St. Paul, MN – After Saturday’s 12-2 blowout of St. Thomas in their Division I hockey debut, SCSU head coach Brett Larson predicted “Tomorrow presents a huge challenge. Rico (Blasi) will have them ready to go.”
St. Thomas was indeed better in the defensive zone tightening things up and limiting the Huskies to two goals in the 2-0 Husky win in front of a reported crowd of 4,261 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul in a Sunday evening game. Part of it was the strong play by North Dakota transfer Peter Thome who was blitzed for six goals on Saturday and the other was better neutral zone and gap play. The Huskies certainly had numerous goalmouth opportunities placing 36 shots on Thome but he proved better on Sunday.
However, albeit for a few segments of period two, what St. Thomas gained in the defensive end of the ice showed in their offense as they only generated 12 total shots on goal and rarely had opportunities inside the dots in the offensive zone. Of the dozen shots they had, SCSU senior goaltender David Hrenak was there to shut the door earning his 68th career win and 12th shutout.
“I think St. Cloud is the no.1 team in the country,” said UST coach Rico Blasi.”We went toe to toe with them. Should we have won tonight? Probably not, but I think we did what we needed to do to get better.”
The obvious area of improvement was limiting their time in the penalty box being whistled for only four penalties on Sunday vs 10 the night before.
The Huskies picked up where they left off on Saturday netting their 8th power-play goal of the series on a goal by Zach Okabe, his second of the season at 13:26 of period one. Assists went to Jami Krannila and Spencer Meier and the Huskies carried a 1-0 lead into the second period outshooting St. Thomas 15-3.
The Tommies were certainly better in period two which was their best period of the weekend but were still unable to dent the scoreboard getting outshot 10 to 6 and failing to convert on two power-play opportunities. The Huskies did respond again at 15:40 of the period with a goal by senior forward Micah Miller who was without a point on Friday. On a strong play by Miller, he wristed a shot over the glove side of Thome from between the dots to increase the SCSU lead to 2-0.
Despite outshooting the Tommies 11 to 3 in period three, the teams skated to a scoreless period in the 2-0 final. Perhaps the most excitement for Husky fans in that period was a rink-length attempt at an empty-net goal by Hrenak which was stopped by a UST defender.
Contrary to the Saturday game, which saw 17 penalties, this game saw a total of 7 penalties combined, 4 on UST and 3 on the Huskies. SCSU converted one of three while St. Thomas was scoreless in two opportunities.
David Hrenak stopped 12 of 12 shots on goal while Peter Thome had a busy game turning aside 34 of 36 shots on goal.
SCSU won the battle in the faceoff circle winning 27 of 51 faceoffs. Aidan Spellacy was very effective for the Huskies winning 9 of 12 for a success rate of 75%
Three Stars of the Game: #1 David Hrenak (SCSU), #2 Micah Miller (SCSU), #3 Zach Okabe (SCSU)