ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Saint Cloud State Huskies are always a tough draw; they have only been swept once all season long. The Huskies managed to get points every single weekend this season.
Tonight was no different, as the Fighting Sioux had to work hard to get the win against the Huskies. One can markup tonight’s game as another hard fought epic battle tonight as well.
Coming into tonight’s game, Huskies’ junior goalie Mike Lee has never won a game against the Fighting Sioux in his three seasons with the Huskies, going 0-5-1 during that run. With the 4-1 loss tonight, Lee’s record drops to 0-6-1.
While his junior goalie has yet to win a game against the Fighting Sioux, Saint Cloud State coach Bob Motzko described his goalie, “as a big time goaltender.”
The Huskies and the Sioux play a similar style of play as both teams like to limit the other’s time and space and get into the passing lanes making it difficult to generate scoring opportunities. That rang true tonight. At times the Huskies frustrated the Sioux by clogging up the neutral zone and they also did a good job getting the shooting lanes.
The Fighting Sioux also got in the passing lanes, took away the Huskies time and space and frustrated them as well.
Corbin Knight broke the defensive stalemate at the 7:40 mark of the first period, when the junior center curled in front of the net to center the puck. It went off of the SCSU defenseman Sam Zabkowicz and into the net past Lee.
With Knight in the box for charging, junior forward Ben Hanowski made the Fighting Sioux pay with his 23rd marker of the season.
Fighting Sioux sophomore forward Brock Nelson had been a little bit snake bitten as of late, but was able to get off of the snide with his 24th goal of the season as he snapped a shot over Lee’s blocker.
Motzko was impressed with Nelson’s first goal of the game.
“He’s coming down on his off side, a pretty good hockey player to, I think that’s the player in our league that you’re going to watch play in the NHL for a long time,” Motzko said. “He was able to cut back in the middle of the rink and that is where is he is going to go he is on his offside, kind of one on one and you can keep him on his back hand and you keep him down there, and he was perfect. Our guy crossed his feet over and he stepped back into the middle and was able to make a shot.”
The pesky Huskies wouldn’t go away quietly into the night.
With the Huskies goalie out of the net and pressing hard down low, Nelson would get his second goal of the game and his 25 th goal of the season to ice it.
Fighting Sioux junior goalie Aaron Dell played well, and was the difference in the game stopping 28 of 29 shots.
When it was all said and done, this was a very even game and either team could have won. Motzko agreed.
“It was an extremely hard fought hockey game,” Motzko said. “It was a tough grinding game; it was a great game down on the bench. I don’t know if there were a ton of plays being made…”
With the win tonight, the Fighting Sioux improve to 23-12-3 and jump up to ninth in the PairWise Rankings.
The Fighting Sioux will play the top-seeded Minnesota Gophers in the semifinal game at 7:07 p.m. tomorrow night.
Coach Dave Hakstol seemed excited about the prospects of playing the Minnesota Gophers again.
“I said it yesterday, we are in the greatest venue possible for post season play in college hockey,” Hakstol said.“Saint Paul… the entire town is electric, this building is an awful lot of fun with the number of fans that are in the building, we have an opportunity to play a rival tomorrow night. If you like competition, you will like the game tomorrow.”