After a sluggish start, the St. Cloud State University men’s hockey team rallied back, scoring five consecutive goals to beat Alaska-Fairbanks 6-3.
In a game where many fans predicted a blowout win, SCSU found themselves down 3-0 late in the first period. The Huskies were able to bend without breaking, closing the gap on the Alaska-Fairbanks lead before taking the lead in the third period.
Alaska-Fairbanks took an early lead, scoring at the 1:08 mark of the first period after Kylar Hope buried a rebound into the back of the net following a shot from teammate Colton Leiter.
Minutes later, the Nanooks would expand on that lead, after Ryker Leer carried the puck into the Huskies zone and fired a shot from the top of the right-side circle, beating Smith high, blocker side.
Down 2-0, the Huskies started to apply some pressure, creating some quality scoring chances on the power play after a hooking penalty from Nanook forward Steven Jandric. Immediately following the power play, Alaska-Fairbanks would strike again, taking a 3-0 lead after a goal from Troy Van Tetering. As Jandric left the penalty box, the puck was fired down the ice from his defensive zone. Jandric was able to beat out the icing call and hold the puck behind the Huskies goal before making a move and firing a backhand pass to Van Tetering, crashing the net. Van Tetering was able to turn and fire a shot after collecting his own rebound, beating Smith just above his leg pad, short side.
St. Cloud State University head coach Bob Motzko pointed out the sluggish start from the Huskies. “We were ready to play. We weren’t ready to battle,” said Motzko. He pointed out how the Huskies got better as the game went on.
With just over 5 minutes remaining in the first period, a goal from SCSU’s Nick Poehling would cut the lead to two. After Judd Peterson wrapped the puck around the boards, Jake Wahlin picked up the puck and made a spinning, backhand pass to the front of the net, connecting with Poehling for the quick one-timer.
The second period seemed to be slow and uneventful until a couple penalties late in the period helped shake things up.
After roughly a minute and a half of 4-on-4 play, SCSU took advantage of a shortened power play after a goal from defenseman Jimmy Schuldt. The Huskies captain notched his second goal of the season off a one-timer after a pass from teammate Milka Ilvonen, sending the Huskies into the third period down one goal.
After coming out strong in the third period, the Huskies were able to tie the game at three after another goal from Nick Poehling. Husky senior Judd Peterson carried the puck on the left side of the ice into the Nanook zone before passing the puck across the ice to teammate Jack Ahcan, who fired a shot from the top of the circle. Poehling was able to gather the rebound in the slot and slide the puck past Martinsson, using the backhand, giving him his second goal of the game.
Less than a minute after coincidental penalties created a 4-on-4, the Huskies would go on the power play after a match penalty from Nanook senior Tyler Munson. During the five-minute power play, the Huskies were able to capture their first lead of the game following another goal from Schuldt. After a catching a pass in the high slot, Ahcan returned the puck to Schuldt, who fired another one-timer past Martinsson for his second goal of the game. Ahcan finished the game with 3 assists.
Schuldt mentioned how special teams played a big factor for the Huskies in getting the win.
“To have the depth that we have on forward and the guys on the back end who can kill penalties is huge for us,” said Schuldt.
St. Cloud State University finished the game 2-4 on the power play while killing off both of their penalties.
Motzko added how Schuldt was the guy to step up and take control for the Huskies tonight. “There’s your leader… standing in for you when you need some plays,” said Motzko. Schuldt now has two game-winning goals on the season.
With just over three minutes remaining in the game, the Huskies would seal their victory, taking a 5-3 lead after a goal from forward Robby Jackson. With under a second remaining in the game, Jack Poehling would put the cherry on top of the comeback for the Huskies, scoring an empty net goal and giving St. Cloud State University the 6-3 victory and their first home win of the regular season.
SCSU finished the game holding the heavy edge in shots on goal, outshooting the Nanooks 42-25. The Huskies will face off against Alaska-Fairbanks again tomorrow night at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center.
Photo credit Maddie McFarlane