ST. CLOUD, Minn. — Jack Poehling is well aware of the impression he leaves on opposing players and fans when he's playing for the St. Cloud State men's hockey team.
"A lot of people — especially people who've played against me — see us (twin brother Nick and I) as jerks," he said, amending that last word so that his quote could be used for print. "The reality is, I like to think we're really good people: great friends, great family. We take time for anyone who wants to talk or be with us. I help coach a Special Olympics team on Monday nights.
"It's important to me because I know that, growing up as a kid, whenever I saw somebody who played college hockey or played in the NHL and I got a chance to talk to them ... that made my day. There's absolutely no reason why you can't stop and talk or take pictures. We're lucky to be able to do what we do and you can't take that for granted."
Another example of his good will is that he and Nick were part of a group of Huskies who went and volunteered the day before Thanksgiving at Pathways 4 Youth in St. Cloud. Pathways 4 Youth is a resource center for people age 16-24 experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness.
"We cooked a whole Thanksgiving meal with potatoes and everything," Jack said. "We served them. We told some stories. It's very humbling, something I like to do and something I wish I could do more of. It's been a lot of fun getting to know those people."
"An important thing to those (Poehlings) is helping in the community," Huskies coach Brett Larson said. "Nick and Jack are two of the first guys to volunteer to go serve a meal. It's not just on the ice that they represent the program the right way. It's off the ice, too."
Last home series
The Poehlings, along with defensemen Jack Ahcan and Clark Kuster and forward Jake Wahlin will be playing the last home regular season series of their careers this weekend. The Huskies (9-9-2-1 NCHC, 12-12-6 overall) will be looking to keep their hopes for a home playoff series alive this weekend when they play sixth-ranked Denver (9-7-4-3, 19-8-5).
The top four teams in the NCHC at the end of the regular season will play host to a best-of-three series in the first round of the playoffs. The Pioneers are in fourth place, four points ahead of the Huskies with four games left in the regular season.
St. Cloud State is 4-0-2 in its last two series and 6-2-2 in its last 10 games to get back into the hunt for home ice. By this point last season, the Huskies had already wrapped up their second straight NCHC regular season title.
"Last year, we were kind of in a position where we really didn't need to win at the end of the regular season," Jack said. "This year, it's a lot different. I think a lot of guys are finding that fun. Showing up to the rink every weekend, knowing that you have to win, it makes it a lot more fun and a lot more intense.
"It's great to see that the guys are handling it well."
Jack Poehling, an alternate captain, is one of the Huskies leading the charge. In the last six games, he has five goals and four assists and is a plus-7.
"I love the last five minutes of a game when the game is really tight," said Jack, who has two game-winning goals and a game-winning assists in those last six games. "I love the added pressure of having to win. This is coming to an end for (brother) Nick and I and the rest of our seniors.
"I think I've always liked pressure situations whether it's playing golf at home on Thursday nights or just playing as a 5-year-old kid, no matter what the situation is. I've loved being in moments that are critical and I think it's shaped me to become a better person in different situations ... just the fact that I'm able to handle big scenarios in different ways."
The Poehling twins have spent the majority of this season as part of St. Cloud State's top line and both are having the best statistical seasons of their careers. Nick has tied a career-best with seven goals and has career-bests of 16 assists and 23 points. Jack has tied a career-best with nine goals and has career-bests of 10 assists and 19 points, is a team-leading plus-12 and is second on the team with 41 penalty minutes.
"Consider that he's playing against other team's top lines most nights and to be a plus-12 is a testament to how hard he plays and how well he plays at both ends of the ice," Larson said of Jack. "(The twins) both bring the same compete, energy, passion that feeds through the team every game. Their skill sets are a little different. I've finally figured out who is who — I've only been here a year.
"Jack is more of a straight line, power forward, drive the night, shoot the puck, finish the check. Nick maybe has a little bit more east-west to his game. The one thing they share is how committed they are to the program and their character."
The twins came to St. Cloud State with younger brother, Ryan, who has split this season between the Montreal Canadiens and their top minor league team, the Laval Rocket in the American Hockey League. The Poehlings led Lakeville North High School to an undefeated season and a Class AA state title in 2015.
PHOTO GALLERY: Saturday's UND at SCSU matchup
PHOTO GALLERY: Friday's UND at SCSU matchup
Jack said he also played soccer, golf and baseball growing up.
"I took summers off in hockey, which I think benefited me," he said. "I never got burned out. I always loved going to the rink. I think that's something that a lot of kids miss out on these days. I encourage kids to continue playing multiple sports because it really does help with your development.
"Yeah, you use different muscles, but the whole mind aspect. Your mind is the most powerful thing in the world. If you're focused on one sport, you get burnt out at some point. If you branch out and do different things, you find out what you really do love and going to the rink is a lot easier and a lot more fun."
The twins are avid golfers, but surprisingly, never played on their high school team. The reason why for Jack may be a bit surprising.
"I never played on the high school team because I was too lazy to walk," he said. "I always got crap for it because I never wanted to walk with that bag. I always said that if I could be riding in a golf cart, I'd have been on the high school team. But I never did."
There is a flash sale for tickets for this weekend's series against Denver. People can purchase flash sale tickets for $10 in sections 201, 202, 206, 213 and 214 at the Brooks Center.
To get these tickets, visit scsutickets.com and then click on the game you want, click the "Group Sales" tab and then select the section and number of seats. For information, call the SCSU Athletic Ticket Office at 1-877-SCSUTIX or 320-308-2137.