Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.



David Hrenak makes the trip, SCSU has spirited practice, Quinnipiac features NCAA shutout leader in goal

Huskies head coach Brett Larson did not rule out playing the fifth-year senior in goal for NCAA regional game. Yaniv Perets, a freshman from Quebec, also leads the nation in goals-against average (0.96) for the Bobcats.

SCSU 1.jpg
The St. Cloud State men's hockey team practices on Thursday, March 24, 2022, at PPL Center in Allentown, Pa. The Huskies will play Quinnipiac at 7 p.m. Friday in the NCAA Division I regional tournament.
Mick Hatten / The Rink Live

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — The good news for the St. Cloud State men's hockey team is that David Hrenak made the trip to Allentown for the NCAA Division I regional.

The question remains as to whether or not the fifth-year senior goalie from Slovakia will start when the Huskies (18-14-4) play Quinnipiac (31-6-3) at 7 p.m. Friday (ESPNews) at PPL Center in the region semifinals.

Hrenak, who has not played since March 5 due to illness, did practice with the team again on Thursday.

"In all honesty, he's getting better every day and that's a good sign," Huskies coach Brett Larson said. "He's getting more reps every day and he's getting back closer to himself every day. We'll see what tomorrow brings. Tomorrow is another day."

Hrenak, a Los Angeles Kings draft pick, was the Northeast Regional MVP in the NCAA tournament, helping the Huskies reach their second Frozen Four last year. The program's career leader in games played (146), wins (82) and shutouts (14), Hrenak was not able to dress for an NCHC quarterfinals series against Minnesota Duluth on March 11-12 due to illness.


The Huskies have not said what kind of illness that Hrenak was battling, but again, Larson did not declare that Hrenak will be the starter Friday.

If he cannot play, junior Jaxon Castor is likely to start and play in the 19th game of his college career, ninth this season and make his third straight start. Castor is 2-3-0 with a 2.91 goals-against average and .906 save percentage this season.

"I've seen him improve throughout this season," Larson said of Castor. "We've seen a lot of development out of Jaxon."

Follow the 2022 NCAA men's hockey tournament coverage on The Rink Live for previews, recaps, photos, information and more as the teams play for a national championship in Boston.

Huskies have up-tempo practice

If you are looking for a residual effect for SCSU after making the national championship game last year, the Huskies looked and sounded loose and had an up-tempo practice Thursday.

"Sometimes, when you get to this tournament, it feels like a new season," said Larson, whose team began the season ranked No. 1 and enters as the tournament's No. 10 overall seed. "It's a fresh start and you get new life, for sure. Everything you've done — the ups, the downs, the tough games, the good games, things you've gone through, things you've learned — it's all about getting to this point.

"Once you get here, it's a lot of fun to be here. It's a good energy."

Coaches and players could be heard throughout the arena during the practice.


"We're really focused for tomorrow, but we're also super excited to be here," SCSU graduate student center Kevin Fitzgerald said. "This time of year, spring is coming — though not in St. Cloud. It's fun. This time of year is a blast."

"Coaches get worried when it gets quiet out there," Larson said. "You want life, you want energy in your practice. When guys are bringing that kind of life and energy, you know that they're locked in."

On Friday, top-ranked Michigan plays American International, St. Cloud State plays Quinnipiac. Region championship game will be played on Sunday in Allentown, Pa.

A tough defensive opponent

Quinnipiac won the ECAC regular season title and then reached the conference tournament championship game, losing, 3-2 in overtime to Harvard.

The Bobcats give up an average of 1.1 goals-per-game, the fewest in the nation. Quinnipiac starting goalie Yaniv Perets, leads the nation in goals-against average (0.96) and shutouts (11) and is second in save percentage (.948) in 29 games.

"He's been the backbone of our team, he’s been outstanding," said Quinnipiac senior defenseman Zach Metsa, who leads his team in assists (25) and points (34). "I think anyone can see that with the stats he's putting up — it's crazy. He's dominating any game he's in. It's very comforting playing in front of that because you just know if you make a mistake, he's going to be there to bail you out. It's been fun to watch for sure."

Graduate student forward Oliver Chau is one of two Bobcats (graduate student defenseman Griffin Mendel, a transfer from Denver is the other) who have played against the Huskies in the last two seasons. Chau helped Massachusetts beat St. Cloud State 5-0 in the national championship game last year.

"Based on their roster, it looks like they returned most of their players, so it seems like a very similar team," Chau said. "I always say that score might have been 5-0 in the national championship game, but it wasn’t a 5-0 game. We got a lot of good bounces and there’s a good group over there, so it should be a good hockey game."


Rand Pecknold is in his 28th season as Quinnipiac's coach and has faced SCSU nine times in his tenure, but the last meeting was in 2015 when the Huskies were led by coach Bob Motzko. But Pecknold has spent some time watching video of the Huskies.

"I would say a mature team that competes hard, high skill. Power-play numbers — it's hard to argue with a 31% power play," Pecknold said of the Huskies, who lead the nation in that statistic. "I think the nice thing about their power play is they have two units. I really, I have a tough time figuring out which one is better than the other one. I think one has 13 goals one has 16. We did the math, so it's pretty good.

"I've been impressed, they're really well coached. Coach Larson is a very good coach. I don't know him that well, but I've been impressed with not only this year, but in recent years how good of a job he's done. They're very detailed and they can play hard."

Sophomore defenseman from Hermantown joins sophomore defenseman Taylor Larson, who was her teammate the last two seasons at Bemidji State.
2016 NCHC Goaltender of the Year shares stories about being a roommate of Nic Dowd, Kevin Gravel as a freshman, what it was like playing in Ovechkin's 800th goal game and his Washington teammates
A strong defender, Taylor Larson led the Beavers in blocked shots last season
Maddy Peterson played the last four seasons for RPI. She's looking forward to playing closer to home, working on a master's degree in criminal justice, being a leader for the Huskies.
Larson has international experience from his stint as an Olympic assistant coach in 2022, while Miller will be working his seventh World Juniors for Team USA, and looking for his third gold medal.
Schmitt has been an officiating supervisor for the conference since 2013
The defenseman is a free agent this summer after an AHL All-Star season for Providence. Ahcan talks about his close relationships in hockey, his development and more on the Huskies Hockey Insider podcast
CC Bowlby helped the Hornets win three Class AA state titles. She led Dartmouth in scoring as a senior and had other offers, but chose to try to help the Huskies take another step.
🔊 Former Moorhead Spud Will Borgen is back in his hometown after helping the Kraken win the franchise's first playoff series. He also shares his SCSU memories.
Adam, a former official, had served in that role since the conference began in 2013
Western Michigan leads the way with 5 players earning honors
Forward played the last four seasons at Merrimack College and will work on an MBA at SCSU

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.
What to read next
The 6-foot-3, 197-pound center tallied 68 points for Wenatchee in the BCHL this season.
The facility would be built roughly two miles from the Western Michigan campus and, as envisioned, would have 6,000 seats for hockey, which would be a notable increase from the Broncos current home.
Luke Loheit will captain Minnesota Duluth as a fifth-year senior, and he'll be joined by alternate captains Quinn Olson and Dominic James
The Hermantown and Hibbing natives each have a pair of assists as the United States looks to finish group play undefeated.
Get Local