SCSU notebook: Huskies have first 'sour taste' Monday of the season
Huskies will be looking to rebound this weekend with a home NCHC series against Miami
ST. CLOUD, Minn. — For the first time this season, the St. Cloud State men's hockey team finished a weekend and came away with residuals that are going to take a few days to get rid of.
The Huskies went into last weekend as the top-ranked team in NCAA Division I and tied for the NCHC lead. After two losses at Minnesota Duluth, SCSU finds itself in third place in the conference race and dropping to No. 5 in the polls and the PairWise Rankings .
The Huskies (10-6 NCHC, 18-8 overall) play host to Miami (2-13-1, 7-17-2) at 7:30 p.m. Friday and 6 p.m. Saturday (both on FOX 9+) at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center.
Last weekend was the first time this season that St. Cloud State has been swept in a series.
"It's the first time that we're showing up to the rink on Monday with a sour taste in our mouth," Huskies head coach Brett Larson said. "This is the first time coming away from a weekend when we didn't play our best and knowing that we need to get back to work this week to get back on our game."
Here were some of the uncharacteristic things that happened for SCSU in the series:
The Huskies went into the weekend leading the nation in team save percentage (.926) and ranked No. 2 in scoring defense (1.92). Senior Jaxon Castor and junior Dominic Basse combined for an .815 save percentage and the Huskies gave up 11 goals in the series. To put the latter number in perspective, the most goals the Huskies had given up in a series this season had been eight against Miami and SCSU had given up four goals or less in a seven of its 12 series this season.
In their last three games going into the series, SCSU was 7-for-8 on the penalty kill (87.5%). Against UMD, the Huskies were 5-for-11 on the penalty kill (45.5%).
"Their power play got hot," Larson said. "Special teams were the difference. We had to find a way to get a few more shot blocks, a few more clears on the penalty kill and take away their momentum. Obviously, a big focus this week is getting our special teams to where they need to be."
What did not help the penalty kill on Friday — when the Huskies were 4-for-8 killing penalties — was that two of their top penalty killers were not in the lineup. Senior defenseman Dylan Anhorn is out for the rest of the season after having foot surgery and fifth-year defenseman Spencer Meier missed the game due to illness.
"Having your top two 'D' out can have a role in things, but I thought by (Saturday), our guys got used to playing those minutes that hadn't been playing those minutes," Larson said. "I thought our team was a lot better for it.
"If there's a positive out of the weekend, the guys who don't play a ton in those situations got some good experience for down the stretch when we're going to need them."
HIGHLIGHTS: Six Bulldogs score as @UMDMensHockey tops @SCSUHuskies_MH behind big first period in #NCHChockey series finale— The NCHC (@TheNCHC) January 29, 2023
🎥: My9 Sports // https://t.co/ZyUdpPa7bb #BulldogCountry // #HuskyHockey pic.twitter.com/Mg7UwJsXmN
Larson said he thought UMD outplayed SCSU on Friday in the 5-3 loss. That said, the Huskies led 2-1 in the second period before Josh Luedtke took a five-minute major for hitting from behind and the Bulldogs scored three goals on that power play.
"Our discipline needs to be better, but it was a weird series in that it didn't feel like we were running around playing stupid," Larson said. "It was the timing of the penalties that hurt us more than anything.
"The entire Friday game changed on the major call ... and that was one I disagreed with. I thought it was a penalty, for sure, but not a major."
Saturday, the Huskies battled back after trailing 3-0 in the first period to get within 3-2 in the second period and then within 4-3 in the third period of a 6-3 loss that was capped by an empty-net goal.
"We've got to hit the reset button and get back to our game," Larson said. "At some point, you're going to have a weekend where you don't play well and things don't go your way. That's humbling. This league is humbling.
"The most important thing you can do is when you fall off the bike, get right back on it."
Not a fan of the 4th paid coach rule
On Jan. 11, the NCAA Division I Council approved a measure to reclassify all volunteer coaches across every sport as full-time assistants, effective July 1. In hockey, that means a team can have four paid coaches — up from three — but no volunteer coaches.
The Huskies have a volunteer goalie coach in Matt Bertram, who is in his fifth season with the team. Larson is not a fan of the new rule.
"We were taken aback because we were told that there were going to be five paid coaches," Larson said. "It went to four, took away the volunteer position and that puts a lot of programs in a tough spot.
"Our goalie coach can't be full time because he's got his own business in town and (his volunteering) fits really well for us. We're going to have to find a way to manage this within our staff. A lot of the coaches were surprised because nobody saw (the Council) taking away the volunteer coach. It's put a lot of programs in a tough spot."