The St. Cloud State Men’s Hockey team had their season come to a close in the first round of NCHC playoffs on Saturday, March 11 against North Dakota in Grand Forks, N.D. The team ends their 2016-17 season with an overall record of 16-19-1, and it is the first time in four years the team has not made the NCAA tournament.
The Huskies struggled this season on both Saturday game days and overtime losses. SCSU went 2-6-1 in overtime games this season and lost 11 Saturday games during the regular season.
Despite setbacks, the team had some big wins throughout the season, defeating not only the top teams in the NCHC conference, but in the nation, including Denver, Minnesota Duluth, and Western Michigan. Throughout the year, glimpses of this team’s full potential appeared, but with such a young roster, many players needed time to adjust to college level play and learn how to play together with a team first mentality.
SCSU went through the season with 19 underclassmen on their roster, including six freshmen that had significant playing time all season. Freshman forward Jack Poehling and defenseman Dennis Cholowski played in all 36 games this year.
Goaltending was split for the majority of the first half of the season between sophomore transfer Jeff Smith and freshman Zach Driscoll. Smith moved into the solid starting position over the second half of the year, finishing the season playing 28 games with a .906 save percentage and 2.77 GA.
Sophomore forward Mikey Eyssimont led the team this season in points (30) and goal scored (14). Other season point leaders included Blake Winiecki (25), Patrick Newell (24), and Jacob Benson, Robby Jackson, and Jack Ahcan (all at 21).
Currently three seniors are slated to graduate and move on from SCSU, Daniel Tedesco, Ben Strom, and Niklas Nevalainen. Ryan Papa, who originally came in with the 2017 class, had a redshirt year and will return next season as a senior classman. Nate Widman is graduating in the spring with his MBA, but is petitioning to receive an additional year of college hockey eligibility due to his transfer in from Brown University in the fall of 2014.
Although the incoming class is not 100 percent determined, three forwards and a goalie have said they expect to be playing in St. Cloud next season. The St. Cloud State Huskies will look to the future and begin focusing on the season ahead.