Head Coach | St. Cloud State ’93 | Crookston, Minn.
Key Statistics: If the Mavericks finish below .500 this season, it will be a first for their new coach. He spent 14 seasons as the head coach of the United States Hockey League’s Omaha Lancers and never had a losing record, recording 529 wins and three national titles, making him the most successful coach in USHL history. He is just the third head coach to man the space behind the bench at Minnesota State.
What He Does: After stints as an assistant at St. Cloud State, Minnesota, and Nebraska Omaha, Hastings still getting used to life in Mankato, living in a hotel as he and his family close on a house. But a little uneasiness is a good thing in most situations, he feels. “Hopefully we continue to do things a little better every day,” Hastings said. “If you get comfortable, that’s when things start to go in the other direction.” After taking the job in mid-April, Hastings met with the returning players and decided to retain two of Troy Jutting’s assistant coaches (Darren Blue and Todd Knott), so while there’s not complete comfort just yet, there’s at least some familiarity.
The Bigger Picture: Some thought Hastings would never leave Nebraska and considered him the heir apparent to Dean Blais at UNO. But the member of the Omaha Sports Hall of Fame savors the return to his home state. As Blais’ assistant for the last three seasons, Hastings got to know a little bit about Minnesota State from the opposite bench—he likes the fact two freshmen were the leading scorers last season, but says they’re probably not deep enough weather sophomore slumps. Hastings also feels the goaltending duo of senior Phil Cook and incoming freshman Stephon Williams will lead to healthy competition for the top spot in the crease. Mostly, he envisions some serious motivation to move up in the WCHA standings. “This team has finished 11th the last couple years,” he said, “so I think they’re extremely motivated to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”
Hastings on having a flexible style that favors puck possession: “Good coaches adjust to their abilities. But if you can hang a crooked number up there on the scoreboard on a consistent basis, it’s easier to stretch the ice. There are lot of ways the puck can get over the goal line and sometimes that’s pretty, sometimes it’s not. The puck is a hard thing to get a hold of, so hopefully when we do, we can hold onto it a little bit.”