St. Cloud, MN – The SCSU Huskies have had mixed results over the years on Senior Day. Maybe this year, there was less pressure with the seniors allowed eligibility for one more year. Maybe it was the urgency of chasing North Dakota for the Penrose Cup. In any case, the Huskies scored twice in period one and let senior, David Hrenak shut the door the rest of the way in a 4-0 win at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center in a rare matinee game.
The win closed North Dakota’s lead in the conference standings to four points pending the outcome of the Fighting Hawks contest with the Omaha Mavericks later in the day. It also tightened their hold on second place by four points over the UMD Bulldogs and five points over the Omaha Mavericks.
On this day, seniors Easton Brodzinski and Kevin Fitzgerald led the way with two goals for Brodzinski, one for Fitzgerald and Nolan Walker chipping in another in this important win. The two-point game for Brodzinski allowed him to claw within five points of the career 100 point club with 95 career points.
“We came out really good. We were on our toes. Usually, we practice this time of day so the guys seemed ready for it” said head coach Brett Larson. “It was one of our best first periods since the pod. I liked our jump and our intensity and it really paid off for us. The difference in this game vs Miami last weekend was we were able to extend the lead. That power play was huge for us. I thought they made a really good push (in the second period) and we weathered it but we spent way too much time having to defend which took away from our offense. I thought the penalty kill was a big part of the win tonight.”
It was Senior Day and following the contest, Seamus Donohue, Tyler Anderson, Jared Cockrell, Kevin Fitzgerald, Luke Jaycox, Will Hammer, David Hrenak, and Easton Brodzinski were honored.
“The seniors have meant a ton to us,” said coach Larson. “It’s an odd year because some of them might be back next year which is interesting. I thought the seniors were great tonight. David from the start was good in the net. Tyler Anderson had two really good chances in the first ad the whole bench was going crazy hoping it would go in.”
“I love this group of guys,” he said. ” Our senior group wants to finish it off the best they can this year.”
The Huskies got off to a nice start in front of a limited gallery of fans with Brodzinski’s 52nd career goal and 9th of the season at 6:10 of the opening period. On a very alert play by junior forward, Nolan Walker, he circled behind the Tigers goal and from the perimeter of the left circle sent a pass through traffic to Brodzinski who was streaking in through the right circle. Brodzinski snapped off a quick shot that beat Dominic Basse for a 1-0 SCSU Lead.
After trading tripping penalties and the Huskies killing the penalty to Jami Krannila, the Huskies went to work on a power play of their own at 12:44 after a penalty to CC’s Zach Berzolla. A minute and six seconds later Nolan Walker was involved in the scoring again netting his 7th goal of the season with assists to Veeti Miettinen and Sam Hentges. Miettinen made the play holding the puck in the zone with a defender on his back. Facing the opposite end of the ice, he made a blind backhanded pass to Walker who dangled the puck past a prone Basse and stuffed it under his stick for a 2-0 Huskies lead.
In a fairly dominant period, the Huskies outshot the Tigers 17-8 and carried a two-goal lead.
In a period full of penalties, six to be exact, the Tigers put forth their best effort of the game outshooting SCSU 10-5.
The Huskies failed on their second man-advantage of the game after a penalty to CC’s Jack Gates at 2:08 and then did their best to open the door for the Tigers with five and a half minutes of penalties throughout the last eight minutes of the period. Particularly odd were two consecutive penalties to Ondrej Trejbal for holding at 16:39 and another just three seconds after exiting the penalty box for interference. Fortunately for the Huskies, the Colorado College power play, entering the game at seven percent were unable to convert with the Huskies still clinging to a two-goal lead at periods end.
With the extended time on the man-advantage and a push by the Tigers to climb back into the game, they outshot the Huskies 10-5 in the period.
The Huskies killed forty-two seconds of the Trejbal penalty that carried over to the final period and were at the disadvantage again eight minutes later when Spencer Meier was whistled for an interference penalty. But, the Tigers power play sputtered again and two minutes later at 12:51, senior Kevin Fitzgerald added his 8th goal of the season to put the Huskies ahead by three goals.
A turnover by the Tigers in the SCSU zone had the Huskies heading in the other direction on a three-on-one with Chase Brand leading the charge. Brand floated a pass to Fitzgerald in the high slot and he one-timed a shot past Basse for a 3-0 SCSU lead.
In a last-ditch effort to climb back into the game, the Tigers pulled Basse for the extra attacker with 2:36 remaining but Brodzinski sealed things with an empty-net goal just 28 seconds later to extend the lead to 4-0.
David Hrenak, was perfect on senior day, stopping all 23 Colorado College shots to earn his 11th win of the season and 11th career shutout. His record improves to 11-7-0. The Tigers Dominic Basse turned aside 22 of 25 shots on goal in the loss. His record falls to 4-10-1.
For the game, the Huskies were 1 for 3 in the power play while the Tigers were 0 for 5. SCSU was outdueled in the faceoff circle 29 to 24. SCSU blocked 26 shots while CC blocked 11. SCSU outshot the Tigers 26 to 23 for the game.
Easton Brodzinski (2-0-2) and Nolan Walker (1-1-2) had a multi-point game for the Huskies.
Stars of the Game: #1 Nolan Walker (SCSU) #2 David Hrenak (SCSU) #3 Easton Brodzinski (SCSU)