CC Tigers Next Obstacle for #1 SCSU Huskies

St. Cloud, MN – The top-ranked

Micah Miller (Photo Prout)

St. Cloud, MN – With the regular conference schedule winding down, the top-ranked  Huskies get a return engagement with the Colorado College Tigers at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center. They met in early November and the Huskies had a tough time with the Tigers falling behind in both games and facing a very tough goaltender in Alex Leclerc who stopped 64 of 71 shots thrown at him over the weekend. With eight conference games remaining, the Huskies look to continue their winning ways at the HBNHC (12-0-0) before having a bye weekend. They then finish with road trips to Omaha and Western Michigan and a crucial final weekend with second-place Minnesota-Duluth. If the Huskies wish to recapture the Penrose Cup they cannot take their foot off the pedal against a team that has had some good momentum as of late. It should be another exciting NCHC matchup in St. Cloud.

#1 St. Cloud State University Huskies (20-4-2 | 12-2-2 NCHC) vs #NR Colorado College Tigers (11-13-3 | 5-8-2 NCHC) 

TV: CBS Sports Network | Fox Sports North Plus |Channel Finder
Live Stats: SCSU Huskies
Live Stream: NCHC.TV $ (Sat only)
Live Audio Stream: TUNEIN RADIO
Radio: 96.7 FM (St. Cloud) 88.1 FM (St. Cloud)
Tickets: SCSU Huskies
Where: Herb Brooks National Hockey Center | St. Cloud, MN
When: Fri, Feb 8 – 8:05 PM CT | Sat, Feb 9 – 6:05 PM CT

Series notes – SCSU

Series Notes –CC

Last Time Out:

The Huskies swept the Miami RedHawks at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center on February 2/3 by identical scores of 5-1. On Friday, Ryan Poehling scored twice in the first eight minutes of period three to put the game out of reach leading the Huskies to a convincing 5-1 win over the struggling RedHawks. Older brother Jack had the games first goal to give SCSU the early lead and Jimmy Schuldt added his 19th career power play goal and Patrick Newell his team-leading 13th goal of the season. In the Saturday rematch, Blake Lizotte took charge scoring twice and adding an assist for a three-point night in another 5-1 win and sweep of the RedHawks. It was a five-point weekend for both Lizotte and Poehling as the Huskies continued their undefeated streak to 12-0-0 at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center. It was also a night of celebration for Patrick Newell who with his two-point game surpassed the 100 career point mark joining Robby Jackson and Jimmy Schuldt who did so in January.

The Tigers earned a weekend split on home ice with #5 Pairwise ranked Minnesota -Duluth by 4-1/6-0 scores. On Friday, Alex Leclerc stopped 40 of 41 UMD shots and Troy Conzo scored the game-winning goal as CC prevailed 4-1. On Saturday, the Bulldogs stormed back opening the floodgates after a scoreless first period with three goals in the second period and three more in period three in a 6-0 shutout. Alex Leclerc took the loss allowing 6 goals on 39 shots.

Head to Head

SCSU leads the all-time series between these two squads 50-48-1. However, the Huskies have won 4 of the last 5, 9 of the last 10 and 16 of the last 20. SCSU is 7-2-1 vs the Tigers in the last 10 at the HBNC. Colorado College’s last win was on March 17, 2017 by a 2-1 score. St. Cloud native Matt Hanson scored the game-winning goal in period one.

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. The season thus far has been marked with inconsistency with the Tigers winning 4 of their first 5 games then getting only 4 wins in their next 17 games. However, they seem to have righted things lately going 3-1-1 in the last five games including two road wins over Miami, an overtime tie with Denver and a split with UMD. This was preceeded by two overtime losses in North Dakota

The Tigers returned 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. Unfortunately Halloran has been shelved for the balance of the season with a lower body injury. Halloran was a first-team all-conference pick and a Hobey Baker nominee after registering 19 goals and 45 points as a sophomore. Coach Mike Haviland told the Colorado Springs Gazette “It’s a huge hit. You’re talking about an All-American. He’s tough to replace but certainly you’ve got to have the ‘next man up’ mentality. Guys are going to have to take his minutes.”

Currently, team scoring is led by upperclassmen with senior Trey Bradley the current goal and point leader with 11-10-21. Senior Westin Michaud (8-11-19) has stepped forward as has junior Alex Berardinelli (8-6-14) and senior Trevor Gooch (8-6-14). More has been expected out of senior Mason Bergh who is one of 15 nominees for the 2018-19 Senior CLASS Award who compiled 18-22-40 in 2017-18. He currently sits at 5-11-16. Junior and North Dakota transfer and NHL draft choice Chris Wilkie has chipped in 4-9-13.

On defense, the team is led by seniors  Andrew Farney (0-6-6), the always reliable Cole McCaskill (2-3-5 +5) and Ben Israel (2-2-4). They’ve been most impressed with first-year defender and Colorado native Bryan Yoon who is currently 5th on the squad in points (1-13-14).  

Goaltender Alex Leclerc is in his third year and is a workhorse in goal for the Tigers. He can steal a game and is currently 11-12-3 with a 2.69 GAA and a .938 SV% and one shutout.

The team has 5 Minnesotans and 4 Colorado natives on their roster.

National Statistics

Team Offense: 3.04 (19th)
Team Defense: 2.81 (36th)
Power Play: 17.4% (t 35th)
Penalty Kill: 76.8 (50th)
Penalty Minutes (APG): 
Faceoffs: 45.1% (56th)

Scouting the SCSU Huskies:

The banner season continues for the Huskies #1 in the Pairwise, Krach, USCHO and in first place in the NCHC. For the most part, they are excelling on both ends of the ice and ranked third in the nation in offense and 8th in defense. Special teams have been strong –  third nationally  on the penalty kill and tied for 6th on the power play. Seniors are providing tremendous leadership, there is balanced scoring, the first-year class is contributing and both goaltenders are usually getting the job done. They are undeniably one of the top collegiate teams in the country right now and are pretty much a lock for the NCAA tournament. Current probabilities show that they have an 85% chance of participating in the NCAA tournament even if they  lose out their remaining games. They currently have a 63% probability of being a #1 seed.

Currently, the Huskies are the eighth-ranked defense in the nation allowing 2.07 goals per game.  Led by All-American, Hobey Baker finalist, pre-season All-NCHC pick and captain, Jimmy Schuldt (8-16-24 +9), alternate captain and senior Jon Lizotte (1-4-5 +8), and talented puck mover Jack Ahcan (3-18-21 +18), this diverse unit of defenders is one of the top threesome in college hockey. Schuldt has played in 143 consecutive games, is tied with Kelly Hultgren for career points by a defenseman with 107 and a school record 19 power play goals.  Add to the group, sophomore, Luke Jaycox (1-2-3 +5) and a talented group of newcomers – Brendan Bushy (+2), NHL draft choice Nick Perbix (+17) and local native Spencer Meier (+1) and you have one of the top defensive units in college hockey. Unfortunately, sophomore, Tyler Anderson, sustained an upper body injury vs Mount Royal and subsequently a knee injury in practice and he’ll be shelved for the balance of the season. The entire unit is plus 59 and not a single regular is in the minus.

The Huskies are currently ranked third in the nation on offense with a lot of depth at forward. Pre-season all-league NCHC pick Robby Jackson, led the Huskies in scoring in 2017-18 and currently is second in team points with 25. Jackson has joined the 100 point club this season along with Jimmy Schuldt. Senior Patrick Newell is an experienced forward and is the teams offensive leader this season  leading the team in points and goals with 13-15-28. He’s also joined the 100 point club last weekend after earning three points. He’s tops in college hockey with 5 GWG. Montreal Canadiens first-rounder, Ryan Poehling has 24 points in 24 games, is a 200 foot player and is integral to both the power play and penalty kill. The Poehling twins, Jack and Nick are preferably matched against the opponents top line and are beginning to add offense as well. They’ve combined for 23 points. Sophomore Blake Lizotte made the NCHC All-Rookie team last season and is one of the most exciting forwards in college hockey. He’s another player with tons of talent and a motor that won’t quit. He currently has 24 points in 24 games and is the top face-off player.  Easton Brodzinski is another member of the 2017-18 NCHC All-Rookie team and netted 14 goals his rookie season. and tends to score in bunches. He has 10 goals and four game-winning goals and five power play goals. Sophomore Kevin Fitzgerald was having an impact season until he was injured in the recent UMD series. He is expected to be out until March.

Minnesota Wild draft choice Sam Hentges and Nolan Walker are already prominent contributors to the lineup. Hentges and Walker have combined for 11 goals and 33 points and both are making a serious case to make the NCHC all-rookie team.  Micah Miller is another talented newcomer that has finally found the back of the net with three goals in his last six games.

With senior Jeff Smith and sophomore David Hrenak, the Huskies have a solid one-two punch at goaltender. Hrenak is 16-3-1 and has a 2.09 GAA and a .906 SV% and three shutouts. He needs to be consistent down the stretch. Smith has split time with Hrenak and is 4-1-1 with two shutouts and 2.03 GAA and .918 SV%.

National Statistics

Offense: 3.85 (t 3rd)
Defense: 2.07 (8th)
Power Play: 25% (t 6th) 
Penalty Kill: 88.4% (3rd) 
Penalties (Average Min. Per Game): 10.25 (41st) 
Faceoffs: 45% (8th)

Game Prospectus:

The Tigers have not fared well at the HBNHC lately but with a team loaded with upperclassmen have the experience and offense to make things miserable for the Huskies. The Tigers took a big hit after offensive star Nick Halloran was lost for the balance of the season after 20 games. However, they have a whole crew of players that have the ability to put the puck in the net including Trey Bradley, Mason Bergh, Trevor Gooch and Westin Michaud – all seniors. Special teams are lagging for the Tigers so they best try to keep it a five on five matchup. The Huskies will have last change and with a superior faceoff advantage should put the Huskies in control both on special teams and even up.

Centermen, Blake Lizotte and Ryan Poehling both had an outstanding series vs Miami last weekend and they’ll keep the Tigers defense on its toes. It may come down to Alex Leclerc as the last line of defense to have a strong weekend in order to survive the relentless attack of the Huskies offense.

The Tigers have the ability to win with their offense but the question is whether they can  defend well enough to give them enough of a margin to win. David Hrenak has been a little streaky but the coaching staff has committed to him and he’s been solid in the last four outings at home.

Having a strong weekend at home before their bye week with allow for some momentum as they hit the road to Omaha in two weeks.

As always all the pertinent links for the weekend are HERE

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