St. Cloud, MN – The weather may have been dreary outside the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center but the enthusiasm and excitement in the packed Husky Den was obvious as SCSU Athletics hosted their second annual Husky Puck Drop Breakfast on Saturday, September 21st. With SCSU President Robbyn Wacker and SCSU Athletic Director Heather Weems in attendance to greet the fans, the SCSU Hockey coaches, staff and captains welcomed the fans and led the introduction to the 2019-20 season.
With SCSU Hockey play by play announcer Jim Erickson, emceeing the event, Heather Weems, Coaches Brett Larson and Steve Macdonald and hockey captains Jack Ahcan and Janine Adler provided information on the state of SCSU athletics and the upcoming hockey season.
Athletic Director Heather Weems praised the collective effort to complete the SCSU Hockey Performance Center despite a tight budget and the challenge they have to provide all the “bells and whistles” that seems to impress young athletes these days. With a budget that is miniscule compared to schools like the University of Minnesota of the Big Ten, she still stressed the importance of SCSU staying relevant and sustaining their fund-raising efforts. “We’ve (been forced) to become more and more like a private school in terms of fundraising” she said. She also stressed the importance of other things that athletes remember once their collegiate careers end – their coaches, teammates, important athletic moments and stories they can take with them for the rest of their lives – things that dollars don’t provide. She further stated “we have to be committed and invested. I couldn’t be more proud and confident in our coaches.”
SCSU Men’s Hockey coach Brett Larson who is entering his second year commented on how lucky he was to “come in here to a first class program with great players and people”. He too praised the effort to complete the Performance Center describing it as a “grass roots project and that the donors realized it was a huge need for our program.” He too stated that in order to remain relevant it was a “huge priority for us.” Looking forward to the 2019-20 season he realizes there will be challenges with 10 incoming first-year players but he described them as a “highly talented group and we are excited about them.” He described that the team has great leadership and that “these guys care about each other and we will have a lot of compete”. We have a “fresh sheet” moving forward.
For the women, September 21st was the official first day of practice for newly installed head coach Steve Macdonald. With 15 upperclassmen and 8 seniors his expectations are high for the upcoming season. “We will be doing things the right way. We have the right group of players to do this.” Laughingly he noted “he’s surrounded by Wisconsinites” with assistants Janelle Siergiej and Molly Engstrom both former Wisconsin Badgers players. In particular, he thanked Siergiej for all her assistance during the transition of the coaching staff. Concerning the new Hockey Performance Center he said “the students are blessed to have this facility. It truly helps our recruiting.”
SCSU women’s captain Janine Alder, a native of Switzerland, called coach Macdonald a “great person and great role model.” She was recruited by Macdonald and was committed to staying here all four years. She also has high expectations for this experienced squad this season. Being a senior, she commented “I will enjoy every single game – especially vs Wisconsin.”
Men’s team captain Jack Ahcan said it “means everything to be captain.” He described 2018-19 teammate Jimmy Schuldt as a “great role model”. He described that the team will continue to play “Husky Hockey – we’ll move our feet and play fast”. He was full of praise for the nine-man defensive corp and mentioned that fellow captain Clark (Kuster) and I “look forward to leading and teaching the new players.” I can’t wait to get to the first game.” He’s looking forward to the tournament at Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis in late December. It’s obvious who is choice of opponent is if they can advance to the championship game.
Following the event, the fans were allowed to tour the new SCSU Hockey Performance Center.
SCSU Women’s Hockey begins their season with an exhibition game vs the University of Regina on Saturday, September 28th at 2:07 PM . Their regular season starts on October 4th with a weekend series vs conference opponent, Ohio State University.
The men’s team begins with an exhibition vs the University of Alberta on Sunday, October 6th at 5:07 PM.