St.Cloud, MN – It’s been a frustrating effort on the road for the #10 ranked Gophers this season. SCSU added to the misery on Saturday with a dominating 5-2 win at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center. The capacity crowd was treated to an outstanding offensive night by junior forward Mikey Eyssimont scoring twice and adding an assist to lead the #1 ranked Huskies to their 13th win of the season. Robby Jackson, Easton Brodzinski and Jack Ahcan added to the Gopher migraine with the other SCSU goals on the evening. The Gophers seemed sluggish and had little response to the Huskies speed and transition and were stuck on 12 shots on goal through two periods before they rallied for 11 SOG in the third period. The anemic Gophers power play currently running at about 13% provided no support as well getting shut out on all four of their opportunities. In the end, the Huskies nailed down their fifth straight win against the Gophers and evened their all-time record in St. Cloud with the Gophers at 18-18-7.
The Gophers got on the board early in period one on a goal by Mike Szmatula, at 2:34. A turnover by the Huskies led to an odd man rush with Szmatula beating SCSU’s Jeff Smith with his 7th goal of the season and a 1-0 Gopher lead. But, the Huskies power play which has had some life lately evened the score at 1-1 on a shot from the point by Robby Jackson (Eyssimont |Schuldt) at 8:49 with his 8th goal of the season. The Huskies outshot Minnesota 11-7 in period one and were 1 for 2 on the man-advantage.
The Huskies took further control of the game in period two outshooting the Gophers 15-5 and adding to their lead with goals by Mikey Eyssimont and Easton Brodzinski. In a highlight reel goal, Eyssimont took a drop pass from Patrick Newell and dangled the puck past Gopher new addition on DE Clayton Phillips and then did a wide swing across the goal mouth beating an out of position Schierhorn for a 2-1 SCSU lead a mere 50 seconds into the period. SCSU added to the lead on a blue-collar effort by Brodzinski at 5:36. Brodzinski (Fitzgerald |Jackson) , who was parked behind the Gopher goal pitched the puck in traffic off Schierhorn’s back to extend the SCSU lead to two goals. The balance of the period was filled with six penalties called – three on each side but neither team had any success on the power play.
Eyssimont again jacked up the SCSU fans with his 8th goal of the season just 1:27 into period three. A Gopher turnover near the SCSU blue line led to a 3X1 charge by the Huskies with Eyssimont beating Schierhorn short side for a 4-1 SCSU advantage. However, the Gophers narrowed the lead to two goals on a goal by Brent Gates at 7:06. A seemingly harmless shot from the point by Steve Johnson was tipped by Gates to provide the Gophers some life. They found some momentum placing a shot of the post at 11:20 but the Huskies responded with a strong forecheck in the Gophers defensive zone leading to a goal by Jack Ahcan at 12:59. Patrick Newell curled from behind the goal and placed a backhand shot on goal and the rebound was cleaned up by an attacking Ahcan for his second goal of the season and a 5-2 final for the Huskies.
SCSU outshot the Gophers 34-23 for the game and once again dominated their opponent in the third period with two goals. Minnesota’s Eric Schierhorn turned aside 29 of 34 shots on goal in the loss. SCSU’s Jeff Smith stopped 21 of 23 shots on goal to earn his 8th win of the season. The Gophers blocked 13 shots vs the Huskies 11 and the Gophers also won the faceoff battle 25-23. SCSU was 1/5 on the power play while the Gophers were shut out in all four attempts.
A multi-point game was registered by Mikey Eyssimont (2-1-3) Robby Jackson (1-1-2) Jack Ahcan (1-1-2) Blake Lizotte (0-3-3) and Patrick Newell (0-2-2).
The teams return for a rematch at Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis on Sunday at 6:00 PM CT.
Stars of the Game : #1 Eyssimont (SCSU) #2 Blake Lizotte (SCSU) #3 Easton Brodzinski (SCSU)