ST. CLOUD, Minn. — St. Cloud State’s roster has taken a severe hit this offseason, with forward Jonathan Lehun the latest to tell the Huskies he won’t be back next season.
Lehun, who figured to play a larger role in the Huskies offense as a sophomore because the team lost three of its four top scorers from a year ago to graduation, informed the St. Cloud coaches he wouldn’t return for the 2003-04 season through a fax.
Also, defenseman Jeff Finger and forward Brian Schuster have left the program, according to the St. Cloud Times. Finger, a candidate to be the team’s captain next season, isn’t completing the summer coursework that’s required for him to earn a fourth year of eligibility.
Top returning scorer Matt Hendricks, meanwhile, will attend a Nashville Predators rookie camp next week, with the possibility the team that drafted him in the fifth round in 2000 will ask him to leave school early to turn pro.
The departure of Lehun apparently came as a surprise to Huskies coach Craig Dahl, who said he didn’t know of any issues the player had with the team.
“It happens to schools like Michigan. They have kids decide to leave and play major junior. This time it happened to us,” Dahl told the Times.
“I thought Jonathan had a good freshman year. I believe if he stayed here, at some point he would’ve been ready to turn pro and spend a minimum amount of time in the minors. But he’s made his decision and we have to wish him well.”
Lehun, who had eight goals and eight assists as a freshman, will play for Owen Sound in the Ontario Hockey League this fall.
Finger, an eighth-round pick of the Colorado Avalanche in the 1999 NHL entry draft, could turn pro. He had 48 points in 107 career games, and was 18 penalty minutes short of the SCSU career record for a defenseman of 253.
Schuster, who would have been a junior in the fall, told the Times he agreed with Dahl that he wouldn’t see an increase in playing time and will look to continue his career elsewhere. He had four points in 22 games over two seasons.
Dahl told the newspaper he wouldn’t bring any extra players into the team because of the departures.