Not Again: Huskies Fall In NCAA Tourney Opener
The #1 ranked St. Cloud State men's hockey team was once again shocked in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, losing 2-1 to #16 seeded American International College at Scheels Arena in Fargo, North Dakota in front of 4,220 fans.
The Huskies came out hot for their first couple of shifts, but the Yellow Jackets responded with some offense of their own, which eventually led to them taking an early 1-0 lead.
After AIC sophomore Brennan Kapcheck’s shot was deflected past SCSU goalie David Hrenak and off of the crossbar at 5:21, senior Joel Kocur snuck a puck between Hrenak’s pad and the post for an improbable 1-0 lead just a minute later.
The Huskies had a hard time generating much offense in the first period due to some sloppy passing and solid defense by the Yellow Jackets. SCSU had a brief power play chance shortly after the goal, but did not manage a shot before they took a penalty of their own.
Shots on goal were even at six after the first period.
St. Cloud State was awarded another power play early in the second period, but could not capitalize on their two great chances, including a setup to Blake Lizotte on the back door that was stymied by AIC goaltender Zackarias Skog. The Yellow Jackets’ lead grew to 2-0 when Kapchek flicked a wrist shot five-hole that trickled past Hrenak and into the back of the net at 7:32 of the second period.
The Huskies got a third power play chance at 9:31 of the second, but again came away empty-handed. Shortly after the power play, Nick Poehling was robbed by Skog on a snap shot at point-blank range to keep the score 2-0.
SCSU outshot AIC 13-4 in the second, and 19-10 through two periods total, but still hadn’t solved Skog.
St. Cloud State came out of the gates firing to start the third period with a trio of quality scoring chances in the first :45 seconds, and finally broke through at 9:27 on a power play when Easton Brodzinski flipped a puck from the corner that pinballed off of two defenders and past Strong.
St. Cloud heavily outshot AIC in the third period (15-3), including a desperate rally with an extra attacker on the ice for the final minute, but the Huskies could not find the answer in another stunning postseason loss.