SCSU Forward Jonny Brodzinski
This in-state NCHC conference series between #7 ranked SCSU and #17 ranked UMD isn’t getting a whole lot of press this week. Part of it may be the media hangover from the SCSU v Minnesota home and home series last weekend. Part of it also might be that folks are not paying attention to just how good both of these teams are. Maybe it’s early in the college hockey season and it’s difficult to get a true handle on who the top teams are. However, based on early season results, I think we can safely say both of these squads are going to be in the mix for conference and post season success. Both have had a rigorous schedule and it shows in the overall record of both teams. SCSU is 3-3-0 and the Bulldogs 4-4-0. But, if you drill things down further, #7 SCSU has split with #4 Colgate, #8 Union and #1 Minnesota. Meanwhile, UMD carries a .500 record after splits with #10 Denver, #11 Miami and #13 Minnesota State-Mankato and a win over #15 Notre Dame and a one-goal loss to #1 Minnesota in the Icebreaker in early October. That’s some pretty good hockey by both teams.
There’s a lot of similarity in these two teams from top to bottom. They are led by a couple of dynamic power forwards in Jonny Brodzinski and Dominic Toninato and then a cast of other quality forwards who can make life miserable for each other. On paper, UMD’s offense has scored an average of 3.62 goals per game but that’s skewed somewhat by a couple of robust six goal wins over Denver and Minnesota State-Mankato. Otherwise, statistically, these two squads are nearly dead even in power play, penalty kill and goals against. Much like the Huskies, UMD has had some trying times on Friday night having lost every first game of a series so far this season. The Huskies reversed that trend last weekend running it up on Minnesota 4-1 on Friday and getting edged 4-3 in overtime at Mariucci in a matinée game Saturday.
While Charlie Lindgren is currently the undisputed starter for SCSU in goal, the Bulldogs starter was less certain between Junior Matt McNeely and first-year netminder Kasimir Kaskisuo. However, Kaskisuo has started the last five games and it’s becoming obvious he has been anointed the Bulldog’s #1 goaltender. Coincidentally, Kaskisuo is from Espoo, Finland and hails from the same city as SCSU goaltender Rasmus Reijola.
The Huskies have high-end speed at forward and it’ll be an interesting challenge for the Bulldogs to see if they can match the Huskies speed and transition on the larger surface of the NCHC. Don’t expect a lot of physical play out of the UMD forwards with the exception of Toninato. They are somewhat undersized at that position and the loss of 6’3″ forward Adam Krause to injury doesn’t help. But, at defense, it’s a different story as four of their regulars stand 6’2″ or more. Division III transfer Brenden Kotyk is a towering 6’6″ and 225 pounds and Minnesota Wild draft choice Carson Soucy is listed at 6’4″ and 210 pounds. That’s quite a contrast to the Huskies with 5 of 8 rostered defenseman sub six feet. It’ll be interesting to see how the SCSU forwards maneuver through the trees this weekend.
Having had several chats with coach Motzko since the start of the season, it was obvious the first eight games were the measuring stick for this team as they entered the 2014-15 season. Having survived the first three weekends remarkably well, the Huskies need to continue that success as they enter conference play. The question is whether the Huskies can maintain the high energy and puck possession they’ve displayed in their wins over an entire weekend. The Bulldogs on the other hand have two conference series under their belt winning 2 of 4 games and they currently lead the standings in the NCHC.
Take it for what it’s worth but the Bulldogs haven’t won a game in St. Cloud since 2007. It’s been a miserable place for UMD as the road team winning only three games in St. Cloud since the 2002-03 season. The Huskies carry a 57-36-7 overall record vs the Bulldogs in the Division I era. In overtime games SCSU has a 6-4-8 record vs UMD. As for current Huskies, Jimmy Murray has 4 goals in 6 games and Kalle Kossila 6 points in six games.
Don’t be surprised to see one of these games go to the NCHC mandated shoot-out.
Enjoy the games!