Mar 24, 2023

Huskies Move Onto Regional Final, Aim To Be Last Minnesota Team Standing.

Brian Moos / KVSC Program Director / @brian_moos

The Huskies have moved onto the West Regional Final in the NCAA Tournament. Riding the hot hand of Jaxon Castor, who stopped all 34 Minnesota-State Mankato shots, for his 3rd career shutout. The Huskies needed Castor early, being outshot by Mankato 10-4 in the 1st period and bad start afterwards in the 2nd. The senior netminder in 4 straight wins has stopped 100 shots and given up just 3 goals, good enough for a white-hot .971 SV%. That 97% is the best mark for any NCAA goalie in the playoffs who has played at least 2 games.

Photo Credit: Bill Prout (CenterIceView)

There were 2 Huskies with 2 points in the Regional Semi-Final, Grant Cruikshank and Veeti Miettinen. Miettinen is having one of the best stretches in his career. In 1 months’ time the junior has played 10 games, a 1/4th of his season and has notched 13 points. Those 13 points are a part of his current 36 point campaign, which means Veeti has over a 1/3rd of his points in a quarter of the season.

Photo Credit: Bill Prout (CenterIceView)

With tonight’s contest, an important record was broke tonight, Brendan Bushy is now SCSU’s ironman. The senior defenseman dressed for his 177th career game, besting Easton Brodzinski’s former record of 176. Coach Brett Larson tabbed Brendan as “the model of consistency,” when it came to college hockey.

Brendan Bushy has played in 63 straight games and hasn’t missed a contest since November 20th, 2021. The Thief River Falls native has only missed 4 games in his career.

The Huskies were able to stifle all of Mankato, but neutralizing their top line was key to victory. The line of Fitzgerald-Silye-Sandelin accounted for 97 points on the 2022-23 season. Their output was 8 shots and 0 points.

The line of Snuggerud-Cooley-Knies, will be a much different challenge. When asked if SCSU would have a plan for the Gophers, Brett Larson put it bluntly, “Yes.” For sure not wanting to get into full strategy with that answer, the Huskies will have their hands full. The 3 members of the Gophers top line all average more than a point per game and account for 146 points.

The Huskies and Gophers have tangled before, meeting in January for a win and overtime loss for the Huskies. The 3-0 win on home ice has 2 empty-net goals. SCSU only gave up 1 even-strength goal that weekend, which was during 3 on 3 OT. The Huskies outscored the Gophers 5 on 5 that weekend 2-0.

This Gophers team has lot more talent, and NHL emblems, on paper than the Mankato squad SCSU just dispatched. Minnesota State did not have a player with draft rights to the NHL on their roster, the Gophers have 14. In terms of team numbers though, these squads match up well, with being top 15 in major statistical categories, including powerplay percentage and goals allowed per game.

To follow the potential last matchup between the Gophers and Huskies for a while, you can stay tuned to 88.1 FM KVSC. Sports Director Max Steigauf will be in studio, with KVSC News Director Alexander Fern on play-by-play. Joining Alex on color will be Zac Chapman and myself, Brian Moos. You can listen to the game on the website you’re reading this article on, or an any radio in or near St. Cloud, MN. Follow the KVSC Hockey page on Twitter for all updates in game. Hope to have your ear for the 2023 West Regional Final.

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