Colorado Springs, CO – Coach Larson recognizes the value obtained from his team’s grueling early season road schedule. The approximate 10,000 flight miles that they’ve logged traveling to Fairbanks, AK, Boston MA and Colorado Springs, CO has noticeably bonded this team and given him time to connect better with his players with minimal distractions. It’s also given them the confidence that they can go on the road and be successful. On the other hand, they’ve hardly had a normal week of practice since the exhibition game with Mount Royal in early October. So, it’s a bit of relief that they’ll be returning to the friendly confines of the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center for several weeks until another road trip to face Miami the end of the month. With a 7-1-0 record, we can give the team an “A” for their results so far under their new coach. This past weekend, they added two early season conference wins with their sweep of the Colorado College Tigers at the Broadmoor World Arena. The 2-1 win on Saturday was not easy and probably was not without a little controversy. But, they overcame eight penalties and limited the Tigers to one power play goal in squeezing out this victory. It was another come back win as they had to do so on Friday as well. So, they return to St. Cloud with an enviable road record, will get in a normal week of practice and prepare to face the other Colorado team – Denver University on home ice next weekend.
On Saturday, they faced an improving Colorado College program that entered the weekend with a 4-1-1 record. With an outstanding goaltender and a cadre of players that can bury the puck, they gave the #2 ranked Huskies everything they could handle in the one-goal win. A fairly evenly paced first period ended with the two squads matching shots on goal at 8-8 and with nothing to show on the scoreboard. But, the first period was a precursor to the rest of the game with three penalties whistled including two on SCSU sophomore forward Blake Lizotte.
It wasn’t until the 11:28 mark of the second period that a goal was scored. Once again, the Huskies had trouble staying out of the penalty box being penalized three times in the first 10:30 of period two including the third penalty of the game to Blake Lizotte. Holding was the penalty du jour until Jack Ahcan was whistled for cross-checking at 10:30. With the man-advantage, Westin MIchaud gave the Tigers a one-goal lead with his fourth goal of the season with assists to Trey Bradley and Nick Halloran. A nice passing sequence between Halloran, Bradley and Michaud had Bradley putting a shot on goal that rebounded to Michaud who tapped it past Hrenak for a 1-0 second period lead. In a period in which the Huskies looked somewhat leg-weary, the Tigers outshot SCSU 11-10 and had a 1-0 lead heading into the final period.
The Huskies earned one goal back at 7:28 of period three to tie the game at 1-1. Jon Lizotte placed a shot on goal from the right point that deflected off the body of Nick Poehling to Jack Poehling who spun and shot the puck over Leclerc’s left shoulder for Poehling’s second goal of the season. The officials then had their input on the game as Westin Michaud was penalized for high sticking at 17:50 of the third period. The penalty had the Tiger fans howling and rightfully so as Easton Brodzinski netted the game-winner 1:24 later. Brodzinski ( Schuldt | R Poehling) captured a pass on the left half-wall and curled and ripped a shot from between the dots that beat Leclerc clean for a 2-1 lead. The suspense continued however as Sam Hentges was penalized for what else – hooking at 19:09 giving the Tigers a two-man advantage for the balance of the game with Leclerc pulled. Although they had several bona-fide opportunities, including a scrum in front of Hrenak, the Huskies held on for the 2-1 win improving their record to 6-1-0. The loss and weekend sweep at the hands of the Huskies placed the Tigers at 4-3-1 with two losses to start the NCHC schedule.
CC’s Alex Leclerc (4-2-1) was busy stopping 28 of 30 SCSU shots on goal. His counterpart, David Hrenak also faced 30 shots on goal stopping 29 improving his record to 5-0-0. In a penalty-filled game, SCSU was penalized 8 times and the Tigers 6. The Huskies were 1/4 on the power play while CC was 1/7. SCSU had the advantage in faceoffs 28 to 25. The Huskies blocked 25 shots compared to 12 for the Tigers.
“I thought we battled and competed for every inch of the ice,” Mike Haviland said. “That’s what you have to do. When you battle and compete like this, then you have a chance to win, and if you don’t, you won’t.”
SCSU returns home to face Denver University next weekend while Colorado College travels to Duluth to face #1 ranked UMD.
Stars of the Game: #1 Brodzinski (SCSU), #2 Hrenak (SCSU), #3 Leclerc (CC)