A three-goal third period gave the Huskies their fifth straight come-from-behind victory of the season, defeating Duluth in their first inter-conference matchup of the season.
In a game filled with power plays, four-on-four action, and over 65 shots, No. 2 St. Cloud State (6-0-0, 1-0-0 NCHC) defeated No. 8 Duluth (4-3-2, 0-1-0 NCHC) 5-3 to remain undefeated.
After giving up the lead twice in the second period, St. Cloud State put their foot on the gas pedal and didn’t let up in the third. Midway through the final period, forward Ethan Brodzinski tallied his first goal of the season, ultimately ending up to be the game-winner.
The Huskies produced 10 shots on goal in the first period, including a breakaway opportunity by Ryan Poehling, but were unable to get the puck past Bulldogs goaltender Hunter Shepard. Shepard finished with 29 saves on the night.
After a scoreless first period, a Bulldogs penalty would lead to the game’s first two goals. Duluth got on the scoreboard first, after a wrap-around from forward Karson Kuhlman found its way through the five-hole of Huskies goaltender Jeff Smith. Just seconds later, the Huskies were able to bounce back and break even on the power play after a rebound goal from Jacob Benson. Robby Jackson fired a slap shot through traffic before Benson was able to gather the puck and find the back of the net for his third goal of the season.
Both teams spent plenty of time in the penalty box, combining for 16 penalties (43 PIM) in the first two periods alone, before toning it back in the third. The Huskies finished the game 2-for-7 on the power play, giving up one goal on four shorthanded attempts.
St. Cloud State head coach Bob Motzko mentioned how it took his team a while to adjust to the special teams-filled game.
“I think they handled the adversity better than we did,” said Motzko.
The Huskies were able to bounce back each time they trailed, tying up the game both times in a matter of seconds.
Later in the period, another penalty would shake things up. The Bulldogs would take advantage of the extra man, as Matt Anderson collected a rebound near the bottom of the left faceoff circle and beat Smith blocker side on a low-angle shot.
Like clockwork, the Huskies quickly answered again, tying the game at 2 goals apiece with just over a minute remaining in the second period. After a delayed penalty on the Bulldogs, Ryan Poehling was able to capitalize for the Huskies as he deflected a shot-pass from Borgen to beat Shepard.
Motzko mentioned how big the 2017 first-round draft pick has been for the Huskies all season long, highlighting his well-rounded play.
“He plays a critical role for us. He plays 200 feet,” said Motzko.
Poehling was drafted 25th overall by the Montreal Canadiens in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. The sophomore is one of three current St. Cloud State players to be drafted, alongside Judd Peterson and Will Borgen.
With 13:27 remaining in the third period, Kevin Fitzgerald was able to give the Huskies their first lead of the game, redeeming himself after hitting the post a period before. After catching a pass in the slot from teammate Ryan Poehling, Fitzgerald fired two shots on net, collecting his own rebound to beat Shepard.
St. Cloud State would extend their lead less than two minutes later, after deflection from Ethan Brodzinski found the way to the back of the net, giving the freshman his first collegiate goal and a game-winner to boot. The goal would give the Huskies a 4-2 lead entering the midway point of the third period.
A late third period goal from Duluth’s Sammy Spurrell closed the gap on the Huskies lead to one goal with just under three minutes left to play, however, the goal would prove to come too late, as the Jimmy Schuldt was able to seal the victory for St. Cloud State with an empty-net goal in the final minute.
The Huskies finished the game with a 35-31 edge in shots on goal. St. Cloud State looks to remain undefeated as they faceoff against Duluth again tomorrow afternoon at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center.
Photo courtesy of St. Cloud State Athletics