Brian Moos / Program Director
St. Cloud State’s Senior Forward Joe Molenaar scored a hat trick versus Miami, to not only help the Huskies win, but sweep their first NCHC series of the season.
After a fast-moving, but quiet 1st period both squads were at a scoreless tie heading into the 2nd. It looked another tightly contested crawl of a game we saw last year between Miami and SCSU. However, a couple of former Minnetonka Skippers would have different plans.
The scoring would start close to halfway through the 2nd period. Sophomore Grant Ahcan would complete an effective forecheck on Miami’s defense and newly-changed Joe Molenaar was ready to amaze. Molenaar hopped on and grabbed a loose puck, dangled a kneeling Axel Kumlin, and ambushed Bruno Bruveris with a top shelf finish for what will be one of the best goals of the season.
“That’s a forward’s dream right there, you get the puck in the slot all alone. Made a move on the D and that’s one of my moves to go top-left. That’s a go-to area for me,” Molenaar said.
It wouldn’t be long after that one of Molenaar’s high school teammates would score to make it 2-0. Josh Luedtke found enough room to burn his way up ice and quickly flick the puck into the net. When asked about the importance of two former Skippers scoring, Molenaar touched on the friendship he and Luedtke have built. “Josh has been one of my best friends my entire life. Good to see him get on the board, it was a hell of a shot by him,” said Molenaar.
Luedtke has north to south speed in his skill set, he usually keeps that close to his chest. When it is showcased in game though, it comes as no surprise to his teammates. The other half of his D-pair, Dylan Anhorn said, “He’s crazy quick, like the roadrunner getting his feet going. You saw it there on his goal, he just busted right down the middle and sniped that one.”
If those sequences weren’t exciting enough, leading SCSU scorer Veeti Miettinen would score a long-range wrister on the power play. In three minutes and 50 seconds, SCSU would not only find a lead, but execute a much-needed extension of said lead.
Brett Larson reflected, “I thought that powerplay goal by Vetti (meant) we finally extended a lead, we haven’t been able to do that, that much this year.”
Heading into the 3rd period, the Huskies would have their second three goal lead of the season after two periods. Unlike the first time versus Alaska (10.20) St. Cloud would not concede a goal in the final frame. Rather, they would put three more on the RedHawks to make their first NCHC weekend an emphatic sweep.
Two more goals from Molenaar, with Jack Peart’s first goal of the year sandwiched in-between, would put the game away. It also would coronate Joe Molenaar’s best stretch of hockey in his career. “The guys were really fired up for Joe, he’s been a really good player for us for the whole time he’s been here, and just to see him break through like that, I can tell in the locker room the guys were genuinely really happy for him,” said Larson. “I think Joe Molenaar is playing the best hockey of his career,” he added.
Molenaar would comment postgame about how important this weekend was for the team. “This was really big for our group to get that winning feeling. It had been kind of a slow start for us and we’re all just very excited to have a good sweep under our belt,” said Molenaar.
Dominic Basse also recorded a shutout in the sweep collecting effort. It’s his second game of the year with no goals conceded. Even with a low amount of shots faced (15) with only 8 saves needed over the course of the second and third periods to secure the dub. Coach Larson praised the netminder postgame, “He didn’t get a ton of work, but all of a sudden, they’d get a good chance and he had to come up big for us. I thought that was Dom’s best overall weekend of the year so far.”
For St. Cloud State they are one of two teams atop the NCHC with 6 standings points (Denver). The Huskies will move onto play Western Michigan on the road this upcoming weekend, in a pivotal conference clash. It may also serve as a preview of a potential Frozen Faceoff matchup of the future, as the Huskies aim to defend that crown much later in the 2023-24 campaign.
Captain Dylan Anhorn previewed the Huskies versus the Broncos in a very exciting manner. When asked if he was excited to play at Lawson Arena for the first time he gave an enthusiastic, “I am.” He also added “I’ve heard of a specific feature that I am really excited for… think it might give me extra juice,” in a mischievous tone.
You can listen to those games on KVSC. Friday’s puck drop will be at 6 p.m. CDT, with pregame at 5:30 on Your Sound Alternative. Saturday’s tilt will be at 5:00 p.m. CDT, pregame at 4:30. Zachary Chapman and Alexander Fern will be at Lawson Arena on play-by-play and color, with Gavin Nelson producing the broadcast back home at Husky Studio.