Huskies to Face Mavericks in Key Season Opener

The Mavericks upended SCSU twice last October (Photo Prout)

#6/9 SCSU HUSKIES VS #15/18 MSU MAVERICKS

The #6/9 ranked St. Cloud State University Huskies (0-0-0 | 0-0-0 ) open the 2017-18 regular season with a road trip to #15/18 Minnesota State University Mankato ( 0-0-0 | 0-0-0) at the Verizon Wireless Center in Mankato, MN on Saturday, October 7. Game time is at 7:07 PM CT. Tickets are available through  Ticketmaster.

The weekend series will be broadcast on Mav TV Charter Spectrum Channels 191 and 826.

The game will also be streamed on WCHA.TV

The audio broadcast of both games can be heard on REV 96.9 FM with the broadcast team of Jim Erickson and Dave Reichel.

HEAD TO HEAD

The Huskies lead the all-time series at the Division I level 28-17-7. In the last 20 games, SCSU has a 10-7-3 record vs the Mavericks. SCSU is 1-4-1 in the last six outings in Mankato going back to the 2006-07 season. SCSU was swept in Mankato last season in the only two meetings between the squads (4-1 | 6-4).

LAST SERIES

The Mavericks duplicated the SCSU effort shutting down the University of Regina by an 8-0 score on Sunday, October 1.  Also, much like the Huskies, rookies played a key role with top recruit and forward Jake Jaremko scoring twice, defenseman, Riese Zmolek adding a goal and an assist, Walker Duehr with a goal and defenseman Connor Mackay adding three assists. MSU jumped out to a 2-0 first period lead then added five unanswered goals in period two and a single goal in the final period for an 8-0 win. The Mavericks outshot Regina 44-25 in the game.

The Huskies also defeated Regina 8-0 outshooting the Cougars 53-25. First-year players Blake Lizotte (3-0-3) and Easton Brodzinski (1-2-3) made an impact in their first game for the Huskies combining for six points. The Huskies scored three times in the first period, added four goals in the second and a single goal in the third for an 8-0 win. All three SCSU goaltenders, Jeff Smith, David Hrenak and David Zevnik combined for the shut out. Other SCSU players with multiple points included Jack Poehling (1-2-3), Nick Poehling (0-2-2), Patrick Newell (1-2-3), Robby Jackson (1-1-2), Jimmy Schuldt (0-2-2) and Blake Winiecki (1-2-3).

MINNESOTA STATE UNIVERSITY MAVERICKS

The 15th ranked Mavericks were the top choice by both the coaches and media in the WCHA preseason polls. MSU defenseman, Daniel Brickley and forward Marc Michaelis were voted preseason co-players of the year in the WCHA. First-year forward Jake Jaremko was tabbed as preseason Rookie of the Year. Forward C. J. Suess was also recognized on the WCHA second team.

The Mavericks return a great deal of experience and depth after a 22-13-4 overall record in 2016-17. With 12 upperclassmen and 250 returning points from 2016-17 the Mavericks should be a formidable squad and a serious NCAA contender this season. The top six scorers return from last season and they combined for 175 points or 70% of the team’s total points last season. Forward Michaelis led the way with 14-22-36. C. J. Suess (12-19-31), Daniel Brickley (8-23-31), Brad McClure (14-14-28), Zeb Knutson (15-10-25) and Ian Scheid (8-16-24) make up this group of returnees.

Goaltending should be solid with returnees with junior, Jason Pawloski (2.29 | .920), senior, Aaron Nelson (2.53 | .898) and graduate transfer from Boston University Connor LaCouvee.

On defense, junior All-American, Daniel Brickley has been tabbed as one of the top defenseman in college hockey and will lead a solid core of defenseman including returnees Clint Lewis and Ian Scheid.

The Mavericks feature two players with ties to the St. Cloud State University program. Second-year forward Josh French’s father Monte skated for the Huskies for two seasons from 1985 to 1987 before transferring to Ferris State and was a teammate of current MSU coach Mike Hastings. Sophomore forward Parker Tuomie’s father Tray was also a teammate of MSU coach Mike Hastings during the 1986-87 season before transferring to the University of Wisconsin.

MSU head coach MIke Hastings is a 1993 graduate of St. Cloud State University.

ST. CLOUD STATE UNIVERSITY HUSKIES

Experience, depth and improved goaltending should lead the Huskies to success in 2017-18. The Huskies were picked to finish 2nd in the tough NCHC conference in the preseason coaches poll. In particular, the junior class consisting of eight returning players will be expected to carry a heavy load both on offense and defense.

With a great deal of depth and experience at defense this will be a position of strength for the Huskies and one of the top units in college hockey. Led by junior and captain, Jimmy Schuldt, a preseason NCHC All-Conference team pick, the Huskies will have an impressive top four unit averaging close to 33 games last season. This unit also contributed well to the offense adding 19 goals and 43 assists for 62 points last season. Sophomore Jack Ahcan was named to the All-NCHC Rookie team and led the defense with 5 goals and 16 assists for 21 points. The unit is rounded out by junior Will Borgen, a Buffalo Sabres draft pick (2-10-12) and junior Jon Lizotte(4-6-10) who continues to play at a high level. Veteran players Clark Kuster and Mika Ilvonen both took a red-shirt year in 2016-17 but look to insert themselves into the lineup this season.The unit will also be pushed by newcomers, Tyler Anderson (Winnipeg, Manitoba) and  Lucas Jaycox (Warroad, MN). Both of these players should see time in the defensive rotation this season.

There is a lot of excitement at forward with the return of six upper classmen (4 juniors | 2 seniors) to provide leadership and experience to this squad. Seniors Judd Peterson and Blake Winiecki are proven goal scorers and combined for 23 goals in 2016-17. However, Judd Peterson was hampered by a bad hip which has been repaired in the off-season and he should be primed for a stellar senior campaign. The junior class consisting of Jacob Benson, Mikey Eyssimont, Robby Jackson and Patrick Newell have been lineup regulars since they were freshman and are expected to have a huge impact this season. This group of juniors contributed 37 goals and 96 points last season and the numbers can only go up this season. Sophomores Ryan Poehling, Nick Poehling and Jack Poehling were an impressive group of brothers last season, got stronger and gained more confidence as the season wore on and combined for 15 goals and 36 points. Ryan Poehling, still just an 18 year-old was a first round draft choice of the Montreal Canadians and is certain to be a member of the Team USA World Junior team this winter. Add to this group sophomore Jake Wahlin (6-6-12) and you have a highly effective sophomore class that will contribute more to the offense this season.

An intriguing group of junior hockey veterans and rookies round out the group of forwards.  Easton Brodzinski (Blaine, MN) carries on the legacy of the Brodzinski family at SCSU following in the footsteps of his father Mike who was a prolific scorer for the Huskies from 1984 to 1987 compiling 146 points and brother Jonny, who netted 64 goals and added 48 assists for 112 points in just three seasons from 2012 to 2015. Blake Lizotte (Chisago Lakes, MN) was one of the top offensive stars in the USHL last season  finishing second in the USHL in scoring with 65 points (19G, 46A) and in 56 games. His 46 assists also ranked second in the league, and he was fifth among all players with an average of 1.16 points/game. The Huskies have bolstered their depth at forward with the addition of veteran NAHL forward Kevin FitzgeraldThe 6′ 180 pound left-shooting forward from Hinsdale, IL most recently played for the Aberdeen Wings of the North American Junior Hockey League. Fitzgerald led the Wings in scoring with 22 goals and 37 assists for 59 points in 60 games. SCSU added a big body and seasoned junior hockey player in St. Cloud native Will Hammer.The St. Cloud Cathedral graduate put in three years and 169 games in the NAHL between the Aberdeen Wings and Minnesota Magicians prior to committing to the Huskies. The 20-year-old should assume his role as a big, strong forward that can help the Huskies offense and should immediately see some ice time for the Huskies in 2017-18.

There’s been a shake-up in the goaltender position since last season. 2016-17 part-time starter Zach Driscoll has opted to return to junior hockey for another season leaving juniors Jeff Smith and David Zevnik and newcomer David Hrenak to battle for playing time. With a year under his belt and nearly 1500 minutes of playing time in 2016-17 Jeff Smith should have the inside track as the #1 goaltender to start the season. His final numbers in 2016-17 included a 10-13-0 record, 2.77 GAA and .905 SV%. Numbers that will need to be improved upon if the Huskies are to have success this season. The Huskies solidified their goaltending position with the addition of David Hrenak, a 19 year-old from Povazska, Bystrica, Solvakia. Hrenak was a teammate of fellow recruit, Easton Brodzinski with the  Green Bay Gamblers of the United States Hockey League (USHL).  In 33 games he was 15-14-1 with a 2.24 GAA and .923 SV% including four shutouts. He should provide strong competition to Smith at the goaltender position. David Zevnik will remain the third goaltender and provide added depth to the position.

GAME PROSPECTUS

This game features two teams expected to battle for a top position in their respective leagues this season. Both teams feature experience and depth at all positions and both will be contenders for NCAA berths by seasons end. It’s also an intriguing matchup between coaches that are alumns of SCSU. As was the case last year, the SCSU defense will be tested by the quality and skilled forwards of the Mavericks. A number of outstanding first-year players will be featured in this game and the goaltenders will certainly be tested. Line matchups and depth may dictate the outcome of this contest as will the efforts of the goaltenders as both ends of the ice. Special teams may very well dictate the results of this one.

I don’t see an edge on either team in the goaltending department. SCSU may have a slight edge in depth at forward and at defense. Mankato will have the home ice advantage. Disciplined play will be at a premium. SCSU was the least penalized team in college hockey last season. Mankato was 36th out of 60. Physically, both teams are nearly identical.

The Huskies have always seemed to have difficulties on Mankato’s home ice and are only 1-4-1 in their last six games at the Verizon Center going back to the 2006-07 season.  There should be a large crowd at the Verizon Wireless Center for this contest between two Minnesota State Colleges and Universities sister schools and the Mavericks will be gunning to knock off the higher-ranked Huskies.

This is one of the top matchups in college hockey this weekend and I’d encourage you to make the trip to Mankato to see this one in person.

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

10/7/2017 Update: 

This will be a quick road trip for the Huskies departing St. Cloud at 2:30 PM for Mankato and returning to St. Cloud immediately following the game. 

As far as the starting lineup goes, expect Jeff Smith to start in goal and a veteran lineup at defense including Schuldt, Ahcan, Borgen, Lizotte and Kuster and Ilvonen. At forward we could see the following lines (not in any particular order}:

Poehling – Peterson -Poehling

Jackson – R Poehling – Benson

Winiecki – Lizotte – Newell

Brodzinski – Fitzgerald – Wahlin

Junior forward Mikey Eyssimont will not be in the lineup tonight for SCSU. 

 

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