St. Cloud State is the team to beat in college hockey

They've been No. 1 in the nation for the past four weeks.
Publish date:

There's a new powerhouse in the State of Hockey at the collegiate level.

The St. Cloud State men's hockey team is firing on all cylinders this season. For the past four weeks, they've been ranked No. 1 in the nation by and are poised to make some serious noise come tournament time.

First-year head coach Brett Larson looks like a veteran behind the bench and has picked things up right where they left off under former coach Bob Motzko, who is in his first year at the University of Minnesota. 

Lethal offense

St. Cloud's senior class sets the tone for an offense that's averaging nearly 4 goals per game.

  • Patrick Newell: 15 goals, 17 assists, 32 points
  • Robby Jackson: 12 goals, 15 assists 27 points  
  • Blake Lizotte: 10 goals 15 assists 25 points  
  • Jimmy Schuldt: 8 goals 17 assists 25 points

Lizotte, a sophomore, is the only one on that list who isn't a senior. It's also worth mentioning junior Ryan Poehling, the Lakeville native who has 25 points in 26 games this season. Poehling was a 2017 first-round draft pick of the Montreal Canadiens. 

Stellar goaltending

After David Hrenak and Jeff Smith split time last season, Hrenak has taken the reigns as the team's No. 1 goaltender in 2018-19. However, when he's been called upon, Smith has played well too.

  • David Hrenak 16-3-2, 2.21 GAA, .900 SV% 
  • Jeff Smith: 4-1-1, 1.88 GAA, .923 SV%

Typically, national championship teams have a clear-cut No. 1 goaltender but having the luxury of a solid backup is a nice safety blanket.

Special teams

The Huskies' power play is converting 23 percent of its opportunities. That's a solid number, but even more impressive is the Huskies' penality kill, which is fourth in the nation with an 87 percent kill rate. 

Comeback kids

On Feb. 9 at home against Colorado College, the Huskies were on the brink of being upset and dropping out of the top spot in the rankings. Trailing by two goals with four minutes to play, SCSU pulled off a miraculous comeback, first sending the game to overtime and then winning it.  

Even when they looked down and out they were still able to pull off an improbable victory. It's the kind of victory that shows opponents they fight till the end and can never be counted out.

Sour taste

Being at the top of the polls this season is not a flash in the pan. This same team was the No. 1 team heading into the national tournament last season and was upset in the first round by 16th-seeded Air Force.

Shortly after the loss, (four days to be exact), Motzko jumped ship to become the new coach of the Gophers as Don Lucia's replacement.  

The fact that this team has picked up right where they left off with a new coach likely has them motivated to prove they can make a run at a national championship.

And there's fewer things more dangerous than a motivated hockey team.

This year's Frozen Four will be held in Buffalo, New York. 

If SCSU can keep up its stellar play through the postseason, you can bet they'll have a chance to hoist the school's first Division I national championship trophy. 

Next Up

Ibraheem Farah Hamza _Khalifa CROP - booking photo, Olmsted County Adult Detencion Center June 16 2021

Man charged with 7 felonies after dramatic scene near rural MN airport

A police officer fired their weapon during the incident. Nobody was struck.

milk bar cake crop

Famous Milk Bar bakery hosts pop-up in Twin Cities

The virtual event only lasts for a few days, with limited quantities available.

Flickr - police barricades dismantle uptown - Chad Davis

MN National Guard soldiers 'standing by' to respond in Minneapolis

Mayor Jacob Frey asked Gov. Tim Walz for National Guard support Wednesday.

tom burke

Charges: Wisconsin star, former NFL player sexually assaulted a child

The child told her mother about the assaults in February, charges say.

Screen Shot 2021-06-14 at 8.45.06 AM

Charges: Drunk driver accelerated 'to jump barricade' in crash that killed protester

Prosecutors say it was "an extreme and violent intentional act."

Screen Shot 2021-06-16 at 9.29.50 AM

Through little fault of its own, Minnesota BBQ joint goes viral

A picture of its ribs was enough to attract the attention of the culinary world.

Flickr - COVID vaccine Joint Base San Antonio

More than 3 million Minnesotans have had at least 1 vaccine dose

The milestone comes almost 6 months to the day since the first vaccine was given in the state.



St. Cloud State blanked by UMass in national championship game

Minnesota had three teams in the Frozen Four but didn't claim the national title.


Minnesota hockey teams have a shot at creating history

Three Minnesota schools might have a chance to reach the Frozen Four.

St. Cloud State men's hockey is the No. 1 team in the nation

Look out State of Hockey, there's a new top dog.


How to watch Minnesota hockey teams in the NCAA Tournament

Here's how you can find them on TV and via online streams.