St. Cloud, MN – It’s pretty simple. If the Huskies are to host the first round of the NCHC playoffs they need wins with little margin for error. On Friday, February 10 they methodically got the job done with a 4-2 win over the Miami RedHawks at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center. Entering the contest scoring less than three goals per game, the Huskies exceeded that and in the process leapfrogged Omaha who lost to Western Michigan to take hold of fifth place in the NCHC standings – one point behind idle North Dakota and four points behind third-place Western Michigan.
In a not so encouraging first period, the Huskies were outshot 10-7 and yielded real estate to the RedHawks for large segments of the period. But, as we’ve become accustomed to lately, starter Jeff Smith stopped all 10 Miami shots leading the Huskies into the second period with a scoreless game. But, it was the RedHawks who hit the scoreboard first at 4:04 with a power play goal by Gordie Green, his fifth of the year to take a 1-0 lead. Green deposited his own rebound after deflecting a shot on goal by Louie Belpedio. SCSU responded late in the period with a power play goal by Ryan Poehling ( Cholowski | Jackson) at 17:01 to knot the game at 1-1. Poehling redirected a shot by Dennis Cholowski for his 7th goal of the season.
With the score tied 1-1 the Huskies took control early in the third period with two goals in the first 3:46. First, Mikey Eyssimont (Newell | Poehling) made a nice toe-drag and then wristed the puck past Miami’s Ryan Larkin for a 2-1 lead. This was Eyssimont’s team-leading 12th goal of the season. Slightly over a minute later the Huskies struck again on Robby Jackson’s (Lizotte | Nevalainen) 8th goal of the year. Jackson, who was parked in front of the RedHawks goal, deflected a shot by Jon Lizotte past the Miami netminder for a two-goal 3-1 lead. An interference penalty to the Huskies Jimmy Schuldt with 2:03 remaining in the period gave Miami some hope and they capitalized at 19:36 with a goal by Kieffer Sherwood to draw to within one goal. But, with Miami attempting some pressure in the waning seconds, Jimmy Schuldt was able to seal the win with an empty net goal with 13 seconds remaining.
In another solid effort SCSU’s jeff Smith turned aside 30 of 32 Miami shots on goal to even his record to 8-8. His counterpart, Ryan Larkin stopped 26 of 29 shots on goal and took the loss and saw his record drop to 8-10-6. The Huskies were 1 for 2 on the power play while Miami had a successful night on the man-advantage converting 2 of 4.
The win improved the Huskies overall record to 14-14-1 and improved their Pairwise position to #14.
The teams return to the HBNHC for the series final on Saturday at 7:07 PM CT.
Stars of the Game: Ryan Poehling (SCSU) Robby Jackson (SCSU) Jeff Smith (SCSU)