Huskies’ Season Still Worth Appreciating [OPINION]
In the end, the 2018-19 St. Cloud State hockey season was like a Stephen King novel.
Lots of interesting characters, an engaging plot, a few twists and turns, memorable thrills along the way, and an abrupt ending that leaves you scratching your head.
Sure, it stinks (and maybe it's a little maddening) that the Huskies were bounced in the first round of the NCAA tourney as the #1 seed for a second straight year, but that doesn't mean the season was a total loss.
St. Cloud State spent 16 weeks atop the USCHO.com polls this season, a nearly unprecedented stretch of dominance that saw the Huskies post a 30-5-3 record on the year. SCSU also finished the National Collegiate Hockey Conference schedule with an all-time best 62 points, 19 more than second-place Minnesota-Duluth.
St. Cloud won the Penrose Cup as regular season conference champions, their third in the NCHC's six seasons since 2013-14.
The Huskies also finished their home schedule with a ridiculous 17-0-1 record, the first time in school history they completed an unblemished record at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center.
Defenseman Jimmy Schuldt, who chose to return for his senior season instead of going pro after last year, posted 35 points and a +24 rating while serving as the team's emotional leader. Senior forward Patrick Newell led the team with 21 goals and 46 points, as well as his +35 rating.
Both players are Hobey Baker Award Top Ten finalists, given to the nation's premier college hockey player.
First year head coach Brett Larson appears to be a home run hire for the Huskies, leading the team to many awards and accolades while simultaneously implementing his playing style and systems to an already high-functioning roster.
No one seemed more upset about the loss to AIC than Larson, who was visibly choked up at the postgame press conference.
"It's honestly one of the best groups of young men I've ever been around," Larson said after the loss. "Their hearts are ripped out right now and I feel for them, but they certainly left it all out there... and they have nothing to hang their heads about."
Maybe we, as Huskies fans, have become a little spoiled to just how good we have it now.
I remember getting to town not even ten years ago to watch SCSU win an NCAA Tournament game for the first time in school history at Xcel Energy Center in double overtime when Tony Mosey scored the game-winner.
Since then, the Huskies have made six tournaments in nine seasons, including six in the past seven seasons, posting a record of 4-6. SCSU made the Frozen Four in 2013, and boasted their first Hobey Baker Award winner in Drew LeBlanc.
It's also important to remember that these are student-athletes, kids in their late teens to early 20's, playing hockey as they also work toward getting a degree and figuring out their futures. It's unfair to dump our frustrations out on them.
It was a fun ride this season. Let's not lose sight of the fact that we have it pretty good here in St. Cloud.