Duluth, MN – It took 63 minutes and 58 seconds for another epic battle between the Huskies and Bulldogs to be decided. In the end, it was the goaltender that registered a school record for shutouts and helped make it happen with an assist on the overtime game-winner. Nick Perbix, who is having a (yes, I’ll say it) all-American year at defense for the Huskies took things in his hands in overtime and went end to end before dangling a backhand past UMD goaltender Zach Stejskal for the 1-0 win. And it was Hrenak, who stopped 28 of 28 shots on goal to secure his 10th career shutout – a new SCSU all-time record.
The overtime win on Saturday, January 9th, earned the Huskies two league points and five of six points for the weekend series to increase their hold on first place in the conference to six points pending the outcome of the North Dakota series with Colorado College.
At times, the contest between these two was like pushing a boulder uphill as the teams positioned for any advantage as it appeared to be destined for a low scoring game. Even with six power-play opportunities total through two periods, the teams were yielding little and at even strength, both goaltenders were on their “A” game shutting the door on numerous opportunities throughout the first 60 minutes of play.
The game started out with opportunities for the Huskies with senior forward Jared Cockrell failing on a wraparound attempt and a shot from the right circle saved by Stejskal in the first five minutes. Will Hammer was stunted as well on a shot from the goalmouth area at about the 8-minute mark. A boarding call to Kyler Kupka had to be weathered which they did and Stejskal made a huge goalmouth save on Sam Hentges late in the period to keep the game scoreless. UMD outshot the Huskies 11-6 in the period.
UMD had a big push to start the second period which led to a tripping call 34 seconds into the session to Seamus Donohue. But, as they’ve done all season, the Huskies defended well and only allowed two shots on Hrenak who also helped his cause by sending the puck down the ice. Perhaps the best opportunity in the game up until that time was when Kobe Roth fanned on a one-time opportunity in front of Hrenak.
A series of penalties then ensued. A tripping penalty to UMD’s Louie Roehl four minutes into the period yielded no opportunities for the Huskies and it seemed to energize the Bulldogs who began to exert a lot of cycling pressure in the SCSU defensive zone inside the ten-minute mark. Whistled for too many men on the ice at 13:32 gave the Bulldogs another advantage but they only mustered one shot on goal. A tripping penalty to UMD’s Hunter Lellig at 16:04 provided the Huskies with three grade A opportunities but Stejskal came up big once against Hentges and twice against Kranilla. It was capped off by a short-handed save off a three on two by Hrenak just before the penalty expired.
In an even period of shots on goal, the Huskies had the advantage by a 9 to 8 margin.
Period three had opportunities by both teams with Kevin Fitzgerald sending a quick shot wide from the low slot and a big save by Hrenak off a shot by Kobe Bender created by a turnover deep in the SCSU zone. Probably the best chance to take the lead was a point-blank shot by Sam Hentges but Stejskal just got a piece of it. Chase Brand also had a good opportunity with 3:35 to go but his shot from the slot went wide.
But, the Huskies only generated two shots that hit their mark as they were outshot by the Bulldogs 8-2 with regulation ending in a scoreless contest. This is subject to fact checking but the last game to end regulation in a 0-0 tie was vs the University of Alaska-Anchorage on November 22, 1997.
With the Huskies and Bulldogs skating in their second overtime session in the last four games it was the Huskies Easton Brodzinski who nearly ended things early as he placed a shot off the right post.
Then, Micah Miller nearly victimized his former high school teammate but he was unable to beat Stejskal five-hole on a lone break with just under two minutes to play in overtime.
Finally, it was Perbix who was the game hero on this night as Hrenak handed the puck off to him and Perbix made an end to end rush, dangled the puck on his way to the net, and placed a backhand low stick side past Stejskal for the overtime game-winner with 1:02 remaining. It was a good matchup for the Huskies with three UMD forwards on the ice defending at the time.
In a goaltenders battle, David Hrenak stopped all 28 shots placed his way to earn his 10th career shutout, a new school record. The win also improved his record to 7-3-0. UMD’s Zach Stejskal, starting only his second game, had an excellent outing stopping 19 of 20 shots in the loss to see his record fall to 1-1-0.
Stars of the Game: #1 Nick Perbix (SCSU) #2 David Hrenak (SCSU) #3 Zach Stejskal (UMD)