CenterIceView: St. Cloud State Hockey Players of the Decade

Jimmy Schuldt (Photo Prout)

St. Cloud, MN – Recently, on my Twitter  page, I did a photo narrative of some of the top moments of the past decade. Having followed this program since its transition to the Division I level in 1987-88 I’ve had an opportunity to witness many great Husky hockey players over the years. This past decade was no different. Rather than choosing an all-decade team which would allow me to choose from close to two dozen players, I made it much more difficult on myself  and decided to limit this list to ten players, one for each year of the decade. However, I found it to be an extremely difficult task. I ultimately settled on ten players plus one goaltender. To be eligible, the player was required to have played the majority of his games in the last decade. My list also has a bias towards those players that completed four seasons with the Huskies. With that said, here’s my selections of players that made the biggest impact in my opinion. Players are listed in random order:

VIEW IN A FLIP BOOK FORMAT

Ben Hanowski 2009-13 (Forward) 1 of 11

I often wondered how many points Hanowski would have accumulated had he played a year or two of junior hockey as most players do these days. Hanowski joined the Huskies immediately after high school where he captained the Little Falls, MN high school team. The all-time leading scorer in Minnesota high school hockey history, he had 405 points in 117 games and was a third round selection of the Pittsburgh Penguins of the NHL. A four-year regular for St. Cloud State, he compiled 62 goals and 51 assists for 113 points good for 23rd on the all-time points list for the Huskies. His 62 goals is second among players on this list. Deadly on the power play, his numbers include 22 power play goals and 6 game-winning goals. He was a scorer from his first year but his best year was in 2011-12 when he posted 23 goals and 20 assists  for 43  points in 39 games. He captained the squad his junior and senior seasons and was a key component of the Huskies Frozen Four team in 2012-13.

Currently, Hanowski is playing professional hockey in Germany.

Ben Hanowski (Photo Prout)

Nic Dowd 2010-14 (Forward) 2 of 11

A native of Huntsville, Alabama, Dowd was an immediate impact player for the Huskies in 2010-11 skating in 36 games and producing 18 points including 2 game winning goals. He completed his career with 52 goals and 69 assists placing him in a tie for 17th on the all-time points list with 121. A clutch player, he had 12 career game-winning goals and 17 power play goals with perhaps his biggest in an overtime win over Notre Dame on March 29, 2014 in the NCAA West Regional.  A highly competitive player, he was difficult to play against from a defensive standpoint as he used his size, skating, reach and energetic style of play to neutralize his opponent. Yet, Dowd controlled his physical play to limit his penalty time to under one minute per game on the average.

An outstanding team leader and spokesman, he was a captain his senior season and received numerous NCHC awards including NCHC First All-Star Team, NCHC Scholar-Athlete of the Year, NCHC Defensive Forward of the Year and NCAA First Team All-American. He was also a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award. Strong academically, Dowd helped create a team culture that exists today for SCSU hockey.

A seventh round draft choice of the LA Kings in 2009, he has carved out a six year career in the NHL and is currently with the Washington Capitals.

Nic Dowd (Photo Prout)

Joey Benik 2012-16 (Forward) 3 of 11

A prolific scorer at every level he played, Benik produced 283 points at St. Francis, MN High School good for 6th in all-time Minnesota high school hockey points and 152 points in two seasons for the Penticton Vees of the BCHL. Unfortunately for Benik he suffered a leg fracture in his first official day of practice at SCSU ( I just happened to be there watching practice at the time). This curtailed his ice time to 24 games in his first year and only 12 points. His output progressively increased each year ultimately scoring 59 goals and adding 67 assists for 126 points placing him 13th on the all-time points list. Additionally, his .92 points per game were the third highest on this list behind Kalle Kossila and Jonny Brodzinski. Benik had 19 power play goals and 11 game-winning goals and had a knack for scoring bad angle goals with his deceptively quick wrist shot. Never known for his defense, that progressively improved as well finishing his senior year with a +28.

After splitting time in the American Hockey League and  East Coast Hockey League in 2016-17 he moved on to Europe and is currently playing in the Swiss League.

Joey Benik (Photo Prout)

Jimmy Schuldt 2015-19 (Defense) 4 of 11

Schuldt will go down in SCSU hockey history as one of the most honored and popular players of all time. A captain of his USHL team prior to joining the Huskies, he quickly earned that position on the Huskies as a captain in just his sophomore season. A high achiever academically, his honors over his career as a Husky are almost to numerous to mention. These include NCHC All-Rookie Team, two-time  NCHC First Team, NCHC Player of the Year, NCHC Best Defensive Defenseman, two-time All-American and Hobey Baker Finalist.

Schuldt is the top point producer at defense in SCSU history with 38 goals and 80 assists  for 118 points and is in a tie for 21st on the all-time scoring list. He finished his career with 19 power play goals, 5 game-winning goals and +68.

A four-year player and undrafted, he signed with the NHL’s Las Vegas Golden Knights following his senior season and is now with the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League.

 

Jimmy Schuldt (Photo Prout)

Jack Ahcan 2016-20 (Defense) 5 of 11

Ahcan carries the torch for other undersized but rugged defensemen such as Taj Melson (1992-96 | 151 games, 85 points) and Garrett Raboin (2006-10 | 156 games, 83 points). To date, Ahcan has appeared in 131 games, missing some time as a member of the USA World Junior Team and has compiled 18 goals and 77 assists for 95 points placing him 37th on the all-time points list. With at least 14 games left on the current schedule, Ahcan should surpass the 100 career point mark and make a run at Jimmy Schult’s all-time career points of 118.

Not highly recruited by the blue blood programs probably because of his size, the Huskies hit the jackpot with Ahcan, the current team captain. Extremely durable and a clutch player, he has 5 career game-winning goals and 5 power play goals. He is plus 11 for his career.

Honors for Ahcan include the NCHC All-Rookie team, NCHC Second Team All-Star and NCAA All-American.

Jack Ahcan (Photo Prout)

Charlie Lindgren 2013-16 (Goaltender) 6 of 11

Lindgren sits on top of the goaltending statistics at St. Cloud State. Although he only played three seasons and sparingly in his first year in 2013-14 he made quite an impact his final two seasons. In his sophomore and junior seasons, Lindgren played in 78 of the teams 81 games and compiled a record of 49-27-2. For his career he was 51-29-3 with eight shutouts (second all-time), a 2.21 Goals Against Average (All-time leader) and .921 Save Percentage.

Honors while at St. Cloud State included the NCHC All-Rookie Team, NCHC First All-Star Team, NCHC Goaltender of the Year and First Team All-American.

After his junior season, Lindgren signed with the Montreal Canadiens of the NHL and remains in the organization.

Charlie Lindgren (Photo Prout)

Robby Jackson 2015-19 (Forward) 7 of 11

One of the most charismatic players in Husky hockey history and certainly the best goal celebrations, Jackson was a confident player with a ton of talent. Known for his offense, he was under appreciated for his ability to play defense as well. Joining the Huskies as an 18 year old didn’t hold him back scoring ten goals on a team laden with depth on offense. Jackson would go on to pile up 121 points on 52 goals and 69 assists good for a tie with Nic Dowd for 17th on the all-time scoring list at SCSU. With only 8 power play goals, he was productive five on five and also had six career short-handed goals. With a quick release off the fly, he was able to surprise goaltenders with one of the quickest releases in college hockey.  Jackson also had seven game-winning goals. Rarely in the penalty box, he only had 42 career penalty minutes.

Jackson received few NCHC league awards despite putting up two consecutive 40 point seasons his junior and senior year. However, he was a key ingredient to two consecutive Penrose Cup championships for the Huskies and one of the top forwards in college hockey.

Following his four years at SCSU, Jackson signed a pro contract with the San Antonio Rampage of the American Hockey League. He is currently with the Tulsa Oilers of the East Coast Hockey League.

Robby Jackson (Photo Prout)

Ethan Prow 2012-16 (Defense) 8 of 11

A local product from the St. Cloud area, Prow joined the Huskies as an experienced junior hockey player and was never out of the lineup playing in 39 games his first season. In all, the steady defensive play maker logged a career 149 games with 19 goals and 80 assists and just one point shy of the 100 point mark. Another player who was very disciplined on the ice, he only had 24 career penalty minutes and only two penalty minutes his senior season.

Prow played one season with Jimmy Schuldt and preceded him as team captain. Also, much like Schuldt, Prow was showered with league and national awards particularly his senior season. He was a member of the teams first Penrose Cup Championship and a North Star Cup Championship. He received a load of honors in 2015-16 including NCHC Best Offensive and Defensive Defenseman, NCHC First Team All-Star, NCHC Player of the Year, First Team All-American, Lowes Senior Class First Team All-American and was a Finalist for the Hobey Baker Award. Prow truly had an exemplary career at SCSU.

Following his senior year,  Prow signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins and recently with the Florida Panthers. He has logged 200 games in the American Hockey League and is currently with the Springfield Thunderbirds.

 

Ethan Prow (Photo Prout)

Kalle Kossila 2012-16 (Forward) 9 of 11

Kalle Kossila was one of a string of recruits from Finland to the Huskies in the last decade due to the efforts of coach Mike Gibbons. A highly skilled forward, Kossila finished sixth in all-time points for the Huskies with 48 goals and 105 assists for 153 points.  An astute playmaker, he benefited many of those that played with him including Joey Benik, Jonny Brodzinski, Patrick Russell and Mikey Eyssimont. He also was productive on the power play with 15 power play goals and 4 game-winning goals and was plus 43 for his career. Despite some injuries that hurt his production in 2014-15 he still logged 157 games for the Huskies.

Kossila was a member of the 2013-14 Penrose Cup Championship team and was named an NCHC Scholar Athlete and to the NCHC Second All-Star Team his senior year.

Kossila signed with the Anaheim Ducks of the NHL and subsequently with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2019. He has played in 19 NHL games.

Kalle Kossila (Photo Prout)

Drew LeBlanc 2008-13 (Forward) 10 of 11

LeBlanc reached the Apex of the college hockey world when he was named the Hobey Baker winner in 2013 following a trip to Pittsburgh for the team’s Frozen Four appearance. LeBlanc played for MN high school hockey powerhouse Hermantown and one year in the United States Hockey League before joining the Huskies. Although he produced 79 goals at the high school level and 19 in the USHL, his forte was more as a playmaker and putting his linemates in position to score. Strong on the forecheck and along the wall controlling the puck, his success started his sophomore season with 25 assists. A fracture to his left leg early in 2011 shelved him until the following season and he returned for a highly productive fifth year amassing 50 points on 13 goals and 37 assists and a visit to the Frozen Four.

A two-time captain, LeBlanc garnered mainly academic awards his first three seasons but in his final year, the awards rolled in. He was named WCHA First Team All-Star, WCHA Outstanding Student-Athlete of the Year, WCHA Player of the Year, First Team All-American and of course, the Hobey Baker winner.

He finished his career at SCSU with 147 points, 7th on the all-time list and second on the list in assists with 105.

Following SCSU, Leblanc signed with the Chicago Blackhawks and played two seasons in the American Hockey League before heading to Europe to continue his professional career. He is currently entering his sixth season playing for the Augsburger Panthers in Germany.

Drew LeBlanc (Photo Prout)

Jonny Brodzinski 2012-15 (Forward) 11 of 11

Brodzinski, a legacy recruit, not only followed his father as a player but also as a prolific goal scorer at St. Cloud State. A gunner for the Blaine Bengals high school team, Brodzinski scored 27 goals and added 25 assists for 50 points his senior season prior to a year in the USHL. An impact player from day one with the Huskies, Brodzinski netted 22 goals his first season and finished his three-year career with 64 goals, the most of any player on this list. His career total of 112 points places him 25th all-time. Included in these totals are 15 power play goals and 7 game-winning goals including a crucial game-tying goal with 38 seconds remaining vs Michigan Tech in the NCAA West Region in March of 2015. The Huskies ultimately won that game in overtime.

Brodzinski departed early, signing with the LA Kings after he completed his junior season. He has played in 57 NHL games and during the past off-season, signed with the San Jose Sharks of the NHL. He is currently with the San Jose Barracuda of the American Hockey League.

He was named to the NCHC First All-Star Team in 2015.

Jonny Brodzinski (Photo Prout)

Honorable Mention

The following players were just on the cusp and in many cases just weren’t in the program long enough for us to appreciate what their full impact on the team might be:

Mikey Eyssimont 2015-18 (Forward) 45 Goals, 57 Assists, 102 Points +18 | Tied for 30th in All-Time Points

Nick Jensen 2010-13 (Defense) 15 Goals, 71 Assists,  86 Points +28 | Tied for 45th in All-Time Points

Blake Lizotte 2017-19 (Forward) 22 Goals, 47 Assists, 69 Points +44 | 68th in All-Time Points

David Morley 2011-16 (Forward) 51 Goals, 67 Assists, 118 Points +43 | Tied for 21st in All-Time Points

Patrick Newell 2015-19 (Forward) 38 Goals, 82 Assists, 120 Points +19 | 19th in All-Time Points

Ryan Poehling 2016-19 (Forward) 29 Goals, 46 Assists, 75 points +8 | 58th in All-Time Points

Andrew Prochno 2011-15 (Defense) 16 Goals, 74 Assists, 91 Points +50 | 39th in All-Time Points

Patrick Russell 2014-16 (Forward) 30 Goals, 38 Assists 68 Points +19 | Tied for 74th in All-Time Points

Blake Lizotte (Photo Prout)

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.