stated this year after year, but for some reason it doesn’t apply there.

          • You are sure worried about the Gophers opponent! I never once mentioned a teams name, I just said 1 should play 16, could be the Gophers and that is fine! Now if I was worried about which bracket I want to be in I would want to avoid the West, and not because of the Gophers but I would not want to play Denver in the Regional final as they are one of the hottest teams in the country right now. So get off your Gopher high horse and look a little further down the line. But I know Huskie fans are not used to looking at the big picture as it is usually one and done!

  9. So, you swap 50% of the teams from one regional…..because of attendance? This is why CH needs an overhaul. Am I the only one who considers the CH playoffs a bit of a farce?

      • But UND is #1 and Denver is 6. The best 1 seed shouldn’t be in a region with the 2nd best 2 seed, whom also happens to be the hottest team in the country.

  10. Tech, Michigan, the Domers, and St. Cloud in Cinci? That’s probably as good an attendance fit as you’re going to get there, presuming Miami or Ohio State couldn’t grab a surprise autobid. Better yet, throw money at the NCAA and have them move that group to Detroit and we can have Son of Great Lakes Invitational.

      • I’m originally from the Detroit area, so I have family and favorite places. Cinci, not so much, but once you get out of town that area’s a fun place to ride a motorcycle. I hear the chili’s OK too…

    • As long as teams from the same league don’t play each other in the first game, there is no problem. If you bothered to look at other brackets you would see two NCHC (West) and two HE (East) in the same regional.

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