College Hockey Series of the Week: No. 7 St. Cloud State at No. 4 Denver
No. 7 St. Cloud State (14-7-1) will travel to No. 4 Denver (18-5-1) for a series taking place on Feb. 4 and 5 at Magness Arena, with puck drop scheduled for 7:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m., respectively.
The Huskies and the Pioneers are two of the biggest heavyweights in college hockey this season.
Denver struggled against other ranked opponents early on, dropping games against the likes of North Dakota and Boston College. However, it has rebounded and swept the likes of Western Michigan and Omaha, two other ranked teams.
Meanwhile, St. Cloud State hasn’t swept any ranked opponents, but it has split plenty of series matchups against them, including Minnesota State-Mankato and Minnesota.
Both teams have proved themselves against other strong opponents but have also played badly against them.
Denver likes to score a lot of goals, scoring 4.6 per game. The Pioneers don’t concede very many, though, with an allowed 2.3 of them per game.
Many of those goals can be attributed to Cameron Wright, who leads the team with 16 goals. Wright, a senior forward from Newmarket, Ontario, has three goals in his last two games.
Although Wright leads Denver in goals, Bobby Brink may be its most important player. Brink leads the Pioneers in both assists (27) and points (35). Brink has a career in the NHL waiting for him when he’s done playing college hockey. The Philadelphia Flyers drafted Brink in the second round of the 2019 NHL Draft.
Denver’s depth extends beyond Brink and Wright. Two other names to watch in this series are Carter Savoie and Brett Stapley. Both Stapley and Savoie are tied for second in points at 30, and both players rank in Denver’s top four in assists.
St. Cloud State, meanwhile, heads out to Colorado with its own skill, but perhaps not as much as its upcoming opponent.
Kevin Fitzgerald and Easton Brodzinski lead the Huskies in goals with 11 each. Nick Perbix leads the team in assists with 20, while Fitzgerald leads the team in points with 26. Perbix and Brodzinski rank second and third behind him in points, respectively.
St. Cloud State has a trustworthy goaltender in David Hrenak. Hrenak, a Slovakian graduate student, has maintained a 2.00 goals-against average and .920 save percentage. Hrenak was also drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the fifth round of the 2018 NHL draft.
Both of these teams are very talented and are capable of beating each other. The series will likely be decided by whether or not a dangerous and deep Denver offense will be able to get the puck past Hrenak. If Hrenak rises to the occasion, he could easily steal the show and send the Huskies back to Minnesota with an upset.
However, expect the Denver Pioneers to take care of business at home and sweep the series. The Pioneers are a better team and have a more proven track record of beating other top opponents this season.
Nolan Wick is a first-year majoring in journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.