#1 SCSU Begins 2019 With a Trip to the Steel City

St. Cloud, MN – The challenge continues for the #1 ranked SCSU men’s hockey team as they embark on another road trip – this time to the “Steel City” of Pittsburgh to participate in the Three Rivers Classic College Hockey Tournament. With only one set back in 2018 ( 4-3 loss to Northeastern) the Huskies will have a target on their back as the pre-tournament favorite and will face a stern test in the opening game of the tourney vs Union College of Schenectady, NY. With the Huskies currently sitting at #2 in the all-important Pairwise and Union at #15, this game will have important Pairwise implications. Tournament host Robert Morris will face-off against Brown University in the other opening day match-up with SCSU facing one of thos two on Saturday at PPG Paints Arena. These will be the final non-conference games of the 2018-19 season for SCSU as they dive into conference play for their final 16 games. 

#1 SCSU Huskies (13-1-2 | 6-0-2 NCHC) vs #14 Union College (9-4-4 | 3-4-1 ECAC)  
Saturday: Robert Morris (8-9-1 | 7-6-1 Atlantic Hockey) or Brown University (3-7-3 | 2-4-3 ECAC)

 

TV: none
Live Stats: Robert Morris University 
Live Stream: RMU TV 
Live Audio Stream: TUNEIN RADIO
Radio: 96.7 FM (St. Cloud)
Tickets: Day 1: Lemieux Sports Complex | Day 2: PPG Paints Arena
Where: Day 1: Lemieux Sports Complex  | Day 2: PPG Paints Arena
When: Friday, January 4 – 4:05 PM CT | Saturday, January 5 TBD:

Series notes – SCSU

Road Trip Ranking #3 for  2018-19

Last Time Out:

The Huskies hosted the USA U18 NTDP at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center on December 27 in an exhibition and were defeated by a 6-4 score. The teams traded 29 shots on goal for the game and SCSU won 34 of 58 faceoffs. SCSU’s David Hrenak and Jeff Smith combined to turn aside 23 of 29 shots. Hrenak allowed two goals on 14 shots while Smith allowed 3 on 14. Cole Caufield (2-1-3) and John Beecher (0-3-3) led the USA squad with three points apiece. Easton Brodzinski (0-2-2), Kevin Fitzgerald (1-1-2) and Patrick Newell (1-1-2) had a multiple point game for SCSU. The SCSU penalty kill was perfect shutting out USA in two opportunities while the Huskies power play converted 1 of 5.

Union College hosted Canisius College of the ACC on their home rink on December 28/29 and skated to a 2-2 tie on Friday and a 5-3 win in the rematch.

Robert Morris was on the road facing ACC opponent American International on 12/29 and 12/30 getting a split in the weekend series falling 4-3 in the opener and winning 3-1 in the series finale.

Brown University competed in the Ledyard Bank Classic in Hanover, NH on December 29 and 30. They were defeated by Providence 3-1 in the tourney opener and defeated Army 5-3 in game 2.

Head to Head:

The Huskies are 3-2-2 all-time vs Union College and 1-0-0 on neutral ice defeating the Dutchmen 4-2 in the U of Vermont Tournament at Gutterson Fieldhouse on December 29, 2006. Andrew Gordon scored the GWG on the power play and Bobby Goepfert stopped 26 of 28 shots on goal for the win.

 

SCSU has faced Robert Morris University four times winning all four games and carrying a 4-0-0 record vs the Colonials entering this weekend. The last meeting was in November of 2008 with SCSU sweeping the series by scores of 7-1 and 4-0.

The Huskies have an all-time record of 8-1-0 vs the Brown University Bears. The last series was in St. Cloud in January of 2010 with the Huskies sweeping y scores of 5-3 and 5-1.

Scouting Union College

The Dutchmen began the 2018-19 season undefeated in their first five games including wins over Omaha and a road sweep of Northeastern, the only team to defeat SCSU thus far. Since that time, they’ve gone 5-4-3 but with quality wins over #19 Clarkson and #5 Quinnipiac. Union is currently ranked 14th and is currently #14 in the Pairwise. The apex of Union College’s hockey history was their national championship in the 2013-14 season defeating the University of Minnesota 7-4 in the NCAA title game. Coach Rick Bennett is in his 8th season and has an impressive 158-84-32 overall record.

Heading into the season, the Dutchmen were certainly considered contenders in the ECAC after finishing second in 2017-18. With all three goaltenders returning and the return of their top four scorers, offense and defense appeared to be in a secure position. Experience on the back end was shallow with six of the eight defenders underclassmen but with San Jose draft choice Jake Kupsky (2.73/.889) and Darion Hansen (2.07/.934) they’d be protected in goal.  So far, the offense has not met expectations of being “explosive” with nary a single scorer in the top 100 in college hockey and an offense currently ranked 19th. However, scoring 3.06 goals per game has been enough to give them nine wins thus far.

At forward, the seniors are leading on offense with forwards Ryan Walker (6-8-14), Sebastian Vidmar (6-7-13) and Brett Supinski (4-8-12) combining for 14 goals and 39 points. Sophomore Cole Maier (5-9-14) and Junior Anthony Rianaldi (4-3-7) also add to the offensive punch. Defense is led by senior Greg Campbell and junior Vas Kolias but perhaps their best defender has been sophomore Brandon Estes (2-7-9, 2 PPG).

Union is a hard-working in your face type of team that will yield little gap and make you work for every inch of ice. They are disciplined, take few penalties (9.47 per game / 48th) but are struggling on the penalty kill currently 52nd in college hockey turning aside only 76% of their opponents opportunities.

National Statistics

 Team Offense: 3.06 GPG (19th)
Team Defense: 2.47 GAPG (18th)
Power Play: 18.84% (28th)
Penalty Kill: 76.19% (52nd)
Penalties (Average Min. Per Game): 9.47 (48th)

Scouting Robert Morris University

It’s been an unremarkable year for the Colonials, generally a contender in the Atlantic Conference. However, their last big splash in the Atlantic was during the 2015-16 season when they won the regular season conference title. With a 8-9-1 overall record and a strength of schedule that ranks 53rd out of 60 teams in college hockey, their fate halfway through the 2018-19 season is already pretty much sealed. Their highlight of the season thus far was a 3-2 win over #9 Bowling Green in early October and other than a series with Penn State have no other top 16 Pairwise teams on their schedule prior to the end of the season.

Statistically, the lone bright spot has been their penalty kill currently ranked 16th in the country at 84.09%. Otherwise the offense – 42nd and defense -34th have been sub par. Discipline has been an issue as well with the team averaging 14.33 minutes of penalties per game.

On offense Alex Tonge has been productive with nine goals and nine assists including two game-winning goals and three power play goals. His scoring has been supplemented by junior Luke Lynch (6-10-16) with one game-winning goal and two short-handed goals. Defensively, they’ve relied on upperclassmen, senior Eric Israel (2-11-13 +6) and junior Alex Robert (0-3-3 +6)  to guide a unit allowing 2.89 goals per game. Despite weaknesses at defense, goaltender Francis Marotte is doing his part with a .912 SV%.

National Statistics

Offense: 2.50 (42nd)
Defense: 2.89 (34th)
Power Play:  15.48% (43rd) 
Penalty Kill: 84.09% (16th)
Penalties (Average Min. Per Game): 14.33 (8th) 

Scouting the Brown University Bears

The Bears, currently 3-7-3 overall and 53rd in the Pairwise struggled out of the chute this season going 1-6-1 in their first eight games. However, they righted the ship somewhat with a 2-2-1 record in December including a 3-3 overtime tie with Union College, another participant in this tournament. Allowing 2.85 goals per game while just scoring 2.15 pretty much explains the sub par record. However, Brown is 2-1-2 when holding their opponent to under  3 goals per game. Much like Robert Morris, the best part of their team game has been the penalty kill currently ranked 14th in the country and only allowing a success rate of 14.38%. On the other hand, the power play is really struggling converting only 7.69% of their opportunities.

Offensively, it’s been somewhat of a surprise to see underclassmen leading the team in scoring with first-year forwards Tristan Crozier (3-4-7) and Justin Allen (5-2-7) leading the squad in points along with sophomore Joachim Webeg (4-3-7) who scored twce in the Ledyard Classic and was named to the all-tourney team. He also has a three-game scoring streak. Disappointing thus far is the production out of senior and captain Tommy Marchin, a 12 goal scored last season who has only netted one goal in 13 games. Defense is led by junior Zach Giuttari (2-2-4 +5) and senior captain Max Gottlieb. Returning goaltenders Luke Kania (.919, .236) and Gavin Nieto (.906, .275) have split time in goal.

National Statistics 

Offense: 2.15 (51st)
Defense: 2.85 (33rd)
Power Play:  7.69 (59th)
Penalty Kill: 84.62% (14th)
Penalties (Average Min. Per Game): 9.77 (46th) 

Scouting the SCSU Huskies:

The concensus #1 ranked Huskies have had a highly successful start to the 2018-19 season. With a 13-1-2 record they lead the country with fewest losses and have college hockey’s longest undefeated streak at 10 games. They are excelling on both ends of the ice  ranked second in the nation in offense and third in defense. Special teams have been strong –  third nationally on the penalty kill and fifth on the power play. Seniors are providing tremendous leadership, there is balanced scoring, the first-year class is contributing and despite some inconsistently, both goaltenders are getting the job done. They are undeniably one of the top collegiate teams in the country right now.

Currently, the Huskies are the third-ranked defense in the nation allowing only 1.81 goals per game.  Led by All-American, Hobey Baker finalist, pre-season All-NCHC pick and captain, Jimmy Schuldt (5-10-15 +6), alternate captain and senior Jon Lizotte (1-3-4 +8), and talented puck mover Jack Ahcan (2-11-13 +13), this diverse unit of defenders is one of the top threesome in college hockey. Add to the group, sophomore, Luke Jaycox (1-1-2 +6) and a talented group of newcomers – Brendan Bushy (+4) , NHL draft choice Nick Perbix (1-8-9 +12) and local native Spencer Meier (0-5-5 +4) and you have one of the most talent-laden defensive units in college hockey. Tyler Anderson, another solid contributor sustained an upper body injury vs Mount Royal and returned for the exhibition game vs the USA team. He should be ready to go this weekend.. The entire unit is plus 52 and not a single regular is in the minus.

The Huskies are currently ranked second in the nation on offense 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, led the Huskies in scoring in 2017-18 and currently is third in team points with 16 and is +9. 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 has helped his game this season. He currently leads the forwards with 10 goals and 20 points. Senior Jacob Benson was named alternate captain and he has 2 goals and four points in 14 games.

Montreal Canadiens first-rounder, Ryan Poehling has 17 points in 16 games and is currently playing for Team USA in the World Junior Championships. He is currently the WJC points leader. The Poehling twins, Jack and Nick along with Kevin Fitzgerald are preferably matched against the opponents top line. They’ve combined for 21 points and are plus 13. Sophomore Blake Lizotte made the NCHC All-Rookie team last season and is one of the most exciting forwards in college hockey. He’ll be a scoring leader for the Huskies this season. He currently has 15 points in 16 games and is +11. 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 has 8 goals and three game-winning goals and 4 power pay goals. Sophomore Kevin Fitzgerald was a surprise as a rookie earning 38 games of playing time and skating with the Poehling twins contributes to a relentless forecheck. He has 7 goals including one game-winner.

Minnesota Wild draft choice Sam Hentges and Nolan Walker are already prominent contributors to the lineup. Walker has an outstanding shooting percentage of 33% and Hentges 25%. Hentges and Walker have combined for 10 goals and 24 points and both are making a serious case to make the NCHC all-rookie team.

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 10-0-1 and has a 1.81 GAA and a .919 SV% and two shutouts. Smith has split time with Hrenak and is 3-1-1 with two shutouts and outstanding 1.78 GAA and .929 SV%.

Nationally, the Huskies statistics are as follows:

Offense: 4.12 (2nd)
Defense: 1.81 (3rd)
Power Play:  26.98% (5th) 
Penalty Kill: 89.66% (3rd) 
Penalties (Average Min. Per Game): 10.56 (43rd) 

Game Prospectus:

The Huskies return to the site of one of their most memorable road trips as a participant in the Three Rivers Classic in Pittsburgh on January 4 and 5, 2019. Consul Arena was the venue for the Huskies lone appearance as one of the four finalists in the 2013 NCAA Frozen Four. Robert Morris University of the Atlantic Conference hosts this annual tournament which will include the Huskies, Union College and Brown University. This tournament has been in existence since 2012 and Providence was the champion in 2017. Host RMU has won the tournament three of the six years this tourney has played. Please note: The first day of this tournament will be held at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex, the Pittsburgh Penguins Training facility. It is located 20 miles via I 279/I79 from PPG Paints Arena. The Championship and Consolation games will be held at PPG Arena on Saturday.  Originally named Consol Energy Center, the arena was renamed PPG Paints Arena in October of 2016.

The Huskies face their stiffest challenge in this tournament in their opening game vs Union College, currently #15 in the Pairwise. A win in this game certainly helps solidify the Huskies current #2 Pairwise position. The Dutchmen of  Union College present a serious obstacle to reaching the championship game in this tournament. Union plays a determined, tight game and will be a physical challenge to the Huskies on the NHL sized rink at the Lemieux Sports Complex, the practice facility for the Puttsburgh Penguins. Union has good upper class leadership, can move the puck well on the power play and some reliable scorers Walker, Vidmar and Supinski. Goaltending is very good with either netminder  capable of stealing a game.

Day two of the tourney will have SCSU facing either Robert Morris or  Brown University, two teams having their struggles this season. However, Robert Morris is the host and has won this tourney three out of the six years and will be sky-high to do well in this tournament.  Providence took home the championship in 2017. The tourney was on hiatus in 2018.

All the links for this weekends games can be found HERE

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