After another successful regular season, the Blue and Cold are looking to take the next step. MSU’s 2019-20 campaign has so far continued the momentum from last season when the boys had a solid finish with a trip to Nationals. This gave the team a ton of confidence and familiarity heading into the year’s postseason. Recently, the Cats competed in the league playoffs two weeks back in Utah, where they fell to eventual league champion, the University of Providence. Despite the loss, the Bobcats successfully conquered the BYU Cougars 9-5 and the Utah State Aggies 6-2 in order to solidify a 2-1 record and a third-place finish in the Mountain West Collegiate Hockey League. After the tournament, MSU struck revenge last weekend on Friday, Feb. 21 and Saturday, Feb. 22, and showed a bit of their potential in two 5-4 wins, completing the weekend sweep of the region’s second-ranked squad, Providence.
The Cats enter the Western region of ACHA Hockey with a fourth-placed ranking and subsequent targets on their backs upon arriving at Regionals. The MSU men have shown that last season wasn’t an anomaly; instead, they have proven that this is a program clearly on the rise. Last season ended with their first ever trip to the national tournament, falling only to the second-seeded Penn State Nittany Lions. This year’s goal is to not only make nationals again but also to foster a deep run toward the championship.
“Last year we felt lucky to even be a part of the show,” said Bobcat sophomore goalie Patrick Healy. “This year we have a lot more we’d like to prove.”
At the end of this month the boys will head to Boise, Idaho to match up with the other top teams in the West at the regional tournament. Teams ranked third through twelfth in the region will be seeded in order and will play one another for an opportunity to head to Nationals. The last two remaining from those 10 teams will receive their bid for Nationals. The University of Mary and University of Providence have already qualified for the national tournament by being the top two ranked teams in the region. Being the second highest ranked team in the regional tournament, the Cats expect to be one of the teams headed to nationals next month.
“Our only choice is to stay focused and play our game or else we’ll head home,” explained Healy, who recognizes how important these upcoming games will be for the entire roster. “Us younger guys get a lot out of these upcoming weeks, and I think it will only make the program better as time goes on.”
This season has proven that the Cats have established a competitive and tough culture on the ice. Not only are they enjoying one of the most successful seasons in program history, but they are also leaders in the community. A few weeks back, the men took time out of their busy schedules to meet with a group of local fifth grade students at Irving Elementary to emphasize the importance of a good education. The team provided their “Sticks to Schools” to seven clasrooms, leaving a lasting impression on those young students.
Now the Bobcats' attention will shift back to hockey and the challenges that wait ahead. Students and fans can continue to follow the Blue and Cold by checking out their website MSUHockey.com, which often features live streams of games along with score updates and links to the team’s social media accounts. The Bobcats are the real deal once again this season and are looking to capitalize on their high expectations heading into regionals. Make sure to keep connected with The Exponent in order to read more in-depth pieces on the team as the boys look to take the next step. We wish them good luck and anticipate another exciting end to the hockey season. Go Cats!