Hot off taking the St. Cloud State men’s hockey program to the national championship game for the first time in program history, the Huskies announced a contract extension for coach Brett Larson on Tuesday that will keep him at SCSU for another seven seasons.
Larson, who is now signed through the 2027-28 season, has compiled a 63-32-9 record in three seasons with the Huskies since coming over from his alma mater, Minnesota Duluth. He led SCSU to a Penrose Cup as NCHC regular season champions during his first season as head coach in 2018-19 and in Year 3 got the program back to the NCAA Frozen Four for the first time since 2013 and second time in school history.
“I said this a lot back then, I was the luckiest coach in the world to inherit the team I inherited that first year,” said Larson, who was hired in 2018 after Bob Motzko left to become head coach at Minnesota. “It was filled with a locker room full of great guys and great hockey players. I couldn’t be luckier to coach that group. Since then, those guys really helped leave a foundation for the program and we’ve tried to build off it.
“I’ve been really proud of the teams the last two years and long story short, I feel really lucky because I’ve been surrounded by great people.”
Just the third coach in SCSU men’s Division I hockey history and 17th dating back to 1931-32, Larson’s 63 wins are tied for most by a head coach after three seasons while his .649 win percentage is the best for a Huskies coach after three years.
The Huskies finished second in the NCHC during the regular season and played in both the national championship game — a 5-0 loss to Massachusetts in Pittsburgh — and NCHC Frozen Faceoff championship game — a 5-3 loss at North Dakota — during a 2020-21 season played amidst a pandemic. It marked the second time in three seasons that Larson had the Huskies in the NCAA tournament, with the 2020 tourney wiped out by COVID-19.
SCSU athletic director Heather Weems said Larson has "a really impressive ability" to bring people together and get them to buy into his vision, and that was on display in last season when the Huskies were picked to finish fourth in the NCHC and unranked in the national polls to start 2020-21.
"It speaks to his ability to create buy-in, develop players but also get them to play in a way that rewards success," Weems said. "His demeanor, his bench demeanor, and just his relationship with the players, I think, gives them comfort and confidence every time they go out on the ice."
Larson has been a finalist for the Spencer Penrose Award as national Coach of the Year in two of his three seasons (2018-19 and 2020-21) and was named the NCHC Herb Brooks Coach of the Year as a rookie head coach in 2018-19.
Before taking over as head coach of the Huskies, Larson was an NCAA Division I assistant coach for eight seasons at UMD (2008-11, 2015-18) and Ohio State (2013-15). A native of Duluth who graduated from Denfeld High School and UMD, Larson helped coach the Bulldogs to national championships in 2011 and 2018.
Larson, who also spent two seasons as a head coach with the Sioux City Musketeers of the United States Hockey League from 2011-13, said the new long-term contract changes little when it comes to the pressure he continues to put on himself to keep the Huskies at the top of the college hockey ranks.
“There’s not a day goes by that I don’t feel pressure — whether it’s before or after the contract, so that won’t change too much,” Larson said.
This story was updated with new comments from SCSU athletic director Heather Weems, as well as clarification from Weems that Larson's contract is not a seven-year extension as initially announced, but that the new deal keeps Larson with the Huskies for seven more seasons total.