St. Cloud, MN – A determined SCSU hockey team rallied in the third period to put away defending national champion Denver University by a 4-2 score and capture the NCHC Penrose Cup for the second time in five years. Ryan Poehling scored the game winning goal on a breakaway and Jon Lizotte buried a shot from his own blue line to seal the deal for the #1 ranked and #1 Pairwise Huskies. With a seven point lead over second place Denver it is not possible for the Pioneers to gain enough ground in the last weekend of the regular season to finish higher than second. The Huskies, a lock for the NCAA tournament face North Dakota next weekend in the final series of the regular season and then look forward to a first round NCHC playoff at home – most likely facing Miami.
The Huskies came out on senior night with some resolve to reverse Friday’s 1-1 result with an energetic start to the game and some solid goaltending by David Hrenak. After failing to convert an early power play opportunity, the Huskies got in penalty trouble themselves with a slashing call to Mikey Eyssimont at 14:06. But, the opportunistic Huskies turned the tables on the Pioneers getting a short-handed goal by Robby Jackson ( Peterson), his 15th of the season. A short-handed breakaway resulted in a shot on goal by Judd Peterson that nearly trickled through the legs of Denver’s Jaillet but Jackson was there to punch it in for an early 1-0 SCSU advantage. But, the Pioneers responded less than two minutes later with an even strength goal by Jarid Lukosevisius, his 15th of the season with assists to Henrik Borgstrom and Dylan Gambrell. Coincidental penalties to Logan O’Connor and Jack Ahcan for roughng finished off the period with the contest tied at 1-1. Denver outshot the Huskies 12-9 and both squads were 0 for 1 on the power play.
The Huskies took a quick lead to start the second period with a goal by Jacob Benson (Schuldt | J Lizotte) a mere 2:34 into the second period. Schuldt fed Benson who beat Jaillet with a bad angle shot to once again give the Huskies a one goal lead at 2-1. The Huskies nearly extended the lead shortly thereafter as Ryan Poehling put a shot of the post. The Huskies failed to convert on two more power play opportunities in period two but entered period three with a one-goal lead. Shots on goal were an even 9-9 in period two.
The determined Huskies stepped up the pressure in period three and they appeared to take the lead once again on a goal by Easton Brodzinski who deflected a shot by Jon Lizotte past Tanner Jaillet. But, a review of the goal suggested goaltender interference and it was waved off by the officials. Denver responded with a key goal at 5:30 of the third period on a low shot from the point by Blake Hillman that beat Hrenak to tie things up at 2-2. The Huskies responded once again on a highlight reel play with Jimmy Schuldt connecting with Ryan Poehling and springing him loose on a breakaway. Poehling made it look easy beating Jaillet blocker side with a quick wrist shot for another one-goal lead at 3-2 at 12:25. The Pioneers pulled Jaillet with 2:11 left in regulation in an attempt to even things up but Jon Lizotte put the game out of reach with a shot from the SCSU blue line into an empty DU net with 40 seconds remaining. SCSU outshot the Pioneers 15-6 in period three with a determined effort to capture the Penrose Cup on home ice and on senior night.
In summing up the game, coach Motzko remarked “It was a heckuva hockey game. We had to bounce back tonight and had to learn how to win a big game. Ryan (Poehling) was great all weekend. David Hrenak played like a big time goalie this weekend. But, it’s a regular season championship. It’s nice but we have to park it quick and get back to work.”
SCSU outshot Denver 33 to 27 for the contest. The Pioneers Tanner Jaillet stopped 29 of 32 shots on goal while the Huskies David Hrenak turned aside 25 of 27 shots on goal to see his record improve to 10-4-1. Both squads were scoreless on the power play with the Huskies 0 for 4 and Denver 0 for 2. SCSU blocked 15 shots on goal and Denver 8. The Huskies won the faceoff battle winning 32 while the Pioneers won 22.
Stars of the game: #1 Ryan Poehling (SCSU) #2 Jimmy Schuldt (SCSU) #3 Jacob Benson (SCSU)