#14 Huskies Battle #7 Gophers in Home and Home this Weekend

The Huskies swept the Gophers at Mariucci Arena last season (photo prout)

The Huskies swept the Gophers at Mariucci Arena last season (photo prout)

 

#14 SCSU HUSKIES  VS #7 U of MN GOLDEN GOPHERS

The #14 St. Cloud State University Huskies (0-2-0 | 0-0-0 ) continue non-conference play with a home and home series with #7 University of Minnesota Golden Gophers ( 2-0-0 | 0-0-0) on Friday, Oct. 21 and Sat., October 22. Game time on Friday at Mariucci Arena is 8:05 PM CT and Saturday at 7:05 PM CT at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center. Tickets are available through the SCSU ticket office or via MyGopherSports.com

TV: The weekend series will be broadcast live on Fox Sports North Plus.

Video Stream: Friday: BTN2GO or FOXSPORTSGO | Saturday: NCHC.TV

Radio | Audio Stream: Both games on  REV 96.9 FM with the broadcast team of Jim Erickson and Dave Reichel. The Saturday game will also be aired on KVSC .

The Gophers flagship station is ESPN 1500

Note: Please note there is a traffic advisory for Friday night near Mariucci Arena as the homecoming parade will begin at 6:30 PM. More Here.

HEAD TO HEAD

Since their first official meeting on October 12, 1990 (3-3 OT tie) the Gophers lead the all-time series at the Division I level 54-31-12. SCSU is 3-2-0 vs U of MN in the last five, 4-6-0 in the last 10 and 12-23-6 at Mariucci Arena. Last Season, SCSU swept the two-game series at Mariucci Arena by scores of 3-2 and 7-4.

LAST SERIES

Last weekend, the Gophers manhandled the U.S. Under 18 Team by a 9-0 score in an exhibition contest. Twelve Gophers had points in the win and the Gophers were led by first-year forward Rem Pitlick who had a three-goal night plus an assist. All three Gopher goaltenders – Eric Schierhorn, Brock Kautz and Nick Lehr shared goaltending duties and combined for 21 saves in the shutout win. Two weeks ago, the Gophers traveled to Alaska and swept the UAA Seawolves and the Alaska Nanooks. Schierhorn recorded both wins and earned a shutout that weekend as well.

The Huskies faced in-state rival Minnesota State Mankato on the road and were swept by scores of 4-1 and 6-4. The Huskies fell behind 3-0 in the Friday contest and were never able to recover. First-year forward Jake Wahlin scored the only Husky goal on Friday. Jeff Smith was the starter in goal and suffered his first loss as a Husky. Once again on Saturday, the Huskies fell behind by a 2-0 score before rallying to take a 3-2 lead. Saturday’s starter, Zach Driscoll was victimized for 5 goals on 22 shots and was relieved of duty in the second period by Jeff Smith. It was a night for the upperclassmen as SCSU goals were scored by Ryan Papa, Judd Peterson, Blake Winiecki and Daniel Tedesco. In a see-saw battle, the Mavericks ultimately prevailed 6-4 to complete the sweep. Story Here

UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA GOLDEN GOPHERS

The Gophers are the reigning Big Ten regular season champion and have won the title the first three years the conference has been in existence. They were voted the preseason favorite to win the league in 2016-17. Forward, Justin Kloos returns for his senior season and he is the active-leading scorer in the Big Ten Hockey Conference and second active leading scorer in the NCAA with 46 goals and 62 assists for 108 points in 119 games. Kloos had 16 goals and 27 assists for a career high 43 points during the 2015-16 season. The Gophers had minimal departures from their 2015-16 squad losing only 70 points of offense from last season. The two notable departures were underclassmen, Hudson Fasching (20-18-38) and Michael Brodzinski (8-13-21) who signed pro contracts.

The Gophers return loads of offense from the 2015-16 season with eight of the top ten scorers back for the 2016-17 season. Minnesota returns 220 points including 80 goals and 151 assists. In addition to Justin Kloos, the Gophers return top scorers Leon Bristedt (Jr) 20-17-37, Tyler Sheehy (So) 12-18-30, Tommy Novak (So) 6-21-27, Vinnie Lettieri (Sr) 7-19-26 and Connor Reilly (Sr) 6-1-20. Senior Jake Bischoff leads a large corps of returning defenseman and he contributed 6 goals and 12 assists to the offense last season. In addition to five returning defenseman, the Gophers have brought in two NHL drafted blueliners, Ryan Lindgren and Ryan Zuhlsdorf to solidify the position even further. The Gophers have  recruited with size in mind with all rostered defensemen at 6′ or taller.

In addition to the veterans returning at forward, the Gophers have added three forwards including Northeastern University transfer Mike Szmatula who is eligible after sitting out last season. Rem Pitlick is a third round pick of the Nashville Predators and amassed 46 goals and 43 assists for 89 points in the USHL last season. Forward/Defenseman, Luke Notermann is the son of former SCSU player Mike Notermann.

The Gophers will be relying on veteran Eric Schierhorn to carry the load in goal. He’s the defending Big Ten goaltender of the year and played in 37 games and won 20 of those contests. He finished the 2015-16 season with a 2.68 GAA and .906 SV%.

ST. CLOUD STATE UNIVERSITY HUSKIES

The Huskies return a deep and talented  defensive corp including junior, Nathan Widman and sophomores Jimmy Schuldt, Will Borgen and Jon Lizotte. All  were outstanding in 2015-16. Senior, Niklas Nevalainen was a key defensive and offensive component to this unit with 23 points in 38 games and a +18 ranking. The unit allowed 2.13 GPG and were ranked 10th nationally in team defense. First-year defenseman, Jimmy Schuldt and Will Borgen were both named to the NCHC All-Rookie Team. Add to this unit first round Detroit Red Wings draft choice Dennis Cholowski and USHL Defenseman of the Year Jack Ahcan and you have perhaps the deepest defensive unit in all of college hockey. Rounding out the unit is Clark Kuster with his 100 MPH slap shot and former Finnish World Junior player Mika Ilvonen and it’s an embarrassment of riches at the position.

At forward lost to graduation are four senior forwards (Benik, Morley, Murray and Kossila)  who combined for 178 points in 2015-16. Add to that the loss of junior to be Patrick Russell who signed with Edmonton of the NHL and the number of points lost grows to 219. That’s a lot of ground to make up with the responsibility falling primarily on junior forwards Judd Peterson and  Blake Winiecki who combined for 28 goals and 19 assists last season and a strong group of sophomores including Mikey Eyssimont, Robby Jackson, Jacob Benson, and Patrick Newell who combined for 35 goals and 49 assists. Senior Ryan Papa had an injury-riddled 2015-16 but is a proven scorer and it is hoped fellow seniors Ben Storm and Daniel Tedesco step forward offensively as well. And, even though the brothers Poehling have outstanding chemistry with a history of strong offensive production, it may not surface until the second half of the season as typically is the case with first-year players. The same goes for Jake Wahlin, another first-year forward.

With the signature on an entry-level contract by junior Charlie Lindgren following the 2015-16 season, the goaltending for this season went from a position of strength to that of an unknown quantity. It’s true that sophomores David Zednik and UMass-Lowell transfer Jeff Smith and Freshman Zach Driscoll have yet to pay a single collegiate minute for the SCSU Huskies. However, transfer Smith did play eight games with the UMass-Lowell Riverhawks in 2014-15. Both Driscoll and Zednik have good resumes, however both have yet to see Division I regular season game action.

Both Smith and Driscoll shared duties last weekend in Mankato and combined for a .82 SV%. Both need to improve their performances.

GAME PROSPECTUS

The Huskies face a formidable opponent this weekend vs the #7 Gophers. Coach Motzko called the Gophers “a much improved team with more depth offensively” and a much better version of the team they swept last season at Mariucci Arena in November. The Gophers 2016-17 squad features a speedier, more potent offense with more depth at defense and an experienced goaltender. The Huskies team defense will be tested vs the Gophers and needs much improved play if they are to contain the Gophers offense. The SCSU goaltenders combined for a .82 SV% last weekend vs MSU and Motzko commented ” they have to go back to work.Their rebound control needs to improve and film showed us areas they need to work on.”  The Mavericks repeatedly got behind the Huskies defense and both the forwards and defensemen need to tighten up their defensive assignments. The Mavericks also scored three goals off faceoffs and Motzko stated that’s an area for improvement. Upperclassmen scored all four goals in last Saturday’s contest and that leadership is a key to the Huskies success this weekend. Junior Blake Winiecki who was 1-1-2 last weekend commented “we need to get more bodies and pucks to the net.”

The Gophers are currently being led on offense by sophomore Tyler Sheehy (2-3-5). sophomore Brent Gates (0-3-0), senior Jake Bischoff 2-1-3 and freshman Ryan Zuhlsdorf (2-1-3). This is homecoming weekend at the U of MN and it seems that the Gopher faithful are back on board with this team. There should be enthusiastic crowds at both venues this weekend and It’s imperative the Huskies limit a fast start to the Gophers offense on Friday at Mariucci. However, unless the Huskies can find stronger play out of their goaltenders and defensive zone play, this could be a long weekend for SCSU.

As always, all the pertinent links for this weekends games can be found here

Scan_Pic0001_2

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.