Article written by Sam Goetzinger
March 25th marked day one for the St. Cloud State Men’s Hockey Team in the opening round of the Allentown Regional. The Huskies drew the three-seed in the region after a tough sweep against Minnesota-Duluth in the first round of the NCHC Conference Tournament. With eyes on another NCAA Championship game, two-seed Quinnipiac stood in the way.
SCSU this season entered with just 18 wins which marked the lowest by any team coming into the national tournament. The Bobcats on the other hand dominated college hockey on the east coast with 31 wins on the year. Both teams have had experience against each other on the sport’s biggest stage as the Huskies and Bobcats met in the 2013 Frozen Four with Quinnipiac cruising to a 4-1 win in the national semifinals.
In last Friday’s matchup, Quinnipiac marched to an early two goal lead with a pair of slick goals past Junior Jaxon Castor who got the start after Senior David Hrenak was forced to miss the game after being hospitalized with pneumonia. The second period was all Huskies storming to their first lead of the game with three goals in the frame from Seniors Sam Hentges and Nolan Walker, and with a beautiful tip from Junior Kyler Kupka. The Bobcats did respond with one in the second period pushing the score tied at three going into the final period of regulation. Opening the third, the Bobcats turned on the scoring early 27 seconds in to find their third lead of the game. The Huskies struggled to find offense in the final 20-minutes, Quinnipiac however did, with the eventual game winner coming eight-minutes into the final frame. With their backs against the wall St. Cloud State was faced to pull castor for the final two-minutes down by a pair of goals for the second time in the game. In the final minute of play, Walker notched his second of the game past first year goaltender Yaniv Perets to push the Huskies within one. The pressure continued in the final 30-seconds with a barrage of quality scoring chances, but Perets answered the bell on every single one helping Quinnipiac hold on and advance in the opening round of the Allentown Regional. With a final score of 5-4 the Huskies season would come to an end, however with four goals it would be the most surrendered by the Bobcats this season up to that point.
“What I liked about our team was that we never got off our game — that might have been one of the most complete 60-minute games we played… We were disciplined, didn’t take any penalties. We played hard throughout” remarked Head Coach Brett Larson of SCSU.
With the season coming to an end, the Huskies finished with an 18-15-4 overall record and will be losing a strong senior class.
“They put this team right up in the top 10 in the country every year… They’ve been a fun team to watch and a really fun team to coach,” said Larson. “They’re great kids. They love each other. They care about the program. They care about the university and the people that they represent and they’re just a really good group of guys that I’ve been really blessed to be able to coach.”
Next season SCSU will be without Defensemen Seamus Donohue and Luke Jaycox. Forwards Kevin Fitzgerald, Easton Brodzinski and Sam Hentges. They also will have to fill the absence of Goaltender David Hrenak and potentially more as the offseason rolls on.