This is the first article in our new On Location series where we will live tweet a college game that we attend in person and then later post an article here on the site.

Teams: St. Cloud State Huskies at St. Thomas Tommies

Where: Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota

When: October 3, 2021 at 5:07 p.m.

Puck drop at the first St. Thomas home game on October 3, 2021
Opening puck drop at the first St. Thomas home game on October 3, 2021.

This was the second game of a home-and-home series to begin the 2021-22 season for these two teams. St. Cloud State hosted the first game on Saturday night and showed the new Division I team why they are ranked #2/3 in the preseason polls. The Huskies impressively won 12-2. The same two teams met on Sunday evening on October 3, 2021, in St. Paul. It’s credited as the first Division I home game for St. Thomas despite it being at the Xcel Energy Center instead of the team’s St. Thomas Ice Arena. 4,261 fans were in attendance.

St. Cloud State jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a power play goal from Zach Okabe in the first period. Jami Krannila and Spencer Meier assisted on the play. Shots on goal in the first period were 12-4 in favor of the Huskies.

St. Cloud State celebrates a first period goal to put the Huskies up 1-0
St. Cloud State celebrates a first period goal to put the Huskies up 1-0.

The Xcel Energy Center is home to the NCHC Frozen Faceoff. This weekend of hockey played every March includes the final four teams left in the conference tournament with the winner of the title game hoisting the Frozen Faceoff trophy and earning an automatic bid to the national tournament. The NCHC conference tournament took place in Grand Forks, North Dakota in 2021 but the Frozen Faceoff will return to St. Paul in 2022. This game against St. Thomas is the first time St. Cloud State has played at the Xcel Energy Center since March 23, 2019, when the Huskies lost 3-2 in 2OT to UMD in the 2019 NCHC Frozen Faceoff title game.

NCHC team logos showing that the Xcel Energy Center is home of the NCHC Frozen Faceoff
The Xcel Energy Center is home to the NCHC Frozen Faceoff.

In the second period, the Huskies scored again to make it 2-0 heading into the third period. This time the goal was from Micah Miller with the assist from Kevin Fitzgerald. The Tommies had several chances but came up short. Shots in the second frame were 7-6 in favor of St. Cloud State.

St. Thomas gets a shot off in the second period of the October 3, 2021 game
St. Thomas gets a shot off in the second period of the October 3, 2021 game against St. Cloud State.

There’s an area in the Xcel Energy Center that is devoted to the Hobey Baker and Patty Kazmaier Memorial Awards. It includes a list of past winners, replica Hobey Baker Award, and jerseys of a handful of past recipients. There are also summaries of the awards and what they mean to the hockey community.

There was no scoring in the third period. St. Thomas pulled the goalie but no goals were scored for either team before time expired. St. Cloud State outshot the Tommies 29-14. David Hrenak recorded his first shutout of the season as the Huskies opened the season with two wins. The Tommies put up a good fight but are still looking for the program’s first Division I win.

St. Cloud State still pushing the puck in the final minutes of the St. Cloud State and St. Thomas game on October 3, 2021
Final minutes of the St. Cloud State and St. Thomas game on October 3, 2021.

CHH Relevant Rewind Header

A little over 50 years ago in St. Cloud, Minnesota, the Huskies hosted the hockey team from Mankato. The southern Minnesota team we currently know as the Minnesota State Mavericks were known as the Mankato State University Indians when this game occurred. St. Cloud State games at that time were played outdoors on campus. This January 1971 game took place towards the end of the outdoor game era in St. Cloud as they moved indoors to the Municipal Athletic Complex in the early 1970s. The two teams split the series in St. Cloud during the second-to-last weekend in January that year. The accompanying photo was taken at one point during these two games. In it, Paul Oberstar skates with the puck for the Huskies as the two teams look on in front of a snowy embankment. These two programs faced each other four times in a row at this point in the 1970-71 schedule with Mankato winning three. This game took place two years prior to the designation of Divisions within the NCAA. However, both of these teams at the time were effectively Division II-equivalent programs. St. Cloud State made the leap to Division I in 1987 and Minnesota State followed suit in 1996. St. Cloud State and Minnesota State were WCHA foes for 14 seasons before conference realignment in 2013. Up until now, they have never faced one another within the NCAA Division I National Tournament. That streak will end Thursday as they face off against each other in the first semifinal game of the 2021 Frozen Four. The Huskies and Mavericks are both looking for their first Division I men’s hockey championship.

Image courtesy of the St. Cloud State University Archives.

CHH Recent Rewind Header

Two years ago on March 23, 2019, Minnesota Duluth outlasted St. Cloud State in two overtimes to become 2019 Frozen Faceoff Champions. The game set the record for the longest game in Frozen Faceoff history falling just short of the overall NCHC record for longest game played within the conference. Billy Exell tied the game 2-2 for UMD on a short handed goal with under five minutes remaining in the third period. After a scoreless extra session, Nick Swaney capped off a 2-on-1 breakaway in the second overtime period to give the Bulldogs their second Frozen Faceoff championship in three years. At the time of the game, the Huskies were ranked #1 in the country and favored to beat the #4 ranked Bulldogs. Minnesota Duluth carried over their postseason win streak to the NCAA tournament and ultimately captured the program’s first back-to-back national championship after defeating UMass in the title game.