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Three things to watch in the Colorado College/St. Cloud State hockey matchup

March 4, 2014 Updated: March 4, 2014 at 9:21 pm
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St. Cloud State forward Jonny Brodzinski (22) celebrates after scoring against Minnesota during the second period of a North Star College Cup hockey game, Friday, Jan. 24, 2014, in St. Paul, Minn. (AP Photo/Paul Battaglia)

Here are three things Colorado College hockey will focus on headed into this weekend's regular-season-ending National Collegiate Hockey Conference series against No. 4 St. Cloud State; 7:08 p.m. Friday (CBS Sports Network), 7:07 Saturday, World Arena:

 

 

Slow down St. Cloud State in transition

A deep and talented group of Husky forwards are gearing up for their final two chances to lay claim to the league's Penrose Cup as regular-season champion.

Depending on this weekend's results, No. 4 SCSU, No. 9 North Dakota and third-place Nebraska-Omaha could win or share the title and finish as one of the top three seeds in the playoffs.

Seventh-place CC (6-20-6, 6-11-5-1 NCHC) will travel to face the No. 2 seed, which may be SCSU (19-8-5, 13-6-3), next weekend.

The balanced Huskies are led by sophomore Jonny Brodzinski (35 points, 19 assists), senior Nic Dowd (33, 18 goals) and sophomore second-line center Kalle Kossila (30, 19 assists). Eight more players have 18 points or more. CC has two.

"We just need to stay with a businesslike approach and be ready to play Friday night like every team in this league," Huskies coach Bob Motzko said. "All the leagues are a grind down to the very end."

Contain the Huskies' potent power play

The Tigers must avoid the penalty box with St. Cloud State's power play clicking at 24.4 percent (31 of 127), fourth in the nation. CC has found itself down a man far too often of late and CC's 47th-rated penalty kill (79.7 percent) has suffered under the pressure.

It will be hard-pressed again this weekend by the Huskies, led by Dowd's nine power-play goals, good for a five-way tie for fifth in Division I.

"Their power play is legit," CC assistant Joe Bonnett said.

Take advantage of few power-play chances

Don't expect a lot of opportunities for the CC power play. St. Cloud State averages only 8.2 penalty minutes, fourth best in Division I, which helps offset its penalty kill struggles (78.3 percent, 50th in the nation). The Huskies prefer to pack it in defensively when down a player.

"Discipline has been a key to their success," Bonnett said.

The Huskies PK has improved, going 85 percent (17 of 20) over the past six games, despite the recent loss of junior defenseman Andrew Prochno to injury. He is out this weekend but senior wing David Morley will be back after practicing on Tuesday..

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