Frozen 4 School Hockey Workforce Preview: St. Cloud State with out Brodzinski, however nonetheless hungry to win two extra video games in Pittsburgh

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St. Cloud State’s Kevin Fitzgerald (28) and Jami Krannila (13) have fun a objective throughout the 2020-21 season (picture: Russell Hons).

That is the second of 4 workforce previews for the groups which have reached the Frozen 4 this week in Pittsburgh.

ST. CLOUD STATE

Season report: 16-9-0

How they received to Pittsburgh: Beat Boston College 6-2, beat Boston School 4-1 within the Northeast regional

High gamers: Freshman ahead Veeti Miettinen (11-13-24), sophomore ahead Jami Krannila (11-12-23), junior defenseman Nick Perbix (7-16-23), sophomore ahead Zach Okabe (6-15-21)

High goalie: Dávid Hrenák (16-9, 2.50 GAA, .910 SV%)

Why they may win the nationwide championship: St. Cloud has nearly been scoring for enjoyable these days. The Huskies scored a mixed 10 objectives in Albany in opposition to two Hockey East powers, and SCSU hasn’t been restricted to below two objectives scored in a sport in over a month.

Why they won’t win the nationwide championship: Senior ahead Easton Brodzinski (8-5-13) is out with a damaged proper femur suffered within the Northeast regional remaining, and the Huskies will miss his presence enormously.

Though this can be a NCAA event the place not one of the 4 regionals’ top-seeded groups made it to the Frozen 4, St. Cloud State is probably enjoying with as a lot proverbial home cash as any workforce left within the discipline.

The Huskies discovered themselves within the “others receiving votes” column in USCHO’s preseason ballot, and so they had been listed fourth within the NCHC’s personal preseason media ballot. Neglect all that, as a result of SCSU positive as heck did. The Huskies reached the NCHC playoff remaining after which gained the Northeast Regional, beating Boston College and Boston School by a mixed rating of 10-3.

SCSU will present a unique look in Pittsburgh with Brodzinski out injured. Seven extra seniors may have an enormous say, although, on how their workforce fares in its first Frozen 4 look since 2013, and simply the workforce’s second all-time.

“Clearly it’s been our objective from the beginning of the yr,” third-year coach Brett Larson stated of SCSU’s run to Pittsburgh. “We had been a workforce that, firstly of the yr, wasn’t picked to be within the high 20, and we had a objective for ourselves to complete within the high half of our league and make a run in our league event and make the NCAA event and finally make the Frozen 4.

“I feel, proper now, they really feel like they’ve completed a couple of of their objectives, and so they’re hungry to perform one other one.”

The Huskies may have loads of motivation nonetheless, and never simply from the nationwide championship trophy. They’ll even be enjoying for Brodzinski, an All-Area choice this season who had 55 objectives and 98 factors in 140 profession school video games.

“He’s extremely dissatisfied,” Larson stated of Brodzinski’s damage. “He’s a man that has put his coronary heart and soul into this program for 4 years. His title is synonymous with this system, clearly, and the entire laborious work he’s put in, and now he can’t go be part of this, it’s actually robust on him.

“He simply needs this so dangerous for this workforce and this program, and that’s robust. However, our guys, I feel from the second he went down, used it as type of a rallying cry. Everyone knows we have to deliver a bit bit extra after we lose any individual like that, so I feel that’s the sensation within the room proper now: we need to do it from Easton.”

And so they have been. Brodzinski left the Northeast Regional remaining a couple of minute into the second interval after receiving a clear hit in Boston School’s zone. SCSU was down 1-0 on the time, however objectives later in that interval from Luke Jaycox, Will Hammer and Nolan Walker turned the sport on its head. Micah Miller put a bow on the come-from-behind win with an empty-netter within the sport’s remaining minute.

Brodzinski, Jaycox, Walker, Perbix and Hrenák all earned All-Regional honors. Hrenák was named essentially the most excellent participant of the event, beating out BC goalie and Mike Richter Award finalist Spencer Knight.

Talking of awards, Larson is up for the Spencer Penrose Award, given to the NCAA males’s hockey Division I coach of the yr, for the second time in his three seasons behind SCSU’s bench. He additionally is aware of a factor or 20 about what it takes to place collectively a nationwide championship-caliber squad. Minnesota Duluth gained NCAA titles in 2011 and 2018 with Larson on the employees at his alma mater,

This season’s SCSU workforce is on a mission, nevertheless it’s additionally a program that has come a great distance in a comparatively brief period of time. The Huskies had been the No. 1 nationwide seed within the 2019 NCAA event, fell on the first hurdle in opposition to American Worldwide after which went 13-15-6 final season.

It’s not laborious to see why SCSU was unfancied by many outsiders heading into this season, however these lowered expectations and ache from two years in the past at the moment are specks within the Huskies’ rear-view mirror.

“I answered this query loads going into (final) week, and to be trustworthy, it nearly annoyed me as a result of I felt like this can be a new workforce, and I take advantage of COVID for instance,” Larson stated. “With no playoff final yr, and being nearly two years eliminated, it felt contemporary, it felt new. The workforce wasn’t wanting again, they weren’t wanting forward, and I feel a part of that is likely to be COVID as a result of, with COVID, you’ll be able to solely rely on the day you’re in.

“You don’t know what’s going to occur the subsequent day, so the previous doesn’t actually matter a lot, the longer term doesn’t actually matter a lot, and this workforce all the time simply felt like a really contemporary, new mentality of being grateful for the day we’ve and benefiting from it. I feel that’s the perspective we’re going to proceed right here with.”

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