New coach to instill groundwork with young team at Minnesota State

Minnesota State Mavericks

USCHO prediction: Eighth
Coaches’ prediction: Eighth
Last season: Eighth (3-32-1, 1-26-1-0 WCHA)

The names
That Minnesota State landed with a thud in the WCHA’s basement wasn’t that difficult to predict; the Mavericks were just too young to compete in the rough and tumble league. They’ll have new direction as they start the climb back up.

“To be back in college coaching, I’m really excited about it,” coach John Harrington said. “I’ve been in it for 24 years before I stepped down, and I’m grateful for this opportunity to coach at Minnesota State.”

The team he inherits may be even greener than it was last season.

“We have 10 freshmen among our 25 players,” Harrington said. “We have a really young team. We have one senior, we have three juniors, and we have 21 sophomores and freshmen. It’s going to be a big challenge there. I think attitude is going to be important. I think we’re going to have a lot of enthusiasm. It’s been said that sometimes the enthusiasm of youth might be more important than the nonchalance of experience. I’m hoping that’s true here at Minnesota State.”

Nicole Schammel, last season’s leading scorer, transferred to Minnesota, leaving sophomore Hannah Davidson as the only returning player who hit double digits in points.

Starting goaltender Erin Krichiver graduated with a year of eligibility remaining. Options in net this year are junior Brianna Quade, sophomore Katie Bidulka, and freshman Julia Carle.

All of which means that MSU may be starting on a lower rung than most of its competition.

“As we get started, it’s going to be evaluating our players, finding out what our players are like, seeing where the parts fit,” Harrington said.

One area where he definitely has an advantage over his predecessor is in terms of a facility.

“[The Mavericks will] move into the Verizon Wireless Center downtown, which I think is going to be really special for our current players, but certainly is going to help us in recruiting, too,” Harrington said.

The numbers
MSU scored 42 goals last year, tied for fewest in the country. Players who scored 22 of those goals return.

The prognosis
“There’s going to be a learning curve for me,” Harrington said. “There’s going to be a learning curve not only with my own players, but certainly with the tremendous coaches that are in this league. I’m going to have to be a quick study on them. Also, I told my players that I think there’s going to be a lot they’re going to learn from me.”

Let’s just call this a learning year and give the entire project a grade of “incomplete.”

“It’s always hard to forget about wins and losses, no matter what anybody says,” Harrington said. “I think it’s going to be important for us to have an understanding of success, and that might not include wins and losses. We can’t always look in those columns.”

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