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St. Cloud State Men’s Season Preview

2021 NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Championship - Semifinals Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Season preview: St. Cloud State Huskies

2020-21 record: 20-11, 15-9 NCHC

Projected 2021-22 NCHC finish: First, as voted on by the media in the preseason poll

Key losses: Will Hammer, Jared Cockrell

Key returns: Veeti Miettinen, Kevin Fitzgerald, Sam Hentges, Nolan Walker, Easton Brodzinski, Zach Okabe, Micah Miller, Luke Jaycox, Jami Krannila, Seamus Donohue, Nick Perbix, David Hrenak

Key additions: Jack Peart, Ryan Rosborough, Aidan Spellacy, Mason Salquist, Josh Luedtke

Coach Brett Larson:

On having a regular schedule again: “I think everybody is [looking forward to a return to normalcy]. This time last year we didn’t know when we were gonna play.”

On playing in the pod: “We really felt [that set us up for success]. The hockey was so fast, it was so much fun because the players had to hold back all fall. I think for most of us playing in the pod, we found it to be a great experience. That was great hockey.”

On the return of the fans: “People can’t wait. I know our players can’t wait to have that energy back in the building.”

Senior defenseman Spencer Meier:

On high expectations this year: “There’s a lot of hype. We’re all pumped to go and we’re pumped to play. We’re hungry to win. It takes a lot to get there. It’s a hard league.”

On his final season as a Husky: “Obviously I want to succeed, I want to have a great year and put myself in that spot where I have a decision to make. We want to win a national championship. That’s our main goal. If we do that, we put ourselves all in good positions for opportunities after the year.”

Outlook: After an impressive run to the national championship game in April, St. Cloud State brings almost everybody back thanks to an additional year of eligibility brought on by the pandemic. David Hrenak is a solid presence in the SCSU net, while Nick Perbix, who earned preseason all-conference honors, along with Spencer Meier and Seamus Donohue lead a good defensive core. Easton Brodzinski, who broke his femur in the Northeast regional championship back in March, is recovering well, but while head coach Brett Larson is hopeful he can return early in the season, he is not yet sure when Brodzinski will come back into the lineup

Meanwhile, Veeti Miettinen earned the most votes in the preseason all-conference voting, and the returns of the likes of Sam Hentges, Nolan Walker and Jami Krannila were huge. This is an experienced, deep group that is expected to contend once again this season. Look for them to finish in the top two or three of the NCHC standings if they don’t go on to win their fourth Penrose Cup.