The #4 ranked St. Cloud State University Huskies (16-4-0) host NCHC opponent Colorado College Tigers (5-12-0) at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center on Friday and Saturday. Friday’s game is scheduled for a 7:37 PM CT puck drop and Saturday’s start at 7:07 PM CT.
Fridays game will be telecast on the CBS Sports Network Charter channels 412 and 807. Also Dish channel 158 and Direct TV 221 in the St. Cloud Area. Saturday’s game will be streamed on NCHC.TV
HEAD TO HEAD
The Huskies have dominated this series over the past four years with a 9-1-1 record in the last 11 games. However going back to 2003 the series is very close with the Huskies holding a slight 20-19-4 record vs the Tigers.
Colorado College completed calendar year 2015 with a series on the road vs the University of Alabama-Huntsville. They earned a 5-2 win in the Friday game with five even strength goals and were led by senior forward, Hunter Fejes, who netted two goals. Goaltender Jacob Nehema earned the win making 34 saves in the contest. The Tigers were edged 2-1 in the Saturday rematch despite outshooting the Chargers 36-33. Sam Rothstein scored the lone goal for Colorado College.
The #4 PWR Huskies completed a home sweep of Division I upstart Arizona State University on January 1 and 2 by scores of 6-1 and 7-0. In Friday’s game, the Huskies peppered the ASU goaltenders with 46 SOG and were led by Ethan Prow’s two-goal night and a 23 save effort by Charlie Lindgren. On Saturday, the Huskies blanked ASU 7-0 and saw points from 10 different SCSU players in the victory. Patrick Russell netted two goals and Niklas Nevalainen had a four-point night and was subsequently named NCHC defensive player of the week. Charlie Lindgren completed 120 minutes of play over the weekend with a 29 save shutout. SCSU placed 51 SOG in Saturday’s contest.
On January 3rd, the Huskies hosted the USA National Team Development Program U18’s in an exhibition game and fell to the youngsters 7-6 in overtime. Rasmus Reijola was given the start in goal and allowed 7 goals on 35 SOG. Sophomore forward Blake Winiecki netted four goals in the contest and Clark Kuster had an assist in his first ice time of the year for SCSU. Nathan Widman and Mikey Eyssimont also scored for SCSU in the exhibition.
COLORADO COLLEGE TIGERS
It’s been a challenging several years for the Colorado College program with a 17-66-9 record since the start of the 2013-14 season. Former NHL coach Mike Haviland took over the reigns of the Tiger program last season and continues to face many challenges in his attempts to get this program back on track. Since taking over, his record is 10-42-3 and in addition to having a very young team – 14 first-year players he’s also faced a number of adversities this season.
Prior to the start of the season, NCHC First Team Defenseman Jacob Slavin signed an NHL contract with Carolina. Defenseman, Garrett Cecere left the program and seniors Jared Hansen and Jordan Berger decided to retire from hockey. Minnesotan Westin Michaud was lost for the season due to injury as was first-year player David Radke. Defenseman and assistant captain Zac Aman missed 17 games due to injury and although he has returned to the lineup assistant captain Christian Heil is out with a fractured ankle. To top things off, second leading goal scorer Trey Bradley has been suspended for the SCSU series due to an illegal hit during the December 18 games with the Chargers.
Regardless, the coaching staff does see some positives for the last place Tigers. After a 13 game losing streak, the Tigers did win three straight games over Air Force and a sweep on home ice of Miami. They then suffered two more losses until the 5-2 win over Huntsville on December 18. They are getting more consistent play out of their top line of Luc Gerdes, Sam Rothstein and Hunter Fejes who have combined for 16 goals and 34 points. Under the circumstances, they’ve also been pleased with the play of goaltender Jacob Nehema who has posted a 3.59 GAA and .895 SV% and won 4 of 9 games.
Statistically, the Tigers are struggling with the 57th offense and 56th ranked defense nationally. The power play is 46th at 14% and the penalty kill 42nd at 80.2%.
ST. CLOUD STATE UNIVERSITY HUSKIES
The #4 ranked and #4 PWR Huskies continue to play impressive hockey. After a three week break, they continued their strong offensive play scoring 13 goals vs Arizona state and 6 goals vs the USA NTDP U18 team with top goal scorer Judd Peterson scratched for the game and limited ice time for a number of upper classmen late in the contest. The SCSU offense is ranked #1 in the country scoring 4.50 goals per game and despite having college hockey’s toughest overall schedule, they rank #8 in team defense allowing just 1.95 goals per game. The power play is torrid at 30.56% and is ranked second in the country. But, as has been mentioned in previous posts, the penalty kill needs improvement ranked #57 in college hockey at 74.5%. They continue to be oneof the least penalized teams in college hockey ranked 58 out of of 60..
The Huskies are healthy with the exception of Ryan Papa who has been sidelined since the North Dakota series. Judd Peterson returned to the lineup this past weekend and picked up where he left off with 1-1-2 on Friday and 1-2-3 on Saturday. The senior forwards of Kossila, Morley, Murray and Benik have been outstanding occupying the top four spots on the SCSU scoring chart and have combined for 36 goals and 90 points. Sophomores Patrick Russell and Judd Peterson have combined for 21 goals and 39 points.
On defense, captain Ethan Prow has been an outstanding leader on the ice and has 4-16-20 and +14. Niklas Nevalainen is playing his best hockey ever at SCSU and in addition to 13 points is tied with first-year defenseman Jimmy Schuldt at +15 in plus/minus. The balance of the defensive corps including Jon Lizzotte, Nathan Widman, Will Borgen and Mika Ilvonen are certainly the surprise strength of this years squad. Borgen returns from the World Junior Championships and was a key member of the defensive unit that captured the bronze medal.
Charlie Lindgren’s exemplary play continues compiling a 15-4-0 record with a .931 SV% and 1.85 GAA.
On paper, the Tigers will be huge underdogs in this series. The compilation of injuries, game suspension of Bradley, number of first-year players in the lineup, lack of scoring punch and being on the road don’t paint a rosy picture for Colorado College. However, the games are not played on paper and the Huskies cannot afford to take any opponent lightly. Expect another offensive onslaught on the CC goaltender(s) this weekend. The overall depth of the SCSU lineup, solid play of the SCSU defensive crew and the stellar play of Charlie Lindgren will make it a difficult task for the Tigers to garner any league points this weekend.
As always, all the pertinent links for this weekends games can be found here
Enjoy the games!