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Larson sees tough decisions for SCSU coaching staff when they dress 7 defensemen for a game

Huskies have nine defensemen that they like, which means that two will likely be sitting each game.

College hockey players and coaches in interviews
St. Cloud State head coach Brett Larson speaks to the media during NCHC Media Day on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

ST. PAUL — If you are looking for the position with the most experience or the position with the most depth on the St. Cloud State men's hockey team, you will end up at the same spot.

On defense, the Huskies have five upperclassmen, five returners and nine on their roster. The issue for Huskies head coach Brett Larson and his staff will be deciding which seven will play on any given night this season.

"Believe me, our staff — daily — is talking about how difficult the decisions are going to be picking the lineup for our 'D' core," Larson said on Thursday, Sept. 22, during an interview at NCHC Media Day at Xcel Energy Center. "We literally have nine defensemen who are (NCAA) Division I hockey players. It's going to be a fine line, for sure.

"We'll probably have some rotation early, getting guys in and out of the lineup," he said. "We're going to have to use those rotations to evaluate the guys. Hopefully, by Christmastime and the second half of the year, kind of settling in on the guys you are going to go with."

Anhorn, who recently completed his sophomore season, had 20 points in 29 games in 2021-22 playing for the Dutchmen

The defensemen for the Huskies include fifth-year players Brendan Bushy and Spencer Meier , seniors Dylan Anhorn and Ondrej Trejbal , junior Brady Ziemer, sophomores Jack Peart and Josh Luedtke and freshmen Mason Reiners and Cooper Wylie . Bushy and Meier have combined to play 276 college games. Anhorn is a transfer who spent two seasons as a regular at Union. Trejbal has played 88 college games and Peart, a Minnesota Wild draft pick, and Luedtke were regulars for the Huskies last season.

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St. Cloud State tied for 20th in Division I in goals against (2.6 per game) last season and were 16th in shots allowed per game (27.4).

"I think we've got a really, really solid 'D' core," said Larson, a former Minnesota Duluth defenseman. "(They're) going to be able to break pucks outs, defend well and, hopefully, spend less time in our end.

"We're going to have a couple of guys, who are really good college hockey players, out of the lineup any given night. I love building a team from the back, out. We've got a group that can get the puck to the forwards and I like our forwards, too. It's a good thing when (the forwards) have it more."

College hockey players and coaches in interviews
St. Cloud State captain Spencer Meier speaks to the media during NCHC Media Day on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

New scoreboards, new faces

There are a number of new people and things to notice for SCSU fans when they attend their first game this season at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center.

R.J. Enga has replaced Nick Oliver as an assistant coach. Oliver left to become the head coach for the Fargo Force of the United States Hockey League.

Enga, who spent last season as the director of hockey operations/video coordinator, talks about his new role with the team, how the Huskies will try to replace the offense that graduated, gives an overview of Grant Cruikshank, Dominic Basse. He discusses all this and more on this episode of the Huskies Hockey Insider podcast.

The team has a new public address announcer in Jason Bryant , who has replaced Chuck Clausen. Clausen retired after having the position for the last 32 years.

There are also new scoreboards and a new sound system that were installed in the offseason after $1.3 million was raised to upgrade those areas at the Brooks Center. There is an eye-opening difference in the new scoreboards compared to the old ones.

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"The fans are going to love it — the video boards are massive," said Meier, who grew up in Sartell, Minn., and is beginning his third season as captain. "When the old ones got taken down and they were sitting beside the rink ... I couldn't believe how small they were. They looked big when they were up there, but then you look at this new one — holy cow! These are massive.

"It's going to be a sweet new experience for fans."

Fans can get a chance to view the new scoreboards and also see how the team's 10 new players look when the team has an intrasquad scrimmage at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at the Brooks Center.

Besides Anhorn, Reiners and Wylie, fifth-year forward Grant Cruikshank (a transfer from the Gophers ), freshman forwards Grant Ahcan (Savage, Minn.), Ethan AuCoin (Calgary, Alberta), Adam Ingram (West St. Paul, Manitoba) and Jack Rogers (East Northport, N.Y.); and goalies Dominic Basse (transfer from Colorado College ) and James Gray (freshman from Toronto, Ontario) are all new to the team.

"There's a different feel/energy to the (locker) room," Meier said. "I absolutely love every guy on the team that I've played with for my four years. My junior and senior year — kind of the same team with the COVID year.

"This year, there's a lot of new blood, a lot of new energy. It's really fun. We have some characters on the team. The freshmen — you know it takes a week or so to really get to know who they are. When I was a freshman: you start out nervous, you're gripping the stick a little bit and you're probably pretty quiet — at least I was. You get to about the week or two point and you can see them coming out of their shell and they're cracking jokes. It's really fun to see them being themselves and they're all really great people and teammates. It's going to be a fun year."

READ MORE ST. CLOUD STATE HUSKIES COVERAGE:
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Huskies played an intrasquad scrimmage that included about 25 minutes of 5-on-5 play, 20 minutes of special teams play Sunday at Herb Brooks National Hockey Center. Fans also got a look at the new scoreboards and got to hear the new sound system a week before the season opens.
On this episode of The Rink Live podcast, reporters Matt Wellens, Brad Schlossman, Joe Paisley, Jess Myers and Mick Hatten discuss the 2022-23 NCHC season and discuss things to watch for.
The Huskies will utitize several metrics, including keeping track of goalie records in small area games.
A conversation with Huskies associate head coach Jinelle Siergiej, who is beginning her ninth season with the team.
Huskies will have intrasquad scrimmage at 7:30 p.m. Sunday that is free, open to the public. Jami Krannila named to preseason All-NCHC team
Spencer Meier is a guest on the Huskies Hockey Insider podcast with The Rink Live's Mick Hatten. He also talks about running his first hockey camp, the NCHC title race and what it's like not having David Hrenak around anymore.

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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