ST. CLOUD – A ten-game unbeaten streak for #10 Western Michigan and a perfect home record for #2 St. Cloud State were put on the line on Friday night.
Something had to give for these two terrific teams, and it was the NCHC-leading Huskies who got the first laugh of this critical series.
Micah Miller scored his first collegiate goal, and David Hrenak made 23 saves with a brilliant effort in net as St. Cloud State defeated Western Michigan 3-0 at Herb Brooks National Hockey Center.
Jack, Ryan and Nick Poehling were put back together on the same line after the Duluth series last weekend, and the three brothers all registered at least one point to help lift the Huskies to the win. Needless to say, they’re pretty happy about being back together.
“It was good to get back together,” Nick said.
The Huskies did well on setting up early chances, but the physical and speedy game of the Broncos neutralized most of their chances for the rest of the first period. On the other end, SCSU held their own defensively as the teams combined for just ten first-period shots.
“That’s a really good Western Michigan team,” said Huskies head coach Brett Larson. “We faced a really tough opponent tonight.”
The Huskies took control of the game in the second period, taking a 1-0 lead just over a minute in as all three Poehling brothers on the second line combined for a goal (Nick from Ryan and Jack). Then Miller put back a rebound near the halfway point of the period.
“[His teammates] were happy for him; there were huge smiles on the bench,” Larson said of his freshman forward scoring for the first time. “To see him finally get rewarded, I know the team is really happy.”
In the meantime, the Broncos didn’t have an answer until they started pushing back in the waning minutes, forcing SCSU goaltender David Hrenak to make some big saves.
“I thought he was great,” Larson said.
Hrenak continued his stellar performance to keep Western Michigan off the board in the third period, and Jack Poehling finished it off with an empty-net goal from the neutral zone with under a minute to go.
After the dust settled, St. Cloud State (16-3-2, 8-1-2-1 NCHC) not only halted Western Michigan’s ten-game unbeaten streak, but they also kept their home record perfect on the season and they put some distance in the NCHC regular-season standings between themselves and the second-place Broncos (13-7-1, 6-4-1-1). While Friday’s victory was nice, the Huskies don’t expect the second game to be any easier.
“In this league, you always have to be better Saturday night, because every team’s gonna make a push,” Larson said. “It’s gonna take our best tomorrow night for sure.”
Puck drop for the second game of the series is scheduled for 6:15 CT on Saturday night.
SCSU goal at 1:09: Nick Poehling (2). Assisted by Ryan Poehling (15) and Jack Poehling (5).
SCSU goal at 9:20: Micah Miller (1). Assisted by Easton Brodzinski (6) and Sam Hentges (6).
SCSU empty-net goal at 19:07: Jack Poehling (4). Unassisted.
Power plays: WMU 0-2, SCSU 0-3.
Shots on goal: WMU 23, SCSU 37.