By: Blake Theisen / Sports Director / @blake_theisen
Thank goodness for Mason Salquist.
The freshman, Salquist, and the number 2 ranked St. Cloud State Men’s hockey team rolled into Mariucci arena Friday night looking to exact revenge on a Minnesota Gophers team that had won the previous two matchups between the two rivals.
The Huskies struggled out of the gate again against a top 5 opponent, similarly to how they played last Friday against Mankato. However, this time around the Huskies were able to take advantage of their first quality scoring chance in the first period on a Jami Krannila breakaway.
The Gophers’ Jackson LaCombe fumbled a puck at the blue line that sprung the Finnish junior forward on the break. Krannila made a quick move to the backhand and slipped the puck right between the legs of reigning Mike Richter award winner Jack LaFontaine to give St. Cloud a 1-0 lead with under 4 minutes to go in the first period.
Minnesota outshot St. Cloud 9-4 in the opening 20 minutes, but the ice heavily tilted in the Huskies favor in the middle frame. Despite heavy pressure and consistent zone time, 20 more minutes of play came and went with no goals scored and the Huskies outshooting the Gophers 12-4 in the second period.
As is common in sports though, you just knew this game wasn’t going to end 1-0. Eventually Minnesota had to break through in this hockey game and they did. Just 5:42 into the third period, a failed clearing attempt for St. Cloud State sprung a 2-on-2 for Minnesota. Winnipeg Jets draft pick Chaz Lucius drove to the net against Seamus Donohue while being hooked and was able to tip-in a seeing-eye pass.
The building absolutely erupted and the momentum was on the Gophers’ side having just tied the game, and now heading to the powerplay. The Huskies though, responded well, and weathered the storm for the next 3 minutes and 15 seconds. That’s when freshman Jack Peart hit Joe Molenaar with a pass through center ice. Molenaar drove wide on the Gophers defenders and threw the puck towards the net looking for Salquist who got just enough of the puck to push it past LaFontaine and give the Huskies a 2-1 lead.
Salquist now has game winning goals in back-to-back games since entering for Sam Hentges who is officially day-to-day and could play on Homecoming against Minnesota.
Minnesota threatened late, and Aaron Huglen had a chance with 5 seconds remaining but he fired the puck wide and the Huskies won at Mariucci arena for the first time since 2016.
Now the rivalry turns back up I-94 to St. Cloud for the Huskies Homecoming on Saturday. Puck drop is set for 5:00 p.m. at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center. You can catch the action on 88.1fm KVSC with pregame coverage kicking off a 4:40 p.m.