ST. CLOUD, Minn. — The St. Cloud State men's hockey team has gotten its final answer from the seniors on the 2020-21 roster as to whether or not they will be coming back. Goalie Dávid Hrenák has told the Huskies coaching staff that he plans to return for a fifth season.
"It was multiple circumstances played a role," Hrenák said of his decision during a phone interview Monday from his family's home in Slovakia. "With most of the guys coming back, the team will still be good next year and that was probably the biggest part why (I) want to come back.
"You want to come back and work harder than ever to do something better than last season."
Last season ended up with a pretty good finish. The Huskies, who were unranked in the preseason, took second in the NCHC in both the regular season and postseason tournament and then went on to finish a program-best second in the NCAA Division I tournament.
With the return of Hrenák, the Huskies will have 23 of the 27 players back from last season's 20-11-0 team.
Hrenák, a 23-year-old from Považská Bystrica, Slovakia, was taken in the fifth round of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft by the Los Angeles Kings. He turned down an offer to sign with the Kings to return for a fifth season. NCAA players who played last season are being given another year of eligibility due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"Everyone was supportive," Hrenák said. "Any decision is not easy, I would say. But when you have great people around you, like I have around me, it made the decision much, much easier.
"I'm really, really excited for next year. Once you finish second (nationally), that's the biggest motivation to work much harder than the season before. It was such a weird year with COVID around and it was a really unusual season. Hopefully, the season will be back to normal and that is something."
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Last season, Hrenák was 17-10-0 with a 2.66 goals-against average, .904 save percentage and two shutouts in 17 games. His best games on back-to-back days came in the NCAA Northeast Regional when he stopped 60 of 63 shots (.952 save percentage) and had a 1.50 goals-against average in wins over Boston University and Boston College. He was named the regional MVP to help the Huskies reach their first Frozen Four since 2013.
While that was the high point, his season save percentage was the worst of his college career and his goals-against average was his second worst. Hrenák is looking to put together a more consistent season in 2021-22.
"I would like to be much more consistent right from the start of the season, right from the first game," said Hrenák, who will continue to work on his undergraduate degree next season. "Maybe not figure this stuff out in the second half of the season. It's good that you do, but you would like to have it right from that first game.
"When the team finished second, it was a good season for our team. But from a personal side, I'm not really satisfied. I still expect more from myself. That's another great motivation coming into next year. There's still a lot of room for me to improve at this level.
"For me, it's more to figure it out mentally, having the right mindset from the start of the week, which will lead to the games. Eventually, that will lead to better consistency."
The four Huskies who will not be returning are forwards Jared Cockrell (signed with the ECHL's Wheeling Nailers) and Will Hammer (internship) and defensemen Tyler Anderson (medical school) and Trevor Zins (transfer portal).
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2021-22 season schedule released
St. Cloud State officially released its full schedule for the 2021-22 season on Monday. The Huskies will play 10 nonconference games, all of which are within driving distance, most of which will be home-and-home series.
St. Cloud State will open the season on Oct. 2 at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center with the first Division I game for the University of St. Thomas. The Huskies and Tommies will meet the next night in Mendota Heights.
On Oct. 8-9, St. Cloud State and Minnesota State University-Mankato will play a series at Mayo Clinic Events Center. The Huskies beat the Mavericks 5-4 in a thrilling game in the national semifinals last season.
On Oct. 15, the Huskies will play the University of Minnesota at 3M Arena at Mariucci. The two teams will play on Oct. 16 at the Brooks Center, the first time that former SCSU head coach Bob Motzko and assistant coach Garrett Raboin will be on the opposing bench since leaving the program for the Gophers in 2018.
On Oct. 22-23, St. Cloud State will play the University of Wisconsin for the first time since both teams left the WCHA in 2013. That series will be at the Brooks Center.
The other nonconference series for the Huskies will be a home-and-home series with Bemidji State on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1. The teams will play on Dec. 31 at the Sanford Center in Bemidji and on Jan. 1 at the Brooks Center.
Besides St. Thomas, the four nonconference opponents each played in the NCAA tournament last season.
St. Cloud State will also be the first NCHC opponent for Colorado College at Ed Robson Arena, which will be opening in the fall. The Huskies and Tigers will play Nov. 5-6 in Colorado Springs.
Here is a look at the entire SCSU schedule with times to be determined:
2021-22 SCSU men's schedule
(home games in BOLD)
Oct. 2 — ST. THOMAS
Oct. 3 — at St. Thomas
Oct. 8-9 — at Minnesota State University-Mankato
Oct. 15 — at Minnesota
Oct. 16 — MINNESOTA
Oct. 22-23 — WISCONSIN
Nov. 5-6 — at Colorado College
Nov. 12-13 — NEBRASKA OMAHA
Nov. 19-20 — at Western Michigan
Dec. 3-4 — NORTH DAKOTA
Jan. 7-8 — MINNESOTA DULUTH
Jan. 14-15 — at Denver
Jan. 21-22 — MIAMI
Jan. 28-29 — at North Dakota
Feb. 4-5 — WESTERN MICHIGAN
Feb. 18-19 — at Nebraska Omaha
Feb. 25-26 — COLORADO COLLEGE
March 4-5 — at Minnesota Duluth