The Minnesota State University - Mankato Mavericks are the epitome of the Freudian phrase "Penis Envy". Generally, we tend to think that moniker belongs to North Dakota for lots of reasons. Grand Forks has little to offer humans except for the hockey team. So those folks have their personal identities wrapped up in their hockey team in ways unlike virtually any other community in the country. But I believe Mankato fits the "penis envy" definition better. Why? Because UND has been historically successful and Mankato has been comparatively impotent.
They're about 80 miles from the University of Minnesota. They split up Gopher rejected recruits with St. Cloud. That equates to a sort of big brother envy/syndrome. The town's biggest claim to fame is the largest single mass execution in U.S. history (they hanged 38 aboriginals but were desperate to hang 303 before Abraham Lincoln disallowed that sort of ethnic cleansing). It actually took them until 1997 to apologize for it when they built a park and made some statues in the name of reconcilliation. What a joke.
A pretty substantial and persistent rumor has it that the coaches wife had some sort of affair with a player on the team. And that coach has clear anger management issues. I can't imagine what he'd do if someone like UND's Brett Hextall (known for talking shit to opposition coaches during the game) were to skate by him asking for Mrs. Jutting's cell phone number. An enraged repressed cuckold is potentially dangerous doncha know.
Mankato is every bit the match for Grand Forks in terms of level of futility for human entertainment and/or distraction. There is literally nothing to do in the place. Unless you consider picking up a venereal disease at one of the local bars something to do which is the commonly accepted state of things according to the knowledgeable travelling hockey fan contingent at USCHO.
There is a large and active theater community in Mankato. Several groups of thespians ply their acting modalities at the Kato Entertainment Center. There's an underground winery. Yes. They grow grapes underground and turn them into wine. It is the ONLY underground winery in Minnesota. Duh ... who else in Minnesota would be dumb enough to do something so futile. They have a brewery that turns out Grain Belt. Grain Belt? OMG ... ever drink Oly? Pretty much the same low rent shit beer. Worse than Old Milwaukee and Pabst Blue Ribbon. So yeah ... all that adds up to me saying they wish they had a penis ... but they're stuck being the taint.
So yeah ... none of that has anything to do with hockey. It's just that it's more interesting (to me) than anything I can find about their hockey team. The one ongoing description you'll hear coaches around the WCHA use when talking about the Mavericks is that they're hard working. Obviously, I haven't seen this years version.
Of their returning players, I'd rate only Kurt Davis as having top end skills. They're apparently excited about freshman Tyler Pitlick which makes sense since the verb form of his last name is the #2 hobby in Mankato. After those two, sophomore Mike Louwerse is the only other known quantity as far as being dangerous. He really came out of the box fast in his freshman year and ended the season with 13g-13a. Their defense is experienced with 3 juniors and 1 senior. As a team they're only marginally smaller overall than the Seawolves.
They've had a frustrating beginning to their season. Four of their six losses have been by 1 goal. Both of their losses last weekend to Colorado College had that margin (1-0, 3-2). Their only WCHA win of the young season came against Wisconsin. The Badgers dinged them 6-0 on a Friday night before self-destructing (two CFB majors) in the 3rd period the next night giving Mankato a 3-2 win.
Seawolves fans should expect a very hungry and determined opponent this weekend. Outsiders often remark that a road trip to Anchorage is difficult. But if you're Mankato this week you're focused on nothing but an opportunity to move up in the standings. There's obviously not much difference between UAA's two wins and their single win. Troy Jutting won't be preaching split to his team. He'll be demanding that they leave town with maximum points. If he is any kind of motivator then he should be able to overcome whatever difficulties a five and a half hour plane ride on a Thursday morning might present for his team on a Friday and Saturday night.
If UAA players and staff are in any way telling themselves, "Well at least they're not DU, UND, Minnesota or Wisconsin" then they're making a huge mistake. The Seawolves recent home-ice history against this supposed "rival" isn't stellar. And while past season's performance is a very poor indicator of what is likely to happen this weekend, it can't be ignored in this case. Hosting Mankato isn't some sort of off-week because they aren't one of the big 4. They'll be in the Seawolves faces all weekend.
Once again though, the Seawolves will have to match their performances from the UND and DU victories up here to come away with wins this weekend. Anything less and they'll be looking up at Mankato in the standings instead of gaining some separation. So yeah ... once again we're looking at to date, the most important series of the season. All the usual necessary high level aspects and execution will be necessary this weekend. Solid defense, shot blocking, efficient transition, speed, physical play and goaltending will be the keys. And oh yeah ... the Seawolves will have to bury their chances. We've seen all too many shots go just wide this season. Put it on the net and find the rebound chances. Gritty and greasy is the key this weekend.
The one redeeming characteristic of Mankato? It's isn't Biminiji St.