ST. CLOUD, Minn. -- Certain players seem to have a magnetism about them where it can feel like their presence is always there ... even when they are not.
When David Hrenak was asked about what makes Jimmy Schuldt a special college defenseman, though, the captain was a mere few feet away Friday night, Dec. 7.
"Great leader, also a great guy in the locker room and on the ice," Hrenak said, smiling, able to see Schuldt behind a TV camera. "Big role model. The type of guy you want to be around."
Schuldt, a senior defenseman from Minnetonka, tied a school record with a power-play goal and was one of the leaders on a defense that held Nebraska Omaha to 18 shots in a 2-0 win for No. 1/2-ranked St. Cloud State.
The Huskies (5-0-2-1 NCHC, 12-1-2 overall) moved six points ahead of the rest of the conference field in the race for the NCHC regular season title (Penrose Cup).
Schuldt scored on a wrist shot at 14:29 of the second period to give the Huskies the two-goal lead, something they could not get to in two ties last weekend at Miami.
"The last three games, the effort has been there, but the execution has been a little off," said Schuldt, whose team went into the game third in NCAA Division I in goals-per-game (4.07). "But you have to look at the teams that we're playing. Miami and Omaha are really good defensively and are structured well defensively.
"But if we can execute a little better, we'll be good. "
Yeah, the Huskies are not bad. The defending Penrose Cup champions improved to 7-0 at home with the win and are fourth in the nation in goals-against-per-game (1.87).
But the theme from new head coach Brett Larson has been to keep improving and work on the details.
"We need to keep bearing down and try to extend leads," Larson said. "If we can keep working on finishing plays, maybe we can extend the lead. Omaha hung in there and made it tough down the stretch."
Big night for Schuldt
Schuldt was a first team All-American and a top-10 finalist for the Hobey Baker Award last season. An undrafted free agent, he surprised many by returning for his senior season.
But a night like Friday was maybe another reason why he did. His younger brother, John, is a freshman defenseman for Omaha. So there were a lot of friends and relatives in the stands for the game.
"That (goal) was a little more special because of the people who were here," Schuldt said of his fifth goal of the season and 33rd in 132 college games. "There was a lot of emotions running through my body today, a little bit more adrenaline kicking in at the beginning of the game.
"Obviously, a special game for me and it means a lot to have all the support that I do. To score it against my little brother's team is just a little more ... pride when I talk to him the rest of the year."
It was the 18th career goal on the power play for Schuldt. That ties a school record for career power play goals by a defenseman with Justin Fletcher (2003-07).
Schuldt is also three points away from becoming the second St. Cloud State defenseman with 100 career points (Kelly Hultgren, 107, 1991-95).
Hrenak back on track
Hrenak, a sophomore from Slovakia, appears to have gotten back on track in goal for the Huskies in his last two starts. He stopped 43 of 45 shots in those two games, picking up his second shutout of the season Friday and fifth of his career.
"I was kind of trying too much," said Hrenak, a Los Angeles Kings draft pick. "I was trying to be perfect and maybe I was thinking too much, too.
"It's all about don't think, just focus."
Before the last two games, Hrenak had a three-game stretch where he gave up 10 goals.
Nebraska Omaha 0-0-0—0
St. Cloud State 1-1-0—2
First period — 1. SCSU, Jack Poehling 3 (Brendan Bushy, Nick Poehling), 1:38. Penalties — UNO, Jason Smallidge (holding) 3:05; UNO, Zach Jordan (roughing) 13:00; SCSU, Jack Ahcan (slashing) 13:00.
Second period — 2. SCSU, Jimmy Schuldt 5 (Ryan Poehling, Blake Lizotte), 14:29 (pp). Penalties — SCSU, Ryan Poehling (high-sticking) 2:56; UNO, Lukas Buchta (tripping) 9:11; UNO, Jordan (slashing) 13:11.
Third period — No scoring. Penalties — SCSU, Nick Poehling (goaltender interference) 5:33; UNO, Mason Morelli (tripping) 15:40.
Shots on goal — UNO 5-9-4—18; SCSU 18-14-6—38. Goalies — Evan Wenninger, UNO (38 shots-36 saves); David Hrenak, SCSU (18-18). Power plays — UNO 0-for-2; SCSU 1-for-5. Referees — Dan Dreger, Nathan Wieler. Linesmen — Brandon Schmitt, Jeff Schultz. Three stars of the game — 1. Schuldt (SCSU), 2. J. Poehling (SCSU), 3. Hrenak (SCSU). Att. — 3,797.