Men’s Hockey Falls in NCHC Championship Game; Will play Boston University in NCAA tournament

The Huskies were placed in the Northeast Region in Albany, NY and are set to take on the Boston University Terriers this Saturday at 5:30 p.m. Photo courtesy of Kylie Macziewski

Championship Game 

The St. Cloud State University men’s ice hockey team was defeated 5-3 in the NCHC Frozen Faceoff Championship game by the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks on Tuesday, March 16 at the Ralph Englestad Arena in Grand Forks, ND.  

Like nearly every other Husky game this season, this one also got off to a blazing fast start with Zach Okabe scoring his sixth goal of the season 2:06 into the first period. The goal was assisted by Ondrej Trejbal and Jami Krannila. 

The nation’s second-best team would not be silent for long as UND’s Riese Gaber scored ten minutes later to tie the game at 1. 

Seamus Donohue then found the perfect time to add his first goal as a Husky and of the season scoring four minutes after the UND goal and giving St. Cloud a 2-1 lead. Donohue’s goal was his first of the year and was assisted by Spencer Meier and Kyler Kupka. 

The Huskies took the 2-1 lead to the locker room and then held UND scoreless for the entirety of the second period, while also not adding any goals of their own. The game would go to the third with a 2-1 Huskies lead. 

The third period would be nearly all Fighting Hawks as they showed why they are the number two team in the nation scoring three goals in two minutes at the beginning of the third period. The quick turnaround from UND gave them a 4-2 lead in the blink of an eye and gave the Huskies a much-needed test of adversity before the NCAA tournament. 

Sam Hentges scored his eighth goal of the season two minutes later to cut the Huskies deficit to one and gave some life to the team. Hentges’ goal was assisted by Kevin Fitzgerald and Ondrej Trejbal. 

The Huskies battled hard the remainder of the game and had to resort to pulling their goalie when UND put the nail in the coffin with and empty net goal from Jordan Kawaguchi to secure the 2021 NCHC Frozen Faceoff title for the Fighting Hawks. 

NCAA Tournament  

The Huskies were considered a lock for the NCAA tournament before the NCHC Frozen Faceoff tournament even began, but with the Huskies performance in the NCHC Tournament, how much would their seeding be affected if at all? 

The NCAA selection took place on Sunday, March 21 and the Huskies were assigned a two-seed and were sent to the Northeast Region to take on the third seed in the Northeast, the Boston University Terriers, in the first round of the NCAA hockey tournament. The winner of this game will go on to face the winner of the game between the number two overall seed, the Boston College Eagles and the four seed in the Northeast, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. 

The game between the Huskies and Terriers is scheduled for Saturday, March 27 at 5:30 p.m. in Albany, New York at the Times Union Center. Interesting note, this building was the host in the only other meeting between the two schools, an NCAA tournament game in which BU won. 

The Huskies will look to even up the all-time series and move one step closer to their second Frozen Four in School History. This years’ Frozen Four will take place in Pittsburgh, Penn. Which was where the Frozen Four was held when the Huskies made their only appearance in school history back in 2013. 

The Huskies enter the game with a 17-10-0 overall record, against only NCHC competition. In this pandemic effected season Boston University qualified for the NCAA tournament by playing only 15 games, all against Hockey East schools, and finished with a record of 10-4-1. 

Boston University is making their thirty-seventh appearance in the NCAA tournament while St. Cloud State is making their eighth. Boston University last made the Frozen Four in 2015, a championship game loss to Providence University. As noted earlier, St. Cloud’s last, and to date only, Frozen Four was in 2013, a national semifinal loss to Quinnipiac University. 

The Huskies, who last made the NCAA tournament in 2019 will be looking for a strong opening round performance from goaltender David Hrenak. As shown throughout this season, when Hrenak is playing well this team becomes very difficult to stop because of the fact that the Huskies are one of the best teams in terms of turning defense into offense. If the Huskies can do that, anything can happen. 

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