St. Cloud, MN – One would figure if you gifted the fourth- ranked power play in college hockey five opportunities, the odds of winning would be against you. Two penalties in period two and two more in period three had the maligned SCSU penalty kill, ranked 57th in college hockey on the hot seat. But, they hung tight despite facing 29 shot attempts in the final period to edge the defending National Champions 2-1 and capture the first game of the weekend series. David Hrenak, in particular, had a big night turning aside 32 of 33 shots on goal to pick up his sixth win of the season.
With the standings in the NCHC very tight, the win lifted the Huskies from eighth to a tie for fifth place and just four points behind fourth place Western Michigan. They’ll look for the sweep on Saturday in a 4:00 p.m. CT rematch in a feature game as part of Hockey Day Minnesota 2020.
The Huskies put forth exactly the type of period they needed in period one, scoring first and limiting the Bulldogs to just eight shots on goal. SCSU struck first with a goal by Luke Jaycox ( Walker | Brodzinski), his third of he season at 11:59. Off an entry into the Bulldog’s zone, Easton Brodzinski sent a pass back to Nolan Walker but the puck slipped behind him. Luke Jaycox who was trailing the play, snatched the puck and streaked into the zone firing a shot from the right half-wall that beat Hunter Shepard for a 1-0 SCSU lead.
The Huskies took the first of their five penalties on the night to Chase Brand at 14:51 for tripping. The Bulldogs capitalized quickly, within 22 seconds to tie the game at 1-1. With good puck movement, Nick Swaney sent the puck down low to Jackson Cates who sent it through traffic off Noah Cates stick and to a wide-open Kobe Roth for an easy tap-in and tie score.
The Huskies outshot the Bulldogs 11-8 in the period with both goaltenders making key saves off shots in the slot.
SCSU took the lead early in period two on what would become the game-winning goal by Chase Brand at 4:13. With the Bulldogs sagging defensively, Spencer Meier found Brand parked low in the right circle and Brand ripped a shot that got through Shepard for a 2-1 lead and the final goal of the game. But, as they’ve had a tendency to do all season, they found themselves in the penalty box twice before the end of the period yielding opportunities to a productive UMD power play. The Huskies were able to withstand both and send the game to the final period with a one-goal lead. The period ended with both teams trading seven shots on goal.
The final period had the Bulldogs pushing the play and spending a large amount of time in the SCSU zone. To make matters worse, the Huskies continued their parade to the penalty box with two more penalties. First, Micah Miller was whistled for interference at 7:26 but the Huskies penalty kill unit and Hrenak withstood the challenge. Next, Spencer Meier was penalized for boarding at 12:56 in what was becoming a very physical period. Again, the Huskies held firm and Hrenak was on top of his game. The Bulldogs pulled Shepard for an extra attacker with 1:37 remaining but the Huskies held on for the 2-1 win. In a dominant third period, UMD attempted 29 shots on goal with 18 being saved by Hrenak, five blocked by the defense and six missing the mark. The Bulldogs outshot SCSU 18-4 in the final period.
For the game, Hrenak turned aside 32 of 33 shots on goal while UMD’s Shepard stopped 20 of 22. The loss dropped Shepard’s record to 12-7-2. SCSU blocked 15 shots on goal while the Bulldogs blocked 7. Faceoffs favored the Bulldogs 34-30. Jack Ahcan led the Huskies with three shots on goal.
“It was a nice night for David Hrenak to have his best game of the year” said coach Brett Larson. “He really stepped up in the moments we needed him to. Obviously, we took too many penalties in the third period that put us back on our heels. I also thought it was the best game of the year for our defense. In general, we defended well which we had to. I know tomorrow night we can’t give them as many opportunities or it will cost us. We know we are playing a really good team and we have to be better tomorrow.”
Stars of the Game: #1 David Hrenak (SCSU) #2 Luke Jaycox (SCSU) #3 Chase Brand (SCSU)