St. Cloud, MN – The frustrations of playing at home came to an end on Saturday as the Huskies outshot the Mavericks 36 to 24 and defeated #20 Omaha 4-2 at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center. Several streaks were snapped as the Huskies won for the first time at home in six outings and Judd Peterson scored his first goals since November 11 vs Colorado College. The win allowed the Huskies to jump back into fourth place in the NCHC standings – one point ahead of the Mavericks.
With a revamped lineup, the Huskies wasted no time getting on the scoreboard as Niklas Nevalainen (N Poehling | Lizotte) scored his first goal of the season at 1:34 of the first period off a nice two-way passing play between Jon Lizotte, Nick Poehling and Nevalainen. Lizotte fed Poehling who sent a pass across the goalmouth to Nevalainen for a tap-in goal and a 1-0 SCSU lead. A mere 29 seconds later the Huskies struck again on a power play goal by Jack Ahcan ( Winiecki) at 2:03. Winiecki fed Ahcan from the left half-wall and the first-year defenseman drilled a slap-shot past the stick side of Evan Weninger for a 2-0 SCSU lead. The Mavericks closed the lead to one on Tyler Vesel’s 7th goal of the season at 16:53. Vesel, who was positioned about 10 feet out from the goal, snared a pass from Jake Randolph from the side of the net and quickly buried it to make it a 2-1 game. In a period with good energy and puck control by the Huskies, they outshot the Mavericks 13-8.
Judd Peterson (Papa | Cholowski) extended the SCSU lead at 5:10 of the second period on the eventual game-winning goal, his 8th of the year but first since November 11. Papa threaded a pass at the goalmouth to Peterson for another easy tap-in goal for the Huskies and a 3-1 lead. But, again, the Mavericks responded with a goal by Frederik Olofsson, his second of the weekend at 11:09. Off a turnover in the neutral zone, Olofsson beat Smith with a backhand shot that Smith appeared to stop but ended up behind him in the net to narrow the score to 3-2. Once again, the Huskies outshot Omaha 11-6 in period two.
Judd Peterson added his second goal of the game at 8:47 of period three for a two-goal cushion and a 4-2 final. Peterson took a shot from between the dots and then gathered his own rebound beating Weninger high with a wrist shot for his 9th goal of the season. In another solid period of play by the Huskies, they outshot Omaha 12-10 in the period and 36 to 24 for the game. SCSU’s penalty kill was perfect once again turning back all four opportunities by the Mavericks on Saturday and all 7 opportunities in the series.
Reflecting on the first half of the season coach Motzko commented “There was one game in the first 16 that we got out-competed but, our guys come ready to play. We learned a lot of lessons in the first half. We needed to win a game (at home). I’m proud of our guys the first half. Let’s enjoy the break and come back and get after it in the second half”.
SCSU has now gone four full games and 15 opponent man-advantage opportunities without allowing a power play goal. The Huskies also edged Omaha 36-33 in faceoffs and blocked 12 shots. Jeff Smith stopped 22 of 24 shots on goal (91%) in picking up his second win of the season. Evan Weninger stopped 32 of 36 (88%) SCSU shots on goal in the loss.His record is now 6-3-2. This was also the first road loss of the season for Omaha. The Huskies were led in offense by Peterson (2 goals), Ryan Papa (0-2-2) and Jack Ahcan (1-0-1).
SCSU returns to action in the ASU Desert Classic in Prescott Valley, AZ on December 30 vs Connecticut. Their next home series is vs Denver University on January 20, 2017.
Stars of the Game: Peterson (SCSU) Papa (SCSU) Ahcan (SCSU)