WeldieBlog: Huskies Post Convincing Sweep
Currently, the Titanic rests about 12,500 feet below sea level.
I think I can make the argument the Huskies are deeper than that.
The St. Cloud State men’s hockey team vaulted into first place in the NCHC with a sweep of the Omaha Mavericks by scores of 7-4 and 5-0 last weekend in Omaha.
Jake Wahlin and Mikey Eyssimont both had magnificent weekends. Wahlin had three goals and two assists, while Eyssimont added two goals and three assists. Fifteen different members of the cardinal and black registered a point over the weekend.
Friday’s game had a fair share of scares. The Huskies were up 5-2 in the second and seemingly in control of the game when the wheels started to come off. The Huskies were down to five defenseman after Jon Lizotte blocked a shot and wouldn’t return for the rest of the game. Nick Poehling also took a shot to the skate in the second and was slow to get off the ice. However, he was able to return.
Omaha, helped by a carryover penalty from the second to the third, revved up the intensity. David Pope scored just 43 seconds into the third and Zach Jordan added another about three-and-a-half minutes later to make it a one-goal game at five to four.
The Huskies were able to weather the storm and Wahlin popped one in from in sharp angle late in the third to regain control. The Huskies were outshot 15-5 in the third.
This game was classic fire wagon hockey. There was a lot of back-and-forth, but not a lot of defensive structure. While that made very fun for the average fan, can’t imagine the coaches loved it.
Jeff Smith made 40 saves and earned the win to move to 7-1 on the season.
I questioned if Jon Lizotte would be able to play in the rematch. Usually, when a player goes down and doesn’t return in the Friday game, he is out for Saturday’s as well. I also thought Patrick Newell would be in for Nick Poehling for him to heal after his blocked shot. Those injuries really hurt the next day and St. Cloud has the depth to compete with any lineup.
Well, I was wrong on both accounts. Jon Lizotte was able to suit up and a different Poehling sat. Ryan Poehling, the first-round center, had a strong game Friday, but sat due to an undisclosed injury. He will be a big loss if he is out long-term, not only for the Huskies but for Team USA’s chances to repeat for gold at the World Junior Championships that start after Christmas.
It was a good thing Jon Lizotte was able to play, because I think he played his best game of the season. He has a goal and an assist and finished a plus-3 and was a rock in the defensive end.
Huskies coach Bob Motzko went back to his goalie rotation for Saturday’s game. David Hrenak played very well to earn the shutout victory, stopping 40 shots in the process. Hrenak did a good job diverting rebounds to the corners or keeping pucks right in front of him for an easy cover. He looked much more composed than his 5-1 loss he took at Denver.
Saturday’s game was much different than Friday’s. The game was at a much more controlled pace. As the game went on, the Huskies depth was too much to overcome as five different players notched a goal. Goals were scored
It was great to see Wahlin bust out for a great series. He’s been playing well all season, but just hasn’t been converting on his chances. It was only a matter of time before he gets off his slump and he burst out in a big way.
This blog entry can go on and on with accolades about the Huskies from top to bottom. Smith came up with some key saves on Friday while the Huskies were reeling in the third. The Huskies defense was able to keep a lot of shots against Hrenak on Saturday toward the perimeter, but in the few instances that required a big save, he was up to the task. Jimmy Schuldt had a stellar game on Saturday in all facets of the game. The Huskies were 56-28 on the faceoff dot.
The Huskies have highest scoring offense in college hockey, averaging 4.53 goals per game. Both Robby Jackson and Jack Poehling (both scored on Saturday) are tied with the team lead with six goals each. Thirteen games into the season, you’d think a team that leads the nation in scoring would have a player near the top in goal scoring.
In fact, there are 49 players (on 34 different teams) with more goals than the top goal scorers on the Huskies. But the puck has been distributed very well and ten players have four or more goals on the season.
The offense has been absolutely rolling since the Huskies were swept in Denver, scoring 23 goals in the last four games (all conference games).
With Western Michigan getting swept at North Dakota, that means the Huskies have now jumped into first place in the conference. North Dakota is second just one point behind the Huskies. That makes this weekend’s match-up all the more enticing.
I’ll preview the big tilt later in the week and probably an update on the status of Ryan Poehling. North Dakota has a bit of a different make than previous models, but the results have been the same. Tickets look limited for Saturday’s game, but looks like some is still available for Friday. It’s going to be a terrific series.
This blog is the opinion of Travis Weldon, College hockey fan and frequent guest of Granite City Sports. You can read more from Travis on Twitter @MoarClappers.