Friday, September 12, 2008

WCHA Season Preview: Mankato

School: Mankato
Mascot: Purple Cows
Head Coach: Troy Jutting, 9th year, 127-145-38

Last Season: 12-12-4, 4th place WCHA; 19-16-4 Overall

Predicted 08/09 WCHA Finish: 7th

Key Departures:
F Joel Hanson, 9-14-23*
F Jon Kalinski, 8-10-18
F RJ Linder, 1-7-8
*All stats listed from 07/08

Key Returnees:
F Trevor Bruess (Jr), 9-21-30
F Mick Berge (Sr), 20-6-26
F Kael Mouillievate (Jr), 11-11-22
F Geoff Irwin (Jr), 9-12-21
F Andrew Sackrison (So), 6-14-20

Top Sieve: Mike Zacharias (Sr), 18-13-4, 2.08 GAA

Key Additions:Their website doesn’t give much information on their freshman beyond height, weight, hometown; so I’m not going to bother to do the research for them. Justin Jokinen was a finalist for Mr. Hockey in Minnesota.

When Wisconsin Beats MSU: @ MSU 2/27 & 2/28

07/08 Recap: Mankato was the real surprise of the WCHA last season. After being a perennial bottom feeder, they had a great second half and landed home ice for the WCHA playoffs. They didn’t have a lot of big names on their team like Wisconsin or Denver or North Dakota, but they have a lot of solid D-I players. In the WCHA playoffs, they played one hell of a series w/ minnesota, but came out on the short end of things in Game 3. Despite their great season, they were the odd team out of the NCAA tourney, which led to much complaining after Wisconsin made it w/ a losing record. Most who are well versed in the pairwise rankings pointed to their cupcake non-conference schedule. Mike Zacharias was a real bright point in net.

08/09 Thoughts: I have Mankato pretty low in my rankings, but I think the WCHA is going to be pretty tight between 3rd and 7th (just like last year), so they could easily finish higher, and the next teams I preview could finish behind them. Since last year was their first breakout year, I’m not going to throw them back in the top half of the WCHA. They do have a lot going for them, w/ a lot of returning scoring and upperclassmen, but I’m not convinced they can pull it all together again, though Zacharias should be solid in net. Don’t know much about their freshman class, but it appears they have some decent talent coming in, not on par w/ the top teams, but who really wants to be a purple cow? Another cupcake non-conference schedule on tap as well.