St. Cloud, MN – It may not have been a perfect game but it was darn close as the #2 ranked Huskies put forth an exemplary team effort to dispatch the #10 Western Michigan Broncos 3-0 at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center on Friday, January 18. It was indeed a gritty effort against a team that had been undefeated in 10 games and was breathing down the Huskies back for the conference lead in the NCHC. Goaltending was superb, defense was solid and players not typically on the score sheet made their presence in an impressive team win. David Hrenak stepped forward for another outstanding performance in goal and Nick Poehling scored the game-winner as the Huskies improved their conference record to 8-1-2 and extended their lead over second-place Western Michigan by seven points.
A scoreless first period was accentuated by some physical play below the goal line and in the corners and some speedy rushes up ice by perhaps the quickest team the Huskies have faced thus far this season. The Huskies outshot the Broncos 6-4 and were able to stunt the only man-advantage opportunity of the period after a slashing penalty to Jimmy Schuldt at 13:40.
The Huskies had their most dominant period of the contest in the second out shooting WMU by a 19-9 margin. The Huskies scored early in the period with all three Poehling brothers getting into the play. Jack Poehling sent the puck up ice to Ryan Poehling who carried it into the WMU zone along the left wall and fed brother Nick who beat WMU’s Gorsuch with a low shot stick side for his second goal of the season a mere 1:09 into the period. Eight minutes later, first-year forward Micah Miller (Brodzinski | Hentges) finally netted his first collegiate goal at 9:20. Miller started the play with a short feed to Hentges who attacked the zone and passed to Brodzinski who fired on the net with Miller charging the net and beating Gorsuch with a backhand for a 2-0 SCSU lead. However, the period was not without opportunity for the Broncos as Hrenak had to make a big pad save at 15:51 and another a huge save on a two on one with 5:47 in the period. WMU did put forth a strong push in the last three minutes of the period but the Huskies were able to withstand the Bronco attack. The Huskies had one power play opportunity at 14:28 but were unable to convert.
Period three had the Huskies on the man-advantage twice at 7:19 and 13:21 but again, the Broncos penalty kill was able to turn aside both. Down by two goals WMU pulled their goaltender with 1:14 left in the contest and Jack Poehling (unassisted) found the empty net at 19:07 for his fourth goal of the season and a 3-0 SCSU final. The Huskies outshot the Broncos 12-10 in the final period.
In a strong night for both goaltenders, WMU’s Trevor Gorsuch turned aside 34 of 36 shots on goal to take the loss and see his record go to 11-3-1. The Huskies David Hrenak stopped all 23 shots he faced for his third shut out of the season and have his record improve to 12-2-1. SCSU outshot WMU 37 to 23 and were 0 for 3 on the power play while the Broncos were 0 for 2. SCSU blocked 6 shots and WMU 9. Faceoffs were even at 26 to 26.
“We’re proud of the way we played because we faced a really tough opponent tonight” said coach Larson. “I thought it was an overall strong team effort from the goaltender on out. We did a good job with our defensive awareness. We are trying to develop a standard of play where we are playing the right way for 60 minutes. We need to build off tonight and stick with our standard but it will take our best tomorrow.” Asked about Micah Miller’s first goal he commented ” I thought he played well and those are fun moments (to get his first goal). Every guy on the bench was happy for him. He has kept working and getting better every game. So, to see him get rewarded the team was really happy.”
Jack Poehling had the lone multiple point game for SCSU with a goal and an assist.
Stars of the Game: N Poehling (SCSU) D Hrenak (SCSU) M Miller (SCSU)