St. Cloud, MN- The Huskies could not have picked a better time to nail down a Saturday night win and a sweep. Their last win on a Saturday was on December 31st vs Arizona State in the Desert Classic. Their last sweep was on November 11 and 12 vs Colorado College in Colorado Springs. On Saturday, it appeared the Huskies were on a mission from the drop of the puck as they dominated the first period, attempted 66 shots on goal in the game and defeated the Miami RedHawks 3-1 at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center. In the process, they earned their fourth sweep of the season and got some payback for a sweep at the hands of the RedHawks in Oxford, OH on January 6 and 7. The win solidified their position in the Pairwise at #12 and moved them to within a point of third place Western Michigan who was defeated by Omaha 6-3 on Saturday. And, despite playing two more conference games than idle North Dakota they moved past them in the league standings for sole possession of fourth place. If anything, it’ll put pressure on the Fighting Hawks next weekend as they travel to Western Michigan while SCSU has the weekend off.
The Huskies played like a team possessed in the first period on Saturday outshooting the RedHawks 16 to 8, dominating the puck possession, beating Miami to loose pucks and getting numerous opportunities at RedHawk goaltender Ryan Larkin. But, despite the dominance, the game remained scoreless after the first period and the Huskies could have found themselves down by a goal when Karch Bachman placed a shot off the post early in period one.
SCSU nemesis Josh Melnick who single handily beat the Huskies with the game tying and game-winning goal in Oxford on January 6th gave Miami a one-goal lead at 5:46 of period two on a nice wrister from high in the slot that beat the Huskies Jeff Smith glove side high. This was Melnick’s 5th goal in the last eight games vs the Huskies. But, the Huskies responded on the power play while the RedHawks Willie Knierin was penalized for interference with a goal off a shot from the top of the left circle at 7:09 by Jimmy Schuldt (Nevalainen | Eyssimont). This was Schuldt’s 6th goal of the season and knotted the game at 1-1. However, the SCSU power play was of little help after that despite having a 5×3 man advantage for over a minute late in the period. In all, Miami was whistled for five penalties in the period but held firm with their 11th ranked penalty kill. The lack of shots attempted while on the man-advantage was obvious as the Huskies only carried a 7 to 6 edge in shots on goal in the period.
The third period again found the Huskies on the attack with Larkin continuing to fend off the persitent SCSU squad. The persistence finally paid off on a picture-perfect goal by Jake Wahlin (N Poehling | Nevalainen) at 17:23. On a rush into the RedHawks zone, Nick Poehling threaded a rink-wide pass to Wahlin hitting him in stride and the freshman one-timed it past Larkin for the game-winner. This was Wahlin’s 6th goal of the season. Less than two-minutes later, Jacob Benson made sure the lead would stand with an empty net goal at 19:04 with assists to Robby Jackson and Judd Peterson.
The Huskies outshot Miami 36 to 20 in an outstanding effort in earning the sweep. SCSU starter, Jeff Smith again was solid in goal stopping 19 of 20 shots for his 9th win of the season. As a result, he earned “star of the Game” honors for the 4th game in a row. Smith now carries close to a .94 SV% over the past 10 games. Miami’s Ryan Larkin also had a solid night in goal stopping 33 of 35 shots including all 16 in period one. Both squads were effective on the penalty kill as Miami was shutout on their two power play opportunities while the Huskies were successful in one of seven opportunities. Miami was penalized eight times for sixteen minutes on Saturday.
The Huskies have next weekend off before traveling to Denver to face the highly ranked Denver Pioneers in another crucial league series on February 24 and 25.
Stars of the Game: Jake Wahlin (SCSU) Jimmy Schuldt (SCSU) Jeff Smith (SCSU)