The ever elusive first win of the season for the St. Cloud Crush (0-2-1) has a chance to be obtained on home ice. The first Central Lakes Conference matchup of the year comes against the Brainerd Warriors (0-2-0) Thursday night at the MAC.
A desperate St. Cloud team played with an edge we have not seen before to open the game and off the hop Brainerd was trying to keep up. The Crush came close to striking first multiple times, but the Warriors survived the wave. All it took was one mistake at the blueline leading scorer Max Roby for Brainerd was loose on a breakaway and slid it through the five-hole of Ben Glaesman making his first career varsity start (1-0). It was also the first shot of the game for Brainerd who had no momentum up to that point. St. Cloud lost the life and energy they started the game with, and Brainerd was able to settle in while Jed Klang kept the puck out of his net. Glaesman stopped 6 out of 7 shots in the first and Brainerd held onto the one goal lead heading into period number two.
The coaching staff for St. Cloud was not particularly happy with the effort in the first frame after giving up the first tally so they were prompted to shake things up. New line combinations up front were the proposed solution to solving the early season scoring problem. Boy, did it work for the Crush. First shift of the second period and Nick Matanich buried a backdoor feed from Andrew Cumming and tied the game at one, Theo Rieland picked up an assist on the goal as well (1-1). The line changes led to a more balanced attack for St. Cloud and allowed them to get opportunities from multiple lines and not just one. After the goal 34 seconds into the frame, either team was unable to find the back of the net even with a plethora of chances. Jed Klang saw more action in the middle frame being forced to make 12 stops, while Glaesman made 7.
The 3rd period started with a much more since of hope than in previous games because it felt that the Crush were on the cusp of a scoring barrage. Sure enough, it was. An early Too Many Men penalty gave St. Cloud a power play and the Crush went to work. Great puck movement led to a shot from Junior Andrew Cumming redirected in front by Senior Theo Rieland for his first goal of the season and St. Cloud had the lead (2-1). Midway through the period, the new look top line did it again, this time Cumming was in front to hammer home a rebound created by Matanich and the Crush were rolling (3-1). Well on their way to their first win of the season St. Cloud tacked on two more, one on the man advantage from Rieland for his second of the night and defenseman Ripley Garden with his 3rd of the season (5-1). The Crush held the Warriors to four shots in the final period and Glaesman cruised to his first victory and so did his team by a final score of (5-1).
St. Cloud (1-2-1) will look to keep the momentum while Brainerd (0-3-0) is still looking for answers. The Crush take on Rogers, a section rival who they have met in back-to-back seasons in the playoffs on Saturday night on the road. Puck drop scheduled at 3:00 CST on 97.5 Radio X.