By Alexander Fern / Sports Director / @AlexInTheBooth
The St. Cloud State men’s Hockey team is traveling to Colorado Springs this weekend to take on the red-hot Colorado College Tigers in a rematch of the 2023 NCHC Championship.
LAST TIME OUT
The Huskies were de-facto swept by Nebraska Omaha last weekend when they lost 7-6 in OT on Friday, and tied (shootout loss) 1-1 on Saturday. SCSU played a fairly decent offensive brand of hockey last weekend, but were failed by their defense at points throughout the series.
“It’s tough because we feel like we are playing some of our best hockey these last two weeks.” Head Coach Brett Larson said. “We had a stretch just like this last year where we weren’t winning games outright, but we were still getting points every weekend.”
A Look Around The NCHC
The Huskies are 0-3-3 in the year 2024, and sit second in the NCHC behind the North Dakota Fighting Hawks. Denver and Colorado College are tied for third place in the conference with 23 points and are nipping at the Huskies heels right now.
There is a chance that if the Huskies are swept this weekend, they could fall to third place in the conference. Conversely, if SCSU were to sweep this weekend and Miami (OH) (who SCSU plays next weekend) were to steal a couple from UND in Oxford, the Huskies could be right back in first. Any given thing can happen this weekend.
EYE OF THE TIGER
Some people touted Colorado College as a sleeper team to make some noise in the NCAA tournament this year, and they are playing really well as of late after getting off to a sluggish start.
Colorado College’s 15-8-1 record and 15 wins after 24 games is their best in a season since 2007-08 (started 18-6). The Tigers are tied for 11th in the country with 15 victories. This is also their highest NCAA ranking since 2011.
The Tigers are led by Forward Rangers Draft-Pick Noah Laba, and Goaltender Kaidan Mbereko, both of whom garnered NCHC Forward, and Goalie of the month honors for January.
Last season, the Huskies swept the Tigers in CC,split at the HBNHC, and SCSU got the victory in the NCHC championship game in St. Paul. The Huskies took 9 out of the possible 12 points out of the series, and won 4 out of the 5 contests.
CC is 6-5-1 at home this season, and has had a majority of their success on the road this year. They did sweep Miami at home two weekends ago, but those two games were their first home conference wins of the season.
CC is coming off of a sweep of Western Michigan in Kalamazoo where CC won both games via Noah Laba overtime game-winning-goals. This marks the second time this season where CC has “swept” a team on the road with both games going into overtime.
SCSU has a 17-game unbeaten streak (16-0-1) against the Tigers in Colorado Springs dating back to Feb. 22, 2013, and the Huskies have never lost at the newly opened Ed Robson Arena in the Rocky Mountain State.
Former Tiger Goaltender and now Husky Dominic Basse has never lost to CC in his Husky career. In fact, he has not let in a goal in his 2 games against the Tigers.
WHAT TO EXPECT
This series is very tough to gauge…
On one hand, SCSU is playing decent hockey, the results just aren’t coming right now on the Win/Loss record. There aren’t really a lot of changes that can be made other than the occasional new face on the third or fourth line and the extra defenseman.
Goaltending however, is going to be something to look at this weekend. Basse has had great success against his former club, however in Basse’s last four games, he has .835 save% with a 4.68 GAA. Those numbers cannot be accepted right now. And Coach Larson as well as Basse know that. Expect him to get at least one start this weekend.
Conversely, if you look at the backup situation, Isak Posch is coming off an injury that kept him out play the last two weeks, and he had played well in his first two tastes of NCHC hockey this season with a shootout loss to Omaha, and a Shootout win over Denver.
James Gray played really well on Saturday against Omaha. In fact, he’s arguably the main reason that SCSU got a second point out of last weekend. He looked very on-target in, and outside of the crease.
It’ll be interesting to see which goalies make the trip, or if all three make the trip. But That’s why they play the games.
Colorado College is a very good hockey team, and this should be a matchup of great youth from CC (Freshmen and sophomores have combined for 48 of the team’s 72 goals and 109 of the 185 points. 27 of CC’s last 38 goals, including eight of the last 10, have been scored by freshmen or sophomores.) And stoic “Brett Larson Hockey” from the Huskies.
HOW TO TUNE IN
Both games this weekend will be broadcast live on KVSC with Brian Moos and Alexander Fern on the call in Colorado Springs, and Gavin Nelson running things in-studio.
Game times for this weekend are 8:00 PM CST on Friday, and 7:00 CST on Saturday. Pregame will begin 30 minutes before puck-drop with Gavin Nelson live on your sound alternative.