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2019 NCAA Tournament West Regional Preview: St. Cloud State

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Regular season: 30-5-3, 22-3-3 NCHC. Won regular-season title, lost conference tournament championship game to Minnesota Duluth 3-2 in double overtime.

How they got here: At-large bid. #1 seed in the West Regional and #1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Impact players:

Senior forward Patrick Newell, 47 points (21 goals).

Sophomore forward Blake Lizotte, 41 points (14 goals).

Senior forward Robby Jackson, 40 points (19 goals).

Junior forward Ryan Poehling, 31 points (8 goals).

Senior defenseman Jimmy Schuldt, 34 points (10 goals).

Junior defenseman Jack Ahcan, 34 points (6 goals).

Sophomore goaltender David Hrenak, 23-4-2 record, 2.19 GAA, .908 save percentage.

The rundown: St. Cloud State has been ranked #1 in the country for most of the season and they possess tremendous power offensively. SCSU was on a 13-game unbeaten streak before falling to Minnesota Duluth in the NCHC Frozen Faceoff championship. The Huskies, who come into the tournament as the top overall seed for the second straight season, fell 4-1 to Air Force in the first round last year. There’s a sense of unfinished business with the team, and head coach Brett Larson believes the key to avoiding another letdown is not so much focusing on the opponent, but remembering who they are as a team.

“We focused all week on being at our best, playing our game, making sure that we’re not caught overthinking too much about another opponent and getting away from the way we play,” Larson said. “The big thing for us this week is ‘Focus on Husky Hockey.’”

Ryan Poehling, who suffered a freak head injury during the Huskies’ 5-2 win over Colorado College on Friday in the NCHC semifinals, did return to practice for St. Cloud State this week, and he was seen practicing on Thursday afternoon. His status for the West Regional is still in question, but the team hopes he’s able to play.