Hockey alum sets mark

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Matt Cullen, for SCSU hockey player, skates for the Minnesota Wild of the NHL

Matt Cullen, for SCSU hockey player, skates for the Minnesota Wild of the NHL.

Photo of Matt Cullen, NHL star and Husky Hockey player during the 1995-97 seasons Matt Cullen, for SCSU hockey player, skates for the Minnesota Wild of the NHL  

Former St. Cloud State star Matt Cullen skated in his 1,000th National Hockey League game last night, scoring two goals, including the gamewinner.

The crafty center from Moorhead slipped the puck past Antti Niemi in a 5-4 shootout win over the San Jose Sharks Jan. 10 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

Cullen, who was born in Virginia, Minn., is one of seven Minnesotans to reach the 1,000 games mark. He shares that honor with former Husky Hockey star Bret Hedican, who played for St. Louis, Vancouver, Florida, Carolina and Anaheim of the NHL.

He skated two seasons (1995-97) for Coach Craig Dahl.

The 1,000 games accomplishment is just one of many for the Moorhead Spud and St. Cloud State Husky. But Cullen has always been about team accomplishments, like helping Moorhead to a state tournament berth every year he played there. Or getting St. Cloud State to the WCHA Final Five both years he played there. Or helping the Carolina Hurricanes to a Stanley Cup title in 2006.

Cullen has always been about the team, and you’re not going to hang around for 1,000 games or more if you’re not. Fortunately, Cullen brought his attitude to Minnesota for the past two seasons, and he reached a significant milestone in his home state.

While 1,000 games is nice for Cullen, he’s more concerned with helping the Wild this season and was a key player in Minnesota's 5-4 shootout win over San Jose at the Xcel Energy Center. Cullen had a third period goal and a goal in the shootout to lead the Wild to the win. 

"It’s such an incredible accomplishment for any player to do that. And then to see a player like Matt right now, who’s playing at the level he’s at with the type of season he’s havingļæ½it’s a real credit to how he takes care of himself and what kind of professional he is,” said Wild coach Mike Yeo on Cullen's 1,000th NHL game.

Cullen has enjoyed stops at Anaheim, Florida, New York Rangers, Carolina, Ottawa and Minnesota during his NHL career that dates back to 1997. 

In two seasons as a Husky, Cullen posted 27 goals and 59 assists from 1995-97.  A five-time USA National Team pick, Cullen played for Team USA in the 2006 Olympics.

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