ST. CLOUD, Minn. — The news is rough for St. Cloud State men's hockey wing Easton Brodzinski. His season is over and he had to have surgery.
Brodzinski took a clean check in the Boston College zone about one minute into the second period of Sunday's NCAA Division I Northeast Regional championship game at Times Union Center in Albany, N.Y. Brodzinski went down and laid on the ice for several minutes before being helped off the ice by two teammates and not putting any weight on his right leg.
Sunday night, Brodzinski's father, Mike, posted an update on his son on Twitter.
The tweet said, "Easton Is in surgery Now with a broken Femur Not the Greatest news but he’s a tuff kid and will get thru this I know he’s Ecstatic forHis Huskie Brother’s. Great job boys but your not done. One more."
The femur is the only bone in the thigh and the longest bone in a person's body. Huskies coach Brett Larson said that he spoke with Brodzinski, the team's leader in goals with 13, on Monday morning.
"Unfortunately, it's a lower body injury that's going to keep him out the rest of the year," Larson said. "He's going to be missed ... big time.
"I think he was playing his best hockey of his career here in those last two games. He really was stepping up in a big moment and he really wanted to help the team get those two wins. I just feel horrible for him, personally. He's put his heart and soul into this program and I know how much he wanted the guys to get to the Frozen Four and win it."
Brodzinski, a senior from Blaine, Minn., had two goals and was a plus-2 in St. Cloud State's 6-2 win over Boston University in the region semifinals and was named to the All-Region team. The Huskies (19-10-0) will play Minnesota State University-Mankato (22-4-1) at 4 p.m. April 8 in the national semifinals at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Pa.
He has 55 goals and 98 points in 140 career college games. Brodzinski leads the team in shots on goal (85) and penalty minutes (46), is second on the team in power-play goals (4) and tied for the team lead in game-winning goals (3).
Brodzinski was playing on a line with junior center Nolan Walker and junior wing Micah Miller. In the regional, the Huskies had 10 goals. That line had five goals, three assists and was a combined plus-8 in the regional.
Brodzinski is likely to be replaced in the lineup by Joe Molenaar, a freshman from Minnetonka. Molenaar has three assists, nine shots on goal, two penalty minutes and is a plus-2 in 11 games this season. The last game that Molenaar played in was on Feb. 27 against Minnesota Duluth and he has been out of the lineup since sophomore wing Kyler Kupka returned to the lineup after suffering an upper body injury and missing eight games.
"A guy like Joe Molenaar, who played some really good games for us," Larson said. "We didn't take (him) out (of the lineup) because we were unhappy with him. We just took him out because we were pretty deep at forward when Kyler Kupka came back ... I know he's chomping at the bit to help the team.
"He's a really intelligent player, makes really good plays, has really good hands. I think his brain and his hands are his two biggest assets. He's the type of player you can put on any line and he'll be able to fill a spot."
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Larson knows some keys to Frozen Four success
This is Larson's first trip to the Frozen Four as a head coach, but he made three Frozen Four appearances as an assistant coach for Minnesota Duluth head coach Scott Sandelin. The Bulldogs won NCAA titles in 2011 and 2018 and finished second in 2017.
Larson has noticed one thing has changed with his new position as he heads to the national semifinals.
"I never had any media calls when I was an assistant coach," Larson said, laughing. "I feel like I'll get a bunch this week. I didn't have to worry about that."
Larson admits that the fact that the Huskies are going to the Frozen Four has not sunk in entirely yet.
"It's all surreal, your first day after. It's something that this team has wanted for so long ... It's going to be fun when we practice this week, knowing that we're one of only four teams going to the rink to practice."
Larson said that he will work on getting his team to get refocused when they practice Tuesday.
"The days going in, what you really want to do is manage the guys' emotions," he said. "You can't have them so pumped up for 10 days that they don't have any emotional energy left by the time they get there. Managing that emotional high, bringing them back down to earth this week, so that they have a really good, focused week of practice and continue to work on the things that have helped us to be successful lately.
"You still want them to have that day-to-day mentality of trying to get better. We still can get better right up until that time we play."
One change that the team has gotten accustomed to this season is that they will leave early for Pittsburgh. The Huskies will practice on Monday at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center, fly out and get tested for COVID-19 when they get to Pittsburgh, quarantine Tuesday, test again on Tuesday night, practice Wednesday and play on Thursday.
"Things won't seem quite as long between the games because we will go through the exact same protocol at the Frozen Four that we just went through," Larson said. "It will actually go pretty quick."
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