By Alexander Fern / Sports Director / @AlexInTheBooth
The St. Cloud State Men’s Hockey team welcomed the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs to the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center over the weekend. A series that the Huskies never saw a deficit in route to a 2-1, and 6-5 scoreline in a massive conference sweep.
It was a tale of two games this past weekend for both squads. Friday’s game was a defensive battle, with little, to no space for either team to work as the Huskies scored two goals on pretty plays to take game one by a score of 2-1.
The first period was nothing to gawk at. It just felt like an average, run of the mill SCSU vs UMD series. Only this time, the Huskies were obviously the better team.
The second period felt like more of the same, until Adam Ingram showed why he is and NHL draft pick (Nashville) when he threaded an absolute missile to freshman forward Jack Reimann who fired the puck right past the glove of Matthew Thiessen to Put the Huskies on top at 17:46 of the second period.
“It’s unreal,” Reimann said of his first carer goal. “It felt like a long-time coming, They’re (UMD’s) D[efense] are pretty slow, so I was able to beat them to the front of the net, and Ingy (Ingram) found me all alone.”
The Huskies would lead 1-0 until halfway through the second period when Grant Ahcan took a 5-minute-major for head contact. SCSU would have a great 4 minutes of a penalty-kill but a failed clear attempt led to UMD’s Matthew Perkins being open in the circles and fired a puck past Dominic Basse to tie the game at one.
The game reverted back to a defensive battle for the next eight minutes, until Mason Salquist made a fantastic play, kicking the puck to his stick and firing a cross-crease pass to Alternate Captain Joey Molenaar who was wide open on the back-door to garner the Game-Winning-Goal for SCSU.
“We call that play a dirty wrap,” Molenaar said of the play that set up his game-winning-goal. “Salsy made a great play to get the puck on my stick and I was wide open to put it in.” Molenaar is now the second leading scorer on SCSU now with his 7th goal of the season only behind Veeti Miettinen.
The Huskies would take the lead all the way until the final horn, when all theoretical “heck” broke loose.
After the horn, UMD captain Luke Loheit hit SCSU’s Kyler Kupka with a very high, and very dirty cross check. That play led to a massive bit of back and forth pushing and grabbing between both teams that resulted in Loheit being hit with a game-misconduct and being suspended for the second game of the weekend.
Saturday was NOT the usual match-up between the Huskies and Bulldogs as the usual defensive type game was not apparent in a 6-5 SCSU victory.
“It was just a great hockey game.” Head Coach Brett Larson said of the victory on Saturday. “I’m just really proud of our guys.”
I’ll spare you the play-by-play reciting of a box score in this article and just embed the highlights from our broadcast.
Here are the highlights from last nights @SCSUHuskies_MH victory (and sweep) of UMD, as heard on @KVSCHockey synced up with all of the great work of @hphky!!!#GOHUSKIESWOOOOO pic.twitter.com/zBHtrM21UX— 🎙- Alexander Fern (@AlexInTheBooth) November 19, 2023
The main story of Saturday was resilience, and character.
The Huskies were down to 10 forwards entering the third period on Saturday, as Nick Portz had to leave with an injury, Joey Molenaar was given a game misconduct for cross-checking, and some sickness in the team effected forwards and defenseman alike.
“We had to just battle out there,” Larson said. “We had guys battling a stomach bug that weren’t able to go, and we just had to battle.”
Players that dealt with the bug this weekend were contributors up and down the lineup. Barrett Hall, Tyson Gross, Veeti Miettinen, and Karl Falk.
Sickness, as well as injuries caused the lineup to be shuffled around on Saturday, which resulted in Tyson Gross finding a spot as the top-line center, and he shined scoring a goal and assisting on Kupka’s tally as well.
“Oaks (okabe) had a great play to my stick, and my instincts took over.” Said Gross of his first NCAA goal. “It wasn’t even a great shot, it just squeaked through their goalie in all honesty.”
With that assist, Zach Okabe joins the 100 Point club for SCSU. Okabe hasn’t been able to find the back of the net as of late, but he’s still contributing.
“Well heck, he can’t even buy a goal right now,” Larson said. “I think this will energize Oaks and get him back on track if he wasn’t already.”
The only question about that play, who do they give the puck to? The guy that scored his first goal? or guy that joined the 100 Point club?
The team gave away two pucks, but didn’t tell Okabe or Gross which one was the real puck so it’s just left up to interpretation.
Game 2 was a lot less chippy than game one but that didn’t matter to anyone on either team.
“It was just a battle, it was really fun.” Senior Defenseman and Captain of the Huskies Dylan Anhorn said. “I think the intensity and chip-and-nail was just a blast to play with. And I’m really proud of our group for getting the two wins.
The Huskies are back in action on Black Friday and Saturday against a Non-Conference opponent in the Michigan Wolverines. It’s the first time the Maize and Blue have visted the HBNHC in history, and the first time the two teams have met since March of 2002.
Both games will be broadcasted live on 88.1 FM KVSC with Brian Moos on Play-by-Play Duties along with Alexander Fern on Color, and Zac Chapman ice-side. Gavin Nelson will be manning the big board for pre-game, intermission reports, and post-games.
Pregames will begin 30 minutes prior to puck-drop at 7:00 p.m. on Friday and 5:30 p.m. on Saturday.