Mar 18, 2023
Huskies End Another Season, Best UND 3-2 in OT
Brian Moos / KVSC Program Director
After eliminating Minnesota-Duluth from a postseason bid, St. Cloud State gave North Dakota the same favor through a thrilling Frozen Faceoff semifinal overtime victory.
It started and ended with the “International Line” of Miettinen-Krannila-Okabe, accounting for all three goals for SCSU spread amongst themselves evenly. Both Krannila’s and Miettinen’s tallies were equalizers, Okabe’s was the decider. On the Okabe game-winning goal the puck was moved by all three of those star forwards.
“Veeti made a great play…got it to me, I kind of had a 1-on-2. I saw Oakey (Okabe) coming, I’ve never seen him skate that fast, so I just tossed the puck towards him,” Senior Forward Jami Krannila said through chuckles.
After praising both Krannila and Miettinen, Zach Okabe gave his point of view on the game-winning rush. “I saw an opening in the middle…so I just decided to drive the net, try to make something happen and luckily I did.”
This is now the 3rd comeback win against the Fighting Hawks the Huskies have had. The first two came at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center and the now the 3rd comes on a national stage. “It means a lot…definitely our class and some of the older guys know what it feels like to lose to these guys on a big stage and lose in this tournament. So it feels really nice to beat these guys and move on to tomorrow,” said Okabe.
Behind the forwards, there were points where Jaxon Castor was the only reason the contest wasn’t a comfortable victory for North Dakota. Castor followed up a great elimination game performance vs Duluth this past Sunday with another against the Fighting Hawks. The decision to put him in the crease wasn’t a sure thing after the series win, as Head Coach Brett Larson has had to sweat over goalies plenty this season. Seems like it’s all but a sure thing that Castor will be the Frozen Faceoff final starting goalie of choice for SCSU though.
When my broadcast partner Alexander Fern asked Coach Larson if there’s talk about the dislike of North Dakota and want to end their season like Duluth in the locker room before a game like this Brett audibly laughed. “What do you think,” Larson posed back.
Other good news, sounds like Coach Larson will continue to wear the tie we at KVSC gifted him since he has now won two games in a row sporting it.
SCSU will now move into playing Colorado College for the Frozen Faceoff Final. The right to hoist the NCHC Postseason Title and an automatic bid to the NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey National Tournament is on the line. St. Cloud State is already a lock to earn an at-large bid to the dance, a NCHC postseason title at this point will be a resume builder. The Tigers of Colorado College are now the 3rd team in a row standing in front of SCSU with a win or go home pressure on their season. CC cannot get into the tournament with an at-large bid.
A matchup between the 4th seeded SCSU Huskies and the 7th seeded CC Tigers means it’s the highest combined number between seeds (11) in the Frozen Faceoff Final since the Frozen Faceoff’s 1st year (14). That year, 2014, the 6th seeded Denver Pioneers defeated the 8th seeded Miami RedHawks in the title game.
CC will be riding the incredible play of their freshman goalie Kaiden Mbereko, who has four straight shutouts. Along with Mbereko, the Tigers boast firepower through the play of junior forward Hunter McKown, who has 21 goals on the 2022-23 campaign. 14 of those 21 goals have come on the powerplay, which leads the country.
You can catch all the action from the Frozen Faceoff final on Your Sports Alternative, 88.1 FM KVSC. KVSC Sports Director Max Steiguaf will be your in-studio host. KVSC News Director Alexander Fern will be on play-by-play with myself and KVSC Assistant News Director Zac Chapman on color commentary.