MSU fans gather to celebrate special season | Local Sports

A 5-1 loss to Denver in the national championship was tough for Minnesota State men’s hockey fans.

Despite that, many of the same fans who made the trip to Boston were at the Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center to celebrate on Monday, less than 48 hours after the disappointing defeat.

Minnesota State held a celebration of the team’s season, complete with comments from MSU administrators, coach Mike Hastings, captain Wyatt Aamodt and city dignitaries.

“It was super disappointing, but it’s really, really hard to win a national championship. It’s hard to get to the Frozen Four, ”MSU fan Casey Stedman said. “To go to the Frozen Four two years in a row, I think that’s a feather in each one of these fellow’s caps.”

Things started with the MacNaughton Cup and the Mason Cup being placed on a table in front of the stage, and the players received a massive ovation as they took their seats behind the podium.

The first speaker was MSU athletics director Kevin Buisman, who fondly recalled Hastings’ job interview 10 years ago, a meeting that took place at a Pizza Ranch in Sheldon, Iowa.

Buisman also recalled the WCHA spring meetings back in 2010, where he said an “unnamed Denver University administrator” lectured him for 10 minutes about how MSU lacked the commitment to ever achieve success in hockey.

“I’ve got a long memory,” Buisman joked. “I would finally like to respond to that board-room beatdown more than 10 years ago with some words I borrow from the immortal Toby Keith.

“I would like to say, ‘how do you like me now?’ “

Stedman, a longtime season ticket holder and Blue Line Club member, remembers “when it was pretty quiet in the hallways” at the home arena.

It’s why he marveled at the team’s red carpet entrances into TD Garden at the Frozen Four.

The atrium that led to the arena’s entrance was filled with MSU fans for both games, and there seemed to be a strong consensus among those who see the entrances each year: there’s never been a turnout like that.

“You can’t fly high if you don’t have air underneath your wings. You provide that air, ”Hastings told the fans. “You’ve allowed us to reach points I didn’t think were possible.”

Added Stedman: “I was blown away by how many people were (in Boston). That whole lower area at TD Garden was electric. ”

Two years ago, Kiersten Helgerson could never’ve pictured herself at a team celebration event, let alone an MSU game.

However, the team’s recent success, along with a Black Friday ticket deal, got her on the bandwagon.

She didn’t go to Boston, but made it to five or six games at Mankato this season, and is trying to convince her dad to go on season tickets with her next season.

“I just became a hockey fan this year,” Helgerson said. “I was just thinking it was probably going to be a one-and-done thing – (I) loved it.”

Helgerson hopes to travel with the team to future NCAA Tournaments, and there seems to be plenty of confidence that more runs like this are coming.

Next season’s Frozen Four is at Tampa, and Stedman is already planning.

“We’re already looking at Tampa,” he said. “It’s no longer rebuilding, it’s reloading every year.”

Follow Kevin Dudley on Twitter @ Dudley7Kevin.

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