Originally published by College Hockey News on Oct. 8, 2015
A look at the 10 members of the WCHA heading into the 2015-16 campaign (in order of their predicted finish, based on the preseason media poll):
Head Coach: Mike Hastings
2014-15 Record: 29-8-3, 21-4-3 WCHA
Changes: The two-time defending conference champions lose a lot of key parts from last season’s MacNaughton Cup-winning team. The Mavericks have the task of replacing over 100 points of offense and All-WCHA players Matt Leitner, Zach Palmquist, and Stephon Williams.
Strengths: What made the Mavericks great last year was their depth and they are hoping those players step up to replace lost production. Senior forward Bryce Gervais, the WCHA’s leading goal scorer last season, is the go-to guy now, but will have to show he can survive without Leitner to feed him the puck. Forwards Teddy Blueger, C.J. Franklin, and Brad McClure all have the potential to step up their offensive output as well. Senior Dylan Margonari, a 14-goal scorer last year, will miss some time early on, however, recovering from an injury.
Weaknesses: MSU head coach Mike Hastings called his team’s goaltending situation “wide open” after Williams’ departure. Junior Cole Huggins steps in and will have to rebound from a putrid season. He struggled in nine games, putting up a .864 save percentage, before losing his starting job. The Mavericks hope he regains his freshman form, when Huggins had a sterling .926 save percentage and 1.88 goals against average, but that remains to be seen.
2015-16 Outlook: Despite its losses, Minnesota State still has as much talent as anyone in this league. They have some big roles to fill, but that shouldn’t stop the Mavericks from challenging for their third straight league crown and returning to the NCAA tournament.