By: Joey Erickson
The St. Cloud Crush (0-1-0) hit the road for the first time this season for a matchup against the Burnsville Blaze (0-0-0) Tuesday night. The Crush were coming off season opening loss to Bemidji 4-1 and would have to look for their first win of the season at the Burnsville Ice Center.
The St. Cloud Crush were without their highest returning scorer Andrew Cumming after receiving a one game suspension for an altercation with Bemidji a couple of days ago. Also, it would be the first career varsity start for junior goalie Ethan Quinn. Fortunately for St. Cloud, a few lineup changes did not hinder the start. The Crush were dominating time of possession and getting sustained offensive zone time. Senior defenseman Ripley Garden was very noticeable for the Crush creating a lot of scoring chances off shots from the point. Pierce Konrath who was in net for the Blaze was the busier of the two goalies in the opening frame turning aside some great chances for St. Cloud. Quinn was a little shaky on the few attempts from Burnsville, but he kept them off the scoresheet in the opening frame.
It took a period for the Blaze to get their legs underneath them and it was a much more even second period. Burnsville turned to the physical game to set a precedent for how the rest of this one would play out. Much to the appreciation of the student section that rose to their feet after big hits. The Blaze were feeding off the crowd to generate offense, but nothing to show for it. Ethan Quinn was sharp at making the first save and keeping his rebound control tidy. You have to give credit to the St. Cloud defense that denied a lot of opportunities with block shots and limiting second chances for the Blaze. The ice would tilt back towards the Crush in the final 5 minutes of the period. An icing by Burnsville set up an offensive zone draw for St. Cloud looking for the game’s first goal. The Crush would win the draw cleanly back to defenseman Lukas O’Donnell who let a shot go through traffic in front and then tipped by Nathan Staudinger for his first career goal (1-0). With St. Cloud drawing first blood the Blaze had to create their own energy this time and they were rewarded. 15 seconds left in the period, the goal scorer Staudinger took a penalty, and the Blaze would enter the third on a power play with a clean sheet.
Burnsville needed a response to inject some life into the home crowd and they got it. Just under a minute into the period, a puck from beneath the goal line squirted to the middle of the slot and Thomas Dundon for the Blaze slapped it passed Quinn to tie the game (1-1). For the first time in this game, we would see how St. Cloud would handle some adversity after giving up the equalizer. Long story short, they handled it well. They hopped back on the offensive and began forechecking hard and creating turnovers. One of those turnovers turned into a shot from the point by Ripley Garden, the initial shot was stopped by Konrath, but a hungry group put the rebound home to regain the lead (2-1). Another first on the board, Jacob Fitch tallied his first career goal in his first varsity start. For every punch St. Cloud gave, the Blaze would give one back. A broken play at neutral ice ends up with the puck on the stick of Cole Sieben who knifed through multiple Crush players and sneaked it past Quinn to tie the game with 5:17 to play (2-2). Nobody was able to find the back of the net in the final five and this one would go to overtime.
Overtime was as tight and closely contested as you would expect after a thrilling three periods. You could see the fatigue start to set in for both sides which led to more sloppy play and fed some odd man rushes. Both goaltenders had to be sharp in the final 8 minutes anxiously awaiting the next goal that would win it. Unfortunately, the next goal would never come. This one would end in a 2-2 tie. St. Cloud (0-1-1) will have to wait for their first win of the season and Burnsville (0-0-1) will have to do the same.
St. Cloud will be back in action later this week as they take on Elk River/Zimmermann on the road Saturday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. You can listen to the game on 97.5 Radio X or 975radiox.com.