ST. CLOUD – St. Cloud State hockey fans have a lot to be excited about this season.if Jimmy Schuldt and the Poehling brothers continue finding the scoresheet.
A Jack Poehling-to-Nick Poehling connection finally won a thrilling back-and-forth game for the Huskies over Alaska Fairbanks, 5-4 in overtime. No. 6 SCSU completed the nonconference sweep with the win and is off to their best start since beginning 4-0 in 2015-16, with one of the wins being over UAF in the Kendall Hockey Classic.
“We didn’t let that get to us; that we were down at certain times,” Ryan Poehling said after the game. “We just kinda kept playing our game.”
The Nanooks, coming off a loss and tie at home against Air Force last week, played hard for the second straight night but ended up being swept in their first visit to St. Cloud since January 1989. First-year head coach Lance West isn’t complaining too much, however.
“I’m proud of our guys. The effort was there; they gutted it out,” West said. “We just have to find ways to learn to finish games off a little bit better.”
The Huskies were dominant early, winning offensive zone battles and drawing first blood on a power-play goal by Schuldt, the fourth of the season for the junior captain defenseman in three games.
But SCSU seemed to take the foot off the gas in the final six minutes of the period after a goal by Ryan Poehling was waved off, and the Nanooks responded with a late wraparound goal by Kylar Hope, who picked up the puck in the neutral zone and beat the defense with good speed up the right wing boards.
The second period wasn’t a pretty one for either team, but Alaska took the lead going into the second intermission on a goal by Ross Heidt, whose backhand shot beat SCSU goaltender David Hrenak over the left shoulder top-shelf.
Despite lackluster play for most of the middle part of the game, Nick Poehling thought he and his teammates remained focused with one period to go.
“[The coaches] just said stick with it,” Nick said. “Keep going, get the puck to the net.”
Robby Jackson tied the game at 1:12 of the third on a snipe from the left circle and Jacob Benson put the Huskies back in the lead when he put away a Clark Kuster rebound in the crease.
The Nanooks, however, weren’t about to go away quietly one night after blowing a 3-0 first-period lead, tying the game just over two minutes later on a Tristan Thompson power-play goal. Then with 3:04 left, Heidt got his second of the game to stun the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center crowd of 4,048.
The Huskies weren’t stunned themselves for long, however, turning on the offensive zone pressure and tying the game with 1:49 remaining on Ryan Poehling’s first goal of the season.
“Roller coaster of emotions,” Nick Poehling said of the third period. “You just gotta stay in it mentally. It was a good period. That was a good learning experience for us.”
Nick finally won it 2:06 into the extra session, coming into the zone 2-on-1 with brother Jack. Jack fed Nick and Nick finished it to give SCSU a sweep.
“I’m giving [Judd Peterson] and Jack all the credit,” Nick said. “All I had to do was put it in the net.”
SCSU (3-0-0) will host Boston College for the first time in program history next week, while Alaska (0-3-1) faces in-state rival Alaska Anchorage in a home-and-home series to begin playing for the Governor’s Cup.
SCSU power play goal at 5:07: Jimmy Schuldt (4). Assisted by Robby Jackson (3) and Mikey Eyssimont (1).
UAF goal at 18:34: Kylar Hope (2). Unassisted.
UAF goal at 18:06: Ross Heidt (1). Assisted by Justin Young (1) and Nick Hinz (1).
SCSU goal at 1:12: Jackson (2). Assisted by Schuldt (3) and Jon Lizotte (1).
SCSU goal at 8:41: Jacob Benson (2). Assisted by Clark Kuster (3) and Luke Jaycox (1).
UAF PP goal at 10:58: Tristan Thompson (2). Assisted by Nikolas Koberstein (1) and Tayler Munson (1).
UAF goal at 16:56: Heidt (2). Assisted by Colton Leiter (3) and Hope (2).
SCSU goal at 18:06: Ryan Poehling (1). Assisted by Jack Ahcan (3) and Mikey Eyssimont (2).
SCSU goal at 2:06: Nick Poehling (3). Assisted by Jack Poehling (1) and Judd Peterson (4).
Power plays: UAF 1-4, SCSU 1-5.
Shots on goal: UAF 26, SCSU 34.