St. Cloud, MN – Entering the weekend series with 8th ranked UMD, the matchup didn’t look favorable for the Huskies. With the 57th ranked penalty kill facing the 4th ranked power play and the 53rd ranked defense facing the 15th ranked offense they had their work cut out for them. Limiting the Bulldogs to a single goal on Friday in the 2-1 win was redemption for the Huskies defense and penalty kill. But, the million dollar question was how they would respond in the Saturday rematch knowing full well they’d be facing an ornery Bulldog squad bent on evening things up. They did one better on Saturday, limiting the Bulldogs two power play opportunities to four shots on goal and shutting them down even strength in a 2-0 shutout for David Hrenak.
Outfitted in a special gray jersey, trimmed in cardinal red and white, the Huskies thrilled the announced home crowd of 5200 with the weekend sweep and six league points that lifted them to sole possession of fifth place, four points behind Western Michigan University, their next opponent. Looking for momentum entering the second half of the season, they definitely found some defeating the then ranked #2 MSU Mavericks and sweeping the #8 Bulldogs in the last three weeks proving to the team they can skate with anyone. They’ll hit the road to Kalamazoo, MI next weekend in a crucial series to face the Western Michigan Broncos in a battle for fourth place and possibly higher.
As expected, the Bulldogs came out with energy in the first period controlling the puck and doing a lot of cycling in the SCSU zone. However, it was primarily perimeter play with only one shot in the slot by Ben Almquist. They attempted 19 shots on goal with five blocked by the SCSU defense and ten hitting it’s mark. The Huskies, also had a single shot in the slot and that was by defensemen, Jack Ahcan who was attacking the zone. They also had a late period power play after a penalty to Scott Perunovich but were unable to muster a shot on goal. In a scoreless first period, the SCSU was outshot 10-8
The second period was a continuation of the first with quite a bit of perimeter play and both teams only generating three shots on goal in the slot. The Huskies were on the defense with two early penalties to Ahcan and Trejbal but survived limiting the Bulldogs to a combined four shots on goal. A tripping penalty to UMD’s Quinn Olson at 14:05 gave SCSU a late opportunity but they were only able to generate two shots on the advantage. The Huskies had a key opportunity when Easton Brodzinski jumped on a turnover inside the blue line with 6:15 remaining in the period but his shot from the right circle went over the net. The period ended with the Bulldogs outshooting the Huskies 9-8.
The Huskies were handed their second man-advantage of the game 2:47 into period three when UMD defenseman Nick Wolf was penalized for holding after tossing Zach Okabe to the ice. They had good puck control and generated three shots on goal but were unable to get anything by Shepard. Another penalty to UMD just 29 seconds after the penalty to Wolf expired had Dylan Samberg in the box for tripping. But again, the Huskies could not take advantage and only traded shots with UMD. Hrenak had to come up big on a shot by Perunovich from the right circle with 12:27 remaining in the period.
Then, suddenly like a light switch being turned on mid-way through the third period, the Huskies began to push the play with extended pressure in the UMD zone with the Bulldogs only recourse to slap it down ice to relieve the pressure. Perunovich had another one-timer, this time from the left circle but Hrenak made the save. With time winding down, the Huskies finally scored the first goal of the game 58:25 into the contest. With the puck deep in the UMD zone, Jack Poehling fed Ahcan from the right corner and Ahcan sent a low wrister towards the net that was re-directed by Nick Poehling for the game-winning goal. UMD pulled Shepard with 1:18 remaining for an extra attacker but Micah Miller scored an empty-net goal off a shot from the right wall with 35 seconds remaining to assure the 2-0 win.
In an intense battle, the Bulldogs outshot SCSU 27-26. David Hrenak was solid turning aside all 27 shots and 59 of 60 for the weekend. On the other end of the ice, Hunter Shepard was good as well stopping 25 of 26 shots on goal. For the game, SCSU blocked 14 shots while UMD blocked 5. The Huskies also won the battle in the faceoff circle 29-26. Will Hammer led the Huskies winning 11 of 14 faceoffs. SCSU was 0 for 4 on the man-advantage while UMD was 0 for 2.
“I thought tonight was a really good hockey game” said coach Brett Larson. ” It was a battle right from the start. The atmosphere was amazing. Finding a way to get one on that tip was huge. We’ll enjoy it for a few hours and then focus on Western Michigan next week.”
The win improves St. Cloud State’s record to 8-10-4 overall and 5-7-0 in the NCHC.
Stars of the Game: #1 N Poehling (SCSU) #2 David Hrenak (SCSU) #3 Hunter Shepard (UMD)