Scouting St. Cloud

Larry Radloff Photography

The Huskies make their first ever Frozen Four appearance. An in-depth look at the team that made it happen.

St. Cloud is making their first ever trip to the Frozen Four, where they will face Quinnipiac in the second semifinal on Thursday night.

So what exactly can fans expect from the state school in the middle of the state of Minnesota? Here's a look at what the Huskies bring to the table.

Here is the projected line-up for St. Cloud on Thursday evening:

Ben Hanowksi(CGY) - Drew LeBlanc - Kalle Kossila

Unquestionably the team's top scoring line, led by Hobey Baker favorite Drew LeBlanc. LeBlanc is the best passer/playmaker in college hockey. Kossila has ridiculously smooth hands and great offensive instincts. That combination yields a lot of scoring opportunities for the third member of that unit. For much of the season, it was Jonny Brodzinski, who rode that duo to a 20-goal season this year, but in the NCAA regionals, it was the senior Hanowski, who has a pretty good shot, and very good hands around the net.

Jimmy Murray - Nic Dowd(LAK) - Jonny Brodzinski

Dowd may be the most complete player in the Husky lineup. He's got great size, is tough along the boards, plays the power play and penalty kill, and wins a lot of face-offs. Murray is tiny, but fearless. He's not afraid to go into the dirty areas of the ice to make plays. Brodzinski has a cannon for a shot, which makes him a threat to score any time he touches the puck in the offensive zone.

Joey Benik - Cory Thorson - Brooks Bertsch

This line was the X factor for St. Cloud in their two regional victories.Benik came into the year with high expectations and a spot on the first line, but that changed quickly when he broke his leg in the team's first official practice. After missing the first half of the season, he's just now hitting his stride, and has an incredible eight points in his last five games. Thorson is a big player that makes up for a lot of speed with sheer effort, and has a pretty heavy snap shot if he gets the opportunity to release it.

Nick Oliver - David Morley - Joey Holka

Holka got the start in the regional, because he's better suited for the bigger, more physical style of a team like Notre Dame, but the Huskies might look to Garrett Milan against a faster Quinnipiac team. With the scoring punch the Huskies have on their first two(now three, based on what they did in the regionals), they'll be happy for this line to just break even.

Nick Jensen(DET) - Andrew Prochno

Jensen was the WCHA's defenseman of the year. He's as quick and agile as any player in college hockey, and a very reliable, responsible puck mover. The sophomore Prochno is basically Jensen-in-training. He doesn't have quite the same foot quickness that Jensen does, but possess a heavier shot from the point, making him more of a scoring threat.

Kevin Gravel(LAK) - Tim Daly

Gravel is the only real physical presence on the SCSU blue line. Daly is a strong skater that generally plays a pretty quiet game.

Jarrod Rabey - Ethan Prow

Rabey has some offensive skill, and has spent some time at forward in his career, but it's unlikely he'll do much freelancing offensively given the stakes of the game. Prow is another skilled, puck-moving defenseman that can contribute on the power play.

Ryan Faragher

Ryan Faragher will get the start in goal. Faragher isn't the type of goalie to steal games for St. Cloud, but for the most part, he hasn't needed to thanks to the team in front of him. He'll make all the saves he should make, and steal the occasional one he shouldn't as well.

What are St. Cloud's strengths?

-The Huskies are just loaded with skill up front. Normally the scouting report would be to shut down the Hobey front-runner, but there are so many other ways the Huskies can hurt you offensively, be it Hanowski, Dowd, or even Benik.

-What makes them so good offensively is how well they play in front of the net. Many of their goals, 5-on-5, but especially on the power play, come by getting the puck on net, and then having a weak side forward crash in for a rebound, or to tap in a loose puck. The opposition's defense will have to be very cognizant of not just covering the front of the net, but also making sure they keep an eye on that weakside forward.

-Defensively, the Huskies clog up the middle of the ice in the neutral zone as well as any team in the country, which really slows the opposition down in transition.

-Their defense skates and moves the puck very well, which makes them a difficult team to forecheck and pressure in their defensive zone.

What are their weaknesses?

-The Huskies are not a team that likes to chip and chase, which means they can have trouble getting the puck into the zone when the other team really stacks up their own blue line. For as much talent as St. Cloud has up front, their power play numbers are surprisingly bad. Part of that is because the Huskies can have a lot of difficulty gaining the zone and getting their power play set up.

-While their defense is very fast, they're not very big. There is the potential to create mismatches and outmuscle the Huskies in front of their own net to create scoring opportunities.

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