ST. CLOUD, Minn. — Poor Lee Brooks. His mates on the St. Cloud State forward lines had all the fun without him.
Brooks was the only Huskies forward held without a point Saturday night, as St. Cloud put up a 10-spot in a 10-1 exhibition victory over Brandon of Manitoba before 5,227 at the National Hockey Center.
Ryan Malone and Matt Hendricks scored two apiece — one each coming off impressive moves — and Jake Moreland looked impressive in relief of goaltender Dean Weasler.
Huskies coach Craig Dahl, though, couldn’t help but notice his freshmen. That’s probably because he wanted to see what they could do. He was pleasantly surprised.
The third line of Mike Doyle, Peter Szabo and Dave Iannazzo accounted for two goals and five assists.
“We wanted to get those freshmen some game experience, with the crowd there and the lights,” Dahl said. “I was very pleased with Iannazzo, Szabo, Doyle and [defenseman] Matt Gens. I thought they did a great job.”
It didn’t hurt that the Huskies had a substantial speed advantage over the Bobcats, who play in the Canada West Universities Athletic Association, but Hendricks and Motzko turned that into a pair of dazzling offensive plays.
Hendricks went first, turning good defense into solid offense in a hurry. In his end of the ice, he deflected a pass back to the point off the boards and out of the zone. He then blew past the Bobcats defender and caught up to the puck, turning it into a breakaway and a 5-1 lead late in the second period.
“I was moving forward and [the defenseman at the point] was flatfooted,” Hendricks said. “When that puck came up, I was able to tip it by him because I knew I would be able to get there before him.”
While the promise of every Huskies offensive burst in this game was tempered with a, “Well, it’s an exhibition game,” Dahl knows it was a good sign that a player that scored just two goals in 37 games last season got off to a fast start.
“Hendy had a hard time scoring last year,” Dahl said, “so to see him get two in the first game is a big thing for him.”
Motzko’s third-period goal, his second of the night, rivaled Hendricks’ for top honors in the play-of-the-game category. The junior weaved his way in and out of the Bobcats defense on the left side, cutting to the net from the left corner and deking Brandon backup goaltender Kelly Shields to the ice before scoring for a 7-1 lead.
Other than that, it was your everyday exhibition game for an American college team against a Canadian counterpart. Brandon, which lost 8-0 to Minnesota State-Mankato on Friday, had trouble all night keeping up with the quicker Huskies, and St. Cloud took advantage of plenty of odd-man rushes.
On the other end, Moreland was tested more often than Weasler, the starter, and probably made more of a statement with it.
While Weasler was called on to make only four saves in the first 30 minutes, 15 seconds, Moreland made 15 in the rest of the game, 11 of them in the third period.
Included was a pair of quality stops on a Brandon third-period power play. He first stopped a Vinnie Jonasson shot with a quick post-to-post move, then minutes later stacked his pads to stop a Carey Ernewein rebound chance at the right post.
“He got tested,” Dahl said of Moreland. “Some of them were big saves. It was nice to see, and that should be a shot in the arm for him.”
If there was one mistake this night for the Huskies, who open the season next Friday against Clarkson in the IceBreaker Invitational in Orono, Maine, it was the number of penalties they took.
While nine penalties for 18 minutes isn’t anything Dahl will lose sleep over, the pair of 5-on-3 chances his team yielded will invariably cost them more in the regular season than it did against Brandon.
The Bobcats scored their goal on a two-man advantage midway through the first period.
“You can’t do those kind of things,” Dahl said. “You can’t take two 5-on-3 penalties, there’s no question about it. It’s a fine line between being aggressive and being dumb.”