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SCSU notebook: Bushy sets career record, Castor's season numbers move into elite territory

Graduate student defenseman passes Easton Brodzinski in games played. Senior moves up on several program lists

college men play ice hockey
Minnesota Duluth forward Luke Loheit (16) and St. Cloud State defenseman Brendan Bushy (18) chase the puck at the Herb Brooks National Ice Center on Saturday, March 4, 2023, in St. Cloud.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

FARGO — When Brendan Bushy stepped onto the ice Thursday in the NCAA Division I Fargo regional for the St. Cloud State men's hockey team, he moved to the top of a career list for the Huskies.

Bushy, a graduate student defenseman from Thief River Falls, Minnesota, played in his 177th career game with the Huskies. That moved him past forward Easton Brodzinski atop the program's list for most games played.

Bushy is expected to extend that record on Saturday when the Huskies (25-12-3) play Minnesota (27-9-1) for a trip to the Frozen Four at 5:30 p.m. (ESPNU) at Scheels Arena.

Bushy decided to come back for a fifth season and is having the best season of his career. He leads the Huskies in blocked shots (44), has a career-best 11 points and is third on the team in plus/minus (plus-18). Bushy is averaging 18 minutes, 34 seconds per game, is winning 58% of his puck battles and is averaging a hit per game.

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"He's the epitome of what we want out of a Husky," SCSU coach Brett Larson said. "He's selfless, cares about the team more than anything else and he's going to go out there and give everything he's got whether he gets credit or not.


"He's a guy who just sticks with it, battles on every puck, tries to defend the best he can and get the puck out as clean as he can. He has a narrow focus of doing what he can to help the team win."

St. Cloud State's Jack Rogers (20) and Adam Ingram (34) congratulate goalie Jaxon Castor after a 4-0 win over Minnesota State in the NCAA Division I men's hockey Fargo regional on Thursday, March 23, 2023, at Scheels Arena in Fargo.
David Samson / The Forum

Castor's numbers are climbing the charts

Senior Jaxon Castor's strong play in the postseason has him moving up on a number of goaltending charts for SCSU in the Division I era.

On Thursday, he became the first St. Cloud State goalie to win an NCAA tournament game with a shutout with his 34-save performance. Huskies fans late in the win over Minnesota State were chanting his name in recognition of his strong performance.

Huskies get goals from Miettinen, Peart, Okabe, Cruikshank, kill three power plays to advance.

Castor is also the first SCSU goalie to post a shutout in an NCHC Frozen Faceoff game after his 17-save performance against Colorado College in the championship game.

With those two shutouts, he has four on the season, which moves him into a tie for third for most shutouts in a season by a goalie at SCSU. Scott Meyer had seven in 1999-2000, Charlie Lindgren had five in 2015-16 and Grant Sjerven had four in 1993-94.

Going into Saturday's game, he has a 1.97 goals-against average, which would break the school record of Jeff Smith (2.01 in 2018-19). His .925 save percentage sits at tied for fourth in a season. Jase Weslosky had a .931 in 2007-08, Mike Lee had a .930 in 2011-12, Meyer had a .926 in 2000-01 and Lindgren had a .925 in 2015-16.

A referee drops the puck with St. Cloud State's Grant Cruikshank (19) taking the draw in the third period against St. Thomas on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, at the St. Thomas Ice Arena in Mendota Heights.
Jason Wachter/The Rink Live


Importance of faceoffs

Casual fans may not see it as an important statistic, but coaches continue to put more emphasis on faceoffs. Before the Huskies played Minnesota State, Larson was asked about how concerned he was about the Mavericks, who went into the game leading the country in faceoff win percentage at 60%.

Larson said that faceoffs had been a point of emphasis in practice leading up to the game. So how did the Huskies do in the 4-0 win over the Mavericks? SCSU was 28-26 on the dot, led by Grant Cruikshank, who was 12-9.

Cruikshank has taken the most faceoffs on the team and is 283-234 (54.9%). Graduate student center Aidan Spellacy was 3-6 against the Mavericks, but is at 54.3% on the season. Sophomore Mason Salquist is at 55.2%.

There are a number of candidates for team MVP for the Huskies and Cruikshank is a strong candidate. He leads the team in goals (23) and power-play goals (8) and leads the forwards in time on ice (18:30 per game). He also has two short-handed goals.

As a team, the Huskies are winning 53.3% of their faceoffs going into the regional championship game.

In two games against Minnesota this season, SCSU was 46-44 on faceoffs and the Gophers are winning 53.1% of their faceoffs on the season.

Saturday's game will be the second meeting between the Huskies and Gophers in the NCAA tournament. The other meeting was on March 30, 2014, in a region championship game in St. Paul. The Gophers won that game 4-0 to advance to the Frozen Four.

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

For more coverage of St. Cloud and the surrounding communities, check out St. Cloud Live.
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