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SCSU forward turns to sports psychologist to help him play more consistently; Luedtke is back on the ice

Senior center Jami Krannila spent his offseason working on his physical, mental game. He has added 10 pounds and added tools to help him stay out the penalty box, stay positive. Also, defenseman Josh Luedtke got back on the ice Tuesday for the first time since suffering a concussion in the Huskies' season-opener.

St. Cloud State's Jami Krannila (13) blocks a pass by Princeton's Matthew Thom during the second period Friday, Nov. 1, 2019, at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center in St. Cloud, Minn.
Jason Wachter / The Rink Live

ST. CLOUD, Minn. — On the St. Cloud State men's hockey team, Jami Krannila had the most productive season in 2021-22 among the players back this season. Krannila is the team's top returning goal scorer (15), top returner in points (30) and was named to the NCHC Preseason All-Conference team.

With more than 40% of the team's goals and points graduating, the Huskies are looking for a big senior season out of Krannila, a 22-year-old center from Nakia, Finland.

"He's got to be the driver of this team because, when he plays his game, he plays Husky hockey: he plays fast, he plays skilled, is physical and there's no quit to his game," Huskies head coach Brett Larson said. "When your best players play that way, it's infectious to the rest of your team. Long story, short: We need him to keep leading by example."

Krannila, an alternate captain, had a goal and two assists, six shots on goal and was a plus-2 in a season-opening series sweep against St. Thomas. He will look to keep being productive when the 10th-ranked Huskies play Wisconsin (0-2) in a nonconference series at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Kohl Center in Madison.


Making changes

Krannila made some changes during the offseason to try to help him with his biggest challenge: consistency. He did not have long stretches when he did not produce last season. Krannila's longest stretch without a point last season was three games.

The problem was that he was second on the team in penalty minutes (40 in 37 games).

"In the past, there's been some ups and downs to his game and he wants to level those off," Larson said. "In the past, he's let frustration get to him at times and knock him off his game and take some bad penalties. The mental maturity part, just growing up, is what's going to help him. We want him at his highest level more often."

Krannila was well aware of the things he needed to work on during the offseason. He is about 10 pounds heavier than last season (175 pounds on his 5-foot-10 frame) and he did that by working out twice a day and eating up to six meals a day.

"I had a great summer and it was a pleasant surprise how I felt during the first games," Krannila said. "I'd say physically, I had a really good summer and then I worked on the mental side of the game. That was something I worked on hard and it paid dues.

"Not every mistake means that the game is over for you."

Jami Krannila

Working out and eating more are tangible things for players to work on. How in the heck does a player work on his mental game when they are not playing games that count in the offseason?

"That's not just you go to the gym and and you can go to bed and lay for the rest of the day," Krannila said. "That's something you've got to kind of work on every day. You look at every day situations and then implement those into what might happen in a game or even outside the rink with school and stuff.


"There's a lot of things that can make you not feel your best."

Krannila came up with a plan to transform physically with the help of Jake Franczek, the team's strength and conditioning coach. To work on the mental side of the game, he worked with a different kind of coach.

"It's kind of an internal dialogue in a way and I talked to a sports psychologist this summer and he helped me a lot with that," Krannila said. "From there, you get these little keys you can use in certain situations. There's some phrases you want (to) repeat (to) yourself when you have a bad shift or aren't having the greatest day.

"When those bad thoughts creep in, you just focus on the good side of life."

Larson, who is beginning his fifth season with the Huskies, has noticed growth from Krannila in production (more goals and assists each of his first three seasons) and with his maturity. The coaching staff wants him to find that line of playing with an edge, but not going over it and spending time in the penalty box.

"I'll take a guy that's going to play that hard any night — we love Jami, we love how he plays," Larson said. "That being said, discipline is a key part for top players because other teams are going to challenge him, come after him, hit him and they're going to play their best defensemen against him.

"He's going to have to fight through a lot of adversity and learning to be disciplined through that can also be one of the next steps to him becoming the best player he can become," Larson said. "I think Jami's gotten better every year and there's also a reason why he got voted one of the team's captains. His leadership abilities have grown in his time here and he's very respected — not only on the ice, but in the locker room."

Minnesota Duluth faces St. Cloud State in final conference series of the season
St. Cloud State defenseman Josh Luedtke (21) skates with the puck against Minnesota Duluth forward Quinn Olson (15) on Friday, March 4, 2022, at Amsoil Arena in Duluth.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune


Luedtke is back on the ice

There is good news to report on SCSU defenseman Josh Luedtke. Luedtke, who suffered a concussion and had to be taken off the ice on a stretcher in the first period of the season-opening game on Oct. 1, was back on the ice on Tuesday.

Luedtke, a sophomore from Minnetonka, was able to skate in some non-contact drills. There are protocols in place to make sure he continues to move forward in his recovery, but the team got a big lift when he got back on the ice with him.

"Concussion protocol is to let them build up in exercise and if it doesn't produce any symptoms, then the next day, you do a little more exercise," Larson said. "They're very, very careful about when they put somebody back in there. We're definitely not going to rush him.

"But it's a great sign. Just to see him on the ice (Tuesday) fired everybody up."

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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.
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