St. Cloud, MN – As the Huskies gear up for their season-opening series this weekend with the University of St. Thomas, they held a practice open to the public on Sunday evening September 26th. The intra-squad scrimmage included two periods of five on five and a session of two-minute segments as the team worked on special teams (power play and penalty kill).
If you’re looking for some insightful analysis of this session you’re not going to get it here. It was a night allowing the players to wear the home whites and road reds for the first time this season, stretch the legs, work on some line combinations and get some simulated special teams play. Additionally, all three goaltenders saw action. Of utmost importance was to be sure there were no injuries. However, I can make a few general observations of this interesting session for the fans.
- Easton Brodzinski played the entire session and I have to admit, he’s skating better than I expected. Obviously, it was not a true game competition, and even though he was not wearing the red cross jersey you weren’t going to see anyone barrel into him. But, it appears he’s making tremendous progress and he’ll be in the lineup sooner than later. Brodzinski scored the only goal of the evening off a strong shot from the left circle on the man advantage.
- Clearly, the upper-classmen looked good. Nolan Walker, Sam Hentges, and Micah Miller exhibited great speed and clearly have loads of confidence. Kevin Fitzgerald is what he’s always been. An extremely good and reliable collegiate forward who also is a good team leader. The team is really going to count on these players this season.
- An interesting pairing on defense was NHL Draft choice and senior Nick Perbix and freshman NHL Draft choice, Jack Peart, an 18-year-old who will be one of the youngest players in college hockey. If this pairing sticks, it’ll be fun to see veteran Perbix mentor the youngster Peart. Peart coughed up the puck a few times and got beat wide by some very good SCSU forwards but it’s all part of the learning process for an extremely talented player.
- Jami Krannila was crushing it last night. His confidence is through the roof and he was showing off his straight-out speed all night. Zach Okabe also oozes confidence and the skill of Veeti Miettinen in combination with Krannila will make them one of the scariest lines in the NCHC. Okabe should build off a super performance in the NCAA championship game where, in my opinion, was the most effective SCSU forward.
- Suddenly, Spencer Meier is a senior. Where has the time gone? He was doing some little things last night (puck control, play in small areas, positional play) that only a player who has really dedicated himself to the game will accomplish. His leadership on this team is unquestionable. He’s a great person, a hard worker, and a likable individual. These are the types of players that pull teams together.
- You can tell already, freshman Mason Salquist is going to be a quality collegiate player. He skates and handles the puck well and plays well in traffic. Opponents hate playing against guys like this who are always on the puck and have no fear of planting themselves in the crease. He’ll be fun to watch.
- The depth on defense goes on and on. There isn’t a single player in that unit that couldn’t be playing every game. Quality players will sit due to the numbers game. If you want toughness you have Jaycox and Ziemer. If you want speed you have Donohue and Luedtke. A combination of both is Trejbal. Take your pick.
- Junior Thomas Rocco and sophomore Jack Johnson were both visible last night. They both skate well and play hard. You’re not going to see these guys putting up a lot of offense and they may not be a regular in the lineup. But, championship teams need players like this. There will be a few games where they’ll make a difference along the way. It’s that depth that wins championships.
- Late recruits Aidan Spellacy and Ryan Rosborough were brought in to fill a role of playing good defense, winning faceoffs, and chew up some ice time. Neither looked out of place.
The season starts for real on Saturday, October 2nd in St. Cloud vs the University of St. Thomas in their first-ever Division I game. On Saturday it’s a trip to the Xcel Energy Center for game two of the series.
I’ll have a series preview later in the week.