All it took was a first period goal from Easton Brodzinski and a little luck from the metal, both on the net and in the referee’s whistle for St. Cloud State to come away with a 2-0 victory at home on Friday night against Bemidji State.
Brodzinski appeared to put the Huskies ahead midway through the first period, deflecting a rebound into the net while on the power play. But the goal was quickly waved off by the referee, who ruled that Brodzinski had kicked the puck into the net.
Just over a minute later, St. Cloud State went back on the power play, and this time, Brodzinski left little room for interpretation, perfectly deflecting a bullet pass across the crease from Ryan Poehling into the net for his sixth goal of the season.
With a one goal lead, St. Cloud State spent the next approximately 45 minutes of game time in a strange limbo of controlling the majority of play, and never feeling particularly threatened by Bemidji State’s offense, but at the same time, only being one unlucky shot from being in a tie game.
Those opportunities for a tying goal from Bemidji State were few, but significant. A late second period penalty called against SCSU’s Robby Jackson put the Beavers on a power play that forced Husky goalie Jeff Smith to make the most difficult of his 32 saves for the shutout, and shortly after Bemidji State defenseman Dillon Eichstadt hit the goal post after one-timing a rebound attempt from the left point.
The Beavers would strike iron again on the opening shift of the third period. Bemidji State goalie Henry Johnson made a pair of dazzling cross-crease saves on well-executed 2-on-1s by the Huskies to keep the score at 1-0, and with just over seven minutes remaining in regulation, the Beavers appeared to break through with a game-tying goal, batting in a rebound off the rush. But the referee, anticipating a frozen puck on the initial save, blew the play dead before the puck could cross the line.
St. Cloud State’s Kevin Fitzgerald would ice the game with just over a minute remaining, scoring from center ice on a vacated net.
- While St. Cloud State didn’t necessarily play with the same intensity that they did last weekend against Denver, this game had a similar feeling of grim inevitability that the Huskies would win, given how they controlled the play. The final shots on goal total, 32-21 in favor of Bemidji State, doesn’t come close to telling the story here. Without seeing the final shot attempts total, it felt like St. Cloud State had the majority of offensive zone time, even if they weren’t generating a lot of shots. Credit Bemidji State for playing smart, hard-working hockey, but the Huskies were clearly a step faster nearly everywhere on the line chart. Bemidji State had a couple decent chances to tie the game, but this game also could have just as easily been much more lopsided.
- It has to be tough for Bemidji State to come out of this game without any sort of result, given that it ended being exactly the type of game they needed to pull off a big upset. They don’t have the offensive firepower to run-and-gun with a team like St. Cloud State in a high-scoring game, but tonight’s low-scoring, high-variance game where all it takes is a lucky or bounce to come away with a tie, or possibly even a win plays to Bemidji State’s strengths. They got the exceptional goal play from Henry Johnson that they needed. They just couldn’t get a puck to sneak through into the net. I wouldn’t call the Beavers a good team, but they’re a very tough team to play against because they force the opposition to really grind out wins.
- With Easton Brodzinski’s power play goal, St. Cloud State went 1-for-3 on the power play tonight, bringing them to 12-for-46(26.1%) on the season. That’s very good—7th in the nation; Harvard leads at 42.3%(!)—and I don’t see that number decreasing as the year continues. The Huskies’ power play has looked great so far this year, especially tonight against a Bemidji State penalty kill that is very aggressive and relies on pressuring the puck. There’s a lot of comfort with their power play units, and their ability to move the puck across the box on the power play creates a lot of dangerous opportunities. Any concerns of how they might fare without Bob Motzko at the helm are gone.