SCSU hockey Coach Bob Motzko has a keen eye when it comes to recruiting. Some of it is learned. Some of it is gut instinct. But, most of all it takes hard work, lots of rink time, active assistants and great networking. Over the past 10 years he’s pulled a lot of magic out of his recruiting hat. For example, he’s recruited two consecutive Hobey Baker finalists in Drew LeBlanc and Nic Dowd, the all-time SCSU scoring leader in Ryan Lasch and all-time assists leader Garrett Roe. He’s had numerous players move on to the professional ranks including Nick Jensen, Drew LeBlanc, Nic Dowd, Andreas Nodl, Oliver Lauridson, Mike Lee, Kevin Gravel and Ben Hanowski just to name a few.
The 2014-15 recruits once again build a solid foundation for the programs future and in my opinion a foundation that should keep this program in national prominence over the next four years. This years incoming class includes four veterans of the United States Hockey League and a youngster from Finland with an International hockey resume.
Patrick Russell (Forward) 6-1 205 – Birkerod, Denmark
A result of the pipeline created from former Danish SCSU Defenseman Oliver Lauridson, Russell most recently skated for Waterloo of the USHL in 2013-14. He produced 34 goals and 23 assists in a league known for strong defense and physical play. His resume also includes International play with the Denmark U18 and U20 team. In 2012-13 Russell put up 37-18-18-36 for the Linkoping J20 in the SuperElit league. Probably best categorized as a power forward, Russell perhaps has the best opportunity out of this group to have a legitimate chance at the NHL. An experienced, older player (age 21) described as an “efficient” skater with a NHL caliber shot he’ll be able to step in immediately and contribute for the Huskies. His size will allow him to play gritty and he’ll be tough in the paint. Look for Russell to be one of the top first-year forwards in the NCHC in 2014-15.
Blake Winiecki (Forward) 6-1 195 – Lakeville, MN
A teammate of Patrick Russell at Waterloo of the USHL, the Huskies captured another seasoned USHL veteran that will add physical size and scoring ability to the lineup. The 20-year-old spent two seasons with Waterloo and really came into his own in 2013-14 compiling 24 G and 26 A for 50 points in 60 games. In 12 playoff games he produced 14 points including 6 goals. Winiecki is one of those players that has put up points at every level he’s played including an incredible 102 career points for Lakeville North (MN) H.S. A coachable player, Winiecki logged minutes on special teams and was relied on late in the game to shut down the opponent. The combination of size, good hands and a natural ability to score should allow Winiecki to crack the lineup immediately for the Huskies and to be a fixture in the lineup for years to come.
Judd Peterson (Forward) 6-0 193 – Duluth, MN
Peterson is yet another seasoned veteran of the United States Hockey League that will join the Huskies this season. He spent the past two seasons with the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders putting up 27 goals and 30 assists for 57 points in 93 games over two seasons. Peterson is a seventh round draft choice of the Buffalo Sabres of the NHL. A prolific scorer in high school, he compiled 165 points over three seasons at Duluth Marshall High School. A natural center, he’ll fill a void created by the graduation of Cory Thorson and Nic Dowd. As a matter of fact, he has already been plugged into the lineup at center for the Huskies. Peterson possesses outstanding speed and a quick release and creates offense off of his ability to outskate his opponent. He should benefit greatly from the larger ice surface of the Huskies home rink. It is hoped that he acclimates quickly to the bigger and stronger NCHC and that he finds the scoring touch he has shown at other levels of hockey. He should be an outstanding four-year player for SCSU.
Nathan Widman (Defense) 6-0 205 – Naperville, IL
A late find for the Huskies, Widman originally committed to Brown University of the ECAC prior to transferring to the Huskies. He played in three games for Brown before sustaining a season ending injury. Sandwiched around his brief time with Brown University, Widman played in 159 United States Hockey League games. The seasoned 21 year old is a defensive solid stay at home defenseman whose game is to take the body and block shots. Widman is a hardworking player that will solidify the defensive corps of the Huskies and add much-needed depth. Over his three years in the USHL Widman accumulated 25 points so don’t expect a lot of offense out of this player. His value is shutting down the opponent and supporting the offense.
Mika Ilvonen (Defense) 5-8 162 – Espoo, Finland
The Huskies added to their strong group of Finnish players with the addition of Ilvonen. He joins Kalle Kossila, Rasmus Reijola and Niklas Nevalainen on the SCSU squad. This diminutive but dynamic player skated for the Espoo Blues U16, U18 and U20 teams and has competed internationally for Finland. He was a member of the 2013 bronze medal winning World Junior team. In 2012-13 for the Espoo Blues he was +18 and had 2 goals and 11 assists. In 2013-14 he really blossomed netting 14 goals with 35 assists for 49 points and was an outstanding +48. He was the second leading league scorer overall and first among defenseman. Ilvonen was also the 118th listed international player in the final Central Scouting Service rankings of players eligible for the draft. An excellent skater, Ilvonen uses his speed, positional play and transition skills to move the puck up ice. Despite his size he has an uncanny ability to control the puck along the boards and win one on one battles for possession of the puck. Just a youngster at 18 years old Ilvonen will need to adjust to the physical, tight checking play of the NCHC. The large ice surface will benefit his play on home ice and he should eventually become one of the top offensive defensemen in the league. Due to NCAA rules he will have to sit out the first 5 games of the season and will be ready to hit the ice for the Minnesota series.