The St. Cloud State Huskies (15-14-1, 9-10-1 NCHC) were able to complete the weekend sweep of the Miami University Redhawks (9-13-6, 5-9-4 NCHC) after a 3-1 victory at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center Saturday night, giving Bob Motzko his 250th victory as head coach of the Huskies.
With the game tied at one going into the third period, the Huskies took control late after Jake Wahlin was able to score in the dying minutes of the game to give the Huskies the win, and with it, their first weekend sweep since early November against Colorado College.
The Huskies have struggled to win back-to-back games as of late, winning their last five games taking place on Friday, but failing to win a Saturday game. Wahlin was very pleased to finally get that weight off his team’s shoulders.
“This [win] was huge for our team, and I think it’s going to be huge for us moving forward,” said Wahlin, who has had two game-winning goals late in games this season.
Just like last night, the first period failed to produce a goal from either team. Aside from a Miami shot hitting the post early on, the Redhawks failed to produce many scoring chances throughout the period. Both squads were given first-period power play opportunities, however, they were unable to produce many chances with the man advantage.
As the period progressed, the momentum started tilting more and more to the Huskies favor. Although they were unable to tally a goal, the Huskies did a good job using their speed in the offensive zone to get shots on Miami goaltender Ryan Larkin from all areas of the ice. The Huskies finished the period with 16 shots on goal, doubling that of Miami. The Huskies finished the game outshooting the Redhawks 36 to 20.
With the second period came the action. The Redhawks opened up the scoring nearly three minutes into the period after a goal from forward Josh Melnick.
Melnick collected a pass from teammate Gordie Green in the slot, and fired a shot past St. Cloud State goaltender Jeff Smith to give the Redhawks a one-goal lead.
Just seconds after the goal, Miami found themselves back on their heels as they committed a penalty, leading to a power play goal from St. Cloud State’s Jimmy Schuldt. After catching the puck at the top of left circle, Schuldt wound up and blasted a slap shot past Larkin to tie the game at one goal a piece with 12:51 remaining in the second period. Niklas Nevalainen and Mikey Eyssimont were credited with assists on the play. Eyssimont leads the Huskies with 26 points on the season.
Throughout the second period, a total of seven penalties were committed. Of those seven penalties, five went against Miami. The Huskies finished the game with just one power play goal on seven attempts against the NCHC’s top penalty killing team. St. Cloud State also finished 2-for-2 on the penalty kill.
After nearly 30 minutes of scoreless hockey, the Huskies were able to claim the lead late in the game with a goal from Jake Wahlin. After catching a pass from Nevalainen, Ryan Poehling made a quick-stop move on the half boards and was able to find Wahlin crashing the net for the tap-in goal. The goal came with just 2:37 remaining in the game, and would ultimately prove to be the game-winner.
The Redhawks pulled Larkin in the final seconds in a last-ditch effort to tie the game, however, the Huskies were able to seal the game with an empty-net goal coming from Jacob Benson.
The Huskies have just four more games remaining in the regular season. Head coach Bob Motzko seems confident that his team is finding their rhythm and starting to play consistently at the right time.
“I like our hockey…we’re coming, we’re just running out of time, but we’re coming.”
Motzko went on to express how his players did a lot of good things throughout the weekend, primarily with their puck movement, as well as praising his defensive players for stepping up their level of play on the offensive side of the puck.
With just four regular-season games remaining, the Huskies will have the upcoming weekend off before heading to Denver for a weekend series Feb. 24 to 25 against the Pioneers.