Preview: SCSU Faces Boston College for Trip to Frozen Four

(Photo Prout)

Albany, NY – In one of the biggest games in St. Cloud State University hockey history, the Huskies face #1 seed Boston College in the Northeast Regional championship game for the prize of participating in the Frozen Four in Pittsburgh, PA April 8-10. If successful, the Huskies will return to the site of their only other Frozen Four appearance in 2013.

#7 SCSU Huskies (18-10-0)  vs #2 BC Eagles (17-5-1) 

TV: ESPNews
Live Stream: ESPNews/WatchESPN     Canadien TV Schedule
Radio: 96.7 FM (St. Cloud) KVSC 88.1 FM (St. Cloud)
Where: Times Union Center – Albany, NY
When: Sun., Mar. 28 (4:30 PM CT)

Last Time Out

In the quarterfinals of the NCAA Northeast Regional, after a scoreless first period, the Huskies scored six times including three in the final period to dispatch Hockey East’s Terriers by a convincing 6-2 score. It was a crazy game, with unusual goals, extended delays, several five-minute majors, and a penalty shot.

David Hrenak had a solid game in goal stopping 34 of 26 shots for the win. The Brodzinski (2-0-2), Walker (0-3-3), and Miller (1-0-1) line had a productive game with six points. Brodzinski had the game-winning goal. Jami Krannila had a multi-point game with a goal and an assist and scored on a penalty shot.

Boston University received a bye into the championship game due to a “no contest” ruling with Notre Dame due to COVID protocol.

The Eagles last played on March 17th losing to the UMass-Lowell RiverHawks in double overtime 6-5 in the Hockey East semifinals. Alex Newhook had a five-point game with 2 goals and 3 assists. Spencer Knight stopped 43 of 46 shots in the loss.

Head to Head

The Huskies are 3-1-0 all-time vs the Eagles. The Huskies last visited the Eagles in Boston on October 25, 2018, and came away with a convincing 7-0 win. Freshman, at the time, Sam Hentges had the hat trick and Nolan Walker had two goals in the win. David Hrenak stopped all 32 shots on goal in the win.

The teams also met in St. Cloud on October 20-21, 2017 with SCSU sweeping the Eagles by 5-2 and 3-1 scores.

Matt Boldy (Photo Courtesy Boston College Athletics)

Scouting the Boston College Eagles

A perennial power in Hockey East,  the Eagles have been ranked near the top of the polls nearly the entire season. Like much of Eastern college hockey they faced numerous scheduling delays due to COVID protocal. They only had 12 games through the month of February but compiled an outstanding 9-2-1 record. They are 12-3-1 in their last 16 games.

Legendary coach Jerry York has been at the helm of the Eagles since the 1994-95 season and has compiled a 621-328-89 record.

Goaltending 

Goaltending is the domain of sophomore Spencer Knight who has logged 20 of 23 games this season and compiled a 2.13 GAA and .933 SV%. Knight is 4th in the nation in save percentage and 12th in goals-against average. The first-round draft choice of the Florida Panthers was also named Goaltender of the Year in Hockey East and named to the Hockey East First All-Star team. He was also a member of the 2021 Gold Medal-winning USA World Junior Team.

Forwards

the Eagles are blessed with one of the most dangerous lines in college hockey in sophomores Alex Newhouse, Matt Boldy, and Mike Hardman. This line has combined for 27 goals and 36 assists for 53 points. They are also +17. But, the offense does not stop there. Juniors Marc McLaughlin (10-14-24), and Jack McBain (6-13-19) add to the firepower. McLaughlin also has 5 game-winning goals and 2 power-play goals. Freshman, Nikita Nesterenko has also contributed 8 goals and 11 assists for 19 points.

In all, the Eagles have 13 NHL draft choices on their squad including 6 at the forward position.

Defense 

Again, there is lots of depth at defense with 7 NHL Draft choices. Sophomore Drew Helleson leads the unit with 4 goals and 11assists for 15 points and is plus 15. Freshman Eamon Powell (2-12-14) is plus 15 and sophomore Marshall Warren (3-8-11) is plus 16.

Team Statistics 

Record 17-5-1
Pairwise Record 14-2-1
Head-to-Head 0-0-0
Goals 90 / 3.91
Goals Against 54 / 2.35
Power Play 15.9%
Penalty Kill 85.9%
Avg. Height / Weight 6′ 0.46 / 187.7 Ibs.
Avg. Age 20y 4m

Sam Hentges (Photo Prout)

St. Cloud State University Notes

A comprehensive preview of the team is here

The Huskies exceeded preseason expectations and finished second in the league standings nine points behind North Dakota. They are ranked 7th in the country in the USCHO poll and 6th in the College Hockey News Power 16.

Foremost, the play at the blue line by junior and Hobey Baker nominee, Nick Perbix has been a huge boost relieving the void left by the graduation of one of the all-time best at the position in Jack Ahcan. Perbix is currently third on the team in points with 7 goals and 14 assists for 21 points and has three game-winning goals. Perbix is also tied for fourth in the country for points by a defenseman. Perbix was the runner-up in the voting for NCHC offensive defenseman of the year and was chosen as second-team NCHC  All-Conference.

Freshman sensation, Veeti Miettinen ( 11-13-24 +9) with one game-winning goal and five power-play goals leads the team in points. He’s become more explosive as he’s adjusted to playing in the NCHC and was named both NCHC and American Hockey Coaches Association Rookie of the Month for January. He’s a two-time NCHC Rookie of the Week and a nominee for the Hobey Baker Award. He was chosen to the NCHC All-Rookie Team and second-team NCHC All-Conference. Also, on March 11th he was named NCHC Rookie of the Year.

Other key factors to the Huskies’ success on offense have been the play of the junior class of forwards Nolan WalkerMicah Miller, and Sam Hentges. These three have combined for 20% of the team’s goals and 20% of the point totals and three game-winning goals.

Seniors Kevin Fitzgerald and Easton Brodzinski have combined for 22 goals and 13 assists including 4 game-winning goals and 6 power-play goals. Brodzinski has 98 career points and is only 24 points shy of the watermark 100 point club for his career at SCSU. Brodzinski also enters the tournament as the leader in career power-play goals with 21.  Senior transfer Jared Cockrell and senior Will Hammer have both been invaluable for their leadership and ability to log extensive crucial defensive minutes. This week Fitzgerald was named the recipient of the NCHC Sportsmanship Award.

Sophomore forwards Zach Okabe (6-14-20 +7) and Jami Kanilla (11-11-22 +9) have benefitted from being on a line with the dynamic Miettinen but are having a solid season in their own right with two game-winning goals from Krannila and one by Okabe. Both are in the top four in points on the team.

As a unit, the defense is +29 led by junior captain Spencer Meier and senior transfer Brendan Bushy at +7 and +4 respectively. . Senior transfer Seamus Donohue (1-7-8 +10) has been teamed with Nick Perbix and they’ve been a strong pairing.

Goaltending has been solid but not spectacular with David Hrenak logging 83% of the minutes and compiling a .908 save percentage and 2.57 goals-against average placing him 5th in save percentage and goals-against average in the NCHC.  Jaxon Castor is 3-0-0 with a 1.75 GAA and .914 save percentage.

The Huskies have been a third-period team with a +13 differential vs +4 in period one and +1 in period two.

Special teams have been strong with the power play 3rd in the conference at 22.5% and the penalty kill first at 86.5%.

Team Statistics

Record 18-10-0
Pairwise Record 15-7-0 (3-3)   .643
Head-to-Head 0-0-0
Goals 92 / 3.29
Goals Against 74 / 2.64
Power Play 22.0%
Penalty Kill 84.5%
Avg. Height / Weight 6′ 0.26″ / 186.6 lbs.
Avg. Age 22y 3m

Game Prospectus

This game will be a huge challenge for the Huskies facing a team that was given a bye into the championship game. The key question is whether the extended time off for the Eagles is a positive in being rested but a negative in being rusty.

There is no question the Eagles possess one of the most potent offenses in the country and a highly-touted goaltender. The Huskies will have to match lines as well as they can against the Newhook, Hardman and Boldy line. The Huskies have the depth to do so but the higher-seeded Eagles will get the last change.

The Eagles power play is somewhat deceiving at 15.9% but is still dangerous. The Huskies simply can give the Eagles a free opportunity on the power play.

the Huskies will need good gap play and another strong performance out of David Hrenak who is sure to be tested.

The Huskies tend to match up well against good skating teams and have defeated the Eagles three times in a row. This will be one of the Huskies’ biggest tests of the season.

 

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