ST. CLOUD – With its NCAA Tournament spot secured and top overall seed likely going with it, all top-ranked St. Cloud State needs to do right now is stay healthy and keep doing what they’ve been doing all season long: scoring.
Five different SCSU skaters scored goals, and the Huskies rolled past the Miami RedHawks 5-2 on Friday night in Game 1 of their NCHC first-round series.
“We were able to respond to adversity well,” SCSU head coach Brett Larson said, referring to an uneven start to the game for his team.
The second line consisting of the three Poehling brothers combined for five points in the contest, all on the first three Huskies goals. It’s safe to say the brothers enjoy playing on the ice together.
“It was fun to see them back together tonight,” Larson said. “They’ve got a chemistry.”
Ben Lown and River Rymsha had goals for Miami, which lost in the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center for the third time this season. Their season is on the line in the Saturday game, and SCSU knows that well.
“It’s definitely gonna be a battle tomorrow,” Nick Poehling said.
Miami came out strong, outshooting St. Cloud State 8-4 through the first half of the game and forechecking well, keeping David Hrenak busy in net. But it was the Huskies and their high-octane offense lighting the lamp first as Nick Poehling got a piece of a Jack Ahcan shot from the left point 3:43 into the contest. SCSU controlled play over the final ten minutes and later added a power-play goal from Robby Jackson on the doorstep to go up 2-0.
Don’t let that score fool you. Larson and the Huskies thought the RedHawks outplayed them through the first 20 minutes.
“Even though we got the lead early, it was kinda their first period,” Larson said.
Miami got back in it with under eight minutes left in the second as Ben Lown deflected an Alec Mahalak shot from the right point just inside the post. The goal held up after a lengthy review.
It didn’t take long for SCSU to reply, though. The three Poehling brothers all combined to restore the two-goal lead for the Huskies as Ryan knocked in a beautiful pass from Nick out in front.
“I think getting that third goal was a big goal for us,” Larson said.
Just 24 seconds into the third period, River Rymsha brought the RedHawks back within one with a blast from the left point. The Huskies answered with a goal from Jack Ahcan three and a half minutes later, and Easton Brodzinski finished it off with a goal with 3:48 remaining.
Hrenak made 23 saves to earn his 21st win of the season for St. Cloud State. Ryan Larkin had 32 for Miami.
Game 2 of the series will start at 6:07 CT on Saturday night as St. Cloud State looks to advance to the Frozen Faceoff for the second straight year.
SCSU goal at 3:43: Nick Poehling (6). Assisted by Jack Ahcan (27) and Jack Poehling (17).
SCSU power-play goal at 17:35: Robby Jackson (16). Assisted by Easton Brodzinski (12) and Blake Lizotte (22).
MU goal at 11:18: Ben Lown (4). Assisted by Alec Mahalak (11) and River Rymsha (5).
SCSU goal at 14:30: Ryan Poehling (8). Assisted by Nick Poehling (10) and Jack Poehling (3).
MU goal at :24: River Rymsha (4). Assisted by Jonathan Gruden (12).
SCSU goal at 3:57: Ahcan (5). Unassisted.
SCSU goal at 16:12: Brodzinski (13). Assisted by Kevin Fitzgerald (6) and Jon Lizotte (7).
Power plays: MU 0-2, SCSU 1-2.
Shots on goal: MU 25, SCSU 37.