Article written by Brooklyn Purowitz. Photo provided by SmugMug.
The St. Cloud State men’s hockey team traveled to Fargo, N.D. for the 2023 NCAA Regional Tournament. University of Minnesota, Canisius and Minnesota State Mankato joined St. Cloud State in the tournament.
St. Cloud State faced Minnesota State Mankato in the first game of the tournament on Thursday, March 23. Minnesota and Canisius faced off later in game two of the evening.
Minnesota won 9-2.
In the last six games between these two rivals, St. Cloud State won five games and Mankato won one.
The Huskies and Mavericks faced off earlier this season during St. Cloud State’s homecoming weekend. The Huskies swept the series 3-2 in game one and 4-3 in game two.
The Mavericks outshot the Huskies 34-21, but senior goaltender Jaxon Castor saved all shots on net by the Mavericks.
Four Huskies found the back of the net as the Mavericks remained scoreless.
Junior Veeti Miettinen put St. Cloud State up with a wrister on the power play. Less than five minutes later, defensemen Jack Peart fired a shot from the faceoff circle, putting the Huskies up by two.
In the final frame, Zach Okabe found the back of the net on the third attempt made by the Huskies.
Later on in the final period, the Mavericks pulled their goalie with St. Cloud State up by three.
Grant Cruikshank made the empty net goal and finalized the shutout score 4-0.
With their shutout win over Minnesota State, Jaxon Castor recorded back-to-back shutouts, Veeti Miettinen reached 36 points on the season and Zach Okabe hit 95 career points.
Castor became the first goaltender in St. Cloud State program history to stop all shots faced in an NCAA Tournament game.
The Huskies now face another interstate rivalry matchup on Saturday, March 25 against the Minnesota Gophers.
This will be St. Cloud State’s sixth NCAA Regional Championship game appearance in program history.
For fifth year, Grant Cruikshank, he is going up against a team he played on just a year ago–a team that made it to the Frozen Four.