It was a slow start for second-ranked St. Cloud State, but the Huskies controlled the second half of the game on their way to a very convincing 5-2 victory over Boston College on Friday night at the National Hockey Center.
Boston College struck first when Logan Hutsko scored the only goal of the opening frame with a tip-in on the power play. The Eagles seemed in control of the game when Christopher Brown extended that lead to 2-0 early in the second period.
But the Huskies found a spark when freshman Kevin Fitzgerald scored his first collegiate goal at 10:48 of the second period, tapping in a puck sitting on the goal line after a blast by Jimmy Schuldt snuck through Boston College goalie Ryan Edquist. They evened the game 1:22 later when Jack Poehling put back a rebound off the back boards to even the game.
Tied heading into the third period, the Huskies completely dominated the rest of the game, drawing five minor penalties against Boston College and outshooting the Eagles 19-4 in the frame. Jack Ahcan provided the eventual game-winner on the second of those power plays, wristing a puck through traffic from the top of the point. Robby Jackson added another power play goal and Nick Poehling capped off the victory with an empty-net goal.
Shots on goal for the game were 47-20 in favor of St. Cloud State. St. Cloud State’s Jeff Smith stopped 18 shots for the victory, while Minnesota native Ryan Edquist stopped 42 shots in the losing effort.
The two teams meet again on Saturday evening at 7pm to complete their weekend series.
Notes and Thoughts
-This isn’t exactly a classic Boston College team. There are a lot of nice players, but they sorely lack some of the high-end star power they have had in years past. But it was still extremely impressive the way St. Cloud State ground them down throughout the game.
In the first half of the game, I thought the Boston College defense was terrific in terms of limiting St. Cloud State to one opportunity and then done. The Huskies couldn’t really establish themselves in the offensive zone. But St. Cloud State is so deep that they just keep coming with all four lines, and by the third period, Boston College couldn’t get the puck out of their own zone. Penalty-after-penalty didn’t help the Eagles in the third, but most of those came as a result of St. Cloud State winning races to pucks and putting the Eagles in a bad position.
-I don’t think it would have mattered, because it felt like a third goal was coming regardless, but St. Cloud State’s game-winning goal came on a power play from a too many men penalty, immediately after the Eagles had killed off a penalty. It’s a real killer to go right back on the kill after killing one off.
-The scary thing is that I don’t think this was an A+ offensive performance from St. Cloud State. The power play was quite sloppy most of the night. So they’ve still got another gear they can hit. This is a really good team.
-Multi-point nights from both Jimmy Schuldt—who is now tied for the national lead in scoring by a defenseman—and Ryan Poehling. Schuldt continues to play sensational hockey. Poehling is interesting. He’s over a point-per-game now through four games, which is certainly the type of production Montreal was hoping he’d have in his second year after drafting him in the first round. I’m still not seeing a lot of high-end skill, but he makes up for it with incredible compete level. He just out-works guys to keep pucks alive and make plays.
-Obviously Jimmy Schuldt has a cannon shot from the point, but Robby Jackson might be one of the best shooters in college hockey too. Jackson shoots the puck while in stride really, really well, which gives him a quick release that is tough for a goalie to pick-up. This was the third straight game he has beaten a goalie cleanly from the top of the circles with a snap shot. Tonight’s happen to go off the cross bar, but that’s something not many guys in college hockey can do.
Logan Hutsko from Casey Fitzgerald and Graham McPhee (power play) 1-0 Boston College
Fitzgerald held the puck at the top of the point on the power play and fired a quick shot/pass to the right side of the crease, where Hutsko was able to tip it over the shoulder of Smith for the goal.
4:10 Christopher Brown from Connor Moore and Jacob Tortora 2-0 Boston College
After a scoring chance for St. Cloud State on one end of the ice, the Eagles brought the puck down the ice on a 4-on-2 rush. Moore passed the puck towards the center of the ice, where it deflected through traffic. Brown found the loose puck and put it into the net.
10:48 Kevin Fitzgerald from Jimmy Schuldt and Ryan Poehling 2-1 Boston College
Schuldt took a big slap shot from the left point. The shot leaked through Edquist and sat just shy of the goal line. Fitzgerald was the first to the loose puck and pushed it into the net for his first collegiate goal.
12:10 Jack Poehling from Judd Peterson and Will Borgen 2-2 Tie
Peterson cut into the slot from the left wing of a rush. He just missed the net with a heavy wrist shot, but Poehling caught the rebound off the back boards and one-timed it back into the net from the left side of the crease.
7:18 Jack Ahcan from Blake Lizotte and Ryan Poehling (power play) 3-2 St. Cloud State
Ahcan took a wrist shot from the top of the point that beat Edquist through traffic.
13:22 Robby Jackson from Jimmy Schuldt (power play) 4-2 St. Cloud State
A mad scramble in front of the net forced Edquist to fall backwards into his own goal. The puck popped out to Schuldt, who passed it to Jackson and he was able to shoot it in before Edquist could recover.
19:29 Nick Poehling from Will Borgen and Blake Lizotte (empty net) 5-2 St. Cloud State
Poehling shot the puck into an empty net from just behind the blue line to seal the game.