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SCSU's defenseman's strong start might have something to do with feel-good Vikings, certainly Huskies culture

Brendan Bushy is in his fifth season with the Huskies and leads the team in plus/minus. St. Cloud State travels to play an NCHC series this weekend at Colorado College.

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St. Cloud State defenseman Brendan Bushy (18) keeps the puck from Minnesota Duluth forward Cole Koepke (17) in the first period Saturday, March 6, 2021, at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center in St. Cloud.
Jason Wachter / The Rink Live

ST. CLOUD, Minn. — One of the things that St. Cloud State defenseman Brendan Bushy is enjoying this season does not include something happening at a hockey rink.

Bushy, a fifth-year senior from Thief River Falls, Minnesota, has been having teammates over to watch Minnesota Vikings games at his apartment.

"We've been having a lot of fun away from the rink," Bushy said. "A bunch of the guys come over and watch football on Sundays. I had a bunch of guys over for the Vikings game and the big comeback against the (Buffalo) Bills.

"When we won, I had Joe Molenaar over my shoulder and we were parading around like little school kids. We've just been having a blast this year. It's a special group and we've been enjoying our time together. I think that's been translating over to the ice."

The No. 4/5-ranked Huskies (2-2 NCHC, 9-3 overall) men's hockey team will be looking for a couple wins this weekend when they play a conference series at Colorado College (2-1-1, 5-6-1). The Huskies and Tigers play at 8:30 p.m. Friday and 7 p.m. Saturday at Ed Robson Arena (NCHC.tv).

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Nebraska Omaha forward Martin Sundberg (16) reacts as the puck bounces off St. Cloud State defenseman Brendan Bushy (18) in the second period Sunday, Dec. 6, at Baxter Arena in the NCHC Pod in Omaha. Tyler Schank / Forum News Service

Having a solid season

St. Cloud State goes into the game tied for third in NCAA Division I in fewest goals against per game (1.9) and 12th on the penalty kill (84.3%). One of the reasons for those good numbers is Bushy, who is back for his fifth season and has played 149 games in his college career.

"He's settled into a simple, steady game and that's helped us stabilize things when they get a little out of whack," Huskies head coach Brett Larson said of Bushy, who leads the team in plus/minus (plus-7) and is third in blocked shots (14). "He's a steady presence that you probably don't notice much during a game.

Coming to the rink every day is awesome. What's so special about playing for St. Cloud State is the culture that we have here of having fun, but still working hard. Lars has done an unreal job of creating that.
Brendan Bushy

"But he's defending well. He's an important part of our penalty kill," Larson said of his defenseman, who is averaging 18 minutes, 25 seconds per game. "He definitely does a lot of things that go unnoticed at times, but they're important to the team."

Bushy has a trait that he has been looking to improve on this season.

"The big thing for me is finding that consistency," said Bushy, who is a plus-23 in his college career. "Thankfully, I've been able to have a solid career here. With coming back for this fifth year, I wanted to come back and win a national championship with this group.

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Brendan Bushy
COURTESY OF ST. CLOUD STATE UNIVERSITY

"But I also wanted to find that consistency within my game to where I can be a lead, stay-at-home defenseman in this league. I'm still pushing for that. I'm think this year has gotten off to a good start, but I definitely think there is room for improvement. I hold myself to a high standard."

Bushy graduated with a degree in finance in 2021. He is working on completing a master's of business administration degree and will graduate — again — in May.

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"That's an awesome perk of coming back," Bushy said, referring to the extra year of eligibility the NCAA granted to players who played two seasons ago during the pandemic. Graduate classes are "a lot more group work and a lot of our classes is more discussion and situational analysis vs. tests and quizzes, which I kind of like.

"It's a little more real-world applicable. It's difficult, but it's nice to be able to work on it with (teammate Aidan Spellacy) and a couple other athletes on campus that are in their fifth years."

Running a camp, coaching

Undrafted, Bushy had to decide whether or not he wanted to come back for a fifth season. Ultimately, it was not a tough decision.

"I'm so thankful to have another opportunity here to try to win a national championship, something this program has not been able to do," he said. "I want to be part of this special group.

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"Coming to the rink every day and hanging with your buddies and being able to be coached by an unbelievable staff — it's unbelievable. Coming to the rink every day is awesome. What's so special about playing for St. Cloud State is the culture that we have here of having fun, but still working hard. Lars has done an unreal job of creating that."

Before the season, there were 10 new players in the program, including seven freshmen and three transfers.

"Coming back for a fifth year was a no-brainer," he said. "We get to help to show these 10 new faces what it means to be a Husky. We take a lot of pride in the program."

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Bushy spent a fair amount of the offseason working at hockey camps. He helped with the Central Minnesota Development Program and teammate Spencer Meier's camp, both of which were held in Sartell. Bushy also helped run his own camp (mites through high school players) in Thief River Falls.

"I really enjoy coaching," he said. "It might be something that I may want to get into in the future. I'm a huge sports guy. I love being around sports and it's cool to see the impact that you can have on kids.

"I remember coaching a (Minnesota Select) 14s camp when (Jack Peart) was playing and now he's my teammate. I've been involved pretty heavily with Minnesota Hockey as a coach and a counselor of the camps down here. It's a passion of mine."

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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