St. Cloud, MN – To say the Huskies penalty kill needs resuscitation might be an understatement. Nine games into the season they are 19 for 30 for a penalty kill success ratio of 63.33% placing them nearly dead last in the country. On Friday, their opponents power play did them in again, as the Colorado College Tigers scored three times on the man-advantage in a 4-2 win at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center. Last Friday, they yielded three third period power play goals to Northern Michigan in a 3-3 overtime tie. On this night, after rallying for two goals in the second period to tie the contest, they allowed their 11th power play goal of the year at 10:47 of period three to give the Tigers the one-goal advantage they never conceded in capturing game one of the weekend series. The loss gave the Huskies an 0-3-2 record on Friday and their third loss at home after nary losing a game at the HBNHC last season.
After trading penalties early in period one and despite the Huskies moving the puck well on their man-advantage it was the Tigers who took advantage of a hooking penalty to Thomas Rocco getting on the board first at 6:40. The Huskies left the Tigers most dangerous scorer, Nick Halloran with an open lane at the top of the right circle and he snapped off a wrist shot that beat Hrenak stick side for a 1-0 CC lead. As expected, the pace was quick with neither team having much of an advantage the balance of the period as they traded eight shots on goal.
It didn’t take long for the Huskies to be a man down again as Sam Hentges was whistled for tripping slightly over a minute into the second period. And, once again, the Tigers cashed in with a goal by Minnesotan, Christiano Versich, his first of the year two seconds before the expiration of the penalty. Although the Huskies had three defenders back, Versich was left all alone to charge the goal beating Hrenak glove side with a wrist shot from the bottom of the right circle and a 2-0 advantage. The Huskies narrowed the CC lead to a goal after a high-energy shift by the “fourth” line. Jake Wahlin attempted a wrap-around that rebounded to Will Hammer who was able to get a shot off that bounced over Matt Vernon for a 2-1 game. They added another six minutes later on a nice individual effort by first-year forward Jami Krannila. Krannila received a pass from Brodzinski at the CC blue line and stormed in on Vernon sliding a backhand under him to tie the game at 2-2. Suddenly SCSU had the momentum heading into period three. Again, the teams traded shots in the period with a slight 10-9 edge to Colorado College.
The Huskies were handed an opportunity with thirteen minutes remaining in regulation after a holding penalty to Connor Mayer but generated little in the two-minute advantage. Less than three minutes later, the Tigers were back on the power play after a tripping call to Hammer which was the penalty du jour on this evening along with holding. They converted at 10:47 on the second goal of the game by Christiano Versich. Versich retrieved the puck about ten feet inside the blue line and went top shelf on Hrenak for a 3-2 Colorado College lead. In an attempt to even things up, the Huskies pulled Hrenak for an extra attacker with 1:50 to play but it was Colorado College that added another with a goal by Josiah Slavin at 19:00 to seal the win. In a dominant third period, the Tigers attempted 21 shots on goal with 15 on the mark outshooting the Huskies by a 15-5 margin.
“It was a tough one to swallow tonight” said will Hammer, who had one goal. “When it comes down to it they were better than us tonight. They wanted it more than we did. We have to forget about it, gather ourselves and come back tomorrow ready to go.”
Coach Brett Larson was clearly disappointed. “It was the first time all year I’ve been really disappointed in our teams effort. They didn’t bring it tonight. It starts with me obviously and it’s my job to get this team ready. Tonight we got outworked in or own rink and that’s unacceptable. They didn’t do anything tonight that we didn’t expect. We started every shift chasing and they started every shift on their toes.”
Concerning the penalty kill Larson said ” We worked on it all week. We need to look at the tape and figure out if we need different guys out there. Right now we may need to go back to the drawing board and start over.”
Coach Mike Haviland was pleased “Special teams wins you games and the penalty kill was great tonight. I am really proud of the guys tonight. We played really well the first 30 minutes, then it turned into a bit of a track meet, but we played a great third period. It was one of our best periods we have played all year. They are a gritty team and play hard, this was a great test for us. To come into the building and win and get three point is a huge step. If we can bottle the third period and bring it into tomorrow, that will be nice.”
For the game, CC attempted 53 shots while outshooting SCSU 33-22. David Hrenak stopped 29 of 33 shots while Matt Vernon of the Tigers turned aside 20 of 22 shots. The Tigers were flawless on the power play converting all three opportunities while the Huskies were 0 for 2. The Huskies had the advantage in the faceoff circle 32-22.
Sam Hentges extended his points streak to nine consecutive games with his assist on Jami Krannila’s goal in period two.
Stars of the Game: #1 Versich (Colorado College) #2 Hammer (SCSU) #3 Cruikshank (Colorado College)