LeBlanc has St. Cloud St. in NCAA hunt
Notes: UMass Lowell goes for record win; Bentley ends streak
As a math education major, St. Cloud State senior forward Drew LeBlanc has spent the days of his senior year student-teaching math to junior and senior high-school students. Meanwhile, on nights and weekends, he has basically been giving lessons to the rest of the college hockey world as one of the nation’s leading point-getters.
After struggling a bit to start the season, the Huskies are 14-10 and coming off a sweep of conference rival Denver last weekend. LeBlanc has been a main cog for the Huskies, who lead the WCHA and are in the thick of the race for an NCAA tournament bid.
|1||Drew LeBlanc||St. Cloud St.||27|
|2||Corban Knight||N. Dakota||22|
|-||Rylan Schwartz||Colorado College||22|
|5||Kevin Goumas||New Hampshire||20|
|2||Drew LeBlanc||St. Cloud St.||34|
|3||Corban Knight||N. Dakota||33|
|-||Rylan Schwartz||Colorado College||33|
“Making the NCAA tournament would be a great way to finish the season,” LeBlanc said. “My sophomore year was the first time St. Cloud had ever won an NCAA tournament game so to be able to get back there would be great. We are definitely on the bubble so if we can get hot, win some games and get on a roll we will be able to make it.”
However, things didn’t always look so bright. Last year, LeBlanc started his senior season with 10 assists in the first 10 games, but then suffered a leg injury that forced him to miss the remainder of the year. Through a tremendous amount of rehab he was able to make it back in time for this season.
“When it happened, I was more in shock than anything else,” LeBlanc said of his broken leg. “I tried to get up and I couldn’t so I looked at my leg and I knew right away that it wasn’t good. It was a feeling of frustration because there was nothing I could have done to stop it. There was countless hours of rehab, and I also tried to make sure that I didn’t lose any of the strength in the rest of my body that I had already built up.”
LeBlanc has come back in a big way, tallying 27 assists in 24 games, the nation’s leader in both total and per game for assists. The 27 assists are five more than the next closest player and he is currently on a streak of at least one assist in his past 13 games. With seven goals in addition to his assist total, he is second in the nation in total points. In fact, only four times this season has he been held without a point.
“I never thought I would be in that position [of leading the nation in assists],” LeBlanc said. “This year has been a lot of fun and I am just grateful to be back on the ice.”
LeBlanc isn’t the only person grateful that he is back.
"We are very fortunate to have a person like Drew LeBlanc on our team,” St. Cloud State head coach Bob Motzko said. “Because of his devastating injury that kept him off the ice last season, Drew really felt he had some unfinished business to take care of here. He really wanted to come back and leave his mark and he is doing just that this season. Drew really leads by example on our team. His work ethic and dedication every day to training is unmatched and it is really one of his strongest qualities as an athlete and team leader."
For LeBlanc, there is no doubt that leadership will translate to the classroom when he is done on the ice.
“I love teaching,” LeBlanc said. “I really have fun doing it because I really like working with kids to try and help them reach their potential. You can’t play hockey forever so teaching is definitely what I will do when my playing days are over.”
• The CCHA announced its All-Decade team for the past 13 years. The first team included: T.J. Hensick and Kevin Porter, Michigan; Chris Kunitz, Ferris State; Andy Greene, Miami (Ohio); and John-Michael Liles and Ryan Miller, Michigan State. The second team included: Ryan Jones, Andy Miele and Cody Reichard, Miami (Ohio Miami); Scott Parse and Greg Zanon, Nebraska-Omaha; and Brad Fast, Michigan State.
• Cornell netminder Andy Iles is the only goalie in DI this season who was used exclusively by his team last season, having now made 53 consecutive starts. By starting and finishing all of the Big Red's games in 2011-12, Iles became the first goalie at Cornell to accomplish that feat since Darren Eliot in 1982-83, and the first Cornell sophomore to do so since Laing Kennedy in 1960-61, when the season was just 19 games long.
• UMass Lowell goes for its 10th consecutive victory Friday at Northeastern. With Saturday’s 4-3 victory at Boston, UMass Lowell matched its DI-era (1983-84 to present) record for consecutive wins with its ninth -- currently the longest such streak in DI. The River Hawks originally set the mark with nine victories in 2001-02. UMass Lowell’s Division I record for consecutive games unbeaten came in the 2004-05 season, when it went 11-0-3 during a 14-game stretch.
UMass Lowell goalie Connor Hellebuyck is 6-0-0 with a 0.95 goals-against average and has halted 162 of 168 shots on goal (.964) in his past seven games. ... Bentley beat Canisius last Friday in overtime, the team’s first home overtime win since March 6, 2004. Bentley had played 25 home overtime games in that span without getting a win, going 0-4-21. ... Mercyhurst senior Paul Chiasson is one point away from reaching the century mark for his career. ... Niagara hosts RIT on Saturday at Dwyer Arena. In nine previous games at home, the Purple Eagles are 5-0-4. ... Yale is 5-0-2 overall this season against teams with national rankings the week of the game. ... Michigan Tech is 2-0-4 in overtime this season. ... Union (N.Y.) and Rensselaer play for the inaugural Mayor’s Cup on Saturday night. The game will be played at the Times Union Center in Albany, N.Y., where RPI is unbeaten in its past nine games. ... Michigan State plays host to Penn State this weekend, looking to post back-to-back victories for the first time this season. ... Bowling Green is unbeaten in its past six games (5-0-1). ... Bemidji State forward Jordan George currently has 114 points (56 goals, 58 assists) in 131 games. He needs just one point Thursday night to match Andrew Murray (2001-05) for third place on BSU’s D1-era scoring list.