A few other odds and ends from #SCSU practice

Some other bits and pieces from the first day of practice:

Just to be clear, there wasn’t a ton of contact in that first day of practice, so that’s not the reason why Joey Benik got injured. Benik landed awkwardly and broke his leg.

“You’re not out battling the first day,” Huskies coach Bob Motzko said. “You’re getting your timing. He just got tangled up and fell.”

GOOD REPORTS ON OFFSEASON CONDITIONING

The Huskies were 7-2-1 down the stretch before their loss to North Dakota at the WCHA Final Five. That and, what sounds like a strong offseason, has the team itching to play its first game.

“We came back after a great offseason that started last spring. It started last spring with great leadership and a committed group of guys,” Motzko said. “But how many teams are there in Division I hockey? 59? I’m sure there’s 59 other teams that are saying the same thing. Guys look great, spirits are up.

“We had a lot of underclassmen (last season) and you can really see some improvement in the areas you wanted to see it, from a lot of guys.”

SOME MORE ON LeBLANC’s RETURN

Drew LeBlanc looked very good in practice Saturday. He’s moving and cutting very well and his passing shows no sign of rust. His return has the team excited, not only because of the player he is, but the type of person he is.

“We felt sick last year — for any of your players — to go through that,” Motzko said of the coaching staff. “He had an opportunity to go pro (after his junior season) and stayed in college. You want to see all the things that were supposed to happen for him  come his way now. I still think that’s one of the reasons he’s here — he’s got unfinished business. That’s when it works at our level right now. In a time and an era of guys wanting to get to the next level quickly — and there’s nothing wrong with that — there’s something special about playing in the now and where you’re at. I just believe he’s a guy driven by unfinished business. To have that leadership is going to be fun to watch.”

OK, so on the ice, what’s the difference with LeBlanc on the ice?

“He’s a tremendous special teams player. He’s a great center,” Motzko said. “Guys beg to play with him because of his passing ability. His hockey IQ is as high as it gets, it’s world class. He can change games. He makes his teammates better.

“On top of that, he’s just plain and simply one of the best all-around, quality individuals that I’ve been around. He’s the full package … The only thing is we want him to shoot more. That’s the flaw. But that’s every one of his coaches since pee-wees.”

EARLY LINES

For those of you who follow the team closely, you know that lines change quite regularly during the season, particularly the first half of the season. But here’s what the lines looked like to start with on Saturday morning:

Ben Hanowski-Drew LeBlanc-Joey Benik

Jimmy Murray-Nic Dowd-Brooks Bertsch

Garrett Milan-Cory Thorson-David Morley

Nick Oliver-Joey Rehkamp-Jonny Brodzinski

T.J. Belisle-Kalle Kossila-Joey Holka

Defensemen

Andrew Prochno-Nick Jensen

Kevin Gravel-Jarrod Rabey

Brandon Burrell-Taylor Johnson

Tim Daly-Ethan Prow

After Benik got hurt, Morley was skating on the line with LeBlanc and Hanowski.

Don’t write any of those in stone. The Huskies are likely to use dozens of combinations during the season, but it’s interesting.

Mick Hatten

About Mick Hatten

I cover St. Cloud State hockey and I am a general assignment reporter for the sports department at the Times. 2012-13 was my third season covering the Huskies hockey programs. My wife Kristin and I have two boys (Luke, 5, and Josh, 3) and we live in St. Cloud. I have had two stints working at the Times. I worked here from 1986-91 as a part-time sports reporter and intern. I have been back since Aug. 1999. I spent one year as the prep sports coordinator, six years as the St. Cloud State reporter (football, men's and women's basketball and everything else but hockey) and spent four years as the Citizen Times editor. The last two years, I was also the editor of the Rocori Times and Sauk Rapids-Rice Times sections, which are mailed directly to people in those two school districts. Follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MickHatten or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sctimesmick. I do online chats about college hockey during the season from 1-2 p.m. Thursdays at www.sctimes.com.
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