ST. CLOUD – It seems nowadays, you can never count out the Huskies with the deep, powerful offense they have. Even with a very good Pioneers team as their opposition.
Faced with a two-goal deficit early in the second period, #2 St. Cloud State (8-1-0, 3-0-0 NCHC) didn’t bat an eye and promptly stormed back with three unanswered goals to take down #5 Denver (5-1-1, 2-1-0 NCHC) 4-3 on Friday night at Herb Brooks National Hockey Center.
“Our team just showed a ton of character and made it through a really tough point in the game, and I thought from there on we just got better and better,” Huskies coach Brett Larson said. “I’ve gotta give Denver a lot of credit; I think [DU head coach David Carle] is doing a really good job there. That’s a team that lost a ton of skill from last year, and you hardly notice it.”
Three freshmen forwards lit the lamp for DU, but they didn’t have an answer for SCSU’s offense after building their two-goal lead, and they lost for the first time this season.
The Pioneers drew first blood nearly halfway through the first period as Cole Guttman, a former St. Cloud commit, wristed one from the slot while being shadowed by SCSU players and beat David Hrenak, who was late reacting to the shot, down low.
But it didn’t take long for the Huskies to respond. Ryan Poehling sped into the Denver zone up the left wing and dished it to Nolan Walker on the backdoor just 1:13 later to tie it.
“I was able to get around their defenseman-just drove the net hard and I was able to get a stick on it,” he said.
DU reclaimed their one-goal lead with three minutes left in the period as Brett Stapley, who had just finished serving a holding penalty, broke away, came in and deked Hrenak twice before depositing the puck into the net on his forehand.
The Pioneers wasted no time in doubling their advantage, getting a power-play goal from Emilio Pettersen early in the second to go up 3-1. But SCSU and their high-powered offense weren’t about to panic.
“The message all year has been, ‘Let’s just keep playing our game,’” Larson said. “We felt even though we were down 3-1, we were playing well. We thought it was just a really good, fast pace. We just asked them to keep playing the way they were playing.”
Less than a minute after the Pettersen goal, Walker got another tip-in goal to bring it back within one. Walker later found Patrick Newell on a great pass and Newell buried it for his team-leading seventh of the year to tie it again, and Jimmy Schuldt finally completed the second-period rally on a power-play goal from the right circle. Just like that, the offense was cruising and the Huskies suddenly had the lead.
Denver made a late push with the extra attacker and their first sustained pressure of the period, but fell short. Still, for a while their style of play was working, and St. Cloud State expects more of the same on Saturday night.
“They play a lot like us; they’re a fast-paced team,” Walker said. “They’re a really good team and it’s gonna be another great game tomorrow.”
Hrenak made 21 saves for the Huskies, and Devin Cooley stopped 35 shots for the Pioneers.
The two teams conclude their conference series at 6:07 CT on Saturday night.
DU goal at 9:21: Cole Guttman (3). Assisted by Jarid Lukosevicius (4).
SCSU goal at 10:34: Nolan Walker (4). Assisted by Ryan Poehling (6) and Robby Jackson (8).
DU goal at 17:01: Brett Stapley (2). Unassisted.
DU power-play goal at 1:35: Emilio Pettersen (4). Assisted by Stapley (5) and Ian Mitchell (8).
SCSU goal at 2:14: Walker (5). Assisted by Brendan Bushy (3) and Ryan Poehling (7).
SCSU goal at 9:07: Patrick Newell (7). Assisted by Walker (6) and Nick Perbix (5).
SCSU power-play goal at 17:50: Jimmy Schuldt (2). Assisted by Jackson (9) and Blake Lizotte (5).
Power plays: DU 1-3, SCSU 1-5.
Shots on goal: DU 24, SCSU 39.