Series Preview: Minnesota State Mankato

In-state rivals Minnesota and Minnesota State faceoff on Friday at Mariucci Arena and will move to the Verizon Wireless Center for Saturday's contest. Both games are set for 7 p.m. CT.

Minnesota State (15-8-3 overall, 9-8-3 WCHA) vs. Minnesota (17-3-4 overall, 9-3-4 WCHA)
Minneapolis, Minnesota – Mariucci Arena
Mankato, Minnesota – Verizon Wireless Center
Friday 7:00 p.m. CT – Big Ten Network
Saturday 7:00 p.m. CT – FOX Sports North

PREGAME NOTES

Storyline
Minnesota State has been one of the most surprising teams in the WCHA this season. The No. 14 Mavericks enter the weekend coming off a three-point weekend on the road in Anchorage. Minnesota State will be prepared to play their instate rivals, No. 1 Minnesota, and with a home-and-home series, tension is sure to be high. With just three points separating both teams in the conference, this weekend is important in the race for the MacNaughton Cup.

Season to Date
The Mavericks have had quite an impressive season thus far. They hold wins over Omaha, a road sweep of Wisconsin and the Gophers. The 9-8-3 conference record has Minnesota State in a tight race for the WCHA regular season crown.

Coaching Preview
Mike Hastings is in his first year on the bench for Mankato. Hastings has spent time as the associate head coach for Nebraska-Omaha under Dean Blaise. Prior to that, he was an assistant coach for the Gophers during the 2008-2009 season. Hastings gained notoriety as the head coach of the Omaha Lancers of the USHL where he compiled a record of 529-210-56.

Last Meeting
The Gophers and Mavericks did battle in November with each team picking up a victory at home. Minnesota took the Friday contest, 3-2 behind three powerplay goals. The Mavericks dominated on Saturday evening, getting out to a two-goal lead and winning by a 5-3 final.

Series History
Minnesota holds a commanding 32-9-6 record against the Mavericks. Despite the dominance in the all-time series, Minnesota State is 6-4-0 against the Gophers in their last 10 meetings.

Players to Watch
Matt Leitner – The 5-foot-9 sophomore has been superb for the Mavericks this season. He has tallied 10 goals and 19 assists for 29 points, identical numbers to Minnesota's leading scorer, Erik Haula.

Jean-Paul Lafontaine – The sophomore forward ranks second on Minnesota State in scoring with eight goals and 16 assists. In his last meeting with the Gophers, Lafontaine led the Mavericks with a goal and two helpers on the weekend.

Background
Location: Mankato, Minnesota
Enrollment: 13,547
Conference: WCHA
Mascot: Maverick
Colors: Purple and Gold
Coach: Mike Hastings (1st Season)


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