ST. CLOUD – Sometimes when you dominate a period and you’re still on the wrong side of the scoreboard, you can get demoralized.
Not if you’re part of a well-coached and determined team like #2 St. Cloud State has been all season long.
Thanks to a four-goal second period, the Huskies completed yet another sweep as they defeated the 10th-ranked Western Michigan Broncos 5-3 on Saturday night at Herb Brooks National Hockey Center.
The way the Huskies dominated the first period and the way they hammered Broncos goaltender Trevor Gorsuch with shot after shot, you’d have expected SCSU to be up by at least a pair of goals.
Nope. Gorsuch, who played very well Friday despite the loss, kept the Huskies off the scoreboard in the first 20 minutes. Dawson DiPietro then gave Western Michigan their first goal – and lead – of the weekend with a backhand shot through the five-hole of Huskies goaltender David Hrenak.
Head coach Brett Larson thought that sticking to the gameplan was the key to not having his team get down on themselves despite dominating the opening 20 minutes and still trailing.
“I was impressed that they didn’t break down,” Larson said. “They stuck with [the gameplan].”
The floodgates opened for St. Cloud State in the second period – and in a hurry. It took just 57 seconds for the Huskies to tie the game as Blake Lizotte, who recently returned from injury and had been pressing hard all weekend, finally got rewarded as he ripped one from the slot and rang it in off the post.
“You could tell he was back,” Larson said. “When he plays that hard, it rubs off on the rest of the team.”
Needless to say, Blake is happy to be back, even if he isn’t 100% yet.
“I kinda felt back to a little bit of myself this weekend,” he said. “The legs are still a little heavy, but I’m getting there.”
Easton Brodzinski later gave SCSU the lead on a power-play tip-in goal, and Micah Miller pushed the lead to two with his second goal of the weekend (and his career). Nolan Walker finally completed the second-period scoring by putting home a loose puck in front.
Western Michigan pulled within two when Jade McMullen scored with eight minutes left in the third, but the Broncos couldn’t pull any closer and Jack Poehling put the game away with an empty-netter with 2:06 to go. A Lawton Courtnall sniper from the left circle completed the scoring for the weekend.
Gorsuch made 23 saves for Western Michigan (13-8-1 overall, 6-5-1 NCHC) before being pulled after two periods. Ben Blacker played the third period and made nine saves. David Hrenak made 15 saves for St. Cloud State (17-3-2, 9-1-2).
A ten-game unbeaten streak is in the rearview mirror now for Western Michigan, and they were leapfrogged in the NCHC standings by Minnesota-Duluth for second place after the Bulldogs swept Miami on the road. WMU can also fall behind Denver depending on how they do against Colorado College on Saturday night.
Western Michigan heads home to host Denver next weekend, while St. Cloud State will travel to North Dakota.
WMU goal at 8:55: Dawson DiPietro (2). Assisted by Colt Conrad (15).
SCSU goal at :57: Blake Lizotte (7). Assisted by Jack Poehling (6).
SCSU power-play goal at 6:17: Easton Brodzinski (10). Assisted by Jimmy Schuldt (11) and Blake Lizotte (11).
SCSU goal at 11:32: Micah Miller (2). Assisted by Jack Poehling (7) and Nick Poehling (7).
SCSU power-play goal at 19:16: Nolan Walker (6). Assisted by Sam Hentges (7) and Jack Ahcan (17).
WMU goal at 12:02: Jade McMullen (3). Assisted by Paul Washe (5) and Kale Bennett (5).
SCSU empty-net goal at 17:54: Jack Poehling (5). Assisted by Ryan Poehling (16).
WMU goal at 19:23: Lawton Courtnall (3). Assisted by Jared Kucharek (3).
Power plays: WMU 0-3, SCSU 2-6.
Shots on goal: WMU 18, SCSU 37.