Huskies Continue League Play at UMD this Weekend

Sanni Ahola (Photo Prout)

St. Cloud, MN – The Huskies commence the final eight games of the 2020-21 regular season schedule with a trip to Duluth to face the #6-ranked University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs.

SCSU Huskies (3-9-1 ) vs  UMD Bulldogs (6-4-0 )  

Live Stream: FloHockey (Friday/Saturday)
Listen:  KVSC (Friday/Saturday)
Where: Amsoil Arena – Duluth, MN
When: Fri., Jan. 29 (6:07 PM CT) | Sat., Jan., 30 (3:07 PM CT)

Last Time Out

the Huskies faced #1 ranked Wisconsin last weekend at the HBNHC and were swept by the Badgers by scores of 10-0 and 4-2. In the Friday contest, the Badgers busted loose in the second period piling on five goals on 21 shots, and cruised to the 10-0 blowout. Sanni Ahola faced 49 shots, stopping 39 as the Badgers extended their winning streak since February of 2015 over the Huskies.

In the Saturday rematch, the Huskies were a different team scoring in the first 2:20 of the game to take the early lead. A late period goal by the Badgers with 34 seconds remaining knotted the game at 1-1. But, the Huskies regained the lead on a power-play goal by McKenna Wesloh midway through the second period before the Badgers tied the game at 2-2 with 3:23 left in the period. With the Huskies pressing, Wisconsin finally took the lead with the game-winning goal with 1:17 remaining in the game and added an empty-net goal with 24 seconds remaining to complete the sweep.  Emma Polusny faced 44 shots turning aside 41 in a strong effort.

The Bulldogs faced a determined Bemidji State squad dropping last Friday’s game 1-0 in overtime to the Beavers despite outshooting them 46-18. In the weekend finale, UMD turned tables on the Beavers winning a 1-0 overtime game for a split of the weekend. UMD outshot Bemidji State 31-17 with the game-winner scored by Nina Jobst-Smith. Emma Soderberg logged the win in goal for UMD.

Head to Head 

The Bulldogs carry an all-time advantage of  73-14-8 in the competition going back to December of 1998. SCSU is 0-4-1 in the last five, 2-7-1 in the last ten, and 3-16-1 in the last twenty. The Huskies lost to the Bulldogs by scores of 4-0 and 5-1 on December 4/5, 2020. The Huskies last defeated the Bulldogs by a 3-2 score on February 9, 2019, at Amsoil Arena.

University of Minnesota-Duluth Notes

Much like the Huskies, the Bulldogs have been having trouble finding the back of the net as of late averaging less than a goal per game in their last four outings. In their last three games, they’ve only scored one goal. On the other hand, their defense has been stingy allowing only two goals in the last four games.

Junior, Emma Soderberg has played 96 percent of the minutes this season and has been outstanding posting a .960 save percentage and 1.03 goals-against average. They’ve also had success on the penalty kill shutting down 90 percent of their opponent’s opportunities.

An experienced team with 14 upperclassmen, They are led on offense by senior Anna Klein who has registered 7 goals and 5 assists including 3 game-winning goals to lead the team in both goals and points. Junior Namoi Rogge and Freshman, Clara Van Wieren have contributed to the offensive attack scoring 4 and 5 goals respectively. In all, nine players have at least one goal for the Bulldogs.

On defense, senior Ashton Bell (2-5-7 +9) and junior Lizi Norton (0-4-4 +9) have provided experienced leadership on the blue line.

The power play has struggled for the Bulldogs converting only 2 of 35 opportunities for a 5.7% success rate. The Bulldog’s best period this season has been the first period outscoring their opponents 8-1.

Emma Polusny (Photo Prout)

St. Cloud State University Notes

Inconsistency has been an issue for the Huskies this season particularly against the top teams. They battled the #1 and #2 ranked Wisconsin and Minnesota to essentially a one-goal game but were outscored 10-0 and 8-1 in the other games of the series. Slow starts and late period goals have also been an issue as the Huskies have been outscored 11-4 in period one this season.

One area that is not a concern is the goaltending as they are getting strong performances out of their goaltenders, Emma Polusny (.915 SV% / 3.37 GAA) and Sanni Ahola (.912 SV% / 3.37 GAA). However, they need to support their goaltenders better allowing too many shots on goal being outshot 513 to 268 thus far this season.

On special teams, the power play is improving but is still 3 for 36 (8.3%). The penalty kill, however, has been very strong killing 33 of 37 opportunities for an 89.2% success rate.

Junior, Jennina Nyland continues to lead the team in points with seven and is tied for the team lead in goals with Freshman Emma Gentry with four. Sophomore, Taylor Lind is third in scoring with three goals. The team desperately needs more scoring out of last season’s points leader Lara Hymlarova who has only netted one goal this season after having 8 goals last season. Also, sophomore Olivia Cvar needs to get untracked after scoring 10 goals last season but only has one goal thus far in 2020-21.

Other than Emma Gentry, Nicole Ness, and Mackenzie Bourgerie are the best bets for added scoring out of the freshman class.

The team defense is led by seniors Kenzie Wylie and Hannah Bates and juniors Olivia Hanson and Taytum Geier who have played well on the defensive side of things. However, due to an upper-body injury, Hanson was out of the lineup this past weekend and there’s been no word as to whether she will be back in the lineup against the Bulldogs.

McKenna Wesloh (Photo Prout)

Game Prospectus

With 9 of the 12 SCSU forwards being underclassmen, there continues to be a learning curve for those players as they advance through the season. As a result, inconsistency has been an issue but if the Huskies can bring some more consistency to their weekend and get off to a strong start like they did against Wisconsin last Saturday this could be a tight weekend with the Bulldogs. Continued improvement on the power play, more balanced scoring, and reducing shots on goal are keys to the Huskies success in this series. Both goaltenders, Ahola and Polusny have nearly identical numbers and both should see action once again.

“We are looking for consistency,” said coach Steve Macdonald. “You expect to have a lot of the bricks in place at this time of year and we need to do some fine-tuning. There are not big adds or tweaks right now. Our team needs to believe in themselves and that they can compete like they did against Wisconsin (last Saturday). That Saturday game set a tone and I believe for this final stretch our players need to have that belief of what they know they can do and accomplish.”

Macdonald described the Bulldogs as “Having speed and some crafty forwards and they have a couple of defensemen that are high-end players. To be successful against Duluth, we have to take a lot of things we learned Saturday (against Wisconsin) and carry it to this weekend. We’ll need to control their speed and the neutral zone. Our forecheck being key putting pressure on their defense on a smaller rink.”



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