Feb 16, 2023

Huskies Begin Final Stretch of Season With Trip to North Dakota

By Alexander Fern / @AlexInTheBooth

The St. Cloud State Men’s Hockey (18-8-2) team begins the final three weeks of the season in Grand Forks North Dakota when they will face off against the scuffling Fighting Hawks (12-13-4) this Saturday and Sunday.


The Huskies last played two weeks ago at the HBNHC when they met the Miami RedHawks.

The Huskies had an overall disappointing weekend tying both games against the last place RedHawks (3-3, 1-1) But the Huskies still secured 4 points on the weekend, so it’s not all gloom and doom.

Head Coach Brett Larson said after Saturday’s game that he would “roll tonights team out against anybody. I thought we looked good tonight.” The Saturday game ended in a 1-1 tie with an SCSU shootout win to garner the extra point. The Huskies are now in a three-way tie for 2nd place in the NCHC with Nebraska-Omaha, and Western Michigan both also trailing first place Denver.


It’s no secret that North Dakota is in the final stretch of a disappointing season.

The Hawks sit in 7th place in the NCHC with 6 more games to go and there are several things you can point at as to why they have been underwhelming so far and we will touch on the main one.


North Dakota has been running a bit of a tandem as well this season.

Drew DeRidder and Jakob Hellsten have battled for the crease all year long, and neither one of them has pulled away (akin to SCSU). But in the way that SCSU is waiting for either Basse or Castor to separate themselves, DeRidder and Hellsten have not been good so far this year.


The younger Hellsten holds a .875 SV% whereas DeRidder bolsters a .890. Those aren’t great numbers when it comes to collegiate goaltending.

SCSU saw both when the two teams played in St. Cloud in December and put up 13 goals on the weekend. It will be interesting to see who the Hawks roll out this week.


The Huskies have struggled as of late being 4-4-2 in their last 10 games. NoDak is 5-5 in their last 10 and are reeling from a sweep at the hands of Denver in the Mile High City.

North Dakota is getting to the point in the year where they’re starting to realize that they most likely won’t be playing in the national tournament for the first time in a while. But sometimes those are the most hungry teams.

NoDak has nothing to lose as College Hockey News has their chances of making the NCAA Tournament at >3% as of now. So I would expect North Dakota to play like they have nothing to lose, and I might expect that to include some risky plays, some high-octane offense, and such.

On the SCSU side, they have everything to play for.

The Huskies are still in the race for the Penrose Cup at this point. With Omaha playing Miami, and WMU hosting CC, it’s looking like that SCSU will need all 6 points to stay in 2nd place after this weekend.

The Huskies have been struggling on offense as of late and some of that is accredited to some players who started out blistering, are starting to cool off.

Grant Cruikshank is one of those players. Cruikshank is a Hobey Baker candidate, but has been a little quiet as of late. He has one goal in his last 5 games, which is fine, but his start was insane to see and even with 3 points in his last 6 games, it feels as if he’s been quiet.

One guy that needs to get going is Micah Miller.

Micah had 2 shootout goals against Miami two weeks ago, but hasn’t seen the scoresheet since January 14th against CC, and hasn’t scored a goal since November 11th.

Micah enjoys playing the villain role. He has some of his best games when the Huskies are in enemy territory, and has 5 career points (2-3-5) at Ralph Engelstad Arena. If he can get going, the Huskies will have an added threat on offense, which in turn will allow Kyler Kupka and Grant Cruikshank to have more room to work on their game on that line.


This series will be very telling as to what SCSU will experience on the last leg of the season. If SCSU gets back to how they want to play, the Huskies will be in a very good place come Frozen Faceoff, if not, it could be very concerning.

SCSU historically doesn’t play well at REA (18-39-8) and haven’t won in Grand Forks since March 2nd 2018.

I’d expect the Huskies to secure 4 points on the weekend with an OT loss on Friday. The Huskies play better on Saturdays this season and I wouldn’t expect that to stop now.

Dominic Basse seemed to gain a little separation against Miami when he allowed 4 goals all weekend, and didn’t allow any goals in the 13 shots he faced in the shootouts on Friday and Saturday. So it will be something to watch this weekend as to whether it’s Basse or Castor.


It’s trivia weekend at KVSC, which means that these games will not be on 88.1 FM. But instead will be on 97.5 RadioX. Alexander Fern will be traveling to Grand Forks for the series and will be on the call solo on Saturday, with pregame beginning at 5:40 and puck drop at 7. On Saturday, KVSC Sports Director and Fox 9+ intermission host Ryan McNamara will be joining Alexander on the call. Puck drop is slated for 6:00 on Saturday. Fern will be on play-by-play for both games, and McNamara will be the analyst in the final game of the weekend showdown.

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