SCSU Huskies Begin 2019-20 With Exhibition vs University of Alberta

SCSU Defenseman Jack Ahcan (Photo Prout)

#6 SCSU Huskies (0-0-0) vs U of Alberta Golden Bears (4-1-3 | 1-0-2 Canada West)

TV: None
Live Stats: SCSU Athletics
Live Stream: ($)
Radio: 96.7 FM  | TuneIn Audio Stream
Where: Herb Brooks National Hockey Center | St. Cloud, MN
When: Sunday, October 6 |  5:07 PM CT


Last Time Out:  

The #1 ranked Huskies were eliminated in the first round of the 2018-19 NCAA tournament on March 29th in a stunning upset by the #16 seed American International College. Despite outshooting the Yellow Jackets 34-13 and totally dominating period three, the #31 Pairwise Yellow Jackets from Springfield, MA scored early, hung on and defeated the top-ranked Huskies by a 2-1 score. The Huskies suffered only their 6th loss of the season and concluded 2018-19 with a record of 30-6-3, were undefeated on home ice and were one win shy of the school win record of 31.

The Golden Bears breezed by the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds by a 5-0 score on September 28. Five different players netted goals for Alberta and first-year goaltender Matt Berlin posted a shutout in his first game.

Last Time They Met:

The Golden Bears hold a 2-1-0 all-time record vs SCSU. They edged the Huskies 2-1 on October 8, 2005 and 4-2 in an earlier game on October 6, 1996 in St. Cloud. The Huskies last faced the University of Alberta on October 3, 2015 and earned a 6-2 win despite being outshot by the Golden Bears 34-25. The SCSU duo of Charlie Lindgren and Rasmus Reijola combined to stop 32/34 SOG by the Golden Bears. Lindgren allowed two goals in 31:26 of play while Reijola shut out Alberta in his 28:34 of ice time. Offensively, the Huskies were led by Joey Benik, David Morley, Patrick Newell, Ethan Prow and Patrick Russell, all picking up two points on the evening.  First-year players Patrick Newell (1-1-2) Jon Lizotte (0-1-1) and Jacob Benson (0-1-1) all got on the scoreboard in their first game at SCSU.


Scouting the University of Alberta: 

The University of Alberta is a public University located in Edmonton, AB consisting of four campuses and an enrollment of 40,000. The Golden Bears are a member of  USPORTS hockey which includes 4 divisions and 35 teams spanning the entire country of Canada. Alberta competes in Canada West which includes member schools Saskatchewan, Mount Royal, Calgary, Regina, Manitoba, Lethbridge and the University of British Columbia. USPORTS schools do offer athletic scholarships called Athletic Financial Awards (AFA) and aged-out major junior players are eligible to play for USPORTS teams although not  eligible for NCAA play. Of interest is that there is only one USPORTS sport with an age limitation and that’s football. Alberta has won the USPORTS championship three of the past six seasons. The Golden Bears were the unanimous choice as champion of the Canada West Conference in the coaches preseason poll for the 2019-20 season.

2018-19 Canada West regular season record: 24-3-1, 2nd in Canada West
2018-19 Canada West post-season record: 4-1, Canada West Champions (2nd University Cup)
Head coach: Ian Herbers (5th season) / 96-16-0 (career Canada West regular season record)
Last Canada West championship / total Canada West championships: 2019 / 28
Last U SPORTS championship / total U SPORTS championships: 2018 / 16

The team recruits the majority of its players from the Western Hockey League, a major junior league in Western Canada. Player eligibility is from age 15 to age 20 in the WHL Former Husky, Mark Parrish, for example, skated for one season with the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL and was a first-team All-Star in his only season. Alberta has 14 first-year players from the WHL this season.

In goal, the Golden Bears will rely on 4th year player Brendan Burke of Scottsdale, AZ.  Burke struggled through injuries last season, but was outstanding in his first two seasons for the Golden Bears.  Between 2016 and 2018, Burke compiled a 19-5-1 record, along with four shutouts and a .927 save percentage. He’ll be pushed by rookie Matt Berlin who earned a shutout in his first league game and carries a 0.00 GAA and 1.00 SV%. Berlin is a 6’3″ 205 pound netminder that posted a 2.57 GAA and .917 SV% with the Sherwood Park Crusaders of the AJHL last season.

The Golden Bears lost a great deal of offense from last season including the top two league scorers Luke Philp and Cole Sanford who combined for 38 goals and 84 points. In total, they lost close to 200 points from 2018-19. Veterans Trevor Cox (8-20-28), Grayson Pawlenchuk (13-9-22) and Steve Owre (7-15-22) will be relied on to lead the large group of first-year players.  Newcomers to keep an eye on 6’3″ 190 pound center Noah Philp who posted 75 points for the Seattle Thunderbirds last season and played two games in the American Hockey League. Teammate, Nolan Volcan had 57 points for Seattle last season. Defenseman, Dawson Davidson was a WHL First-Team All-Star and rang up 75 points for Saskatoon of the WHL. Brandon Chizen is a 6’9″ 205 pound defenseman who was drafted #204 in round seven of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft by the Minnesota Wild. In all, the Golden Bear have four newcomers with professional hockey experience either in the AHL or ECHL.

The Bears have a handful of returning conference all-stars up front, some talented newcomers and depth on defense. Goaltending appears to be strong with the tandem of Burke and Berlin.

Scouting the SCSU Huskies: 

Bucking a trend of recent seasons, all four of the team captains are seniors. All-American and All-NCHC player and senior Jack Ahcan was named captain and brothers Jack and Nick Poehling and Clark Kuster, a fifth-year senior are assistant captains. The team has added ten new faces after the departure of seniors Jimmy Schuldt, Jon Lizotte, Patrick Newell, Robby Jackson, Jacob Benson and David Zevnik. They also saw the departure of two top-notch centers in Blake Lizotte and Ryan Poehling who signed NHL contracts.

Junior David Hrenak enters the season as the number one goaltender. Hrenak finished the 2018-19 season with a 23-5-2 record, a 2.18 GAA and .906 SV%. The LA Kings 5th round draft choice was a NCHC second team All-Star last season and the expectations are high for Hrenak who has played 54 career games for the Huskies. However, he’ll be pushed by two quality first-year players in 20 year-old USHL veteran Joseph Lamoureaux and another junior hockey veteran in 22 year-old Jaxon Castor.

Defense is perhaps the strongest position on the team. The Huskies return five starters from last season in Jack Ahcan, Nick Perbix, Luke Jaycox, Spencer Meier and Brendan Bushy. They add two other veterans in fifth-year senior, Clark Kuster and junior, Tyler Anderson, who missed the entire season due to injuries in 2018-19 and will likely claim a red-shirt year. Newcomers include 6’3″ 190 pound Ondrej Trejbal  from the Czech Republic and Trevor Zins, a puck-moving defenseman from nearby St. Michael, MN.

The position where uncertainly surfaces is at forward and that’s for obvious reasons. The team lost it’s top five scorers – Newell, Lizotte, Jackson, Poehling and Schuldt. This group contributed 213 points (77 goals and 136 assists) and dominated minutes on the power play. Two of these players left as underclassmen and three – Lizotte, Poehling and Schuldt could very well be in an NHL lineup this season. It’s not that they won’t have skill at this position it’s simply a matter of playing experience and the growth young players go through in their first year. They’ve recruited high-end skill in Zach Okabe, Jami Krannila and Kyler Kupka and future staples in the lineup in Chase Brand and Thomas Rocco. Henry Enebak, a Prior Lake, MN native who played with the Poehlings in Lakeville rounds out the lineup.

Game Prospectus:

This should be a good test for the Huskies in facing the Canada West league favorite, the Golden Bears, in their  first real game situation of 2019-20. Between preseason and league games, Alberta will have played 8 games and a contest with the University of Minnesota-Duluth on Saturday prior to facing the Huskies. They defeated UMD two years ago by a 4-3 score in Duluth. As such, you should expect the Golden Bears to be in better game form in terms of conditioning, timing, passing and special teams. It’ll also be an eye-opener for the nine first-year players that are expected to be in the lineup for this exhibition. The only scratch should be Ondrej Trejbel who is not eligible for the first six games due to some NCAA eligibility issues.

Update 10/5/2019: The Golden Bears defeated the UMD Bulldogs 5-3 on October 5, They outshot UMD 28 to 24 and outscored the Bulldogs 4-2 over the final two periods. This is a well-rounded Alberta squad that is strong in all phases of the game. They are strong on the puck, pressure the defense and put the puck on net. They move the puck well on the power play despite being 1/6 vs the Bulldogs. Brendan Burke was strong in goal. However, I suspect they’ll play Matt Berlin vs SCSU.

Most likely you’ll see all three goaltenders get some ice time and the Huskies can experiment with their lines as they prepare for the regular season to begin on October 11/12 at Bemidji State University.

All the pertinent links for the game are HERE


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