St. Cloud, MN – The St. Cloud State University Huskies have had a difficult time solving the Western Michigan Broncos this season. Entering Friday’s contest with the Broncos, the Huskies have lost three straight to the squad from Kalamazoo, MI. On this night, the Huskies had their way with WMU scoring within the first three minutes and adding a shorthanded goal midway through the period to take a two-goal lead they never relinquished in a convincing 5-1 win at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center.
Earlier in the week, associate head coach Dave Shyiak told me “This weekend, we want a great start, get on the board first, put them on their heels early, and try to have them chase the game. They will be coming off a long bus ride so we’ll want to advantage of that early in the game and not play catch-up hockey.”
Shyiak couldn’t have been more right as his team forged a 4-0 lead before a goal off the stick of the Huskies Nick Perbix finally put Western on the board in the third period. It may not have been a perfect game but close to it as the Huskies got solid goaltending, a shorthanded goal, a power-play goal, and had a number of players finishing their checks all over the ice. And, to top things off, they had three players get a first. Will Hammer with his first goal of the season in period one and defenseman Ondrej Trejbal his first career goal in the third. Freshman, Joe Molenaar assisted on Trejbal’s goal for his first career point.
Despite the four-goal win, Coach Brett Larson was not totally satisfied. “At times, it looked like we were a little sloppy and a little bit light and a little too loose. Hopefully, we can build off of tonight and get better tomorrow.”
“Obviously, we don’t want to take that many penalties when we’re trying to close the game out. Our discipline has to be better. We know we have to be better in every area tomorrow night.” said Larson.
Getting the early lead was important said Larson “We really focused on our start and getting that lead helped us where we could get on the attack and weren’t chasing the game.”
On Will Hammer’s first goal of the season, Easton Brodzinski who also scored said “It’s a confidence boost for the whole team. You could see everyone on our bench standing up and giving each other hugs. He works hard every day and it’s good to see him rewarded.”
It didn’t take the Huskies long for the Huskies to get on the scoreboard as Will Hammer netted his first goal of the season on the first shot of the game 2:51 into period one. Jared Cockrell captured a turnover high in the WMU zone and dropped the puck to Hammer whose slap shot beat Alex Aslandis from the top of the right circle for a 1-0 lead.
A boarding call to first-year defenseman, Brady Ziemer at 9:42 gave the Broncos their first man-advantage of the game but it backfired as a determined Jami Krannila beat WMU defenseman Michael Joyaux down the ice, outdueled him for the puck, and maneuvered the puck at the goalmouth past Aslandis for a 2-0 SCSU advantage. This was Krannila’s 6th goal of the season with an assist from Chase Brand.
In a solid period of play for the Huskies, they outshot the Broncos 8-4 and closed out the period with a 2-0 lead.
The Huskies charged out to a 3-0 lead a mere 23 seconds into period two on Easton Brodzinski’s 6th goal of the season and 90th career point. Controlling puck in the WMU zone. Brendan Bushy fed Brodzinski stationed at the blue line and he stickhandled his way to the mid-slot and fired a wrist shot past Aslandis for a 3-0 lead. A minute later, WMU’s Tim Wasche was assessed his first of two penalties in the period and despite pressure, the Broncos weathered the storm but at the expiration of the penalty, the Broncos called a timeout in an attempt to re-group.
Jared Cockrell was whistled for boarding at 14:00 and it was more a reflection of a highly physical game for Cockrell who was throwing his body around at every opportunity. The Huskies killed the penalty, their second of the game, and finished the period with a three-goal lead outshooting the Broncos 11-10 in the period.
A delay of game penalty to Nick Perbix 43 seconds into the period had the Huskies killing their third penalty of the game and 27 seconds after it expired they stretched their lead to four goals on Jami Krannila’s second goal of the contest. On what had to have been a frustrating game for WMU’s Michael Joyaux, another determined play had Krannila beating Joyaux to the puck along the sidewall springing him loose into the WMU zone. Skating to the left circle, Krannila unloaded a heavy shot that beat Aslandis clean from above the left dot for a four-goal SCSU lead.
After a holding call to Ondrej Trejbal at 8:08, the Broncos were finally able to get on the board at 8:29 with the help of the Huskies. On a two-on-one into the Huskies zone, Ethen Frank made a cross-ice pass to Ty Glover who tried to return the puck to Frank at the goalmouth but the puck deflected off the stick of a diving Nick Perbix and past Hrenak for the Broncos lone goal of the game.
A five-minute boarding penalty assessed on the Broncos Hugh Larkin on a hit on Seamus Donohue at 17:59 had the Huskies wrapping things up with their first power-play goal of the game. Brendan Bushy added his second assist of the game sliding the puck to Ondrej Trejbal who ripped a shot from the blue line past Aslandis for his first career goal at 19:38 for the 5-1 final.
The Huskies were outshot 9-5 in the final period. For the game, SCSU outshot the Broncos 24-23.
In an excellent night of goaltending for David Hrenak, he turned aside 22 of 23 shots on goal to log his 9th win of the season and improve his record to 9-5-0. WMU’s Aslandis stopped 19 of 24 shots in the loss and saw his record fall to 3-3-1.
Both teams were one for five on the man-advantage.
Brendan Bushy (0-2-2) and Jami Kannila had a multi-point game for the Huskies.
Stars of the Game: #1 Jami Krannila (SCSU) #2 Will Hammer (SCSU) #3 Easton Brodzinski (SCSU)