ST. CLOUD – Despite being in 6th place in the rugged NCHC, the Tigers knew they could give the high-powered Huskies a fight.
After all, they gave them a tough challenge in their first meeting back in November in Colorado Springs. Friday night was no exception, and the home record for SCSU is no longer unblemished as a result.
Trevor Gooch and Erik Middendorf each scored and Alex Leclerc made 33 saves, but a third-period goal by Jack Poehling helped top-ranked St. Cloud State salvage a 2-2 tie with gritty Colorado College.
Ryan Poehling later scored in the 3-on-3 overtime to give the Huskies two points in the conference standings, and they now lead second-place Minnesota-Duluth by ten points with just seven games to go (eight for UMD; they’re on a bye this week). It was a very hard-fought and entertaining game, as SCSU coach Brett Larson stated afterwards.
“That was a really good game. I thought it was two teams really getting after it,” Larson said, as his team is now 12-0-1 in the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center this season. “We knew it was gonna be a battle.”
St. Cloud State got off to a fast start, going up 1-0 just 1:17 into the game as a Jack Ahcan wrister from the top of the left circle was tipped in out front by Nick Poehling. But Colorado College wasn’t down for long, tying it on a Gooch goal out in front before Middendorf tipped home a Cole McCaskill shot from the left point perfectly from the slot to give the Tigers the lead. A few defensive breakdowns by SCSU led to CC getting most of the chances they did in the first 20 minutes.
Colorado College did a tremendous job of tying St. Cloud up whenever the Huskies got their forecheck going, and that continued into the third period until Jack Poehling finally tied it with a wrister from the slot with just under 12 minutes left.
“Just stick with it,” Larson said when asked about how SCSU was finally able to break through the CC defense. “You just gotta keep playing your game. The big thing was just not to get mentally rattled. I think the guys did a good job of that.”
A big reason SCSU was able to fight back for the equalizer was all the battles they were winning in the CC zone. While scoring chances were limited for the Huskies for much of the night, the late board battles they were winning slowly but surely put the Tigers on their heels.
“They’re so dangerous off the rush. Winning those puck battles and making their forwards defend to tire them out before they can go on the rush was key for us,” Larson said.
David Hrenak made 23 saves for St. Cloud State.
The Tigers (11-13-4 overall, 5-8-3-0 NCHC) and Huskies (20-4-3, 12-2-3-2) will finish their conference series with a 6:07 CT puck drop on Saturday night.
SCSU goal at 1:17: Nick Poehling (3). Assisted by Jack Ahcan (19).
CC goal at 6:02: Trevor Gooch (9). Unassisted.
CC goal at 9:38: Erik Middendorf (6). Assisted by Cole McCaskill (4) and Ben Copeland (9).
SCSU goal at 8:17: Jack Poehling (7). Assisted by Ryan Poehling (20) and Spencer Meier (7).
Power plays: CC 0-3, SCSU 0-2.
Shots on goal: CC 25, SCSU 35.