WeldieBlog: Purple Pain
Two teams dressed in purple. I wanted one team to dominate from the start to finish; never giving any hope. I wanted the other team to get absolutely manhandled; never to stand a chance.
Well, I got what I wished for. But I should have been more specific...
The St. Cloud State men's hockey team fell 5-2 to the Minnesota State Mavericks on Hockey Day Minnesota last Saturday. After starting the season 12-2-1, the Huskies are just 2-3-2 in its last seven games.
Husky goaltender Jeff Smith took the loss to drop to 9-2-3 on the season, but was pulled after giving up three goals on 13 shots. Over the last two starts for Smith, he has allowed seven goals on 31 shots and a 7.78 goals against average in his last two starts.
From the drop of the puck, it was clear the Mavericks weren't going to be denied a victory. They scored just 1:33 into the game on a terrible angle and never looked back. Anytime the Huskies were able to get any momentum, the Mavericks were able to counter-punch.
Minnesota State showed how deadly they can be. The WCHA-leaders were
quicker, battled harder and much more opportunistic throughout the game. The Huskies didn't match the Mavericks' intensity.
Defenseman Daniel Brickley showed why he should be on 31 NHL teams' radar with a two assist performance. He was a calm presence on the blue line and played in all situations.
On the other blue line, it was a rare off-night for the Jimmy Schuldt-Jon Lizotte pairing. Even though Lizotte scored a goal, he was a -2, along with Schuldt on the night.
Minnesota State came out with a plan and and executed it to perfection. They played solid team defense and capitalized on chances. The Huskies had 30 shots on goal, but many of them weren't high quality chances. It was very similar to how St. Cloud was able to become victorious in Mankato
earlier this year.
The big question remains; how do the Huskies right the ship? The team has been spinning its wheels since the break. No more non-conference games remain on the schedule. The Huskies are still in good position in the race for the Penrose Cup, just two points behind Denver with two games in hand.
But this team hasn't looked nearly as sharp has it did early in the season. The depth that has been so helpful early in the season has dried up. For a team that was leading the country in scoring, they have now averaged only 2.81 goals per game since the North Dakota series on December 8th.
The end of the season is an absolute grind and one that will really prepare the Huskies once the NCAA tournament starts. However, we still have a long way to go before we get there.
A trip to Duluth is next, fresh off a sweep of North Dakota and is riding high off a seven game unbeaten streak. The Huskies caught the Bulldogs at a good time when they met in early November. Now, those tables have turned. I'll have more about that series later in the week.
- Hockey Day Minnesota was an absolute pleasure. I only had a few qualms about the event, but they were so minor that they didn't ruin my experience. From the volunteers to the people who planned it and everyone in between, it was a great event.
- I saw the St. Cloud State women's team tie the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs 1-1 and win in the sixth round of the shootout. Both Emma Polusny and Janine Alder shared the net. Alder was perfect in relief, stopping all 21 shots she faced and six attempts in the shootout. Alder was recently announced to the Olympic team for Switzerland and will head to South Korea. Congratulations to Alder. I think we are going to need to make more room for the Olympians wall at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center.