ST. CLOUD, Minn. — The paperwork is in the process of going through, but the St. Cloud State men's hockey team will have a defenseman with three seasons of college experience join the team in the fall.
Seamus Donohue, an alternate captain for Michigan Tech in 2019-20, said that he plans to play for St. Cloud State. Donohue, who has one season of college eligibility remaining, expects to receive his undergraduate degree in finance this spring. Under NCAA rules, players are allowed to transfer and play the season after if they have completed their undergraduate degree and have another season of eligibility remaining.
He plans on working on a graduate degree in sports management after being a two-time WCHA Scholar-Athlete at Michigan Tech. To earn that status, players must have at least one year at an institution and at least 3.50 on a 4.0 scale for the previous two semesters or three quarters. A candidate may also qualify if his overall GPA is at least 3.50 for all terms at his present institution.
Academics helped Donohue pick St. Cloud State.
"Coach (Brett) Larson saw me in the transfer portal and gave me a call and we started to build a relationship from there," said Donohue, who turns 24 in June. "As things progressed, I felt more and more comfortable and I saw myself at St. Cloud.
"One of the reasons that I'm leaving Tech is that I'm interested in a sports management program and St. Cloud has that to offer, along with a lot of other things that I was looking for. St. Cloud checked all the boxes and I'm just really comfortable and excited to be a Husky."
He laughed at the end of that because Michigan Tech's nickname is also the Huskies.
Donohue will be one of two incoming defensemen and five new players expected to join St. Cloud State's roster in the fall. The other likely defenseman to be added is Brady Ziemer, a 19-year-old from Carver, Minn.
Donohue, from North Oaks, Minn., played high school hockey for St. Thomas Academy for four seasons. He helped the Cadets win Class A state titles in 2012 and 2013 and then win a Class AA consolation title as a senior captain in 2015. In 117 career games, he had 81 assists and 93 points.
In 2015-16, he had 13 points and 28 penalty minutes in 40 junior hockey games, playing for the Penticton Vees in the British Columbia Hockey League and one of his teammates was current St. Cloud State forward Easton Brodzinski. In 2016-17, he had 32 points, 158 penalty minutes and was a plus-4 in 45 games for the Wichita Falls Wildcats in the North American Hockey League.
That season in Wichita Falls was when he committed to play for Michigan Tech. In 117 career college games, Donohue has 48 assists and 55 points, 142 penalty minutes, 173 blocked shots and is a plus-6. Last season, he led MTU with 60 blocks, was second on the team in penalty minutes (41), tied for the team lead in power-play assists (9) and had 17 points in 39 games.
"I think I used to be offensive, but my game has evolved defensively," said Donohue, who led MTU in assists (21) and power-play assists (13) in 38 games in 2018-19. "I think I'd call myself a two-way defenseman. I get involved offensively, competitive, hard working and I've gotten better at picking spots and when to jump in there (offensively).
"I think everyone likes to be on the power play. The power play is when you have the most fun, but I might like penalty kill more. But you've got to earn everything you get."
St. Cloud State is replacing two senior defensemen in Jack Ahcan and Clark Kuster. Like Kuster, Ziemer is a more defensive-minded defenseman. Ahcan ran the top power-play unit and is the program's career leader in assists by a defenseman (83). St. Cloud State will not be expecting Donohue to be the same player, but Ahcan tied for the team lead in assists last season with 18 and also played on the penalty kill.
After putting his name into the transfer portal and talking with Larson, Donohue said that he talked to a number of people about St. Cloud State, including former St. Thomas Academy teammate David Zevnik. Zevnik was a backup goalie for St. Cloud State from 2015-19.
"I got that family vibe from (Zevnik) when he was talking about St. Cloud," Donohue said. "He answered all my questions. He was always there, a text or a phone call away. I talked to him a few times.
"He said, 'You'll fit in great here.' It was nice talking to somebody who knows me well and he could see me there, too."
Donohue is not the lone athlete in his family. His father, Morgan, played football for St. John's University (Minn.) from 1988-91. His younger brother, Muzzy, is a sophomore on the Boston College men's golf team. Muzzy was a hockey goalie and played in six straight state golf tournaments at St. Thomas Academy.
"Golf would have been my other sport, but I quit from when I was 10-15 or 16 because he started beating me," Donohue said of Muzzy. "I wasn't going to lose to my little brother, so it was just hockey for me."
Donohue is back living with his parents as he finishes his spring classes and said he is looking forward to the coronavirus pandemic subsiding because he is looking forward to meeting his St. Cloud State teammates.
"It's every Minnesota kid's dream to play college hockey in Minnesota," he said. "That's going to be special to me and my closest friends and family. To be an hour and a half (drive) away (from home) for 50 percent of the games and much closer for the other half ... I told my mom that I'm not dealing with anyone for tickets. You guys have to deal with that. She said, I'm not doing that, Dad is."
Being closer to family and friends will help ease the pain of leaving Michigan Tech, a team that he helped win a WCHA playoff title with as a freshman and win a road series in the quarterfinals of the playoffs this season before the rest of the season was cancelled.
"It was really hard to leave because I had a ton of great relationships there, developed a ton as a person and player and student," he said. "I told everyone as I left that I can't thank you all enough — coaches, staff, teachers — it was a hard decision to go, especially because of my teammates. I'm going to miss them the most.
"But the hockey world is a small one and I'm sure my path will cross with them again and we'll still stay in touch. That's kind of how it is in hockey, but they all understood the position I was in and why I was making the decision and they're excited for me. I'm really looking forward to this coming year."