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St. Cloud State Extends Win Streak to Seven with Sweep of Minnesota Duluth

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st. cloud bench (Bob Motzko)

ST. CLOUD – No matter the circumstances or the time of day, No. 2 St. Cloud State continues to get it done-and with some outstanding offense, too.

Five different Huskies had goals for the second consecutive night as SCSU routed the No. 8 Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs 5-0 on Saturday afternoon/evening at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center, sweeping their in-state rival for the first time since February 14-15, 2014 in St. Cloud.

“It was a great weekend for us,” Huskies head coach Bob Motzko said. “There are a lot of things we did well-special teams, great penalty kill, two power play goals. We’ll accept it and move on.”

In a rare 4:00 P.M. start, the Huskies (2-0 NCHC, 7-0 overall) jumped out early against a shorthanded Bulldogs team and continued their best start to a season since beginning 9-0 in 2001-02. It is also the team’s longest winning streak since winning nine in a row in 2009-10.

“Winning seven games is a very good stretch,” Motzko said. “But it’s early.”

Another pleasant surprise for SCSU had to be freshman goaltender David Hrenak. The Slovakia native, who was informed after Friday’s game that he would start Saturday after a shaky performance by Jeff Smith, had his first career shutout in just his third career game, stopping all 29 Bulldogs shots he saw.

“Two weeks in a row, he’s looked very solid in there,” Motzko said. “You just keep building on it.”

Despite the six-hour time difference between the Central Time Zone and the time zone in Slovakia, Hrenak, who is now 3-0 on the year, believes his family watched the game-and of course are very proud of him.

“They are the best-they try and watch every game if possible,” he said. “I’m really thankful.”

And his plans for the puck commemorating his outstanding game?

“I have all my first shutouts. I will bring it home after [the] season,” he said. “My parents will be excited.”

An injury-depleted UMD team (0-2, 4-4-2), missing players like Avery Peterson, Jarod Hilderman, Joey Anderson and Mikey Anderson, simply had no answer for a deep Huskies team all game long despite pressing hard all game long, and they left St. Cloud without a victory for the first time since that 2014 sweep. They had swept three straight series in St. Cloud.

“We learned another lesson this weekend,” Bulldogs head coach Scott Sandelin said. “For a lot of our players it was their first time against a really good team in a tough building, so hopefully they got some good experience out of it and it’s a good learning process for all of us.

“We got a lot of guys some experience, some guys got to experience what this league is really about but like last night I thought our team competed and played hard.”

UMD suffered their first sweep since December 11-12, 2015 when they were blanked in a pair of 3-0 home losses to North Dakota. The December 12 game was also the last time Duluth suffered a shutout loss.

The Huskies got off to a strong start, forechecking early and getting two first-period power-play goals on just two shots. The first one came halfway through the first on a Jacob Benson power play goal. Then the lead doubled to two late in the period on another power play tally as Mikey Eyssimont lined a beautiful wrister top-shelf from the right circle. Eyssimont added an assist later.

While Eyssimont believes he isn’t at the top of his game right now, he thinks it will come back to him eventually, and a two-point night for the junior forward is a good start.

“It’s definitely coming for me individually. I’m calling it progress,” Eyssimont said. “I’m not where I want to be coming into the year, but as long as we keep doing this, everything’s good.”

SCSU kept pouring it on in the second period. Just as UMD looked like they were ready to cut their deficit in half on a power play, Robby Jackson ended any chance of that with a shorthanded goal, then Blake Winiecki and Jack Poehling added goals to put the game completely out of reach.

Shepard made 11 saves on 15 shots before being pulled from the game after the Winiecki goal. Nick Deery made 10 saves on 11 shots in relief.

Minnesota-Duluth doesn’t have long to lick its wounds as a potent Western Michigan team comes to visit next weekend. St. Cloud State, likely to be ranked No. 1 by Monday, visits the current top-ranked team in the Denver Pioneers next weekend in a huge early-season NCHC clash.

“That sets up as a pretty big weekend,” Motzko said. “They are the best team in the country. It’s gonna be a great challenge for us.”

Scoring summary:

First period:

SCSU power play goal at 9:49: Jacob Benson (4). Assisted by Blake Winiecki (1) and Mikey Eyssimont (5).

SCSU PP goal at 18:50: Eyssimont (2). Assisted by Benson (2) and Jack Ahcan (6).

Second period:

SCSU shorthanded goal at 10:57: Robby Jackson (4). Unassisted.

SCSU goal at 13:16: Blake Winiecki (1). Assisted by Will Borgen (2) and Patrick Newell (3).

SCSU goal at 17:37: Jack Poehling (5). Assisted by Jack Ahcan (2) and Newell (4).

Third period:

No scoring.

Power plays: UMD 0-6, SCSU 2-3.

Shots on goal: UMD 29, SCSU 26.