St. Cloud, MN – Both the SCSU men’s and women’s hockey teams face key challenges on Saturday, January 9. For the women, they are still looking for that first elusive win at Ridder Arena as they face the #2-ranked University of Minnesota. After a comeback win on Friday at Amsoil Arena in Duluth, the men attempt to complete the weekend series with another win and a sweep of the # 5-ranked UMD Bulldogs. Here’s a quick update of both games:
SCSU Huskies (2-5-0 ) vs #2 U of MN Golden Gophers (6-1-0 )
Live Stream: BTN+ $ (Saturday) FloHockey (Sunday)
Listen: Gophers All-Access 97.5RADIOX(Saturday) KVSC 88.1 (Sunday)
Where: Ridder Arena- Minneapolis, MN; Jan., 9 | Herb Brooks National Hockey Center – St. Cloud, MN; Jan., 10
When: Sat., Jan. 9 (4:07 PM CT) | Sun., Jan. 10 (3:07 PM CT)
The Huskies put a scare into the Gophers on Thursday scoring first on a power-play goal by Olivia Cvar and entered the third period with a 1-0 advantage.
Trailing entering the final third of the game, the Gophers had to rely on leading goal scorer Grace Zumwinkle to climb back into the game. Zumwinkle, the Gopher’s most dangerous forward, beat SCSU’s Emma Polusny with a shot that caught the high left corner of the net from the high slot to knot the game at 1-1. The Gophers finally took their first lead of the game with 5:35 remaining on Zumwinkle’s second goal of the game and 7th of the season. Off an offensive zone faceoff for the Gophers, the puck bounced to Zumwinkle and she beat Polusny for the 2-1 lead and eventual game-winning goal.
Despite the loss, SCSU goaltender, Emma Polusny had a very strong outing stopping 40 of 42 shots on goal.
Other than putting a leash on the Gophers Grace Zumwinkle there is probably not much to change in their approach to the game. The Huskies attacked well, had numerous scoring opportunities and Polusny was strong in goal. In addition, the Huskies’ lone goal was on the power play and this was the first time the Gophers have been victimized by a power play all season.
Saturday will be the 101st all-time meeting between the two teams. The University of Minnesota holds an all-time record of 94-3-3 vs St. Cloud State. At Ridder Arena, the Gophers have an all-time advantage of 45-0-2. They have also won 15 straight games vs the Huskies. The Gophers have been difficult to defeat on home ice with a 302-50-22 all-time record.
It will be interesting to see if coach Macdonald opts to stick with Polusny in goal or go with freshman Sanni Ahola who has also played well.
This is a more balanced matchup than in years past and Thursdays closely contested should give the Huskies the confidence they need to earn their first win at Ridder Arena.
#6 SCSU Huskies (8-4-0 NCHC) vs #5 UMD Bulldogs (6-4-2 NCHC)
The Huskies responded well to adversity on Friday, recovering from a disastrous second period to earn a 4-3 comeback win over #5-ranked UMD. In a tale of three periods, the Huskies forged an early 2-0 lead on goals by Jami Kranilla and Chase Brand only to see things crumble in period two as the home Bulldogs scored three straight goals to take a one-goal lead late in the second period. However, the Huskies recovered with a goal by Nolan Walker with 61 seconds remaining in the period to knot things at 3-3. The comeback was completed in period three on a goal by Kevin Fitzgerald to outlast the Bulldogs by a 4-3 score.
It’ll be a difficult challenge for the Huskies to secure a sweep Saturday on the road against a well-coached team. UMD coach Scott Sandelin was not pleased with his team’s 60-minute effort on Friday and you can be sure he’ll have the two-time defending champs ready to play.
Despite the lapses in play by the Huskies it was encouraging to see the leadership on the team as they rallied for the win. As opposed to past seasons, this team seems more suited to compete with the Bulldogs whether it be on a large or small rink. In particular, the Huskies defense did a good job dealing with the typically aggressive UMD forecheck and part of the reason for this is the size and strength of this unit that wins more battles down low. Captain, Spencer Meier in particular had an exemplary game and used the rink size to his advantage. Also, two of the Huskies’ four goals were initiated by plays from the point by defensemen Meier and Luke Jaycox. Sophomore, Ondrej Trejbal was solid as well.
Others that impressed on Friday were Nolan Walker who had the only multi-point game for the Huskies with a goal and an assist and linemate Micah Miller who was constantly creating opportunities. Walker also won a key offensive zone faceoff that opened up the play for Chase Brand’s late second-period goal.
Once again, the Huskies will need good balanced play out of their four lines and weather an expected strong push by the Bulldogs in the first five minutes of play. With the win on Friday, the pressure will be on the Bulldogs as they’ll have their back against the wall to secure a win. Early scoring by the Huskies could be a key in this game. A win by the Huskies would place them eight points ahead of the Bulldogs and that would be huge in this unusual season.