St. Cloud, MN – The #2 ranked Huskies pack their bags for their third extended road trip of the early season as they head to Colorado Springs, CO to face the Tigers in both squads NCHC series opener. Granted, the Huskies have not lost a game in the ‘Springs since 2013 and have sixteen wins in the last twenty games but after five years of rebuilding this is a different Colorado College squad. With greatly improved talent, experience and a winning mindset the Huskies are sure to have a formidable challenge ahead of them. One of the top road venues for Husky fans, the weekend should see plenty of sunshine and a beautiful locale for a weekend hockey trip.
#2 St. Cloud State University Huskies (5-1-0 | 0-0-0 NCHC) vs #NR Colorado College Tigers (4-1-1 | 0-0-0 NCHC)
Live Stats: Colorado College Athletics
Live Stream: NCHC.tv ($)
Live Audio Stream: TUNEIN RADIO
Radio: 96.7 FM (St. Cloud)
Tickets: Colorado College Ticket Site
Where: Broadmoor World Arena | Colorado Springs, CO
When: Friday, November 2 – 8:30 PM CT | Saturday, November 3 – 7:00 PM CT
Last Time Out:
Sam Hentges had a career game vs Boston College last Thursday. A goal in each period provided the first-year forward with a hat trick and propelled the #2 ranked Huskies to a 7-0 blowout win over Hockey East’s Boston College Eagles. Not to be overshadowed by the Hentges hat trick, fellow first-year forward Nolan Walker netted two goals giving the freshman 5 of the 7 goals in the contest. And, sophomore goaltender David Hrenak stopped all 32 SOG as the Huskies improved to 5-0-0 to start the 2018-19 season.
On Saturday vs the #12 ranked Northeastern Huskies, the SCSU Huskies forged a 2-0 lead early in the second period and it appeared they were on their way to their sixth win of the season. Northeastern had other designs for the outcome in front of their home crowd. Outshooting SCSU by a 15-10 margin in the second period, they scored a late period goal and leveraged that momentum into the third scoring two more times en-route to a 3-2 comeback win over the #2 ranked Huskies.
The Tigers faced the New Hampshire Wildcats Oct. 19-20, at home. On Friday, Alex Leclerc had a season-high 39 saves, including 16 in a wild third period, as the two teams skated to a 3-3 draw. Alex Berardinelli scored his team-high fifth goal of the season in the third period. On Saturday, Trey Bradley collected a goal and two assists and CC scored all four goals in the first period to extend their unbeaten streak to four games with a 4-2 victory.
Head to Head
The all-time series between these two squads is knotted at 48-48-1. However, the Huskies have won 16 of the last 20 games and have not lost at the World Arena since 2013 when they were edged by a 4-3 score.
Scouting the Colorado College Tigers:
This is the 80th season of collegiate hockey at Colorado College. After a few lean years, the rebuilding process by Mike Haviland is finally starting to take form. Their current 4-1-1 start is their best since a 5-1-0 record to start the 2011-12 season. This start includes a 10-goal rampage vs UAA in their season opener.
The Tigers return 98% of their scoring from last season including the trio of Mason Bergh, Trey Bradley and Nick Halloran that produced 116 points (44g,72a) and is the NCHC’s most productive returning line. Halloran was named to the pre-season All-NCHC team. Junior Alex Berardinelli currently leads the squad in points with 5-1-6 in 6 games. This includes to short-handed goals on the same shift vs UNH. Others that can bury the puck are Westin Michaud (3-3-6), Grant Cruikshank (2-4-6) and NHL draft choice Chris Wilkie (3-2-5). Mason Bergh is one of 15 nominees for the 2018-19 Senior CLASS Award.
On defense, the team is led by seniors Ben Israel (+3) and Andrew Farney (+4) and junior Kristian Blumenschein (+1). Freshman, Bryan Yoon has impressed the coaching staff.
Goaltender Alex Leclerc is in his third year and is a constant in goal for the Tigers. He was named the NCHC Goaltender of the Week for his efforts bs UNH stopping 66 shots on goal for the two-game series. Currently he is 4-0-1 with a sparkling 1.68 GAA and a .938 SV%.
Senior Tanner Oaky summed things up “There’s a lot more competition now in practice. If you’re not playing to our system and playing hard, you’re out, and a new guy comes in.”
The team has 5 Minnesotans and 4 Colorado natives on their roster.
Team Offense: 4.50 (t-5th)
Team Defense: 2.17 (14th)
Power Play: 18.92% (32nd)
Penalty Kill: 83.33 (26th)
Penallty Minutes (APG): 6.67 (57th)
Scouting the SCSU Huskies:
Experience, depth and strong goaltending is leading to the Huskies torrid start to the 2018-19 season. The Huskies were picked to finish 2nd in the tough NCHC conference in the preseason coaches poll. Their battle begins this weekend in conference play vs Colorado College.
With a great deal of depth and experience at defense they’ve proven thus far that this is a position of strength for the Huskies and one of the top units in college hockey. Currently the third-ranked defense in college hockey allowing only 1.33 goals per game they are more than getting the job done. All of the regulars are on the plus side of the +/-. Led by All-American senior, Hobey Baker finalist, pre-season All, NCHC pick and captain, Jimmy Schuldt, Jon Lizotte, a four year player and alternate captain and talented puck mover Jack Ahcan, currently leading the team in points and tied for 8th on the national scoring charts, this diverse unit of defenders is one of the top threesomes in college hockey. Add to the group, sophomore, Luke Jaycox and a talented group of newcomers – Brendan Bushy (+3) , NHL draft choice Nick Perbix (+7) and local native Spencer Meier (+2) and you have one of the most talent-laden defensive units in college hockey. Unfortunately, sophomore, Tyler Anderson, another solid contributor sustained an upper body injury vs Mount Royal and may be out for another seven weeks. There will be lots of competition for playing time and all will be shuffled into the lineup. This is a deep, deep unit and the envy of coaches around the league.
The Huskies are blessed with a lot of depth at forward and seniors Robby Jackson, Patrick Newell and Jacob Benson have experienced loads of success during their time at SCSU. They’ve experienced a Frozen Faceoff Championship, a Penrose Cup and have been a part of two NCAA tournament squads. Pre-season all-league NCHC pick Robby Jackson, a 21 year-old senior led the Huskies in scoring in 2017-18 and currently is 3rd in team points with 2-4-6 in 5 games. Not just an offensive player, Jackson has a solid work ethic and his defensive game has blossomed as well. Jackson will join the 100 point club this season. Senior Patrick Newell is an experienced forward being counted on to be a leader this season. Skilled and tough along the boards for his size he’s finally filling out physically which will certainly help his game this season. He currently leads the forwards with 4 goals and 9 points. Senior Jacob Benson was named alternate captain and he too has started the season well with 2 goals and four points in six games.
Finishing 4th on the team scoring chart last season, Montreal Canadiens first-rounder Ryan Poehling is primed for a break out season. He has 5 points in six games and a shooting percentage of 25%. The Poehling twins, Jack and Nick are a coaches dream with a work ethic through the roof. Sophomore Blake Lizotte made the NCHC All-Rookie team last season and is quickly becoming one of the most exciting forwards in college hockey. Another player with tons of talent and a motor that won’t quit he’ll be a scoring leader for the Huskies this season. He is currently on a point a game pace. Easton Brodzinski is another member of the 2017-18 NCHC All-Rookie team and it was well-deserved. A natural goal scorer with a wicked wrist shot he netted 14 goals his rookie season and tends to score in bunches. He’s another primed for a huge offensive year. Sophomore Kevin Fitzgerald was a surprise as a rookie earning 38 games of playing time and has a combination of skill and grinder and skating with the Poehling twins are relentless in their forecheck.
Minnesota Wild draft choice Sam Hentges and Nolan Walker are already prominent contributors to the lineup. They contributed 5 of the 7 goals vs Boston College last Thursday. Walker has an outstanding shooting percentage of 60% and Hentges 44 percent. Hentgeswas named NCHC Rookie of the Week after his three-goal performance last weekend. Micah Miller is another talented newcomer that will be battling for ice time along with senior Mika Ilvonen and sophomore Will Hammer.
With senior Jeff Smith and sophomore David Hrenak, the Huskies have one of the top one-two punches at goaltender in college hockey. Hrenak has yet to lose a game , is 3-0-0 with outstanding statistics including a 1.00 GAA and a .958 SV% and one shutout. He is currently top-six in the country in both categories. Smith has split time with Hrenak and is 2-1-0 with one shutout, 1.68 GAA and .922 SV%.
Nationally, the Huskies statistics are as follows:
Offense: 4.50 (t 5th)
Defense: 1.33 (t 3rd)
Power Play: 22.73% (20nd)
Penalty Kill: 96.15% (3rd)
Penalties: 12.67 APG (34th)
With 15 upperclassmen, 98% of their scoring returning and solid goaltending, this is looking to be the Tigers best season since the last time the program had a winning record (18-16-2) in 2011-12. This team has potent scoring and is currently tied with SCSU nationally (3rd) in team offense. They’ll be playing on an Olympic (200×100) sheet of ice at the Broadmoor World Arena and there should be some entertaining north/south hockey. Both teams have goaltenders that can steer the result of the game and despite two potent offensive teams don’t be surprised to see at least one low-scoring game. For Colorado College, keep an eye on the Bergh, Bradley, Halloran line. They can be explosive and it’ll be fun to see how SCSU counters that line. Squaring off the Poehling, Poehling and Fitzgerald line with them makes sense and would be a logical strategy. However, the Tigers have last change as the home team.
Surprisingly, the Tigers power play is under 19% and the Huskies power play has allowed only one goal in six games and is currently 96%. So that’s an interesting battle there as well. The Huskies do need to cut down on penalty minutes and they’ve done so. The five-minute majors taken by Ahcan have skewed the numbers somewhat but we’re used to seeing the squad near the top of the list in fewest average penalty minutes.
Depth, both offensively and defensively probably favors the Huskies but in a series on a big sheet with two good skating teams, the Huskies do need to tend to business on the back-side.
Robby Jackson sat out last Saturday’s game with Northeastern with a lower-body injury. It’s expected he’ll be back for this weekend. His void in the lineup caused the coaching staff to mix up the lines and it would be good to see last Thursdays lines back together particularly Jackson -Poehling-Bodzinski and Poehling-Fitzgerald-Poehling.
Coaches comments: ” Colorado College is a team on the rise. Our players know it’s going to be a challenge. I sense they are excited to get into league play. We are not near where we can get to and our team feels that way too. We need to peak at the right time.” said SCSU coach Brett Larson.