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Dominic Basse cites the reasons he's off to a great start with SCSU

Transfer from Colorado College is in the top three in the nation in both save percentage and goals-against average.

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St. Cloud State goalie Dominic Basse (31) deflects a shot by Bemidji State forward Jere Vaisanen (16) with help from Huskies defenseman Ondrej Trejbal (5) in the first period Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022, at the Herb Brooks National Center in St. Cloud.
Jason Wachter / The Rink Live

ST. CLOUD, Minn. — When the 2021-22 NCAA Division I men's hockey season ended, St. Cloud State had a crucial position that needed to be filled.

Would Jaxon Castor step up to be the team's No. 1 goalie after spending three seasons as a backup to David Hrenak? Would the Huskies go with a freshman in the spot? Would they go to the transfer portal to find a more experienced player?

Well, the answer through the first half of the season has been a goaltending rotation of Castor and Dominic Basse, a junior transfer from Colorado College. The tandem has combined for the second-best save percentage (.920) and the third-best goals-against per game (2.1) in the nation.

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Dominic Basse
CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

It has helped the Huskies to a 14-4 start and a No. 4 ranking in this week's national polls. SCSU plays a home-and-home series against No. 1/3 Minnesota (15-5) this weekend. The teams play at 6 p.m. Saturday (CBS Sports Network) at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center and 3 p.m. Sunday (Bally Sports North) at 3M Arena at Mariucci.

The rotation, to this point, has had Castor playing the first games of series with Basse, a Chicago Blackhawks draft pick, playing the second games. Basse goes into the weekend with the third-best save percentage (.930) and third-best goals-against average (1.79) in the nation.

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It sounds like the competition for playing time is one element that has helped Basse get off to the best start of his career.

"Jaxon is great and I feel like all three of us push each other every day," Basse said, including freshman James Gray in the discussion. "That's a crucial part of getting everyone better. If you see someone else playing well, you want to get up to that level and they want to get back up ... it's just a constant battle, which is great."

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Staying fresh

Castor's numbers (.919, 21st; 2.12 GAA, 13th) are only slightly behind Basse's. Every goalie wants to start every game, but the rotation may be helping the team win more games.

"It's different, but each guy is fresh for every game," Basse said. "It's hard to sweep a weekend in this (NCHC) conference. But when you've got a new guy going in there each night, you've got a fresh guy each night and I think it gives you a better chance."

A chance was what Basse was looking for when he went into the transfer portal after last season. As a sophomore, he saw time in 24 of Colorado College's 35 games (6-15-2, 3.23, .888). So what were some of the factors that went into Basse picking SCSU?

"I just think a really good coaching staff, which we have here, great facilities and an opportunity to play," he said.

In Basse, the SCSU coaching staff saw some untapped potential.

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"A 6-foot-5 goaltender with good athleticism that had maybe gotten into college a little bit early as an 18-year-old," Huskies coach Brett Larson said of Basse, who turns 22 in April. "We were hoping that we were getting him at the right time.

"He had a couple of years to mature and grow at Colorado College and go through some good and bad things, but he developed through it and we were hoping to help him reach the next level."

The two Tigers teams he played on went a combined 13-41-5. Basse said that being on a winning team has helped him play better.

"Practices are high-paced and a high level," he said. "That's what you need."

Basse also noted that working with volunteer goalie coach Matt Bertram has helped move his game forward.

"I think our goalie coach has played a big role," he said. "The (weekly) goalie camps that we do are really good and help a ton with helping us get better."

Whatever the combo platter of reasons has been, the results have been encouraging. If Basse continues at his current pace, he would tie Mike Lee (.930, 2011-12) for the second-best save percentage in a season (Jase Weslosky, .931, 2007-08) in program history and would break the school record for goals-against average in a season (Jeff Smith, 2.01, 19 games, 2018-19).

"He's come in here with a fresh slate and attacked the opportunity for playing time," Larson said. "He's learned that compete here every day, including the goalies. I've seen more of a consistent compete level out of him as the season has gone on."

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St. Cloud State goalie Dominic Basse (31) blocks a shot by Bemidji State forward Eric Martin (11) in the first period Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022, at the Herb Brooks National Center in St. Cloud.
Jason Wachter / The Rink Live

Mick Hatten is a reporter and editor for Forum News Service and helps manage TheRinkLive.com, a website dedicated to hockey. He began working for Forum Communications in November 2018 and has covered St. Cloud State University hockey since 2010. A graduate of St. Cloud State, he has more than 30 years of experience as a journalist and has been a youth hockey coach since 2014. mhatten@forumcomm.com
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