Grand Forks, ND – The Huskies have had six of their twelve games go to overtime this season. On Saturday, in the rematch with #5 ranked North Dakota they entered the extra session again only to fall by a 2-1 score to the league leading Fighting Hawks. UND leading scorer Jordan Kawaguchi netted the game-winner with 1:19 left in the session to earn a weekend sweep of the Huskies. The win stretched their unbeaten streak to nine games and improved their conference record to 5-0-1 – 17 points ahead of the winless Huskies in the NCHC standings. It was a good outing for the Huskies who probably shouldn’t have been in a one-goal game after getting into serious penalty trouble in the second period. David Hrenak had an excellent outing as did Jack Ahcan who logged lots of ice time and scored the lone SCSU goal. But, in the end, it was another frustrating result for a team going through some growing pains.
The series finale started on a positive note for the Huskies who were certainly the aggressor in period one attempting 16 shots on goal including seven grade A opportunities vs two for UND. The Huskies took a one-goal lead at 13:20 of the period on Jack Ahcan’s third goal of the year with assists to Easton Brodzinski and Sam Hentges. UND goaltender Adam Scheel mishandled the puck behind the UND goal and coughed it up after an aggressive forecheck by SCSU’s Sam Hentges. In fact, Hentges stole the puck from Scheel and pushed the puck to Easton Brodzinski who in turn found Ahcan trolling at the top of the left circle. Ahcan took a full slap-shot and beat an out of position Scheel for a 1-0 SCSU lead. It was SCSU’s first lead of the weekend and it carried into period two. Shots on goal for the period were even at 5-5.
Period two saw a total of 25 minutes of penalties whistled including 21 of them on the Huskies. Playing disciplined hockey has been an issue for the Huskies this season and they began the period with a hooking penalty to Jack Poehling at 1:55. Before that penalty expired they got into deeper trouble with a checking from behind penalty and five-minute major to Kevin Fitzgerald at 3:31. They weathered the 25 second five on three and 12 second UND man-advantage before the Fighting Hawks Shame Pinto was penalized for hooking at 4:07. But, once Pinto’s penalty expired they were unable to weather the final 22 seconds of Fitzgerald’s major allowing a goal by Jacob-Bernard Docker at 8:09. Docker’s wrist shot from the right point beat Hrenak stick-side high to knot the game at 1-1. The Huskies were not done taking penalties with Ondrej Trejbal penalized for holding at 12:07 and 19 seconds later Jack Poehling for hooking once again. But, the Huskies did a stellar job on the penalty kill preventing any shots on goal. Another penalty to UND at 14:51 to Grant Mismash for cross-checking gave the Huskies an opportunity but they were only able to muster one shot on goal during this man-advantage. North Dakota outshot the Huskies 7-4 in the period.
Much like the Friday game, North Dakota had the better of the play in period three limiting the Huskies to one shot on goal while attempting 24 shots to the Huskies 4. SCSU did a nice job getting in front of shots blocking 8 of them and pushing the game to an overtime session.
In the overtime Chase Brand had a shot in the slot blocked by a defenseman and Jack Poehling another from the high slot stopped by Scheel. But it was North Dakota that ended the contest at 3:41 by Kawaguchi. On a nice run up ice, Matt Kierstad drove the zone wide and slid the puck towards to Kawaguchi who was charging the goal. Kawaguchi tipped the pass by Kierstad past Hrenak for the overtime game-winner.
North Dakota outshot the Huskies in a tight defensive game for the Fighting Hawks by a 20-12 margin. SCSU netminder Hrenak had a nice outing stopping 18 of 20 shots while UND’s Scheel stopped 11 of 12. The Huskies were 0 for 3 on the man-advantage while North Dakota was 1 for 6. The Huskies were outdueled in the faceoff circle by a 34 to 22 margin.
“Hats off to St. Cloud and David Hrenak” said coach Brad Berry who won his 100th collegiate game Saturday. “I thought he was unreal tonight. He played a solid game and St. Cloud – that’s a heart heavy team. They are a good young team that’s going to be even better.” Concerning the play of Jordan Kawaguchi (GWG) and Matt Kierstad (GWA) Berry commented “They’ve moved up from being underclassmen to upperclassmen and they are taking ownership of our team. They have to raise the bar to where we need to go. I thought we were a lot sharper tonight than we were last night.”
Jack Ahcan had a tremendous game for the Huskies logging loads of ice time, scoring the loan SCSU goal, blocking five shots and finishing +1.
Stars of the Game: #1 Kawaguchi (UND) #2 Bernard-Docker (UND) #3 Kierstad (UND)