ST. CLOUD, Minn. — Chase Brand is used to getting challenged.

His dad coached him in baseball and his mother was his math teacher for two years and neither parent gave him a free pass. Actually, the bloodlines may have caused Brand to work harder in both areas.

"A lot of tough love. I remember going to the baseball field when I was younger and I'm a pretty competitive guy and I was even more so when I was younger," said Brand, a 21-year-old who was a baseball shortstop. "I remember him hitting me ground balls and every time I'd mess up, I'd get a little angry. His rule was whenever I'd show emotion, he'd start hitting the ball a little harder every time.

"By the end, he'd be hitting them pretty hard at me and I'd be crying pretty much every time. It was not always sunshine and rainbows on the baseball field with me and my dad."

His father, Craig, played baseball at Mayville State. Chase ended up being the MVP of his Park Rapids High School team two years. After playing junior hockey his senior year, he came back and played American Legion baseball and his dad was the coach.

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"That was a lot of fun," Brand said of playing for his dad on the latest Huskies Hockey Insider podcast. "It was kind of cool to play for him one more time."

His mother, Cami, played basketball and volleyball at Mayville State before becoming a teacher. Brand said that his mom did not take it easy on him in her class, either.

"Everyone was like, 'Oh, your mom must have been so easy on you.' Actually, she was way harder on me and would kind of embarrass me if I was talking in class," he said. "It was kind of tough."

In the long run, it may have helped Brand focus. He got a 28 on his ACT. In July, he was one of four St. Cloud State men's hockey players to be named All-America Scholar Athletes by the American Hockey Coaches Association. To be eligible, players must have a 3.75 grade-point average during fall semester and play in 40% of their team's games.

Brand received his latest challenge on the hockey rink. He did not dress for a game against Minnesota Duluth on Jan. 3. He dressed for the next game against the Bulldogs and scored his first goal of the season on Jan. 8 at Amsoil Arena.

Brand and the fourth-ranked Huskies (9-4-0) play an NCHC road series this weekend against Western Michigan (3-8-3). St. Cloud State and Western Michigan will play at 6:05 p.m. Friday (NCHC.tv) and 6:30 p.m. Saturday (CBS Sports Network) at Lawson Arena in Kalamazoo, Mich.



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This season

Brand has played in 11 of the Huskies' 13 games, mostly on a line with junior center Nolan Walker and junior wing Micah Miller. In the game that Brand scored, his line accounted for two goals and two assists and was a collective plus-6 in a 4-3 win. It snapped a scoring drought in which none of them had scored a goal in nine games.

"We had a running joke about how snakebit we were," Brand said of he and his linemates. "A lot of games — most of the games in the (NCHC Pod) bubble — we spent most of our time in the offensive zone. We were having offensive zone time, just not getting enough pucks to the net.

"But I think we played pretty well and we did pretty well defensively. We wanted to stick with it and finally had a breakout game on Friday (Jan. 8), which was nice."

Brand snapped a 15-game stretch where he had not scored a goal. His last goal was Feb. 7 against Colorado College. He scored his first goal of the season off a designed faceoff play. In a faceoff in the Minnesota Duluth zone to the left of goalie Ryan Fanti, Brand stood at the hash mark near the boards, then quickly slid over and shot it in after Walker won the draw.

"He was just trying to win it back to me," Brand said. "That's usually a tough play because you have to win it to a perfect spot. A lot of times, the defenseman will be right there. For whatever reason, I had a little bit more time than usual."

Brand played most of last season on a line with Jami Krannila at center and Zach Okabe on the other wing and had five goals and 12 points in 31 games. He said he is enjoying playing with his new linemates and has also been a penalty killer this season.

St. Cloud State is tied for 10th in NCAA Division I on the penalty kill at 88.2%.

"Offensively, I haven't been doing as much as I'd like. I've think I've been playing better lately," he said. "As far as being scratched, it's never fun. But you try to stay positive and keep working hard.

"I think I've been doing a lot better than last year defensively, position wise. On penalty kill, I think I've been doing pretty good, too. Hopefully, offensively, I can pick it up a bit."

Minnesota Gophers goalie Jack LaFontaine deflects a shot by St. Cloud State forward Chase Brand during the third period of the Mariucci Classic Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, at the 3M Arena at Mariucci in Minneapolis, Minn. Jason Wachter/The Rink Live
Minnesota Gophers goalie Jack LaFontaine deflects a shot by St. Cloud State forward Chase Brand during the third period of the Mariucci Classic Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, at the 3M Arena at Mariucci in Minneapolis, Minn. Jason Wachter/The Rink Live

After leaving his high school team to play junior hockey his senior year, Brand played 1 1/2 seasons with the Brookings Blizzard in the North American Hockey League. In 2016-17, he got called up by the Sioux Falls Stampede for two games in the United States Hockey League.

The following fall, he was cut by Sioux Falls in training camp and went back to Brookings. He ended up finishing the season with the Omaha Lancers in the USHL, though he was a healthy scratch a lot that season.

Brand finally found his footing with the Madison Capitols in the USHL in 2018-19. He had originally committed to play for Miami, but de-committed after the coaching staff was let go. That summer, he ended up signing with the Huskies.

All of those challenges, he said, have helped him deal with adversity.

"My year when I played in Omaha, I'd never really been scratched up until that point," he said. "I went there and I was in and out of the lineup. That gave me the experience of facing adversity and how to work your way into the lineup. That helps me in college.

"When you're out of the lineup, you can't get discouraged. You've got to focus on yourself and the things that you can do to get back in the lineup."

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