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2018-19 Men's Hockey Season Preview

10/12/2018 - 10:50 AM

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2018-19 Men's Hockey Season Preview
Credit: SCSU Athletics

The St. Cloud State University men’s hockey team is getting ready to drop the puck on their 2018-19 season this weekend.

 

The Huskies had a successful 2017-18 season which saw them finish 25-9-6, spend most of the season ranked inside the top 5, and win the NCHC regular season championship. But, the Huskies season ended earlier they had hoped when they fell to The Air Force Academy in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Then, less than a week after their season ended, they were tasked with replacing former head coach Bob Motzko after he left for the University of Minnesota.

 

Enter Brett Larson.

 

Larson has spent the last three seasons as an assistant at NCHC rival Minnesota Duluth where the team just won a national title a year ago. Now, Larson is tasked with getting the Huskies over the hump and bringing them their first national title.

 

Finding offense should be of little concern as the Huskies will return eight of their top ten scorers from a team that was the 4th highest scoring in the nation a year ago. Leading the way from that group are Jimmy Schuldt and Robby Jackson who elected to return for their senior seasons. Jackson led the Huskies in scoring a year ago posting a line of 15-27-42 in 40 games played. Meanwhile Schuldt notched 10 goals and finished as the 3rd highest scoring defenseman in the NCAA.

 

The biggest question mark for the Huskies entering the 2018-19 season is who the team will go with in goal. There’s an old saying in football: if you’ve got two quarterbacks, you don’t have one. But, that saying may not apply here. Jeff Smith and David Hrenak both return after successful seasons last year. Smith is entering his senior season with St. Cloud State, while Hrenak is in his second year on campus. Both goaltenders played in over 19 games a year ago and each posted double digit wins, but Hrenak had a better goals against average and save percentage (2.11, .919) than Smith (2.58, .910).

 

Coach Larson will have to decide if he wants to go with two goaltenders throughout the year or decide on a number one to ride throughout the year. Last year, Larson and Minnesota Duluth road Hunter Shepard all the way to a national title, and it will be interesting to see how the goalie situation plays out throughout the year.

 

The Huskies enter this season with high hopes, high expectations, and a no. 5 ranking. But they still have a lot to prove. The NCHC is loaded. Duluth, Denver, North Dakota, and Western Michigan all hold spots in the top 20 to open the season. It certainly won’t be a cake walk for the reigning Penrose Cup champions, but it should be an entertaining season.

 

The Huskies open up their season this weekend at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and return home for their home opener next weekend against Northern Michigan.

 

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