Men’s hockey quiets Gophers Friday

in Local Sports/SCSU Sports/Sports by

The battle between the No.1 Golden Gophers (5-1-0, 0-0-0 B10) and No.7 SCSU Huskies (3-3-0, 0-0-0 NCHC) resulted in an entertaining split between the two old WCHA rivals.

With the home-and-home series kicking off at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center, Husky fans got to see their team take advantage of mistakes, propelling them to a 4-1 victory.

Saturday afternoon produced an overtime game-winner and a hat-trick for Minnesota’s Justin Kloos, leading the Gophers to a 4-3 win.

Friday

The SCSU men’s hockey team got out of their Friday funk that plagued them in the first two series of the season, taking it to the Gophers of Minnesota with a commanding 4-1 victory.

Two SCSU goals in the first period sparked the Huskies and the fans on the Halloween night showdown at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center.

Kalle Kossila ignited the Husky offense, notching his first goal of the season and giving the top line for the Huskies a jolt of energy after a quiet start to the 2014 campaign. Johnny Brodzinski was credit with the assist on the play after dishing out a great pass from the corner to Kossila’s tape in the slot, which resulted in a quick wrist shot that beat Gopher net-minder Adam Wilcox over the glove.

“It feels great to score the opening goal in a game like this,” Kossila said. “It was also the first goal of the game, so it feels good to get the monkey off my back.”

The Huskies struck late in the period to extend their lead to 2-0 over Minnesota, with David Morley banging home a rebound given up after a shot on goal from junior defenseman Ethan Prow. The goal came with just 2.4 seconds remaining on the clock.

The Huskies led on the scoreboard, but had Charlie Lindgren not come out with his hardhat on, the game could’ve gone a completely different direction. Most notably making two massive saves early in the game against a venomous Gopher power play, coming into the series at 35 percent.

“He made key saves in key moments,” head coach Bob Motzko said. “One early in the game when they could’ve got up, but then our power play got one.”

SCSU’s offense cashed in early in the second period, with Brodzinski netting his fourth goal of the season, just 1:12 into the stanza. Freshman Patrick Russell fed Brodzinski a one-timer in his wheelhouse on a three-on-two rush, beating Wilcox low-blocker to give the Huskies the 3-0 lead.

The power play goal by Brodzinski was the first of two on the man-advantage, which was a good sign for the special teams of SCSU that came into the series at just 15 percent.

Joey Benik lit the lamp early in the third period, coming on a five-on-three power play, which gave him his second tally of the season. Kossila and Brodzinski were credited with assists on the play.

Minnesota was down but not out, answering the Benik goal just 1:07 seconds later from the stick of Hudson Fasching. Mike Reilly was credited with the assist on Fasching’s shot that rattled in off the glove side post of Lindgren, spoiling the shutout.

Despite the third period spark of the Gophers, the Huskies held on through the remaining 15 minutes to move their record to (3-2-0, 0-0-0 NCHC) on the gruelingly scheduled season.

Lindgren’s solid performance was topped with a career high 31 saves, with some being of the spectacular variety, giving the Huskies the chance to capitalize on the Gopher miscues, which they did.

The Huskies continued their streak of outshooting every opponent so far into their early schedule, making Wilcox kick back 33 on the evening.

Saturday

The Gophers rallied back from their loss Friday night in St. Cloud, taking game two of the home-and-home series 4-3, in the confines of Mariucci Arena.

SCSU came out of the gates flat footed, getting beat all over the ice, except on the scoreboard. Charlie Lindgren compiled a solid effort in his back-to-back starts and without that effort, the Huskies could’ve saw themselves in an early deficit. Minnesota cracked 12 shots on Lindgren, with SCSU testing Adam Wilcox only twice in the first period.

After surviving the first period, the Huskies couldn’t combat the Gopher offense early in the second period. Justin Kloos was the beneficiary of Minnesota captain Kyle Rau’s great pass on a two-on-one rush that put the Gophers up 1-0 just 12 seconds into the period.

The Huskies rallied back with a blast from Andrew Prochno, marking his second goal of the season, with freshman Judd Peterson grabbing the lone assist on the goal.

SCSU wasn’t finished scoring, taking the 2-1 lead on a power play goal coming from Ethan Prow midway through the second period. Prow’s first goal of the season came on great passing efforts at the top of the umbrella by Kalle Kossila and Jimmy Murray.

Kloos’s efforts didn’t stop after his first goal of the afternoon, scoring with just 12 seconds left in the second period on a wicked wrist shot that beat Lindgren on the blocker side.

Early scoring ensued for the Gophers, with Connor Reilly netting the go-ahead goal just 2:09 into the final period of regulation. Ryan Collins and assistant captain Seth Ambroz got the assists on the goal.

Late third period heroics from SCSU’s Joey Benik brought the Huskies back to life, tying the game at three-a-piece. David Morley got the single assist on the equalizer.

The remainder of the third went scoreless, as the old WCHA rivalry went into overtime.

Early goals continued to be the story for the Gophers, as well as Kloos’s name in the goal column.

Kloos buried any hopes at a Husky sweep just 1:19 into overtime, after receiving a great pass from below the goal-line from Taylor Cammarata. Kloos capitalized on the effort, pumping an uncontested shot from the hash-marks that beat Lindgren high-glove.

Lindgren’s performance was topped with 31 saves, compared to Minnesota’s Adam Wilcox’s 11 on the night.

With the win, the No.1 Gophers take a 54-29-12 lead in the all-time series matchup against the Huskies and move their season record to (5-1-0, 0-0-0 B10). With the loss the No.7 Huskies’ record falls to (3-3-0, 0-0-0 NCHC).

The road ahead doesn’t get much easier for the Huskies, taking on conference opponent No.19 UMD-Bulldogs (4-4-0, 2-2-0 NCHC) Nov. 7 and 8 at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center. The Bulldogs are 2-0 on the road this season, taking down Notre Dame and MSU-Mankato.