Oxford, OH – Entering the third period in the weekend finale with Miami the game was in balance with the Huskies trailing by a goal and on the verge of being swept on the road. Playing perhaps their best period of the weekend, the Huskies rallied for three goals including an empty-netter to salvage a 4-2 win and split of the weekend series with the RedHawks.
Brendan Bushy scored his first career goal and Kevin Fitzgerald added two more in the third period to steer the victory. Easton Brodzinski inched closer to the career 100 point mark with a first-period goal giving him 93 career points.
The game result had the Huskies teetering on plunging to fourth place in the league standings depending on the result of the Omaha/Colorado college game or within a point of first-place North Dakota pending the outcome of their game with Denver. They depart Oxford for their 11-hour bus trip back to St. Cloud knowing regardless of Saturday’s results they’ll finish the weekend no lower than second place in the NCHC. Most importantly, they avoided three straight losses and return home on a positive note to face Colorado College in a single game next Saturday.
Issues that plagued the team in the 2-1 loss on Friday reared its head again as the Huskies’ power play was 0 for 4 and the team struggled with on-ice discipline getting whistled six times for penalties including one that nullified a first-period goal by Easton Brodzinski. They did, however, reverse their success in the faceoff circle winning 27 of 47 draws and held Miami to 6 shots on goal in the final period stepping up their defensive play when they really needed it.
The contest started with the Huskies applying early pressure and controlling the real estate for much of the first five minutes of play. Both goaltenders were called on to make key saves with Hrenak turning aside a shot from the right circle by Dylan Moultan and Miami starter Grant Valentine taking a hard shot off his chest by Micah Miller from the low left circle and covering the puck in a goalmouth scramble 9:30 into the period.
Penalties to Easton Brodzinski and Casey Gilling for roughing at 9:32 and a subsequent penalty to Brendan Bushy for interference at 10:03 awarded the RedHawks a four on three advantage for 1:30 and the Miami capitalized at 11:12 on a goal by Matthew Barboloni, his 5th of the season. Barbolini made it look easy ripping a one-timer from the right circle off a feed from Derek Daschke for a 1-0 Miami lead.
But, just 27 seconds later, after Brodzinski’s penalty expired, he jumped into the play and one-timed a pass off the end wall from Jami Krannila to even the game at 1-1.
Five minutes later, Brodzinski duplicated his effort beating Valentine again from the low slot but this time, the goal was waved off due to a holding penalty just seconds before the goal on Kevin Fitzgerald.
Just as it appeared the teams would head into the first intermission knotted at 1-1 poor defensive positioning by the Huskies allowed RedHawks defenseman Dylan Moulton to skate in unattended to the left side of the goal. Moulton placed a shot off Hrenaks left shoulder, collected the rebound and circled behind the net, and tucked a wraparound goal for a 2-1 Miami lead with just 7.2 seconds remaining in period one.
Miami outshot the Huskies 11-10 in a period with three penalties on the Huskies.
The Huskies came out with some jump and pressured the RedHawks for the first minute of play. Thereafter, Miami was whistled for three straight penalties with the first to Barbolini for tripping at 3:51. But, continuing a trend for the weekend, the Huskies generated little and only had one shot on Valentine.
Miami was in the penalty box again at 8:51 after a holding call to Hampus Rydqvist. Once again, the man-advantage was ineffective with Valentine called on to make two saves on Okabe and Miettinen.
Eleven seconds after the Rydvist penalty expired, the RedHawks picked up their third consecutive penalty with a roughing call to Rourke Russell at 10:46. Again ineffective, they failed to get a shot on goal.
The closest the Huskies got in the period was a shot from the mid-slot by Jared Cockell that was saved by Valentine but the rebound ended up on Will Hammer’s stick which he placed off the post.
With Casey Gilling penalized for cross-checking at the tail end of the period, Easton Brodzinski got behind the Miami defense but was stuffed by Valentine with 9 seconds remaining in the period.
The game remained a 2-1 advantage for Miami with SCSU outshooting the RedHawks 10-6 in the period.
The Huskies had the man-advantage for 1:32 to start the period and despite good puck movement with much crisper passing, the Huskies were unable to capitalize.
However, the Huskies came out with more intensity and it finally paid off 4:57 into the period with Brendan Bushy’s (Hammer, Molenaar) first career goal. Stationed at the left post, Bushy sent a shot on goal through traffic which got past a partially screened Valentine for the Huskies’ second goal of the game to tie the score at 2-2.
Eight seconds later, the Huskies converted again on a pretty play. The Huskies won the faceoff at center ice and the puck was chipped up to Fitzgerald who charged into the Miami zone on a three-on-one with Jared Cockrell and Chase Brand. Fitzgerald fed Brand who returned the puck to Fitzgerald whose quick shot beat an out-of-position Valentine for a 3-2 SCSU lead, their first lead of the contest.
The Huskies then clamped down defensively allowing only three shots on goal through 15 minutes of the final period.
Fitzgerald then sealed things for the Huskies with an unassisted empty-net goal from mid-ice at 18:38 to put the game out of reach in the 4-2 final and split of the weekend series.
The Huskies outshot the RedHawks 32-23 in the contest with David Hrenak stopping 21 of 23 shots to improve his record to 10-7-0. Miami goaltender Grant Valentine who got the start on senior night made his first appearance of the season stopping 28 of 31 shots on goal.
The Huskies were 0 for 4 on the power play while Miami converted 1 of 4. Both teams were penalized 6 times for 12 minutes.
Kevin Fitzgerald led the Huskies with two goals and 6 shots on goal and the only player with a multi-point game.
Stars of the Game: #1 Grant Valentine (Miami) #2 Matt Barry (Miami) #3 Kevin Fitzgerald (SCSU)
The Huskies return to home ice for a single game with Colorado College at 12:07 PM CT next Saturday.