St. Cloud, MN – The story line on Saturday was the return of goaltender Zach Driscoll to the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center to face his former team as the starter in goal for the BSU Beavers. With Driscoll leading the country with a paltry goals against average of 0.98 and a stingy .959 save percentage it appeared that the gallery would be in for another low-scoring contest right? Obviously, the #2 ranked Huskies had other designs on this game after a frustrating effort on Friday night in their 2-0 win. They proved their point early drilling the former Husky with four even strength goals in the first twenty-seven minutes to force an early exit of Driscoll en route to a 7-4 win and sweep of their WCHA rival. To be fair, it was not a particularly good night for any of the three goaltenders that played with back-up Jack Burgart allowing three goals and the Huskies David Hrenak four as they all seemed to be battling the puck. As opposed to Friday, offense took center stage as the see-saw game ultimately went to the Huskies. Jimmy Schuldt and sophomore forward Kevin Fitzgerald scored twice to lead the Huskies in this weekend sweep and push their overall record to 11-1-0.
The Huskies set the tone early as Easton Brodzinski placed a hard wrist shot that deflected off Driscoll and then the post but sailed off to the right. But, shortly thereafter at 10:34 Jimmy Schuldt (B Lizotte | Newel) connected for his third goal of the season and first of the game. Lizotte curled inside the right circle and fed Schuldt who wristed it past Driscoll stick side for a 1-0 lead. A turnover in the SCSU defensive zone proved costly as the Beaver’s Nick Cardelli captured the puck and beat Hrenak with a wrist shot from the top of the left circle to tie the game at 1-1. Kevin Fitzerald gave the Huskies another one-goal lead at 14:58 with his 5th goal of the season. On a give and go between Fitzgerald and Jack Poehling, the puck was returned to Fitzgerald who swatted a knee-high pass past Driscoll for a 2-1 lead. Less than a minute later at 15:39, Patrick Newell (Brodzinski | B Lizotte) scored his team-leading 8th goal on another nice passing play. Blake Lizotte fed Brodzinski from below the goal line and he slid it to Newell who placed his first shot off Driscoll then retrieved the rebound and beat him with his second attempt for a 3-1 SCSU lead. SCSU outshot BSU 12-7 in period one.
Robby Jackson (Nolan Walker) added the Huskies 4th goal of the game at 7:00 of period two. He fired a shot from a bad angle parallel with the goal line and placed the puck over Driscoll’s right shoulder for a 4-1 advantage. Subsequently, Driscoll was relieved and replaced by Jack Burgart after allowing 4 goals on 18 shots. A comfortable three-goal lead changed quickly following a penalty to Jacob Benson for interference. Adam Brady controlled the puck out of a scrum in front of the SCSU goal and whipped a backhand from the right dot to narrow the lead to 4-2 at 10:18. 41 seconds later, another turnover by the Huskies in their defensive zone again proved costly as Alex Ierullo took a bad angle shot that deflected off SCSU’s Spencer Meier to close the SCSU advantage to one goal. The Huskies continued to attack and strong puck control in the Bemidji zone resulted in Jon Lizotte’s first goal of the year. Kevin Fitzgerald connected with Lizotte from the side of the goal and Lizotte took a shot from 30 feet out that found its way through traffic for another two-goal lead at 5-3. Once again the Huskies outshot the Beavers 11-7 in the period.
The Huskies added two more goals in the first half of the third period to place the game out of reach. First, Kevin Fitzgerald added his second goal of the game at 2:42 with assists by Jake Wahlin and Micah Miller. Wahlin tossed a short lateral pass to Fitzgerald who one-timed past Burgart from high in the slot for a 6-3 advantage. The Huskies added another at 8:28 with Jimmy Schuldt’s second goal of the game and 4th of the season. Newell backhanded a pass to Schuldt from the side of the goal and Schuldt took two strides and snapped off a quick shot from the left circle that beat Burgart stick side for a four-goal advantage at 7-3. But, the never say die Beavers beat Hrenak again with a backhand shot from the left circle by Jay Dickman at 9:19 for the final goal of the game and a 7-4 score.
SCSU outshot Bemidji 32-24 for the contest and the Huskies David Hrenak turned aside 20 of 24 shots on goal to improve his record to 8-0-0. The combined tandem of Zach Driscoll and Jack Burgart stopped 25 of 32 SCSU shots in the loss. Former Husky Driscoll allowed four goals while Burgart allowed three. Burgart took the loss in his first decision of the season and is 0-1-0. SCSU had the advantage in face-offs 34 to 26 and in blocked shots 11-10. SCSU was 0/3 on the power play while BSU was 1/2.
Coaches Comments: “We asked the team to play the right way from start to finish and felt they did. We kept on the attack and pushed the play and we are happy with how they played tonight. We had four lines playing with a lot of pace.” About the play of Kevin Fitzgerald coach Larson commented ” Kevin Fitzgerald plays good every night to be honest and he doesn’t get noticed a lot because he does all the little things right. It’s fun to see him get rewarded.” About Jimmy Schuldt he remarked ” You can’t say enough about Jimmy Schuldt. He’s a warrior out there. He means everything to the team.” About Bemidji: “I can honestly say (Bemidji) is one of the hardest teams to play in the country. For us, it was a great test. The response by our team was really good.” .
Six players had a multiple point game for SCSU: Brodzinski (0-2-2), J Poehling (0-2-2), Schuldt (2-0-2), B Lizotte (0-2-2), Fitzgerald (2-1-3), Newell (1-2-3)
Stars of the Game: Fitzgerald (SCSU) Newell (SCSU) Schuldt (SCSU)