Marquette, MI – Granted, there were some things not to like about the 2019-20 version of the Huskies this weekend. But, the bottom line is they went on the road to a tough venue and left Saturday night with an overtime tie and an overtime win. It’s a learning experience for many of the players in the early season and the Huskies coaching staff is willing to allow these youngsters to play through mistakes in order to improve. Coach Larson told me “the only way to gain poise under pressure is through experience.” On Saturday, they went from dominating the game with a 4-1 lead in period two to hanging on with the game tied at 4-4 in the final session. Ultimately, the team pulled together and found a way to win on the road in the overtime session by a 5-4 score over a strong Northern Michigan Wildcats team.
After a post-game scolding by NMU coach Grant Potulny despite rallying for a 3-3 overtime tie on Friday, it seems his squad turned a deaf ear as the Huskies bolted to a 2-0 first period lead on an even strength goal by Sam Hentges and a power play goal by Spencer Meier. The Wildcats were able to kill off an early period penalty to Griffin Loughran, a pint-sized instigator who was a pest to the Huskies all weekend. However, four seconds after the expiration of said penalty, the Huskies, who did an exemplary job of moving the puck saw Jack Ahcan find Hentges parked in the right circle and he wristed a bullet past NMU starter Nolan Kent for a early 1-0 lead. A crushing hit along the left sidewall had NMU in the penalty box again and they were victimized in a matter of 12 seconds on a goal by Spencer Meier, his second of the year. Once again, it was Jack Ahcan quarterbacking and he dished the puck to Meier who is finding a comfort zone above the left circle and he one-timed a heavy shot past John Hawthorne for a 2-0 SCSU lead. With the Huskies continuing to control play, they added another at 16:29 with an unassisted goal by Easton Brodzinski who has eight points in the last five games. During an extended period of pressure in the NMU zone, Brodzinski carried the puck over the blue line and unloaded a quick wrist shot from the top of the slot that beat Hawthorne glove side for a 3-0 lead. In a highly dominant period, the Huskies outshot NMU 15-4.
The Wildcats dented the scoreboard first in period two off a goal by Andre Ghantous, his 6th of the season 5:55 into the period. He somehow forced a puck past Hrenak from the right of the goal to narrow the SCSU lead to 3-1. But, it was Brodzinski adding his second of the game less than four minutes later at 9:30. Hentges carried the puck into the zone and fed Brodzinski who was again in the high slot and he beat Hawthorne with a low wrist shot this time stick side for a 4-1 SCSU lead. The Huskies outshot NMU 9-8 in the period and 23 to 12 in the game to that point.
With a comfortable 4-1 lead heading into period three, it appeared the Huskies were cruising to their second win of the season. However, the Wildcats who had an inconsistent effort in the game suddenly began to control the puck and have the Huskies on their heels. Blaine native Luke Voltin scored his first goal of the season at 9:31 and you could sense the momentum was changing. Voltin made several slick moves first dangling the puck around Jack Ahcan and then doing a forehand-backhand around Hrenak for a 4-2 score. The Wildcats were not finished as the diminituve Griffin Loughram put on an exhibition of individual play weaving through traffic in the St. Cloud zone and beating Hrenak in the high slot for a 4-3 SCSU lead. With Brodzinski whistled for elbowing at 10:48 the Wildcats seized the opportunity and scored the game-tying goal at 11:22 by Ty Readman. Darien Craighead made a nice goalmouth feed to Readman whose quick one-timer beat Hrenak for the fourth time in the contest. The Huskies failed to have success on the man-advantage after a two-minute penalty to NMU’s Adam Roeder at 12:32 and headed into the overtime period tied with the Wildcats 4-4.
The overtime session had a total of five shots on goal and SCSU’s Hrenak had to make key stops on shots from Vincent de May and Luke Voltin. On the other end of the ice, the Huskies suddenly began to control the puck in the NMU zone and Nick Perbix curled off the left wall and uncontested took a wrist shot from the left dot that beat Hawthorne for the game winner at 3:53 of overtime. NMU had a shot advantage of 3-2 in the session but it was the Huskies who prevailed in a 5-4 win.
SCSU outshot the Wildcats 32-22 for the game with Hrenak stopping 18 of 22 shots and the tandem of Kent and Hawthorne turning aside 27 of 32 shots. The Huskies were 1 for 6 on the man-advantage while NMU was 1 for 2. NMU dominated in the faceoff circle winning 42 and losing 28. Kevin Fitzgerald won 11 of 19 for the Huskies. Final statistics had the Wildcats blocking 19 shots to the Huskies 12.
Despite the third period comeback the NMU players were not happy with the effort. “All weekend, we played probably one good period. Maybe 10 minutes, so we’ve got to figure out a way how to play at our best for 60 minutes because at the end, no matter what happens, it always comes to end up biting you in the butt.” Griiffin Loughran told the Mining Journal. Ty Readman added “You want those breaks, but we didn’t really deserve them. At the end of the day, you have to play hard and you have to play to deserve those breaks. When you’re playing a good strong game, those breaks are going to go in. We didn’t deserve them and that’s what happened.”
Said coach Grant Potulny “To be honest, I’m probably more pleased with how we played tonight than I was last night, even though we tied the game last night. You kind of look at your team and your season and we probably won some games we maybe shouldn’t have along the stretch. I think tonight, part of it was, we got into some penalty trouble early. That was part of it for sure. I thought we came a little bit in the second period. There was a little bit of a wave and a little bit of a push. But we played much better in the third. You score seven goals on a weekend and you don’t win a game. But you have to be able to defend too, and right now, we’re not defending. I’m sure they’re tired of me telling them the same things after every night too and I’m tired of saying it. The teams that can score sometimes can get away with maybe not playing as well as you should to win. We’ve shown we can score.”
Easton Brodzinski (2-0-2), Jack Ahcan (0-2-2) Sam Hentges (1-2-3) and Spencer Meier (1-1-2) all had a multi-point game for SCSU.
BOX SCORE PHOTO GALLERY