Senior Ethan Prow will be out of the lineup this weekend vs Denver (photo prout)
The Huskies travel to Denver this weekend for another “key” NCHC series. What else is new? The two squads are separated by one point in the conference standings with 13 and 12 points respectively. The teams flip-flopped after last weekends play as the Huskies earned six points sweeping then first-place Miami while Denver found themselves on the short end of the weekend series losing twice to the current conference leader, Omaha.
SCSU is desperately trying to keep up with the top half of the league which in doing so will continue to prop up their pairwise, the all important ranking mechanism for the NCAA tournament. As of today, the Huskies are #21 in the PWR with college hockey’s 2nd toughest schedule and Denver #17 with the 10th strongest schedule. Considering the Huskies have two games in hand over the top four leaders – Omaha, UMD, North Dakota and Miami it really is “GO” time for SCSU as they finish up their last 14 games of the season. A successful January is essential as the Huskies have six games against teams in the bottom half of the league. February is a different story with six games against the current top three teams in the conference with four of those contests on the road.
The Huskies should have confidence heading to Denver as they’ve compiled an 11-8-1 record in the past 20 games vs the team from the mile high city. They also played perhaps their best hockey of the season last weekend in their weekend sweep (3-1 / 3-2 ) over Miami.
The emergence of senior forward Joe Rehkamp was just what the doctor ordered as he scored the GWG both nights with his first and second goals of the season. The line shuffling placing Rehkamp on the first line with Jonny Brodzinski and Jimmy Murray was a peculiarly good coaching decision as they picked up 7 points and scored three of the weekends six goals. Unfortunately for the defense, the squad lost senior Ethan Prow to injury on Friday but the defense responded well limiting Miami to 19 SOG and providing backup goaltender Rasmus Reijola the support he needed to earn his first collegiate win. Additionally, the emergence as expected, from veteran USHL first-year forwards Patrick Russell, Judd Peterson and Blake Winiecki has been a boost to the overall depth of the lineup providing quality minutes and increasing offense. They were a combined +1 and Patrick Russell had a two-point weekend with a goal. Charlie Lindgren continues to be solid with a 2.51 GAA and .911 SV %. Good depth at defense should allow them to survive the absence of Ethan Prow, expected to last another 4 weeks. First-year defenseman, Mika Ilvonen, fresh off a stint with Team Finland in the World Junior Tournament had a nice weekend and he’s beginning to show some of the puck handling skills and skating ability that he’s known for.
Denver, on the other hand, needs to recover from the disappointing weekend in Omaha and they too need to keep a keen eye on the PWR as they are currently a bubble team at #17. They’ve gone 1-3-1 in their last five games and had a melt-down Friday vs Omaha relinquishing a 3-0 second period lead and ultimately losing 4-3. Saturday they were unable to generate any offense as they were blanked 1-0. However, apparently the coaching staff is unfazed.”If we play like we did last weekend — possession time was probably 75 percent us — we’re going to win 90 percent of our games,” Montgomery said. “I was worried that our confidence might be shaken after last weekend, but it doesn’t seem like it’s shaken at all. An 11-7-1 record isn’t a great record. It’s a decent record, but it’s not what this team is. We have potential to do great things this year.”
The DU coaching staff is happy with their goaltending and they’ve rotated Evan Cowley ( 7-5-1; .925 SV%; 2.06 GAA) and Tanner Jaillet ( 4-2-0; .905 SV% and 2.36 GAA). Cowley will start on Friday and is the frontrunner to start Saturday depending on game one results. Defense is a position of strength with Joey LaLeggia (16 points), Nolan Zajac (15 points) and Will Butcher (9 points). LaLeggia is a game breaker and Butcher is one of the top young defenseman in college hockey. Youngsters Danton Heinen (23 points) and Trevor Moore (18 points) lead the Pioneers in scoring. On paper, the Pioneers have the edge on St. Cloud in several statistical categories including power play 24.4 vs 22.2, GPG 3.11 vs 2.26 and GAPG 2.50 vs 2.70.
Friday’s game is a 8:37 PM CT start time and Saturday is a 8:07 PM CT puck drop. All of the pertinent links for this weekend series can be found here: http://www.centericeview.com
Enjoy the games!