St. Paul, MN – Call it entertaining. Call it perplexing at times. The St. Cloud State Huskies NCHC playoff semi-final game vs Colorado College was a good example of where the state of the college hockey game is currently. With the officials grappling with the use of technology and the rules intent on protecting the safety of the players there were 13 penalties for 56 minutes and video reviews galore at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on Friday, March 23. With video reviews of each and every goal and a number of the on ice infractions both coaching staffs had to cope with the challenges it presented in this hotly contested game. There were two game misconduct penalties called on key players from each side – Trevor Gooch of CC and Jon Lizotte of SCSU, a 10 minute misconduct to Robby Jackson and nearly every other penalty in the rule book was whistled in a game ultimately won by the Huskies 5-2. In the end, it was the Huskies ability to withstand a five on three advantage by Colorado College for a span of 1:24 and the balance of the major penalty for 3:36 in the third period to hold on for the win.
With Robby Jackson penalized for interference at 9:28 of period one Westin Michaud dented the scoreboard first 21 seconds later beating David Hrenak with a wrist shot from inside the left circle for a 1-0 Colorado College Lead. Coincidentally it was then Michaud who placed the Huskies on the advantage at 12:08 as a result of face-off violation. The Huskies then went to work with their top-ten ranked power play with Patrick Newell (B Lizotte | Schuldt) scoring his 20th goal of the season. Lizotte fed Newell from high in the slot and Newell who was positioned at the top of the left circle beat Leclerc with a wrist shot to tie the game at 1-1. 24 seconds later, the Huskies struck again with Nolan Walker’s 8th goal of the season. Jon Lizotte gained control of the puck along the right wall and slid the puck to Walker in the left slot who tipped it past Leclerc for a 2-1 SCSU lead. In a closely contested and tightly officiated first period, Robby Jackson was given a 10 minute misconduct and CC’s Trevor Gooch a game misconduct for contact to the head. Additionally, Ryan Poehling lost an edge and slid hard into the back wall and had to be helped off the ice and did not return to the game. The Tigers outshot the Huskies 13-10 with both teams successful on the power play.
The Huskies were in the penalty box two more times early in period two with Fitzgerald for hooking at 3:30 and Hentges for slashing at 7:05 but the Huskies were able to kill off both despite some energetic play by the Tigers. Despite the Tigers having the advantage in play early in the period, it was the Huskies who added to their one-goal lead with a highlight reel goal by Robby Jackson ( Meier | B Lizotte) at 9:38. Lizotte rounded the back of the CC goal and sent the puck to Meier at the right post who tossed it to the net and Jackson knocked it out of mid-air past Leclerc for a 3-1 SCSU advantage. SCSU had two more man-advantage opportunities before period end but could not convert but did outshoot the Tigers 10-6 for the period.
Jack Ahcan (Newell | Fitzgerald) added to the SCSU lead with a goal at 7:21 of period three with his sixth marker of the year. Ahcan made a nice play circling counter clockwise deep in the Tiger zone and sending a low shot towards the goal that appeared to deflect off a Tiger defenseman for a 4-1 SCSU lead. the Huskies then got into penalty trouble again. First, with a penalty to Nick Perbix at 10:08 for hooking and then a five-minute major to Jon Lizotte for a check from behind at 10:44. The Huskies did a nice job fending off the man-advantage including a six on three with Leclerc pulled for an extra skater for a bit. However, Westin Michaud tipped a shot from the point by Bryan Yoon past Hrenak with 57 seconds left in this extended penalty kill to narrow the SCSU lead to 4-2. But, as the Huskies seem to do on a regular basis, they responded with a goal by Nick Poehling (Fitzgerald | Bushy) at 16:47 to salt the game away. Poehling carried the puck into the Tiger zone and snapped off a shot from outside the left dot for the Huskies fifth goal. the Huskies were outshot 14-7 mainly as a result of the extended penalties in the period.
“We were fortunate to weather some big pieces of adversity within the game” said coach Brett Larson.” Once we got past that we were able to settle down . Give CC full credit. I like their team and I like their game. I think at times we turned over the puck too much. We got on the team pretty good after the second period. I thought we got better as the third period went on.”
Concerning the injury to Ryan Poehling coach Larson stated ” I don’t know his status. It was a scary moment. He will go to the hotel and get some rest and we’ll see in the morning.”
Captain Jimmy Schuldt commented ” They are a team that plays off momentum and they got off to a lead. But, this team has a lot of character and plays with adversity well. We stay positive on the bench and we got two goals and started rolling. We want to take another trophy back to St. Cloud.”
“I don’t think we had fatigue” said CC coach Mike Haviland. “We had some chances when it was 3-1 and Robby bats one out of the air – he’s pretty good at it. I like the way we battled but they took care of their opportunities. They are a good hockey team that plays the right way and they defend the right way. It’s not a mistake that they are the #1 team. They are well-coached and hard to play against. I have a lot of respect for them.”
For the game, Colorado College outshot the Huskies 33-27. The Tigers Alex Leclerc stopped 22 of 27 shots on goal while SCSU’s David Hrenak turned aside 31 of 33. The Tigers were 2 for 7 on the man-advantage while the Huskies were 1 for 4. SCSU had the advantage in faceoffs 34-31.
Kevin Fitzgerald (0-2-2) and Blake Lizotte (0-2-2) had a multiple point game for SCSU.
Stars of the Game: #1 Newell (SCSU) #2 Fitzgerald (SCSU) #3 Blake Lizotte (SCSU)