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SCSU notebook: Spencer Meier is back, coach discusses two recruits at World Juniors, Huskies prep for Gophers

Three-year captain is expected to play this weekend against Minnesota.

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St. Cloud's Spencer Meier skates with the puck during practice for the NCAA Regionals on Thursday, March 28, 2019 at Scheels Arena in Fargo.
David Samson / The Rink Live

ST. CLOUD, Minn. — The captain has returned.

Spencer Meier, who is in his third season as the captain for the St. Cloud State men's hockey team, saw his first game action since November when the Huskies played an exhibition game on Dec. 30.

Meier has been out of the lineup with an upper body injury. He is expected to play this weekend when fourth-ranked SCSU (14-4) plays No. 1/3 Minnesota (15-5) in a nonconference series. 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.

In the 5-2 exhibition win over the University of Manitoba, Meier saw time on a regular shift and on special teams. It was his first game since Nov. 5 at Denver.

"Spence looks like he's 100 percent and that was probably the biggest positive out of the exhibition game," Huskies head coach Brett Larson said after practice Tuesday. "It was great for the rest of the team to get some rust off. But for him to get a full 60-minute game in, I think that really helped.

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"I think it gave him the confidence that he needed to be back. That was a physical game and he was able to handle it."

Meier has two goals, four points, eight blocked shots, is a plus-2 and is averaging 16 minutes, 53 seconds in 10 games this season. Meier, a fifth-year defenseman from Sartell, has 16 goals, 57 points and 15 penalty minutes in 149 career games.

"It's a huge emotional lift for our team to have Spencer back," Larson said. "When I announced to the team the starting lineup before the (exhibition) game, it got a big cheer in the room. Going into a rivalry weekend, it's definitely nice to have your leadership and your captain back."

The Huskies and Gophers split two games last season, with each team picking up road wins.

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Peart having a good tournament

Huskies defenseman Jack Peart has played in all five games for Team USA in the IIHF World Junior Championships. Peart, a sophomore from Grand Rapids, Minnesota, has three assists, is a plus-8 and is averaging about 18 minutes a game.

"Pearty is doing a good job and playing a regular shift," Larson said of the 19-year-old. "Last year, he was an extra defenseman and didn't play much. It's fun to see his development over the year."

Peart, a Minnesota Wild draft pick, will be playing for the Americans when they take on Canada at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday (NHL Network) in the semifinals. Team USA will then play for either Czechia or Sweden for either the gold medal or the bronze medal on Thursday.

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Larson said it will be a game-time decision as to whether or not Peart will be in the lineup on Saturday.

2 from World Juniors will join SCSU next season

Two future Huskies have also seen a lot of playing time in the World Juniors tournament.

Martins Lavins, a 19-year-old forward, has two assists, two penalty minutes and is a minus-2 in five games for Latvia. Lavins is playing his second season of juniors for the Cedar Rapids Roughriders in the USHL.

"Lavins is a heart-and-soul guy for Latvia," Larson said of Lavins, who has 11 points, 25 penalty minutes in 18 USHL games this season. "Martins is a heart-and-soul, compete, shoot the puck, drive the net, finish checks, hard-nosed, two-way player."

Verner Miettinen, a 19-year-old forward, has an assist and is a minus-1 in five games for Finland. He is playing his first season with the Fargo Force in the USHL.

"Verner is a skilled, creative center," Larson said of Miettinen, who has seven goals, 14 points, four penalty minutes and is a plus-5 in 18 games with the Force. "He distributes the puck and will probably have a lot more assists than goals, but he makes everyone around him better.

"He might be a good complementary center to play with his brother."

His older brother is SCSU junior wing Veeti Miettinen, who is third on the Huskies' in shots (52) and has 19 points in 18 games this season.

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Lavins and Miettinen have both signed National Letters of Intent and are expected to join the Huskies in the fall.

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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