Huskies to Host MSU Mankato on Hockey Day Minnesota

(Photo Prout)

St. Cloud, MN- The #3 ranked SCSU Huskies return to the ice this Saturday in their final non-conference game of the season. This is the tail end of a two-game home and home series with the #9 ranked MSU Mankato Mavericks.  The earlier contest to open the season in October had the Huskies winning  4-0 on the Mavericks home ice. This game is part of  Hockey Day Minnesota taking part in St. Cloud on January 19th and 20th.

#3 St. Cloud State University Huskies (14-4-3 | 8-3-1 NCHC) vs #9 Minnesota State University Mankato Mavericks  (17-7-0 | 15-5-0 WCHA)

TV: SCSU Sports Network | Charter (426/823)
Live Stats: SCSU Athletics
Live Stream: NCHC.TV$
Radio: 96.7 FM The River | 88.1 KVSC
Tickets: SCSU Ticket Office
Where: Herb Brooks National Hockey Center-St. Cloud
When: Saturday, Jan. 20 – 5:07 PM CT
Minnesota State University Mankato Weekly Release
SCSU Hockey Weekly Release

HEAD TO HEAD

The Huskies lead the all-time series at the Division I level 29-17-7. In the last 20 games, SCSU has a 11-6-3 record vs the Mavericks. In the last 10 SCSU is 8-2-0. In the last five 3-2-0. SCSU has won the last six contests on home ice and is 9-3-2 in the last 14 games on home ice vs the Mavericks.

LAST TIME OUT

The Mavericks just returned from what can be a very taxing road trip to Alaska facing the University of Alaska (Fairbanks) in a conference series last weekend (and Alaska Anchorage the weekend before). Call it jet lag or simply a poor outing for the league leading Mavericks as they were routed 5-0 by the Nanooks in the Friday opener. Connor LaCouvee and Jason Pawlowski combined to stop 21 of 26 SOG in the loss. Obviously fired up after the embarrassing set back on Friday the Mavericks outshot Alaska 36-17 in the rematch in a 5-1 victory. Alaska opened the scoring in the game but Mankato then proceeded to score five straight goals including two by Brad McClure in the win. Connor LaCouvee stopped 16 of 17 SOG in the wn.

The Huskies meanwhile, faced a strong Western Michigan University squad that was looking to gain ground on the Huskies in the NCHC standings. In a topsy-turvy game on Friday, the Huskies jumped out to a seemingly comfortable 3-1 lead after one period that suddenly collapsed as #12 Western Michigan University rallied for four goals in period two en route to a 7-5 win. In a penalty-filled affair, the two teams combined for 17 penalties for 37 minutes in a game bordering on chippy at times. Give credit to the Broncos, they played a physical high-energy game matching the Huskies speed and showed why they have one of the top-ranked offenses in college hockey. In the rematch, Easton Brodzinski scored the game-winning goal with 4:28 remaining in regulation to allow the Huskies to salvage a split with the Broncos. SCSU outshot the Broncos 40-16 and used a little more discipline in earning this crucial league win over third place WMU. The win allowed the Huskies to maintain a four-point lead over WMU and three points over North Dakota in the NCHC standings. All three teams have played an equal number of league games.

SCOUTING THE MINNESOTA STATE UNIVERSITY MAVERICKS

The 9th 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 are 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.

Currently senior C J Suess leads the squad in scoring with 13 goals, 17 assists and 30 points. Senior Zeb Knutson (8-18-26), Freshman Jake Jaremko (7-17-24) and Marc Michaelis (10-13-23) are all potent scorers for the Mavericks. On Defense Daniel Brickley is having an outstanding season and leads the unit with 7 goals, 14 assists for 21 points and +5 rating. Ian Scheid provides further offensive support with 7-14-21 and +5.

Goaltending has had shared duties with senior Connor LaCouvee and  Jason Pawloski. Boston University transfer LaCouvee has risen to the challenge with a 11-3-0 record, 1.90 GAA (5th nationally) and .909 SV%. Pawloski is 6-4-0 with a 2.56 GAA and .895 SV%.

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.

Nationally, the Mavericks statistics are as follows:

Offense: 3.79 GPG (3rd)
Defense: 2.29 GAPG (8th)
Power Play: 27.95% (4th)
Penalty Kill: 85.45 (8th)
Penalty Minutes: 15.00 (8th)

SCOUTING THE ST. CLOUD STATE UNIVERSITY HUSKIES

The Huskies had a nine-game unbeaten streak snapped by the Gophers on January 7 and then added to that another loss 7-5 to the WMU Broncos in their next game. The team is 2-2-0 in their last four games and 5-2-3 in their last 10 games raising a concern about their ability lately to put teams away. Games against Princeton, the University of Minnesota and Western Michigan found their opponents blocking a high number of shots leading one to believe the Huskies need to be stronger in the goal mouth area and pick up some dirty goals. Otherwise, most metrics show the Huskies outshooting their opponents, outscoring them in the third period and winning the face-off battles. Special teams continue to be ranked high nationally and the Huskies are converting nearly 24% of their man-advantage opportunities while turning away 80% of their opponents. The penalty kill has dipped to #33 nationally.  However, the power play was quite ineffective this past weekend vs WMU converting only 3 of 16 opportunities (18%) and failing to capitalize on several extended power plays at key moments in the series. Going back to the Minnesota series, the Huskies have only converted  4 of 24 for a 16% success ratio. Not good and that must improve. Discipline was a huge problem in the Friday loss to WMU with the Huskies taking seven penalties for 17 minutes.

The Huskies well-balanced scoring attack with 19 of the 22 rostered players (excluding goaltenders) having scored at least one goal has them ranked second on the national chart for offense. It’s this depth that makes the Huskies interchangeable offense (33 different line combinations used this season) difficult to deal with particularly late in the game as the line depth tends to wear teams down. This is evidenced by SCSU outscoring their opponents in the third period by a wide margin (37-20)  and having a perfect 9-0-0 record when leading after two periods.

Junior defenseman Jimmy Schuldt continues to lead the Huskies defense with 23 points and eight multi-point games. He also has 2 GWG and 4 PPG and is +18. Schuldt leads all NCAA blueliners with a scoring average of 1.09 points per game. At the forward position, Mikey Eyssimont is beginning to heat up his offensive play and has moved into the team lead points with 24 and is tied with Robby Jackson  in goal scoring with 9 goals has a +8 rating. Robby Jackson is close behind with 9-14-23. Jacob Benson, Jimmy Schuldt and Blake Winiecki are tied for power play goals with four each. First-year forward Easton Brodzinski is continuing to show his scoring touch with eight goals to lead all first-year players. In the last 11 games he has 6 goals and 5 assists for 11 points. First-year forward Kevin Fitzgerald has been outstanding both offensively and defensively and leads the rookies in scoring with 4-8-12 and a +4 rating.

Defensively, again, the Huskies are led by team captain Jimmy Schuldt and his outstanding play on both ends of the rink. Schuldt has propped up the defensive units plus/minus with his impressive +18 while the unit as a whole is +47. Will Borgen has certainly ratcheted up his game with 10 points and a +7 rating and provides a physical element that causes the opponent to lose focus on the game. Borgen was recently named to the roster of the 2018 USA Olympic hockey team. First-year defenseman Luke Jaycox is fully entrenched in the defensive unit and has been one of their most consistent and reliable players and is +6. Jon Lizotte is 2-7-9 and has an outstanding plus.minus of +12. First-year goaltender, David Hrenak has quietly emerged a s a key component of the goalie rotation. Hrenak is currently ranked second nationally in save percentage at 95.2% and third in GAA at 1.53. Jeff Smith is currently ranked 21st in save percentage at 91.8% and 2.40 and 21st in GAA at 2.40.

Nationally, the Huskies statistics are as follows:.

Offense: 3.95 GPG (2nd)
Defense: 2.38 GPG (11th)
Power Play: 23.81% (7th)
Penalty Kill: 80.72 (33rd)
Penalty Minutes: 11.52 (32nd)

 

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. 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 at 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 if the Mavericks go with senior Connor LaCouvee who has emerged as an outstanding goaltender following his transfer fom Boston University. The Huskies may counter with David Hrenak who also has emerged quickly as the contender for the lead goaltender for SCSU. SCSU may have a slight edge in depth at forward and at defense. St. Cloud will have the home ice advantage having won the last six contests on home ice. Disciplined play will be at a premium for the Huskies who were plagued by penalties in the 7-5 loss to WMU last Friday. SCSU was the least penalized team in college hockey last season and are far from it thus far this season. Mankato has had issues in the penalty department as well-as the 8th most penalized team in college hockey serving up 15 minutes of penalties per game.

Statistically Mankato is solid across the board and particularly so on the power play 27.59% and penalty kill at 85.45 %. This will be a different match-up from the early season game won by the Huskies 4-0. In the earlier meeting MSU had total shot attempts of 79 vs the Huskies 43. It was the Huskies that were called on to block shots by a 20-10 margin. The one advantage for the Huskies is that they may be the fresher team being that Mankato has just returned from the long trip to Alaska having spent two weeks playing both Alaska schools.

If the Huskies can stay out of a disruptive penalty-filled game and play 5X5 and utilize the full depth of their lineup they should be able to compete effectively against the Mavericks. If they spend much time in the penalty box the Mavericks can certainly take advantage with their power play converting at almost 28%.

I any case, these are two high quality teams with bragging rights and Pairwise points on the line and in a one-game series both squads needs to be on the top of their game. The Mavericks are the more physical team and if they get into penalty problems the Huskies could take advantage. However, the Huskies need to be more disciplined themselves or that will be a moot issue. There is no predictable outcome to this single game weekend.

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

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

 

 

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