St. Cloud, MN – How sweet it is. The #1 Huskies finished off the Miami RedHawks in two games in the NCHC quarterfinals to treat their fans to a date in St. Paul at the Frozen Faceoff next weekend. It wasn’t easy but as they’ve displayed all season when their back appears to be against the wall they shift their game into a different gear to bury teams in the third period. Again, on Saturday, the Huskies found themselves battling to a draw early in period three only to splurge for three goals in the final thirteen minutes to capture a 6-3 win at the Brooks Center. It continued an unbeaten streak of 12 games and closed out an entire season of 18 games (17-0-1) without a loss on home ice. The scoring by committee continued with five different players scoring and Easton Brodzinski at the head of the table with two goals, one assist and seven shots on goal. The two goals gave Brodzinski 15 for the year surpassing his 2017-19 tally by a goal. Sam Hentges also had a three-point night with the game-winning goal and two assists. Robby Jackson, who was ignored in the NCHC nominations for individual awards this past week netted his 17th goal of the season while Jimmy Schuldt, who piled up the nominations added his 10th goal and another nominee Blake Lizotte scored his 14th. While the RedHawks saw their 2018-19 season end, the Huskies now look forward to the NCHC Frozen Four and a contest with either the Denver Pioneers who ended North Dakota’s season in two games or Colorado College should the Tigers win their series vs Western Michigan. That result may not be known until Monday. Although game times have not been published it’s quite likely the Huskies would choose to have the early game at the Xcel Energy Center on Friday, March 22nd.
The troublesome RedHawks ambushed the Huskies in the first period with a goal by Karch Bachman at 6:23 on only their second shot on goal. Karch Bachman beat Hrenak high glove side with a quick wrister from inside the left circle for his first of two goals in the game. That was the extent of the scoring in a contentious first period filled with a fair amount of pushing, shoving and verbal darts by both teams. SCSU outshot Miami 10-8 in the period and both teams were 0 for 1 on the man advantage.
The Huskies picked things up in the second period and began to dominate play scoring twice within 1:23 to take a 2-1 lead. Easton Brodzinski (Hentges) began the scoring with a nice individual effort at 4:32. Brodzinski captured the puck along the left wall and carried it laterally to the high slot and beat the RedHawks Larkin with a wrist shot stick side to knot the game at 1-1. Next, Jimmy Schuldt (Jackson | B Lizotte) gave the Huskies their first lead of the game 1:23 later at 5:55. Robby Jackson sent a pass along the blue line to Schuldt who carried it to the left dot and pitched a low shot that deflected off a Miami players skate and into the goal for a 2-1 lead. But, the resilient RedHawks tied it up once again six seconds after a penalty to Karch Bachman expired. Bachman left the penalty box and took a feed from Ben Lown and beat an out of position David Hrenak from the left faceoff dot. A major turning point of the game occurred at 13:06 of the second period when Spencer Meier was penalized for a check from behind and given a 5:00 minute major and game misconduct. The Huskies killed 3:47 of the penalty until Nick Poehling was whistled for boarding gifting the RedHawks a five on three advantage for 1:13. But again, the Huskies were able to stave off the two-man advantage and the final 47 seconds of Poehlings penalty, clearly a momentum shift for the Huskies as the second period closed in a 2-2 tie.
“Everybody says if you kill off a five-minute penalty you’re winning the game” said Easton Brodzinski. “Jimmy (Schuldt) and Jon (Lizotte) really stepped up big time. The momentum was on our side and everything was going our way after that.”
In a strong period by the Huskies despite the seven minutes in penalties, SCSU outshot Miami by an 18-9 margin.
SCSU again took the lead in the contest on an early goal just 49 seconds into the period by Robby Jackson ( Newell | Schuldt). Newell attempted a wraparound but the puck ended up on Jackson’s stick who wristed it on Larkin from the left crease. Jackson celebrated but it took a stoppage and a review by the officials to determine the puck had indeed gone into the net. The goal, Jackson’s 17th of the season gave SCSU a 3-2 lead. However, the RedHawks were not going to go down easy as they added another goal at 4:38 of the period to even up the game at 3-3. Scott Corbett wristed it on goal from the left circle and it bounced off the left post and was sitting under Hrenak in the crease until Brian Hawkinson who was charging the net punched it in to tie the game.
The Huskies then stirred up another of their patented goal scoring binges scoring twice in less than five minutes to take a 5-2 lead. First, Easton Brodzinski captured a turnover in the neutral zone and created a two on one with Sam Hentges. Brodzinski slipped a pass to Hentges whose quick shot beat Larkin for a 4-3 lead at 6:42. Next, Brodzinski again forced a turnover just inside the Miami blue line and Hentges gained control of the puck making a short feed to Brodzinski who lifted the puck over Larkin for his 15th goal of the season and a 5-3 SCSU lead. “I like to get the puck in an open area -that’s what this game is about if you get it in an area to shoot the puck” said Brodzinski.
Blake Lizotte (Jackson | Newell) capped the scoring with an empty net goal off a wrist shot from the left circle at 17:27 for the 6-3 final. This was Lizotte’s 14th goal of the year. In a dominant final period, the Huskies outshot Miami 17-4.
Coaches| Player Comments
“If we don’t kill off that five-minute major and brief five on three it could be a totally different game” said coach Brett Larson. “Kudos to everyone on the penalty kill including David Hrenak. We felt at times we played a better game than we did last night. Miami was playing better too. They weren’t going to let us pull away” Larson added. “We had that resiliency with no panic on the bench and that sense that we could get it done.”
Om playing at the HBNHC Jimmy Schuldt commented ” When we show up here to play we know we will have the fans on our side. We love playing here. I’m really going to miss this place. It’s been so good to me and my class.”
The Huskies outshot Miami 45-21 and had an advantage in the faceoff circle by a 39-25 margin. Ryan Larkin stopped 39 of 45 shots on goal in the loss and saw his record drop to 10-16-2. David Hrenak allowed three goals on 21 shots and saw his record improve to 22-3-2. Both teams were ineffective on the power play with Miami 0 for 3 and SCSU 0 for 5. There were 11 penalties for 33 minutes in the game.
Robby Jackson (1-2-3), Easton Brodzinski ( 2-1-3), Jimmy Schuldt ( 1-1-2) , Blake Lizotte ( 1-1-2 ), Patrick Newell ( 0-2-2 ) and Sam Hentges (1-2-3 ) all had a multi-point game for the Huskies.
Stars of the Game : #1 Brodzinski (SCSU) #2 Hentges (SCSU) #3 Jackson (SCSU)