Wild prospect Kunin makes season debut after AHL surge

Rather than focus exclusively on the Minnesota Wild’s top prospects, we’re taking a look at the best players from across the State of Hockey every week.

From college to the pros, check out our recap of all the week’s events in Minnesota hockey, as we check in with college players, Wild prospects and State of Hockey alums.

Let’s take a look at our three stars of the week in the latest edition of the State of Hockey Tracker.

 

FIRST STAR

Luke Kunin, F, Minnesota Wild (NHL)/Iowa Wild (AHL)

Kunin finally returned to Minnesota on Tuesday after starting the season in the AHL following his recovery from ACL surgery. It’s taken him a while to get back up to speed, but the former first-round pick appears to have rediscovered his scoring touch down in Iowa. Kunin had three goals and three assists in six games before an injury to Wild captain Mikko Koivu prompted the Wild to recall Kunin. Minnesota has declared Koivu day-to-day, so Kunin’s stint with the big club might be short-lived, but with just four wins in their last 10 games, the Wild could stand to change things up a bit. Still just 21, Kunin remains a work in progress, but his potential is intriguing. The first sophomore in more than 40 years to captain the Wisconsin Badgers, Kunin was a point-per-game player in two seasons at Wisconsin, finishing his college career with 70 points (41 goals, 29 assists) in 69 games.

 

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SECOND STAR

David Hrenak, G, St. Cloud State (NCHC)

Hrenak had a banner weekend for SCSU, backstopping the Huskies to a sweep of conference rival Nebraska Omaha. The sophomore was one of just three goaltenders nationwide to start back-to-back games last weekend and allow just one goal, logging an 18-save shutout Friday. The Mavericks snuck one past the sophomore in the second period Saturday, but he finished the weekend with 38 saves on 39 shots, helping the Huskies extend their unbeaten streak to 10 games.

 

THIRD STAR

Charlie Combs, F, Bemidji State (WCHA)

Combs led the nation over the weekend with four goals, and was one of five players to rack up five points. He had a hand in all but one of the Beavers’ goals in a split with Alabama Huntsville, registering his first career hat trick in a 4-0 win Friday. Combs scored 13 goals in 37 games as a freshman last season, but this outburst isn’t particularly surprising. A 22-year-old sophomore, Combs was a prodigious scorer as a Junior A player, racking up 51 goals in 58 games during his final season with the BCHL’s Wenatchee Wild (2016-17).

 

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AROUND THE RINK

— Dmitry Sokolov, a seventh-round pick of the Wild in 2016, scored two goals Saturday in Iowa’s 5-2 win over Grand Rapids. An AHL rookie, Sokolov was a prodigious sniper in the high-scoring OHL, where he finished his career with 128 goals in 196 games, and now ranks third on the Iowa Wild with seven goals.

— Senior defenseman Jack Sadek (Lakeville, Minn.), a seventh-round pick of the Wild in 2015, had three assists to help the Gophers to a tie and win against Michigan.

— Freshman goaltender Dryden McKay helped Minnesota State to a 4-1, 6-0 sweep of Alaska Anchorage, finishing the weekend with 22 saves on 23 shots.

— Sophomore forward Blake Lizotte (Lindstrom, Minn.) had three points in the St. Cloud State’s sweep of UNO, finishing with two goals and an assist for his second three-point series of the season.

— Junior defenseman Colton Poolman (East Grand Forks, Minn.) helped North Dakota to a split with Denver with a goal and two assists.

— Ivan Lodnia, a third-round pick of the Wild in 2017, has six points in his last four games.

— Conor Dewar, one of the Wild’s third-round picks in 2018, had a goal and an assist on Wednesday for Everett (WHL). While it broke a streak of four games without a goal, Dewar has at least one point in eight of his last nine games and in 25 of his 29 games overall this season.

— Forward Alexander Khovanov, another of Minnesota’s third-rounders this past draft, had four points (one goal, three assists) in four games for Moncton (QMJHL) last week and has four goals and 11 points in his last seven games.