(Editor's note: Chase is the son of 1989 Detroit Lakes graduate Craig Brand)
Chase Brand made a smooth transition from playing junior hockey to playing hockey at the NCAA Division I level.
Brand had a solid freshman season as a forward for the St. Cloud State University men’s hockey team. Brand tied for ninth on the team in scoring with 12 points (five goals and seven assists), including one power-play goal and one game-winning tally, while playing in 31 of the Huskies’ 34 games.
“I decided to play for St. Cloud not only because it is so close to home, but also they have built a great hockey program over the past 10-15 years,” said Brand, who was originally going to play hockey for Miami (Ohio) University. “I also got a great feeling talking with the coaches. I could tell that they were not only genuine people, but great coaches that expressed a lot of interest in me as a player.”
The 2017 graduate of Park Rapids Area High School recorded his first point at the Division I level with an assist in SCSU’s 2-1 win over Northeastern on Oct. 26 and followed with another assist in a 6-3 loss to Princeton on Nov. 1. Brand tallied his first collegiate goal in a 5-5 tie with Princeton on Nov. 2 and scored his first power-play goal in a 5-2 loss to Colorado College on Nov. 16.
After tallying an assist in a 5-3 win over Miami on Dec. 7, Brand had two assists in a 7-2 victory over Minnesota State on Dec. 28. Brand followed with a goal in a 6-3 loss to Denver on Jan. 10 and scored the game-winning goal in a 2-1 victory over nationally ranked Minnesota Duluth on Jan. 17.
Brand ended the season with an assist in a 6-2 loss to Western MIchigan on Jan. 24, a goal in a 3-2 win over Colorado College on Feb. 7 and an assist in a 2-1 win over North Dakota on Feb. 22.
For the season, Brand fired 26 shots on goal, took eight penalties and blocked 13 shots. SCSU was outshot 1,007-944 while being outscored 108-94. The Huskies had 17 players score a goal (led by Easton Brodzinski’s 12) and 21 players tally an assist (with Nick Poehling and Jack Ahcan leading the way with 18 apiece).
“I thought my first season in college went pretty well. It was a little tough at first getting adjusted to the college game, but as the season went on I got more and more comfortable. This season I played mostly on the third line with two other freshmen and played power play for pretty much the whole year. I remember the coaches telling me early on in the year that I was recruited to St. Cloud for my skill and that’s how they wanted me to play. Basically my role on the team was to make plays and create offense, but also to be responsible on defense as well,” said Brand. “As far as the team, we started off really slow the first two months of the season, but we really picked it up the second half of the year and put ourselves in a great position for playoffs. Overall, I was pretty satisfied with my play and the play of the team.”
SCSU finished fifth in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) standings with a 10-12-2 record for 33 points. North Dakota won the NCHC title with a 17-4-3 record and 56 points while Duluth (17-5-2, 53 points), Denver (11-8-5, 42 points) and Western Michigan (12-9-3, 41 points) followed. Rounding out the conference standings were Nebraska-Omaha (8-13-3, 27 points), Miami (5-16-3, 20 points) and Colorado College (4-17-3, 16 points). The Huskies went 13-15-6 overall before the NCHC playoffs were canceled on March 13.
North Dakota ended the season rated No. 1 in the national poll while Duluth (No. 4), Denver (No. 5) and Western Michigan (No. 17) were also rated in the top 20. SCSU was rated No. 24, Omaha was rated No. 30, Colorado College was rated No. 40 and Miami was rated No. 45.
“To have the season end the way it did was pretty heartbreaking. We had traveled out to Western Michigan for the first round of playoffs and we were feeling really good about the series. We felt like we were peaking at the right time and had a lot of confidence,” said Brand. “We had just got done with practice when our coach told us that the season was over and I was just so shocked. I couldn’t believe the season was just done and we didn’t have a chance to make a run.”
Brand played three years of junior hockey, scoring 17 goals and tallying 26 assists for the Brookings Blizzard of the NAHL in 2016-17 and 2017-18. Brand also played in two games for the Sioux Falls Stampede in 20016-17 and 12 games for the Omaha Lancers in 2017-18 of the USHL. Brand was named the team MVP of the Madison Capitols of the USHL last season after setting a single-season scoring record at Madison with 54 points (17 goals and 37 assists) in 62 games.
“One of the biggest differences I noticed in the college game was the strength. Last year I was playing against guys my own age and this year I was playing against guys that were almost all older than me,” said Brand. “I think playing as a freshman and eighth grader in high school really helped me prepare for playing against older and bigger guys. Also playing in the NCHC was really tough. There were three teams in our league that were in the top 5 in the country.”
After holding his own in his first collegiate season, Brand is looking to step up his game and help the Huskies move up in the NCHC standings next season.
“I have very high expectations for myself next year. I think that going into this summer knowing what it takes to be good at the college level will really help me. Also just being a year older and stronger as well as having more confidence will help me play better,” said Brand. “As a team, I think we will be really strong next year. We are losing a couple key guys, one of them being Jack Ahcan who was our captain and will probably play in the NHL next year, but we have a lot coming back and I think we have the chance to be a great team.”