St. Cloud State came into tonight's game with Western Michigan averaging an astonishing eight goals per game against the Broncos this season. They didn't quite hit that average, but had more than enough offense to cruise to a 7-3 victory and a series sweep over Western Michigan.
It was the Husky power play that put on an offensive show, scoring on each of their first four man advantage opportunities to finish 4-for-5 on the night. The Huskies had seven different goal scorers tonight, while Kalle Kossila and Niklas Nevalainen didn't score, but each had three assists.
The sweep kept the Huskies atop the NCHC standings, three points ahead of North Dakota, though the Fighting Hawks still have two games in hand on the Huskies. North Dakota will make up those two games next weekend when they travel to face Western Michigan, while St. Cloud State will take a break from league action next weekend to compete in the North Star College Cup.
Notes and Thoughts
-Western Michigan came out of the gate with a pretty good start. In fact, they controlled good stretches of the first period, including out-attempting the Huskies 17-12 at even strength. But after the two teams traded power play goals, the Huskies got a fortunate bounce when a Patrick Russell wrist shot deflected off a stick and found the upper corner of the net. The Huskies capitalized on that momentum with another goal 36 seconds later that put them ahead 3-1 and comfortably in control.
-Not that luck had much of anything to do with the result tonight. St. Cloud State is just a really bad match-up for Western Michigan. The Huskies have enough speed and skill that they really neutralize the size advantage that Western Michigan has. The Huskies were basically able to do whatever they wanted offensively tonight, including some really pretty highlight reel plays.
-St. Cloud State's power play is absolutely on fire right now. They are moving the puck around with confidence and generating high-grade scoring chances nearly every time they get possession of the puck. Everyone on their power play is dangerous when they get the puck and they can attack from so many different angles which makes them really tough to defend. Not only did they go 4-for-5 on the power play, but three of those four goals came from their second unit. The Huskies are just so deep offensively that they have a ton of options. Their one empty man-advantage tonight came when they put their third/fourth units on the power play. But even that third unit looked really impressive with guys like Judd Peterson, Robby Jackson, and Will Borgen. There is just so much talent up and down the Husky roster and it is really fun to watch them when they are clicking.
-Western Michigan goalie Lukas Hafner had a tough night allowing seven goals on 32 shots, but also came away from the game with a pair of assists. Hafner now has six assists for his career, with three coming in St. Cloud. Previously, Hafner assisted on a Shane Berschbach game-winning goal in January 2014.
-If I were in charge of hockey, there would be no whistle for playing a puck with a high stick. Either you hit somebody with a high stick and it's a penalty, or you don't and it's a nice skill play. But even with the existing rule, I wasn't a fan of the decision to overturn what appeared to be a fourth Western Michigan goal at the end of the second period. The play, a Western Michigan shot from the point tipped by Sheldon Dries at about the hash marks, called a good goal on the ice was overturned after a very long review. I had a few looks at the replay and didn't see anything overly conclusive. I don't think college hockey needs to work that hard to find ways to disallow goals. There is no need for such a long break to try to find an excuse to disallow that goal.
8:02 Joey Benik from Kalle Kossila and Mikey Eyssimont (power play) 1-0 St. Cloud State
Benik took a pass Kossila at the top of the left circle and fired a low wrist shot that beat Hafner to the blocker side
13:53 Frederik Tiffels from Taylor Fleming and Lukas Hafner (power play) 1-1 tie
Tiffels brought the puck into the zone down the right wing off a rush. He took a wrist shot from the right face-off dot that beat Lindgren to the near side.
16:30 Patrick Russell from Kalle Kossila 2-1 St. Cloud State
Russell came into the zone down the right wing and took a snap shot that deflected of a Western Michigan defenders stick and over the shoulder of Hafner for the goal.
17:06 Nathan Widman from Joey Benik and David Morley 3-1 St. Cloud State
Benik made a pass from deep in the offensive zone out to an open Widman at the center point. He fired a wrist shot that beat Hafner to the glove side.
2:46 Scott Moldenhauer from Frederik Tiffels and Lukas Hafner 3-2 St. Cloud State
Moldenhauer brought the puck deep into the zone down the right wing and with an edge on his defender, made a power move to the net across the crease and slid the puck under Lindgren for his first career goal.
5:05 Mikey Eyssimont from Ethan Prow and Kalle Kossila (power play) 4-2 St. Cloud State
Prow took a shot from the top of the point that hit traffic in front. The rebound landed in front of Eyssimont on the right side of the crease and he put it into the open net.
6:21 Blake Winiecki from Niklas Nevalainen and Jimmy Murray 5-2 St. Cloud State
Winiecki picked up a loose puck in front of the net for the goal.
7:17 Kyle Novak from Matheson Iacopelli 5-3 St. Cloud State
Iacopelli took a shot from the top of the right point. Novak was standing directly in front of Lindgren and redirected the shot between Lindgren's legs for the goal.
11:25 Jimmy Murray from Blake Winiecki and Niklas Nevalainen (power play) 6-3 St. Cloud State
Nevalainen made a nice pass to Winiecki at the right goal crease. Winiecki didn't quite have an angle to put the puck on the net, so he skated around the net and fed a pass to Murray in the slot, who jammed it home for the goal.
3:06 Jimmy Schuldt from Niklas Nevalainen and David Morley (power play) 7-3 St. Cloud State
Schuldt wired a slap shot from the left point that beat Hafner in the upper corner of the net.