SCSU wins conference title, shelters in county jail

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

Mike Gibbons, St. Cloud State assistant coach

St. Cloud State took home the Penrose Cup — awarded to the NCHC’s regular-season champion — after sweeping Nebraska Omaha 4-1, 5-0 over the weekend. They had to celebrate in a county jail, where the team took shelter after their bus was stuck in Watonwan County, west of Mankato. Gibbons live-tweeted the entire experience, which was entertaining enough to earn our No. 1 star this week. Highlights include: Huge snow drifts, jail food, a photo of the cook from the county jail posing with the Penrose Cup and more. In less-thrilling, but more hockey-relevant news, the Huskies are ranked No. 1 in this week’s USCHO.com poll with 49 of 50 first-place votes, and are also No. 1 in the PairWise. For good reason: The Huskies rank second in the nation at 3.87 goals per game, and seventh at 2.03 goals against per game.

 

SECOND STAR

Ryan Donato, F, Minnesota Wild (NHL)

As we noted in our deep dive on the 22-year-old last week, the scouting report on Donato is pretty simple: He shoots the puck. A lot. He’s been doing a ton of that already for Minnesota. The newest member of the Wild has four points in three games since the trade, scored in overtime to lift Minnesota to a 2-1 win over the St. Louis Blues and leads the team with 20 shots attempts since the trade.

 

THIRD

Ben Copeland, F, Colorado College (NCHC)

An Edina, Minn., native, Copeland hadn’t scored since Dec. 14 heading into a two-game series with Western Michigan over the weekend. He got back on the board Friday, scoring in a 5-4 loss to the Broncos, then went off Saturday, scoring four goals to lead the Tigers to an 8-2 win. Copeland is the first Colorado College player to score four goals in a game since 2012.

 

AROUND THE RINK

— Minnesota State won the WCHA outright Friday with a 6-1 win over Alaska. They stumbled a bit Saturday, falling 1-0. It’s the Mavericks’ second straight conference title, and their fourth in the past five seasons.

— Sophomore David Hrenak was sharp for St. Cloud State, allowing just one goal on 53 shots against Omaha, leading the NCHC with a .981 save percentage.

— Junior Mat Robson had a solid weekend in goal for the Gophers, starting both games in a split with Notre Dame. He made 54 saves on 58 shots, leading the Big Ten with a .931 save percentage.

— Kyle Rau is heating up down in Iowa. The Gophers alum has two goals and three assists in his last four games.