St. Cloud, MN – Give credit to the Broncos. They snatched victory out of the jaws of defeat with a 5-4 overtime win over the Huskies at the HBNHC on Saturday, February 6th. Down by a goal late in the game, the Broncos scored an extra attacker goal with 18 seconds remaining in regulation then made quick work of things in the three on three overtime to salvage two of six points out of the weekend.
For the Huskies, it’s a huge disappointment considering they survived a challenging second period to regain a one-goal lead in the third period and be within seconds of a sweep and a six-point weekend. With points at a premium in a tightly stacked conference, this will be a game to look back at as a “what if”.
For the Broncos, at first glance, the hero was Drew Worrad who scored the overtime goal. But in reality, it was a junior defenseman, Michael Joyaux who entered the series -16 in plus/minus but who has a propensity for offense and netted the hat trick and the crucial game-tying goal in the third period.
A clearly disappointed Brett Larson said “It was a tough night for us. We didn’t play well for 40 minutes in the game and it cost us. It’s hard to win games in this league when you don’t play 60 minutes and we didn’t tonight.”
“We had a good push in the third period and I thought we got better but we weren’t able o get it done so obviously it’s time to get back to work on Monday.”
“I liked our jump and energy in the first period,” Larson said. “But they turned tables on us and I think they out-competed us for the entire second period. They put us on our heels and they spent way too much time in our end. I did like our response in the third period and we got a big power-play goal. But, they made a play six on five and tied it up. This is a wake-up call for us.”
And, once again, the wake-up call is courtesy of the Broncos who have now won four of six games vs the Huskies this season.
No question about it, it was a physical game and the box score bears it out with five penalties handed out in the first half of period one – three on the Huskies and two on the Broncos. However, there was no damage done until WMU’s Aidan Fulp was whistled for slashing at 10:37. The Huskies immediately took advantage, scoring within 15 seconds on a goal by Easton Brodzinski (Miettinen / Walker) his 7th of the season. Nolan Walker fed Veeti Miettinen who snapped off a wrist shot from the right dot that was deflected by Brodzinski who was stationed at the goalmouth.
However, the lead did not last long as Joyaux scored his first goal of the evening less than a minute later at 11:43. The Huskies got caught out of position with both defensemen on the sidewall and Cole Gallant found Ethen Frank breaking into the zone along with Michael Joyaux. On a two on none with the goaltender, Frank slid the puck to Joyaux who beat Hrenak high glove side to knot the game at 1-1.
With the Huskies looking stronger as the period progressed, they regained the lead at 15:12 with a goal by Spencer Meier (Okabe / Krannila), his 2nd of the season. With Jami Krannila grappling with Jason Polin in front of the net, Polin dropped his stick leaving a lane for Meier to shoot and he threaded a shot through traffic past Alex Aslandis for a 2-1 SCSU lead.
Thereafter, Western Michigan took a timeout to regroup and the teams skated out the balance of the period with the Huskies outshooting the Broncos 11-9 and with a 2-1 lead.
The Broncos came out in the second period as a more determined team and after a tripping penalty to Seamus Donohue 3:19 into the period, evened up the score with a power-play goal by Jason Polin a mere eight seconds after the penalty. The Broncos won the draw and Ronnie Attard ripped a wrister on goal which was blocked by Hrenak but the rebound was pounced on by Polin who buried it over Hrenak’s right shoulder that tied the game at 2-2.
But, the Huskies came right back seconds later and answered the Broncos tying goal with an apparent goal by Sam Hentges who while sprawling got the puck past Aslandis for what appeared to be a 3-2 SCSU lead. However, the play was reviewed and to the dismay of the Huskies, it was ruled there was goaltender interference and waved off.
The call seemed to energize the Broncos who began to control the play and repeatedly get behind the SCSU defense requiring Hrenak to make at least four key saves in the period. Ultimately, the Broncos scored again at 7:46 and it was Joyaux once again with his second goal of the game. After some heavy pressure in the Huskies zone, Joyaux pinched in from the blue line and tapped a goalmouth pass from Cole Gallant past Hrenak to take their first lead of the game at 3-2.
After repeated big saves by Hrenak, the Huskies took a timeout at 12:57 to gather themselves and thereafter seemed to get out of the funk they were in and a minute later tied the game on a nice effort by Jared Cockrell. Rushing up ice, Cockrell captured the puck at center ice and carried it into the zone, and fired a low shot from the left dot past Aslandis to tie the game at 3-3.
That spelled the end of the night for Aslandis who was replaced by Austin Cain who made three saves the balance of the period with the game tied at 3-3 and WMU outshooting the Huskies 12-11 for the period.
A series of penalties in the first half of the third period reflected the physical play of the game and a boarding call to the Bronco’s Scooter Brickey at 10:01 gave the Huskies their 5th man-advantage of the game. Twenty-nine seconds later, the Huskies converted and seemingly appeared to turn around a game that was a disaster in period two. Once again it was Miettinen firing the puck from the right dot with both Sam Hentges and Easton Brodzinski in position to bury it. Hentges beat Brodzinski to the puck and flipped the puck past Cain who was stretching to his right to make a save.
With the Huskies burning time off the clock, the Broncos coaching staff decided the 2:00 mark was the time to pull Cain for the extra attacker after a save by Hrenak and an offensive zone faceoff for the Broncos.
After several successful clearing attempts by the Huskies, the Broncos made their last attack into the Huskies zone with 53 seconds remaining. Perbix was unable to lift it out of the zone with 49 seconds remaining and with Western controlling the puck in the Huskies zone, the defenders collapsed and Michael Joyaux took advantage sending a low shot through traffic that got by Hrenak to tie the game at 4-4 with 18 seconds remaining. A hat trick for Joyaux and obviously, the ultimate dagger after rallying to take a third-period lead.
The contest ended quickly in overtime after an attack into the WMU zone by Micah Miller resulted in a turnover and a two on one in the other direction with Paul Washe and Drew Worrad. Worrad took a well-placed wrist shot from inside the left circle and it rang off the post and past Hrenak for the game-winner 43 seconds into the session.
The shot by Worrad was the only one of the extra session and Western Michigan outshot the Huskies 29-28 for the game.
Despite allowing four goals, Hrenak actually had a strong game making a number of key saves, particularly in the second period. For the game, Hrenalk turned aside 25 of 29 shots in a losing effort. His record falls to 9-6-0. Austin Cain who replaced Ales Aslandis in the second period registered the win stopping 11 of 12 shots on goal.
The Huskies had success on the power play converting 2 of 5 (40%). The Broncos converted 1 of their 5 opportunities.
Easton Brodzinski (1-1-2) and Veeti Miettinen (0-2-2) had a multi-point game for the Huskies.
Stars of the Game: #1 Michael Joyaux (WMU), #2 Drew Worrad (WMU) #3 Easton Brodzinski (SCSU)