Aug 1,2014(ISN) – LANGLEY, British Columbia – Trinity Western’s men’s hockey team will get the chance to play two of the top teams in the NCAA this fall as the Spartans will take part in an exhibition weekend that will see them play Division I schools St. Cloud State University and the University of Minnesota State, Mankato.
The Spartans will travel to play Minnesota’s St. Cloud State on Saturday, Oct. 4 before playing Mankato Sunday, Oct. 5.
The two teams that will provide the weekend’s opposition were both amongst the top 10 in the NCAA’s final rankings last season. St. Cloud State entered the NCAA’s championship competition ranked No. 9 while Mankato came into the final tournament ranked No. 10.
“We are looking forward to the trip to play a couple of the premier college teams in America,” said Spartans coach Barret Kropf, who will be entering his second season at the helm this fall. “Both Mankato and St. Cloud have such a strong history of developing student-athletes and Spartan hockey has many of the same objectives, as we look to develop leaders on and off the ice.
“It will be great for us to not only showcase the growth of our program but also the depth of our conference. For such a young conference, it speaks volumes of the development that programs like ours and Simon Fraser have the opportunity this fall to play the top programs in United States.”
On the same weekend, SFU will play the Bowling Green University Falcons and the Miami University Redhawks.
Since 1931, the storied St. Cloud State program has sent 24 players to the NHL, including Matt Cullen, Matt Hendricks, Ryan Malone and Bret Hedican, while Mankato, since joining Div. I in 1996, has sent nine players on to the NHL, including David Backes, Tim Jackman and Ryan Carter.
Last year, St. Cloud State won the NCHC (National Collegiate Hockey Conference) regular season title with a record of 22-11-5, before advancing to the second round of the 16-team NCAA Div. I championship tournament. The Huskies were eliminated when they lost 4-0 to eventual NCAA Div. I runner-up Minnesota.
Mankato, meanwhile, established a school record for wins with a 26-14-1 overall mark and won the WCHA (Western Collegiate Hockey Association) tournament. The Mavericks went on to make their second consecutive appearance in the NCAA Div. I tournament, but lost 2-1 in the first round to UMass-Lowell.
Last year, the Spartans had their best campaign in program history as they finished the regular season in third place in the BCIHL with a record 10-13-0-1. The team then went on to earn a spot in the BCIHL championship series for the first time ever after beating Simon Fraser in a best-of-three semifinal series. In the league championship, TWU lost the best-of-three series in two games to Selkirk.