St. Cloud State senior Ben Hanowski and freshman Joey Benik continue to show progress in recovering from their injuries. Hanowski (upper body) has been skating on his own, but it sounds like he could re-join the team’s practices soon.
“I think we’ll know more at the end of the week,” Huskies coach Bob Motzko said. “The first step back is getting back to being able to exercise.”
Benik (broken leg) got his hard cast off Friday and is in a walking cast.
“He’s a couple weeks from getting on the ice,” Motzko said. “The positive thing is that he’s psychologically feeling better and can start doing a few things. But they are baby steps.
“Once he can start skating, then it’s a conditioning thing. Maybe by the end of the week, he’ll be able to start skating. We’re looking at the Anchorage series (Nov. 30-Dec. 1) as a best-case scenario for his first series back.”
Morley wins faceoffs, more playing time
Redshirt freshman center David Morley returned to the lineup after missing three games because of a lower body injury and impressed the coaching staff with his play. Morley had an
assist in Saturday’s win, but had a lot of wins in a department that many fans do not pay close attention to: faceoffs. Morley was 11-1 on faceoffs, helping the Huskies go 35-22 on faceoffs in the game.
In Friday’s loss, Morley was 9-2 on faceoffs. Here’s some perspective on those numbers: The other eight Huskies to take a draw in the series against North dakota went 50-55. In St. Cloud State’s 6-1 loss at Denver on Nov. 3, the Huskies were 18-33 on faceoffs without Morley.
“David Morley was very good this weekend and he’s showing glimpses of what he’s capable of doing,” Motzko said of Morley, who is listed as 5-foot-7 and 170 pounds and missed last season because of lingering concussion symptoms. “He’s been limited and been out a good chunk of the time for us. Hopefully, this rest is at a good time and we can get him back to 100 percent.
“He’s shown a pretty high end to be successful in the faceoff circle. It just wears you down chasing the puck if you’re only winning 20 percent of your draws, which we were. If you lose a draw on the power play, you can not get the puck back into the offensive zone for 20-30 seconds.”
Morley played right wing on Nic Dowd’s line on Saturday after playing center for most of Friday’s game. But partially because of his efficiency on draws, Morley saw time on the first power play unit and would take faceoffs.
In his first seven college games, Morley has five assists, 12 shots on goal, is 55-26 in faceoffs and is a plus-3.
6-4 through the first 10 games
It may not sound like much, but the Huskies’ start (4-2 in the WCHA, 6-4 overall) is an improvement over the past two seasons. Through 10 games last season, St. Cloud State was 2-1-1 in the WCHA and 4-4-2 overall. In the first 10 games of 2010-11, the Huskies were 2-2 in the WCHA and 4-5-1 overall. St. Cloud State’s last appearance in the NCAA tournament was 2009-10 when the Huskies got off to a 3-2-1 and 4-4-2 start.
“We’ve had to battle some adversity out of the block and the guys have shown some pretty darn good resolve,” Motzko said. “Ben (Hanowski) going down was a major hit and Benik goes down the first practice.
“This week, we are going to work on some hard conditioning and some rest. We’re not going to tax their brain a lot this week and we’re not going to do a lot of system stuff. We’ll go into next week exactly like a normal week. We don’t want to lose any timing, but this is a good time for a mental break. We’ve been going at it pretty hard.”
St. Cloud State’s next two series are on the road and against teams that have struggled to start the season: Minnesota-Duluth is 0-3-1 in the WCHA and 2-5-1 overall and Alaska-Anchorage is 0-2-2 and 2-3-3. St. Cloud State was 1-2 against the Seawolves (one was an overtime loss in the Frontier Classic the first weekend of the season in Alaska) and 1-0-1 against Minnesota-Duluth last season. The Huskies are 14-5-2 against the Seawolves and 14-7-3 against the Bulldogs (5-2-3 in the last 10 of the series) since Motzko took over.