St. Cloud, MN – The #10 ranked Western Michigan Broncos arrived in St. Cloud Thursday four points behind the #2 ranked Huskies and riding a 10 game undefeated streak – the longest current streak in college hockey. They’ll leave the Granite City 10 points behind the Huskies and with a two-game losing streak following a weekend sweep at the hands of the Huskies. Following up a superb performance by David Hrenak and mates on Friday, the Huskies duplicated their dominance of the Broncos in a 5-3 win at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center on Saturday, January 19th. Once again, two of the latest “usual” suspects led the squad as Micah Miller netted his second goal in as many games and Jack Poehling completed a five-point weekend with another empty net goal. The weekend sweep of college hockey’s hottest team improved SCSU’s conference record to 9-1-2 and overall mark to 17-3-2. And, if you’ve started to pay attention to the Pairwise, the wins pushed the Huskies ahead of Denver and UMass to #1 in the ranking. With twelve regular season games remaining – all conference contests, the Pairwise watching will begin in earnest soon. And, oh by the way, for the water cooler crowd, the Huskies will jump back to #1 in the national polls this Monday. That of course will stoke the fires of the North Dakota Fighting Hawks, the Huskies next opponent in the “unfriendly” confines of Ralph Engelstad Arena next weekend.
The Huskies resumed in period one where they left off after Friday’s contest, controlling much of the real estate on the ice and spending a whole lot of time in the Broncos defensive zone. In the period, the Huskies attempted 26 shots with 13 of them on target and 10 shots between the dots. The Broncos, frustrated and obviously ornery from being forced to chase the Huskies resorted to a much more physical contest particularly in front of Trevor Gorsuch and the WMU goal. The Broncos on the other hand could only muster six shots on goal during the period but Hrenak was forced to make a huge one on one save at the goal mouth at 4:21 before getting beat on the Broncos second shot at 8:55. On a nice play by WMU, Colt Conrad fed Dawson DiPietro along the back wall and he performed a nifty forehand backhand move to slide the puck beneath Hrenak for a 1-0 Bronco advantage. Despite being outplayed and outshot 13 to 6 in period one, WMU maintained a 1-0 lead at the end of the session.
The Huskies again applied significant offensive zone pressure on the Broncos in period two while the defense severely limited the WMU shots to the perimeter. Blake Lizotte evened the game 57 seconds into the period. Jack Poehling started the play charging into the Bronco zone baiting all three WMU defenders to close in on him and he made a nice backhand drop to Lizotte who snapped off a quick wrist shot from the top of the left circle that beat Gorsuch to tie the game. The Huskies were handed their first of four man-advantage opportunities of the period at 5:31 after a tripping call to Colt Conrad. 46 seconds later, the puck was behind Gorsuch after a tip-in by Easton Brodzinski (Schuldt | B Lizotte) for his 10th goal of the year. After some great puck movement, Jimmy Schuldt let go a shot from the blue line that was redirected by Brodzinski past Gorsuch for a 2-1 SCSU advantage. SCSU added another at 11:32 on Micah Millers (J Poehling | Nick Poehling) second goal of the weekend. Nick Poehling started the sequence with a pass to Jack Poehling who placed a shot from the right circle that rebounded to MIller who snapped off a quick shot from the left circle for a 3-1 lead. The Huskies were gifted another power play at 17:32 after a goaltender interference call on Lawton Courtnall. This time it was first-year forward Nolan Walker (Hentges | Ahcan) that scored his 6th goal of the season at 19:16. A cross-ice pass from Ahcan was booted by Hentges and it ended up on Walker’s stick who turned and buried a shot off the right post for a 4-1 lead. The Huskies outshot WMU once again by a 14-7 margin.
The Broncos did appear to step up their play in period three and it was their most successful period in getting shots within the kill zone at Hrenak. After some good puck movement in the Huskies zone, Jade McMullen beat Hrenak at the goalmouth to make it a 4-2 game. Paul Washe fed McMullen with a backhand and while sandwiched between two Huskies managed to chip a quick shot past Hrenak. Behind by two scores, the Broncos pulled Gorsuch’s replacement, Ben Blacker with about three minutes remaining. SCSU took advantage and in a give and go between Jack and Ryan Poehling, Ryan generously returned a pass to Jack who deposited it for his second goal of the weekend and a 5-2 lead. With time running out in the period and the Huskies flat footed, the Broncos added one last goal on a strong shot by Lawton Courtnall from the left circle for a 5-3 final score. SCSU outshot WMU 10-5 in the period.
SCSU outshot Western Michigan 37 to 18 for the contest and had 67 shot attempts for the game. SCSU took advantage of some undisciplined play by the Broncos and were 2 for 6 on the man-advantage while WMU was 0 for 3. SCSU blocked 14 shots with the Broncos blocking 5. SCSU had the advantage in faceoffs 33 to 28. SCSU’s David Hrenak stopped 15 of 18 WMU shots while Trevor Gorsuch and Ben Blacker combined to stop 32 of 36 shots on goal. David Hrenak’s record improves to 13-2-1.
“I thought we had a really good first period even though we were down 1-0.” Said coach Larson.”The power play had to come up big tonight . We knew we would need them and they got us a couple of goals. You could tell Blake Lizotte got his game back and he was a big piece of the puzzle. Micah Miller keeps getting better every weekend. With some guys injured he’s stepping up. ”
Jack Poehling (1-2-3), Jack Ahcan (0-2-2) and Blake Lizotte (1-1-2) had a multi-point game for the Huskies.
Stars of the Game: B Lizotte (SCSU), J Poehling (SCSU), Miller ( SCSU)