College Hockey Series of the Week: St. Cloud State vs. Minnesota Duluth
As the NCHC regular season enters its final week, Minnesota Duluth could finish tied for first with North Dakota but cannot win the regular season crown, since the Fighting Hawks clinched it last week.
Instead, No. 5 Minnesota Duluth (20-10-2) will welcome St. Cloud State (13-13-6) to AMSOIL Arena, looking to avenge two earlier losses to the Huskies back in the middle of January.
Since beating North Dakota on Jan. 24, Duluth has been on a tear, going 8-2 in its last 10 games, virtually dominating every team in its path.
UMD’s offensive attack has quite a bit of diversity and is No. 10 in all of college hockey in scoring, averaging 3.23 goals per clip.
Three Bulldogs players have scored more than 30 points, five have more than 10 goals and one player in particular stands out above the rest in the assists category.
St. Louis Blues prospect Scott Perunovich is the defenseman that stands out on the stat sheet with 33 assists and 39 points. His unselfish mentality on the ice allows players like Noah Cates and Cole Koepke to light the lamp.
Alongside Perunovich, Dylan Samberg and Nick Wolff are two other defensemen that can have an impact on a game as well. Samberg and Wolff have a combined 27 points with 26 of them coming by way of assist.
Hunter Shepard has had a fantastic career in the maroon and gold, and he is having yet another strong season. In 32 games, he has a record of 20-10-2, a goals-against average of 2.26 and a save percentage of .915.
On Jan. 11 following a 5-3 loss to Denver, St. Cloud State was left for dead with a record of 6-10-4. Fast forward to now, and the Huskies are in a position to make things extremely uncomfortable for the teams above them.
St. Cloud State is 7-3-2 since Jan. 11 and looks like a completely different team from earlier this season. The Huskies have taken five of six points from North Dakota and a split with Denver over a four-game span.
The Huskies’ offense is in the middle of the pack, ranking No. 28 nationally with 2.82 goals per game, but it has been taking advantage of scoring opportunities.
Easton Brodzinski is the ringleader of the St. Cloud attack, as he is the lone player with double-digit goals (12). He is also the team’s leader in points with 27, but Nick Poehling isn’t far behind with 25.
Poehling, Jack Ahcan and Sam Hentges are all distributors of wealth, as that trio has teamed for 51 assists, each with 17 on the season.
Between the pipes, St. Cloud State has been in good hands. Los Angeles Kings prospect Dávid Hrenák has been one of the main reasons why the Huskies have been able to hit their stride as of late.
In 30 games played, Hrenák has a record of 12-9-6, a goals-against average of 2.67 and a save percentage of .908.
The NCHC is a conference in which anybody can beat anybody on any given night. With the way that these two sides have been playing, it’s going to be 120 minutes of pure excitement, or it could even be more than 120 minutes should a game go to overtime.
Both sides are hot, and something has to give in this series. Two of the most storied programs in all of college hockey are about to go at it in a series well worth watching.
Prediction: 1-1 split
Christopher Hess is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Contributors
Fifth Year / Broadcast Journalism
Hailing from Long Island, Christopher is a fifth-year with experience broadcasting football, volleyball, hockey, baseball, softball and public address announcing. Chris has been featured on State College Saturdays, CommRadio’s Saturday college football pregame show, Daylate Tailgate, CommRadio’s Sunday college football recap show, and on a number of podcasts. Chris also writes a number of articles during football and hockey season and is an insider for the men’s hockey team. Chris is also a co-host on Hockey Night in State College and 1st & 10. Chris is interested in either play-by-play or working in the sports media department for a college or professional sports team alongside being a sports radio personality. To contact Chris, email @email@example.com.