Going into last year’s NCAA tournament, St. Cloud State had made the NCAA field eight times and had posted only one win. That all changed as the Huskies won their first two games and reached the Frozen Four.

“Last year there was definitely a lot of excitement around our success of winning the league championship and making the Frozen Four,” St. Cloud State head coach Bob Motzko said. “I knew we had good leadership returning along with a lot of very good players. I don’t like to use the word expectations because we talk about the journey and what we need to do game to game, week to week. We put a lot more emphasis on that than we do the big picture.”

HUSKIES TAKE TOP SPOT
St. Cloud State gained the No. 1 ranking in this week's USCHO.com poll. This marks the first time since the 2001-02 season that the Huskies have earned the top ranking in one of the national polls.
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With that approach, the Huskies haven’t skipped a beat this season. They are 11-1-2 and jumped up to the No. 1 spot in the nation. It marks the second time in school history St. Cloud State has risen to the top spot. In 2001-02, the Huskies were No. 1 for several weeks before falling back to No. 2 in late February.

St. Cloud State is on a seven-game unbeaten streak and plays host to Union (N.Y.) in a two-game series this weekend.

The Huskies returned 107 goals from last year’s Frozen Four team, including Jonny Brodzinksi who led last year’s team with 22 goals and is second on the team with seven this year. However, among those who did not return was Hobey Baker Award winner Drew LeBlanc, who led the team in scoring with 35 points on 10 goals and 25 assists.

“I think making the Frozen Four helped a great deal,” Motzko said. “It was a validation of the things we have been doing. It gives our players confidence that they can do it. They know making the Frozen Four and a national championship isn’t a dream. They know they can do it.”

St. Cloud State has been led by junior goalie Ryan Faragher, who has a goals against average of 1.91. The defense leads the nation in scoring defense as it has allowed only 25 goals in 14 games. In addition, the Huskies have not allowed more than three goals in a game this year. They also lead the nation in scoring margin, outscoring opponents by almost two goals a game (1.93 gpg).

“The key to sustaining our success will be being consistent,” Motzko said. “We need to stay disciplined and feed off our defensive play. Our defense has been the backbone of our team this year in addition to the depth of our team. Our rallying cry really has been playing as a team.”

Engineers hope to stem tide against Denver

Rensselaer and Denver meet for a weekend series in Troy, N.Y., with the Pioneers leading the series 11-1. In fact, Denver has outscored the Engineers 76-29. However, only two of these games have been played in the past 10 years and those two were split between the teams. The RPI win came as the first game in head coach Seth Appert’s coaching career.

Bentley's Gensler breaks record

Bentley senior Brett Gensler broke the school’s Division I record for career points with three assists on Friday. He added a goal on Saturday to finish the weekend with 129 points (57g, 72a), besting the previous record of 126, which was held by Dain Prewitt. In the school’s DI history, Gensler is now third in goals and second in assists. He needs six goals to break the goals record (62) and 13 assists to break that mark (84). Gensler is fourth in points in program history.

Tough OT start for Huskies

Michigan Tech has played six overtime games this season and is 1-1-4 in those contests. Since 2009, the Huskies are an impressive 10-2-19. Tech maintains an 8-2-12 overtime record (.636) under coach Mel Pearson (1-1-4 in 2013-14; 3-0-4 in 2012-13; 4-1-4 in 2011-12).

More notes from the ice

Freshman goaltender Mike Rotolo set a RIT team record with five wins in his first five collegiate starts (Jamie Morris – 4, 1995) and has a 2.00 goals against average and .935 save percentage. ... Clarkson is currently on an eight game unbeaten streak (7-0-1). ... Bowling Green is 3-0-1 on Friday nights at home this year and 1-1-2 on the same day on the road. ... With Ferris State’s tie last night against Michigan, they are now on a 14-game unbeaten streak, not having lost since Oct. 18. ... With one assist at Colorado College, Nebraska-Omaha’s Ryan Walters is tied with Dan Charleston for fifth in career scoring at UNO with 116 points.  He is four points from tying Andrew Wong for fourth. ... The Michigan Tech Huskies are now 1-7-2 when giving up the game’s first goal and 5-1-2 when scoring it. ... Colorado College has not scored or allowed a short-handed goal this season. ... North Dakota junior forward Stephane Pattyn will play in his 100th career game on Friday night. ... Michigan’s Zach Nagelvoort leads the nation with a 1.67 goals against average. ... St. Lawrence leads the nation in power play percentage, converting 30 percent of its chances (27 of 90).