Huskies Stave Off Cinderella Colorado College, Wipe Out Bad Memories From Last Season
by Joe Paisley/CHN Correspondent
ST. PAUL, Minn. A season’s worth of adversity — all crammed into an injury-riddled February — ended up being just what St. Cloud State needed to win its second National NCHC Frozen Faceoff championship.
The focused Huskies seized control and never let the defense-oriented Colorado College Tigers set up and clog the middle to pull away for a 3-0 win in the league title game Saturday at the Xcel Energy Center.
That rough stretch and the desire to win one title in three tries had the Huskies focused on Saturday’s trophy, not the bigger one at stake in the NCAAs next week.
“It made us want it more,” said tournament Most Outstanding Player Jami Krannila, who scored the opening goal and eventual game-winner when an errant shot by Zach Okabe went in off his body. “We have been close a few times. Now we finally got one thing out of the way and now our next goal is a national championship.”
The NCHC title, the second in program history in six appearances, was a big one for SCSU goalie Jaxon Castor, whose struggles in last season’s NCHC championship game were well documented, as were the cruel barbs directed his way. No one on the Huskies might have wanted the title more and Saturday’s win provided some vindication.
“Social media can be really tough,” said Huskies coach Brett Larson, who teared up a little during the interview. “It was really hard on him, what he went through last year. I am so proud of him for how much he has grown as a person and player to get through that and end up on top.”
“Hey, he’s an NCHC champion right now.,” he added. “That’s quite a difference in a year.”
Castor acknowledged that he was extra motivated since last April.
“I have had a chip on my shoulder all year,” he said. “It’s been a fun ride so far so hopefully we can keep it going.”
The 24-12-3 Huskies will find out their NCAA Tournament foe and regional location Sunday evening. The seventh-seeded Tigers, who fell to 13-22-3 with the loss, saw their chance at their first NCAA berth in 12 years evaporate under the pressure of the Huskies’ forecheck.
The loss denied the Tigers of the program’s first outright league postseason title and dropped CC to 0-8 all-time in title…
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