College Hockey Series of the Week: Minnesota-Duluth vs. St. Cloud State
Even with North Dakota lifting the Penrose Cup as the NCHC regular season champions this past weekend, meaningful points are still up for grabs as No. 10 Minnesota-Duluth (12-8-2) hosts No. 6 St. Cloud State (14-8-0) for a pivotal showdown.
Currently, in the NCHC standings, St. Cloud State holds second place with 43 points, while Minnesota-Duluth sits at third place with 39 points, just one point above Nebraska-Omaha.
With the NCHC Tournament around the corner, points are a high commodity for seeding in the tournament.
Minnesota-Duluth has been a powerhouse in collegiate hockey for many years. Despite losing their last three games versus Colorado College and Western Michigan, the Bulldogs have the talent and capability to end their season with momentum.
Nick Swaney, Cole Koepke and Kobe Roth anchor the Bulldogs forward lines. Swaney, a Hobey Baker candidate, leads all skaters in points with 24 and assists with 14. Koepke leads the team in goals with 12, while Roth is tied with Swaney for second in goals with 10.
From the blue line, don’t expect much, as none of the Bulldogs defensemen have more than one goal. However, the defensive unit is led by a freshman-senior duo of Wyatt Kaiser and Matt Cairns. Kaiser leads defensemen in points with nine; Cairns trails by three with six points.
Between the pipes, Ryan Fanti has played the majority of the games this season. In 17 games played, the sophomore has posted a record of 9-6-2, a goals-against average of 2.28 and a save percentage of .906, giving up five goals in his last two starts.
On the other side, St. Cloud State has been lighting up the lamp this February, scoring 19 goals in just five games: a complete offensive onslaught on the NCHC as the tournament approaches.
Up front, the Huskies are led by Veeti Miettinen, Easton Brodzinski and Nolan Walker. Miettinen, in his freshman year, leads the team in goals with 22, averaging a point per game, followed by Brodzinski with his team-leading 10 goals and Walker with his eight goals and 17 points.
The defensive unit is piloted by Nick Perbix and Spencer Meier, both highly active defensemen. Perbix leads all defensemen in goals and points (five and 18 on the season); Meier slides right behind Perbix, collecting three goals and 10 points.
In net, David Hrenak has had an average season. In 18 games played, the Los Angeles Kings fifth-round 2018 NHL draft pick has produced a record of 11-7-0, a goals-against average of 2.47 and a save percentage of .910. Despite the record, Hrenak is coming off a shutout against Colorado College on Feb. 20.
With four points separating the two teams from second and third place in the NCHC, along with Nebraska-Omaha hot on the tail of Minnesota-Duluth, expect a feisty showdown between the two in-state rivals.
Prediction: Series Split
Jordan Hession is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Junior / Broadcast Journalism