ST. CLOUD, Minn. — Sophomore Matt Hartman scored twice, and classmate Aaron Brocklehurst added a goal and two assists in the first period to lead St. Cloud State to its sixth victory in seven games, defeating Alaska-Anchorage, 4-2, before 6,077 at the National Hockey Center.
“We did a lot of things just well enough to find a way to win tonight,” said St. Cloud State coach Bob Motzko. “You’re not going to be sharp every night, and tonight was one of those nights, but we were fortunate to get the three right off the bat.”
Only 2:23 into the game, St. Cloud State (15-9-3, 10-8-1 WCHA) broke onto the scoreboard. Freshman Michael Olson received the puck on a breakaway from sophomore Marty Mjelleli and successfully outwaited Alaska-Anchorage goalie John DeCaro before going to his left on the forehand for the goal.
Two minutes later, Alaska-Anchorage (6-20-3, 4-16-3) struck back. Seawolves freshman Billy Smith gained the zone with possession, taking junior center Charlie Kronschnabel along with him for the two-on-one rush. Smith looked over at Kronschnabel, fooling defender Casey Borer enough to leave himself alone in front of SCSU netminder Bobby Goepfert, and then unloaded a snap shot from the right side of the net that eluded Goepfert to tie the score.
Midway through the first, SCSU regained the lead on a laser shot by sophomore Matt Hartman. The St. Cloud native took the slap shot from just outside the right faceoff circle that beat DeCaro top shelf and tagged the upper left corner of the net.
“Before the game, Marty [Mjellieli] and I were saying how we needed to just throw the puck on net and go for the rebounds,” said Hartman. “I came out and happened to throw it out and it found the top of the net through some traffic. It works.”
With under two minutes to play, the Huskies scored again, this time on the power play. As St. Cloud cycled the puck in the attacking zone, defenseman Aaron Brocklehurst fired a wicked slapper from the center of the blue line which eluded the bodies in front of the net, including DeCaro, putting SCSU up, 3-1, and chasing DeCaro from the net in favor of freshman Mike Rosett.
“He’s got a missile of a shot,” Motzko said. “We’ve been trying to get him to take a little velocity off that shot to get a little more accuracy. He missed the net tonight three or four times tonight, too, but he’s doing a lot better.”
“I’m using new sticks,” said Brocklehurst on his lightning shot. “It’s got a stiffer shaft, so the shots are going to be harder.”
With Rosett in goal, the Seawolves began the second with a sense of purpose. Six and a half minutes in the period, they struck on the man-advantage to bring themselves within one. A shot from the point by Shane Lovdahl hit the post and bounced straight to Mark Smith, who buried the rebound.
The Huskies managed to do just enough to keep Anchorage from having many more opportunities in the second, but were unable to find the net themselves. Once the third period started, the team maintained possession of the puck and flung shot after shot towards Rosett, who played an outstanding game in relief. The only blemish on his night was Hartman’s second goal with five-and-a-half minutes to play, which was a third-chance effort following shots by Nate Dey and Nate Raduns which were saved by Rosett.
“[Rosett] brought in great energy for us,” said Alaska-Anchorage coach Dave Shyiak “He played outstanding – he was the best player on the ice. He handled the puck extremely well. I give him a lot of credit, for a guy who hasn’t played too much this year, he did very well. He was fun to watch.”
The victory was St. Cloud’s fifth consecutive WCHA win. Alaska-Anchorage is now winless in its last eight, and has only one win in its last 13 contests.
“We can’t give up as many odd-man rushes as we gave them tonight, and we need to put more pucks on the net,” said Shyiak. “We need to throw some on net, and maybe some of those shots will bounce well off Goepfert’s pads. But you aren’t even going to have a chance if you don’t go for it.”
Both teams return to action Saturday night at the National Hockey Center.