Preview: SCSU Huskies Host the Omaha Mavericks this Weekend

(Photo Prout)

St. Cloud, MN – After beginning the conference season on the road in Colorado last weekend, the top-ranked Huskies return to the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center to face the Omaha Mavericks. It’s been a tough venue for the Mavericks having won just three times in St. Cloud in the last 13 games. However, they bring a veteran team with 17 upperclassmen and will look to change that trend this weekend in St. Cloud.

#1 SCSU Huskies (2-0-0/8-2-0) vs #11 Omaha Mavericks (1-1-0/8-2-0) 

TV: Fox 9+ (Friday/Saturday)
Live Stream: NCHC.tv ($)    
Live Audio Stream: KNSI 
Radio:1450 AM KNSI (St. Cloud) 88.1 FM KVSC (St. Cloud)
Where: Herb Brooks National Hockey Center – St. Cloud, MN
When: Fri., Nov. 12 / 7:30 PM CT | Sat., Nov. 13 / 6:00 PM CT

Last Time Out

The Huskies opened the conference season in Colorado Springs vs the CC Tigers last weekend sweeping the Tigers by scores of 3-2 and 4-1. On Friday, in a tightly contested game, the Huskies had to rely on a late third-period power-play goal by Jami Krannila to send the game to overtime. Once again, Krannila scored 3:08 into the extra session for the 3-2 win. Seamus Donohue had three assists and David Hrenak stopped 32 of 34 shots.

In the Saturday rematch, a two-goal first period was all that was needed as the top-ranked Huskies continued their decade-long undefeated streak in Colorado Springs with a 4-1 win at Ed Robson Arena. Four different players scored including a short-handed goal by Micah Miller as SCSU improved remained undefeated in Colorado Springs over the last decade.

Omaha had a split weekend with the Miami RedHawks at Baxter Arena dropping game 1 by a 4-3 score. Miami scored four times on 13 shots including two goals in the final five minutes of period three in the win.

On Saturday, the Mavericks outshot the RedHawks 39-19 and scored four times before Miami got on the board in the 4-1 win. Four different players scored for the Mavericks in the win.

Head to Head

The Huskies are 26-12-2 all-time vs Omaha going back to 1998. SCSU has dominated this opponent going 3-2-0 in the last 5, 8-2-0 in the last 10, and 16-4-0 in the last 20. The last meeting between the two squads was on December 13, 2020, in the NHC Pod with the Mavericks shutting out the Huskies 2-0.

 

Isaiah Saville (Photo Prout)

Scouting the Omaha Mavericks

With a lineup virtually intact from last season, strong goaltending, and balanced scoring, this could be the surprise team of the NCHC in 2021-22. The team returns their top fourteen-point producers and a workhorse goaltender in Isaiah Saville. The defense has size and experience and the ability to put up some offense.

Goaltending

The Mavericks return one of the top goaltenders in the league in Alaska native Isaiah Saville. The experienced junior has appeared in a career 61 games and carries a 2.75 GAA and.908 SV%. Thus far this season Saville’s 1.75 GAA places him 14th nationally.

Saville is backed up by Austin Roden who has appeared in one game with a 1.00 GAA and .940 SV%. Sophomore Jacob Zab from Pittsburgh is the other rostered goaltender and has yet to appear in a game.

Defense

The Mavericks return a large core of blueliners that provide experience and depth. The defense is not flashy but solid and consistent in play with senior Jason Smallidge, juniors Kirby Proctor and Brandon Scanlin, and the confidence of North Dakota transfer Jonny Tychonick. 6’3″ 200 pound Victor Mancini and Davis Pennington are first-year recruits out of the USHL that should both see ice time.

With Jonny Tychonick out with an injury, freshman Victor Mancini has been thrust into action and has appeared in 10 games.  Scanlin is the top-scoring defenseman with a goal and 10 assists for 11 points.

Forwards

The team has the skill, scoring punch, and toughness at forward led by Chayse Primeau, Taylor Ward, Tyler Weiss, captain Kevin Conley, Jack Randl, Joey Abate, and Matt Miller who netted 8 goals as a rookie. First-year forward Cameron Berg is a 2021 draft choice of the New York Islanders and produced 27-31-58 in 51 games in the USHL. He should make an impact as a first-year player.

Taylor Ward is the top-scoring forward in the nation with 11 goals and 8 assists for 19 points. Tyler Weiss is tied for 17th with 12 points. University of Minnesota transfer Brannon McManus has been a nice addition producing 3 goals and 7 assists for 10 points (4th on the team).

Team Statistics 

 

Record 8-2-0
Pairwise Record 7-1-0 (1-1)   .800
Head-to-Head 0-0-0
Goals 43 / 4.30
Goals Against 17 / 1.70
Power Play 27.8%
Penalty Kill 91.8%
Avg. Height / Weight 6′ 0.21″ / 187.7 lbs.
Avg. Age 22y 2m

Jami Krannila (Photo Prout)

St. Cloud State University Huskies Notes

The 2020-21 national runner-up Huskies have the luxury of minimal departures from last season. Team additions outweigh the departures and that’s what gives a great deal of optimism for the 2021-22 season. With a demanding 2021-22 schedule, the Huskies have been up to the task going 5-1-0 on the road including road wins over top four teams the University of Minnesota and Minnesota State University, Mankato. Their two losses have been by a goal including one in overtime on a controversial play.

Goaltending

Goaltending continues to be a strength with veterans David HrenakJaxon Castor, and Joey Lamoreaux all returning. Hrenak returns for his fifth season and his career includes 124 games, 2.36 GAA, .911 SV%, and 12 shutouts. He’s been outstanding so far with a 1.39 GAA and .944 SV%.

Backups Castor and Lamoreaux could be starters on many other teams but only saw action in seven games last season. Both have seen one game thus far with Lamoreaux carrying a 2.52 GAA and .947 SV% and Castor 1.00 GAA and .969 SV%.

Forwards

At forward, the team returns a whole lot of experience with six seniors and five juniors. They return the top eight goal scorers and point producers including linemates Veeti MiettinenJami Krannila, and Zach Okabe who produced a combined 28 goals and 69 points.

Also returning is senior Nolan Walker who had a breakout year on offense with 10 goals and 14 assists for 24 points. Easton Brodzinski finished the season as the team’s top goal-scorer with 13 goals but sustained a fractured femur in the Boston College semi-final finishing his season. However, he made a triumphant return to the ice vs St Thomas in the opening weekend scoring two goals and while becoming a member of the 100 career point club.

Fifth-year senior forward Kevin Fitzgerald decided to return and he’s a key component of the offense and special teams and currently leads the team in points with 13 and has 4 power-play goals. Jami Krannila is second in scoring with 10 points and has three game-winning goals. Micah Miller has 2 short-handed goals.

Senior and Minnesota Wild draft choice Sam Hentges and juniors Chase Brand and Kyler Kupka are others that will be key contributors and are expected to bury the puck more this season. Joe MolenaarThomas RoccoJack Johnston, and newcomers Mason Salquist, Robert Morris transfer Aiden Spellacy and Ryan Rosborough will be vying for ice time as well.

In all 21 players have at least a point.

Defense

The defense is deep and talented and led by senior captain Spencer Meier and NCHC preseason all-league team pick and senior Nick Perbix. Perbix had a breakout season in 2020-21 posting 7 goals and 16 assists and was plus-eight. Seamus Donohue, a fifth-year seniorwas a Michigan Tech transfer, meshed well with Perbix, and logged a ton of minutes. Luke JaycoxBrendan BushyOndrej Trejbil, and Brady Ziemer are all experienced veterans that bolster the strength of a defensive unit that finished the season +41 last year.

Newcomers include two-year USHL veteran Josh Luedtke and Minnesota Wild draft choice Jack Peart who has been paired with Nick Perbix. Both have been impressive, are puck movers, and will change the dynamics and personality of this defense. Peart has missed the last two games with an injury but has a goal and 3 assists for 4 points in 7 games.

The defensive unit is currently plus 22 with Brendan Bushy leading the group with 7 assists and +4.

Team Statistics

Record 8-2-0
Pairwise Record 7-1-0 (1-1)   .800
Head-to-Head 0-0-0
Goals 38 / 3.80
Goals Against 14 / 1.40
Power Play 43.6%
Penalty Kill 87.5%
Avg. Height / Weight 5′ 11.93″ / 183.0 lbs.
Avg. Age 22y 8m

Game Prospectus

This is a clash of teams with an identical overall record and surprisingly the Maverick’s first road trip after 10 straight games on home ice. Both teams enter the series with a lot of goal production (4.30 Omaha vs 3.80 SCSU) and solid defensive play (1.70 Omaha vs 1.40 SCSU). However, there’s quite a difference in the strength of schedule with the Huskies schedule ranked 8th and the Mavericks 49th.

Much like the Huskies, the Mavericks are a veteran team with depth at every position. Both teams like to shoot the puck with a nearly identical shooting percentage of close to 13 percent. Both teams have exemplary special teams numbers making this an interesting matchup. Both teams have favorable faceoff success with Omaha 56.5% and SCSU 53%.

Both teams have balanced scoring throughout all three periods and both have exceptional offensive performers.

Considering this is the Maverick’s first road trip, they may have a slight adjustment to the larger rink size in St. Cloud. Additionally, as the home team, the Huskies can take advantage of the last change. Also, see the injury report below. This could be a major factor this weekend with five regulars out of the lineup.

There’s no easy weekend in the NCHC  whether on the road or at home. Teams this closely matched generally see the games decided by mistakes, special teams play, and goaltending.

Critical for both teams is puck management and stout defensive play as both squads have game-breakers in the lineup.

Injury Update

Forward Sam Hentges and defenseman Jack Peart did not make the road trip to Colorado Springs. Hentges is currently listed as “week to week” and Peart “day to day.”

For the Mavericks, the latest word is that Matt Miller, Chayse Primeau, Jason Smallidge, Martin Sundberg and Jonny Tychonick will be unavailable this weekend. That’s some heavy timber out of the lineup.

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