WeldieBlog: Frustrating Weekend For Huskies
There are some series where things just don’t go your way. You feel like the team is just one bounce away for taking it over.
This was not one of those series.
The St. Cloud State men’s hockey team got away from its game and eventually got swept last weekend against the University of Denver by scores of 4-2 and 5-1, respectively to fall to 7-2 on the season. They fell behind in both games and weren’t able to climb back, like they have in previous games this season.
Mika Ilvonen scored the first of his career as a Husky, Blake Winiecki finally got in the goal column this season on Friday. Kevin Fitzgerald was the lone goal scorer in the Saturday match-up.
It was a very uncharacteristic weekend for the Huskies. Maybe it was due to the first road series of the season or playing a ticked-off Denver squad that collapsed in both games against Western Michigan, but Denver was much more aggressive all weekend and the Huskies were unable to adapt.
Denver forward Henrik Borgstrom scored another highlight reel goal to open the scoring Friday on a beautiful assist from Troy Terry. Borgstrom was able to use his reach to get around Husky defenseman Jimmy Schuldt, cut in front of Jeff Smith and hit top shelf from right in front of the crease. Borgstrom has the ability to make some plays look straight out of an NHL game (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2S37kVnb5e8).
The biggest story of Friday’s tilt was Mikey Eyssimont’s disallowed goal in the third. Judd Peterson came behind the net, got hit, and Eyssimont put it behind Denver goalie Tanner Jaillet to seemingly cut the lead to 3-2. After a lengthy review, the referees determined that Peterson interfered with Jaillet’s ability to make the save. Per the rule, the offending player has to make an effort to avoid contact even when being pushed. They determined Peterson didn’t do enough to avoid making contact with Jaillet.
I have two problems with this. First, I feel this is a case of looking for a reason to overturn a goal. If it isn’t clear right away, then the call on the ice should stand. I feel that is basic review policy. Slow motion can be very key in come situations, but when it comes to plays with contact, slow motion ALWAYS makes things look worse than they are. When Peterson got hit while making a move to the net, he hardly has time to try to avoid Jaillet. Peterson got hit right next to the crease. When the referees take a second look and slow it down, it can look like Peterson didn’t do enough to avoid contact.
Secondly, waving off these types of goals makes it tough for new fans to understand what is or isn’t a goal. It doesn’t help that the announcers on the Denver feed kept saying ‘it could have gone either way.’ If it truly ‘could have gone either way’, that doesn’t sound like it’s enough to overturn. It needs to be clear. I compare it to football. I have no clue what is or isn’t a catch. Now, I’m starting to be confused with what is or isn’t a goal. Since that is the main premise of the game, we shouldn’t make that aspect more complicated.
This was just an instance where I didn’t think it was clear and the goal should have stood because that was the call on the ice. There wasn’t definitive proof to overturn the call. If they waived it off initially, I would feel the same way.
Huskies would continue to pressure after the overturned goal and get that goal back with 1:02 left in the game, but Borgstrom would add an empty netter to win 4-2.
Saturday’s game was ugly for the Huskies from start to finish. It was clear that Denver was the more aggressive team and the Huskies didn’t know how to handle that pressure.
Frustration mounted and eventually boiled over for the Huskies. They uncharacteristically took 12 penalties for 38 minutes, including two separate five-minute majors. Schuldt was kicked out of the game in the second for checking from behind. Easton Brodzinski served the penalty, then took a five-minute major of his own for boarding one minute into the third. I was surprised he wasn’t booted from the game as well.
It’s hard to beat terrible teams, let alone a great one, when you take that many penalties. It got so physical that Denver coach jim Montgomery took out Jaillet with 2:14 left in the third and put in freshman Devin Cooley to finish the game.
Not sure if it was the goalie switch (uncommon in hockey to do in that situation) or the physicality of the game (both teams were starting to take extra shots at each other), but Huskies coach Bob Motzko and Montgomery got into a shouting match on the ice during the handshakes. I’ll be interested to hear what Motzko has to say about the confrontation, but I don’t think he will elaborate on the cause.
Whatever the reason, Motzko has a right to be frustrated with how the weekend turned out. The Huskies had trouble connecting passes and putting together a simple breakout. Couple that with Denver’s aggressiveness on the forecheck, it made for a very long weekend.
The Huskies also had trouble getting any momentum on the power play, going 1-for-11 on the weekend. On the other side, Denver went 4-for-9 on the power play. In both games, the Pioneers were able to capitalize on a power play on a clean sheet of ice in key moments. Jarid Lukosevicius scored at the beginning of the third on Friday to extend the lead to 3-1, while Adam Plant scored the first goal of the game in the second period on Saturday. The Huskies don’t get dominated in special teams often, but they did this series.
I know this seems like a very negative post, but there is a silver lining to all of this. I would feel crushed if the Huskies played great games and just came up short. That would mean the team is not nearly as close as fans thought to being a contender. But losing in a way where it seems like the Huskies weren’t playing the game it likes to play makes it a little easier to swallow. These are all correctable mistakes and a good learning experience.
I thought Robby Jackson had an amazing weekend. He assisted on all three goals for the Huskies and showed tremendous vision with his passes. He is turning into a dynamic player.
The return series doesn’t happen until the last home series of the year on February 23-24. It will be interesting to see if the Huskies anticipate the Pioneers’ aggressive forecheck and penalty kill and able be able to get up early.
Maybe it’s a good thing to get the ‘undefeated’ narrative out of the way. Obviously, Motzko would have loved the weekend to go differently, but losing to the defending national champions on the road isn’t what anyone would consider a ‘bad loss’. They know what they have to work on and I’ll expect Motzko’s crew will be ready this weekend.
Looking again, the Huskies play host this weekend against the Colorado College Tigers. I’ll preview that series later in the week. This isn’t last year’s Tigers.
Feel free to follow me on Twitter @MoarClappers and reach out for your comments and/or concerns with this year's team.