ST. CLOUD – By finishing off the RedHawks in the conference playoffs, the Huskies can now proudly say they went the whole season without losing once at home.
Easton Brodzinski scored twice and assisted on the game-winning goal by Sam Hentges to help top-ranked St. Cloud State beat Miami 6-3 on Saturday night, sweeping the NCHC quarterfinal series and advancing to the Frozen Faceoff for the fourth time in the last five seasons.
Hentges also added two assists for the Penrose Cup champions, who scored four times in the third period to put the game out of reach and finish a remarkable 17-0-1 on home ice for the regular season and postseason. It may never have happened had they not killed a long penalty late in the second period.
“I’m proud of our guys,” said SCSU head coach Brett Larson, who improved to 29-4-3 in his first season in charge. “Obviously if we don’t kill off that five-minute major and the brief 5-on-3, it could be a totally different game.”
Karch Bachman had two goals for Miami, which saw their season end in the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center for the second straight season. The RedHawks conclude with an overall record of 11-23-4 after another last-place finish in the NCHC.
St. Cloud looked good coming out of the gates in contrast to Friday’s game, but Ryan Larkin was up to the challenge early in the Miami net. Then the RedHawks seized momentum by scoring first as a Ryan Poehling neutral-zone turnover led to a rush and a goal by Bachman.
“That resiliency – there was no panic on the bench,” Larson said when asked about how his team withstood Miami’s desperate push in trying to keep their season alive. “The guys were just positive and pushing each other.”
SCSU used their powerful offense to take momentum back, scoring twice in the first six minutes of the second period. Easton Brodzinski tied it after the Huskies did a great job of holding the zone on a long shift. Then Jimmy Schuldt banked a centering feed off a Miami skate and in shortly after to put St. Cloud State up 2-1 and get the crowd electrified.
Miami wasn’t going away that easily. After killing a penalty, Bachman tied it with his second goal of the game. SCSU forward Spencer Meier then was tossed from the game after checking from behind, then a Nick Poehling boarding gave Miami a 5-on-3 power play for 1:13. The Huskies were able to get the long kill after clearing the zone several times, and just like that momentum was back on their side.
“Everybody says if you kill off a five-minute penalty, you’re winning the game,” Brodzinski said. “Everything was going our way after that.”
Jackson gave SCSU the lead 49 seconds into the third period. After a Patrick Newell wraparound attempt sailed through the crease in front of Larkin, it went right to Jackson, who threw it on net and into Larkin’s pad. Play continued after the referees signaled no goal, but Jackson knew right away he had scored, and he made sure to let the coaching staff know. It was eventually ruled a goal after the replay showed the puck across the goal line with the pad inside the line as well.
“I saw it go over the line,” Jackson said. “I was confident, 100%.”
Brian Hawkinson had another answer for MU, tying the game after a Scott Corbett shot rang off the post and sat in the crease beside SCSU goaltender David Hrenak before Hawkinson knocked it in with a backhand shot.
Hentges scored the eventual game-winner with 13:18 remaining, burying a beautiful one-timer feed from Brodzinski. Brodzinski and Blake Lizotte added insurance goals over the final 8:48.
Hrenak had 18 saves for the Huskies, and Larkin finished with 39 for the RedHawks.
St. Cloud State will be appearing in the NCHC Frozen Faceoff for the second straight time next week at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Their opponent is yet to be determined.
MU goal at 6:23: Karch Bachman (9). Assisted by Derek Daschke (16).
SCSU goal at 4:32: Easton Brodzinski (14). Assisted by Sam Hentges (9).
SCSU goal at 5:55: Jimmy Schuldt (10). Assisted by Robby Jackson (20) and Blake Lizotte (23).
MU goal at 11:53: Bachman (10). Assisted by Ben Lown (5) and Alec Mahalak (12).
SCSU goal at :49: Jackson (17). Assisted by Patrick Newell (23) and Schuldt (23).
MU goal at 4:38: Brian Hawkinson (3). Assisted by Scott Corbett (5) and Grant Hutton (14).
SCSU goal at 6:42: Hentges (10). Assisted by Brodzinski (13).
SCSU goal at 11:12: Brodzinski (15). Assisted by Hentges (10).
SCSU empty-net goal at 17:27: Blake Lizotte (14). Assisted by Jackson (21) and Newell (24).
Power plays: MU 0-3, SCSU 0-5.
Shots on goal: MU 21, SCSU 45.