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SCSU notebook: Senior forward is 'week-to-week' after taking hits to the head in consecutive series

Chase Brand is 'questionable' for the Huskies' NCHC series this weekend at Colorado College. Kyler Kupka returns to the ice after surgery. St. Cloud State faces third-place Tigers.

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St. Cloud State forward Chase Brand (27) checks Western Michigan defenseman Cedric Fiedler (17) off the puck and into the boards in the first period Friday, Nov. 11, 2022, at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center in St. Cloud.
Jason Wachter / The Rink Live

ST. CLOUD, Minn. — For the second straight week, St. Cloud State men's hockey forward Chase Brand took contact to the head on plays in which the opposition did not receive a penalty.

Brand, a forward, took body contact to the head behind the Western Michigan goal line on a hit by Tim Washe in a game Saturday with 2:11 left in the game at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center. Brand did not return to the game and now the Huskies are waiting to find out when he will be able to return to play.

This came eight days after Brand took a hit to the head near the boards by Denver's Carter Mazur with 25 seconds left in regulation in a game at Magness Arena. This weekend, the Huskies play an NCHC series against Colorado College (8:30 p.m. Friday, 7 p.m. Saturday, NCHC.tv) in Colorado Springs.

"Chase is probably week-to-week, questionable for this weekend," Huskies coach Brett Larson said after practice on Tuesday. "He did skate today with no contact ... which is a good thing. Obviously, it's an upper-body injury that we will have to monitor the rest of the week.

"You see a real clean player like Chase take two hits to the head the last two weeks and it's frustrating for him and it's frustrating for us," Larson said of Brand, who has 59 penalty minutes in 103 career games.

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Brand has a goal and three points and is a plus-2 in 10 games this season.

Kupka is back skating

One of Brand's teammates, senior wing Kyler Kupka, continues to recover from his appendectomy. Kupka had eight points in SCSU's first eight games playing on a line with center Grant Cruikshank and wing Micah Miller.

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Kyler Kupka
CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

He has missed the last two series after having the surgery, but has gotten back on the ice.

"He just got on the ice and is skating with no contact and he's not even shooting yet," Larson said of Kupka. "He's still week-to-week. He might be a few weeks away."

With Kupka out of the lineup against Western Michigan, the Huskies had freshman Grant Ahcan on the left wing on his line on Friday and freshman Adam Ingram on Saturday.

Tigers are in third place

Going into this weekend, the Huskies are likely to face the hottest goalie in the conference. Kaidan Mbereko, a freshman from Aspen, Colo., has been named NCHC Goaltender of the Week each of the last two weeks.

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In eight games, Mbereko is 3-3-1 with a 2.11 goals-against average and .929 save percentage for the Tigers (2-1-1 NCHC, 5-6-1 overall), who are in third place in the NCHC, three points ahead of the Huskies (2-2, 9-3) in the conference standings.

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"This is a team that we want to catch in the standings right now," Larson said. "We need to go out there with the mindset that we want to catch them.

"They're definitely improved, have good goaltending. (Hunter) McKown is scoring a ton on the power play right now, leading the country. They're a little bigger. They're fast. Obviously, they've got some confidence because they've gotten points in three of the last four games."

McKown, a junior forward from San Jose, California, has seven goals — all on the power play — and 10 points and eight penalty minutes in 12 games. McKown, Mbereko and St. Cloud State defenseman Jack Peart all played on Team USA in the World Junior Championships during the offseason.

Colorado College is tied for fifth in NCAA Division I on the power play (27%), tied for 29th on the penalty kill (80%) and tied for 21st in faceoff win percentage (51.9).

The Tigers are 4-1 at home, 4-1 when they lead after the first period and 5-0 when they lead after the second period.

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St. Cloud State defenseman Seamus Donohue (3) and Colorado College forward Hunter McKown (41) compete for the puck in the first period Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, at Baxter Arena in the NCHC Pod in Omaha.
Tyler Schank / Forum News Service

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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