#2 St. Cloud State University Huskies (7-2-0 | 2-2-0 NCHC) vs Colorado College Tigers (7-5-0 | 3-3-0 NCHC)
TV: SCSU Sports Network (Both Nights) Spectrum 426 | 823
Live Stats: SCSU Athletics
Live Stream: NCHC.TV($)
Tickets: SCSU Athletics
Where: Herb Brooks National Hockey Center – St. Cloud, MN
When: Friday, November 17 – 7:37 PM CT | Saturday, November 18 – 7:07 PM CT
Last Time Out:
The Tigers hosted Omaha on Nov. 11 and fell by a 5-3 score. They were unable to maintain a two-goal lead as the Mavericks scored four consecutive goals in period two (3 on the power play). The telling statistic for the game was the Mavericks success on the power play – 4 for 6. Trey Bradley scored twice for the Tigers and both Mason Bergh and Nick Halloran had two assists in the game. Alex Leclerc stopped 33/38 shots on goal in the loss.
In the Saturday rematch, the Tigers responded with a solid 4-0 win despite being outshot 41-22. In contrast to the Friday contest, the Tiger were 2/5 on the man-advantage while Omaha was 0 for 4. Mason Bergh had a goal and two assists and Nick Halloran was 1-1-2. Alex Leclerc stopped all 41 shots that went his way.
The Huskies had a weekend to forget getting swept by then #3 Denver Pioneers by scores on 4-2 and 5-1. On Friday, Denver persevered getting two goals each from Henrik Borgstrom and Jarid Lukosevicius to nail down a 4-2 win. SCSU outshot Denver 34-29 but the Husky power play did not click going 1 for 6 while Denver was 1 for 2. Jeff Smith stopped 25/38 shots on goal in suffering his first loss of the season. SCSU goals were by Blake Winiecki and Mika Ilvonen, his first career goal.
On Saturday, three consecutive second period goals by Denver put the stake in the Huskies as they fell 5-1 to the Pioneers. In a penalty filled game, the Huskies struggled on the power play going 0/6 while Denver was 3/8. Kevin Fitzgerald scored the lone SCSU goal and David Hrenak took the loss stopping 37/42 shots on goal.
Last Time They Met:
The Huskies and Tigers last met in St. Cloud on March 3 and 4, 2017. SCSU earned a solid 5-2 win on Friday . After falling behind 2-1 in period one, SCSU scored the next 4 goals in the win. Jack Poehling scored the GWG for SCSU and Jeff Smith stopped 30/34 SOG. In the rematch on Saturday, the Tigers rebounded with a strong effort defeating the Huskies 2-1. St. Cloud native Matt Hansen scored the GWG on the power play in period one. Jeff Smith stopped 18/20 SOG in the loss.
The Huskies lead the all-time series with the Tigers 45-41-6. In the last five games SCSU is 4-1 and in the last ten 8-2. In the last 10 games in St. Cloud the Huskies have 5-4-1 advantage.
Scouting the Colorado College Tigers:
After compiling a 20-79-8 record over the previous three seasons, the Tigers appear to have turned the corner with seven wins and in the unusual position of first place in the early NCHC standings. It’s taken several years of recruiting but it appears coach Mike Haviland has finally assembled the right mix of players to fit his coaching style. With road wins thus far vs Vermont, New Hampshire and Miami and wins at home vs North Dakota and Omaha they are starting to turn heads. With nine Juniors but not a single senior on the roster, the Tigers do have a group of experienced upperclassmen that have suffered through several years of losing and are intent on turning that around. In particular, forwards Trey Bradley and Mason Bergh and defenseman Cole McCaskill are all seasoned top-flight players that are leading the Tiger success thus far. The Tigers are finally getting some offense and sophomore Nick Halloran, Mason Bergh and Trey Bradley have combined for 16 goals, 29 assists and 45 points already. Undersized forwards Westin Michaud (Cloquet, MN) and Christiano Versich (Kelly, Lake, MN) are two Minnesotans that can also chip in to the offense.
The Tigers have found stability in their goaltending with sophomore Alex Leclerc who has started all 12 games for the Tigers and posted solid yet not spectacular numbers of 2.59 GAA and .916 SV%.
Junior, Mason Bergh of Eden Prairie, MN is one of college hockey’s top forwards and is currently tied for 7th on the national scoring chart and tied for 5th in goal scoring. He was also recently named NCHC Offensive Player of the Week for his five point performance vs Omaha last weekend.
Nationally, the Tigers have mixed results.They are 27th in offense scoring 2.92 GPG while allowing 2.67 GPG – not much of a margin. On special teams they’ve struggled with a power play at 15.49% (46th) and penalty kill at 75.5% (51st). They are mid-pack incurring an average of 12.58 penalty minutes per game.
Scouting the SCSU Huskies:
The Huskies received a wake up call from now top ranked Denver being swept on the road 4-2 and 5-1 in Colorado last weekend. Entering the series ranked first in offense nationally at 4.71 GPG and 6th in Defense at 1.86 GPG they fell well short scoring three goals and allowing nine goals over the weekend. On special teams, the Huskies entered the series at 32.35% on the PP and 86.7% on the PK. The power play was ineffective going 1/11 (9%) and the penalty kill not up to standard allowing 4/10 (40%). Also, uncharacteristically for the Huskies, they were whistled 12 times for 38 minutes including two major penalties on Saturday.
There were few offensive bright spots for SCSU with the exception of Mika Ilvonens first career goal on Friday and a goal by Blake Winiecki who seems to be emerging from his early season scoring slump. Kevin Fitzgerald added the lone goal on Saturday.
The Huskies return home this weekend attempting get their offense back on track including their power play and to renew their commitment to stay out of the penalty box.
Jimmy Schuldt continues to lead the offense with 5-8-13 and +10. Buoyed by Schuldt’s plus/minus the defense as a whole is still +18 for the season and only one defenseman in a minus. Robby Jackson who has started the season strong leads the forwards in scoring with 4-8-12 and +6. Ryan Poehling rounds out the top three in scoring with 3-7-10 and +5. No doubt the biggest surprise thus far has been the play of first-year forward Kevin Fitzgerald who has been elevated to the Huskies top line and is seeing substantial special teams play. He currently has 3 goals and 3 assists and is plus 4.
The SCSU goaltending came back down to earth last weekend yielding eight goals. Currently Jeff Smith has a 2.21 GAA and .923 SV% and David Hrenak has a 2.48 GAA and .925 SV%.
Nationally, the Huskies have dipped with the offense 3rd at 4.00 GPG and defense 13th allowing 2.44 GPG. The difficulties on the man-advantage last weekend dropped the PP from over 30% to 26.67% – good for 8th nationally. The penalty kill also nose dived them to 26th at 80%. Undisciplined play has the Huskies currently ranked 31st in the country in penalty minutes per game at 12.56.
The Huskies will receive a significant challenge from the Tigers this weekend. They’ve had success on the road thus far this season and have had success in St. Cloud winning 4 of the last 10 games. They have some legitimate goal scorers in Mason Bergh, Trey Bradley and Nick Halloran and a quality goaltender in Alex Leclerc. Special teams have been a weakness for Colorado College and the Huskies will need to take advantage of that if given the opportunity. The Huskies need to get back to more disciplined play and stay out of the penalty box. They’ve incurred 29 penalties for 75 minutes or an average of 8 minutes per game in the last four games. The Tigers have struggled in the face-off circle and that could lead to some SCSU opportunities particularly on the man-advantage.
Several Minnesota players on the Colorado College roster will look to make an impact this weekend including Mason Bergh, Westin Michaud and Christiano Versich. Alex Leclerc has logged all the minutes for the Tigers thus far and if the Huskies can solve him on Friday it could put the Tigers in a quandary for the Saturday rematch.
The Huskies have more depth at every position and they need to use that to their advantage. However, SCSU needs to see more scoring from some of their depth players. Expect to see the usual rotation of Smith on Friday and Hrenak on Saturday. That appears to be the rotation for the forseeable future.
The power play needs to get back on track after going 1/11 last weekend.