February 27, 2009 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Lasch is Key For St. Cloud

Junior Finds Groove as Huskies Rally Down the Stretch

by Dan Myers/CHN Staff

ST. CLOUD, Minn. — Pumping up and building muscle is a part of any great athlete's offseason program. St. Cloud State forward Ryan Lasch was no different following a standout sophomore campaign last season where he scored 25 goals and added 28 assists.

In an effort to strengthen his game even more, Lasch gained 10 lbs. of muscle during the offseason. Initially, the results weren't what he expected: Just one goal in his team's first 14 games.

And while 10 lbs. may not sound like much, it is when you stand a generous 5-foot-9 and weigh about 170 lbs. to begin with.

"When I came back at the start of this season, I had to adjust a bit to my body," Lasch said. "It took a little bit, but I think I'm starting to come around now."

And the timing couldn't be better for the Huskies, which started 0-3 in conference play this season, rebounded to 3-3 before dropping back to 3-5. At that point, the Huskies were in the bottom half of the conference and Lasch, who led the WCHA in scoring in 2007-08, was nowhere to be found among the league's top scorers.

But Lasch says he never lost confidence, and the following weekend at Minnesota State, he and the Huskies broke through. St. Cloud, which had not beaten the Mavericks in over two years, completed a series sweep to get back to .500. Lasch had a hand in five points on the weekend — half his season total up to that point.

Since then, the Lake Forest, Calif., native has not looked back.

In the Huskies' last 18 games, Lasch has scored 16 goals and added 11 assists. He was named the National Player of the Month in January and since a tough two-game sweep to Minnesota after Christmas, the Huskies have gone 5-2-1 in league play to jump right back into the home-ice race, just one point behind Minnesota-Duluth heading into this weekend's series at Denver.

Perhaps more importantly, Lasch has the Huskies ranked among the top-20 in the Pairwise and in the hunt for a second straight NCAA tournament berth.

"The last 18 games, that's what he did his first two years here," said SCSU head coach Bob Motzko. "It took everybody a little bit off guard: He went through one of his first slumps of his career here the first half of the season.

"But like all athletes, you go through those down turns and slumps and you get through it. We all knew he would. Now, he's right back to where he left off a year ago when he was an All-American."

Lasch had three goals and an assist in four games following the MSU series in December before really hitting his stride in January. He had two goals and two assists in a sweep of Minnesota-Duluth Jan. 9-10 before netting his first hat trick of the season Jan. 17 against the Gophers. He scored three points the following weekend in a win and a tie at Colorado College before another three-point weekend in a split to wrap the month at home against North Dakota.

In all, Lasch had eight goals and six assists in eight January contests.

"He's found that groove offensively and it just doesn't seem like it's gonna stop," Motzko said. "He's given us a backbone offensively and we've been a much more consistent team since Christmas on."

And that extra weight Lasch put on before the season? He says its helping him now as the season winds down.

"I'm winning more 1-on-1 battles now," Lasch said. "It's definitely come in handy."

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