ST. CLOUD, Minn. — St. Cloud State got two goals from hometown freshman John Swanson, and captain Casey Borer added a goal and an assist, driving the Huskies to their third straight WCHA weekend sweep, defeating Alaska-Anchorage, 6-1, Saturday night at the National Hockey Center.
“We were a little shaky last night,” said St. Cloud State coach Bob Motzko. “Emotionally, our tank wasn’t full. Our guys rebounded tonight with a lot of energy and a lot of jump, and just did a great job of shutting things down defensively. We were strong throughout our whole lineup.”
The game’s defining moment came with three minutes to play in the second period as St. Cloud State (16-9-3, 11-8-1 WCHA) led, 3-1. Alaska-Anchorage (6-21-3, 4-17-3) advanced into the St. Cloud zone on a three-on-one break, but a pass from sophomore Eric Walsky to Charlie Kronschnabel missed, and was quickly picked up by St. Cloud State junior Billy Hengen, who broke ahead for a three-on-one the other way. Hengen and junior captain Casey Borer played tic-tac-toe as Hengen one-timed the pass back from Borer, scoring top shelf for the 4-1 lead.
After weathering two penalty kills in the first half of the first period, St. Cloud State scored the only goal of the first period with five minutes remaining. Brock Hooton faked a shot in front of the net to which UAA freshman goalie Mike Rosett committed himself. Hooton casually passed the puck across the crease to a waiting Andrew Gordon, who one-timed the pass into the open net for the game’s first score.
St. Cloud’s second goal was the product of fortunate motion off an awkward shot three minutes into the second. Early into the Huskies’ third power-play opportunity of the evening, St. Cloud freshman John Swanson one-timed a pass from Konrad Reeder right in front of Rosett. The puck took a strange trajectory to the right off the heel of his stick. Rosett went down in the butterfly to stop the expected shot, but the wayward puck trickled just to the left of his toe and into the net.
“I tried to get open for Reeder so he could throw it to me if he didn’t have any looks,” said Swanson. “He threw an absolute rocket of a pass to me and I just barely got a piece of it. I think we were both surprised I got it on net – the pass actually broke my stick.”
Three and a half minutes later, freshman Matt Hartman scored his third goal of the weekend when he took a loose puck from under a flurry of activity in front of the Anchorage net and roofed it past Rosett. The goal was Hartman’s fifth of the season, each one coming against UAA.
The lone Alaska-Anchorage goal of the evening was not without controversy. A shot by freshman Shane Lovdahl from the point during a man advantage was tipped in by Chris Tarkir in front of the net, just past SCSU goalie netminder Bobby Goepfert, but the goal was initially waved off by referee Don Adam due to a high-stick. After video review, Adam overturned his initial call, allowing the Seawolves to cut the St. Cloud lead to two.
But any chance that Anchorage had to make a comeback was snuffed out late in the second with the three-on-one chance gone bad.
Swanson added his second goal in the first minute of the third period, and Borer scored with under three minutes to play to complete the evening’s scoring.
Goepfert made 22 saves in net to pick up the victory for St. Cloud. Rosett played strong in defeat, finishing the evening with 40 saves.
With the victory, St. Cloud State extends its WCHA winning streak to six, its longest since a seven game streak to begin the league schedule in October and November 2001. Combined with North Dakota’s loss to Colorado College, SCSU now takes sole possession of fourth place in the WCHA with 23 points.
“Tonight we felt we had to come out with a better effort,” said Borer. “They played hard, they battled all the way to the end, but we had guys stepping up to make some difference-making plays tonight.”
Alaska-Anchorage is still waiting for its first victory at the National Hockey Center – the Seawolves are 0-22-2 at the building since their first game there in 1991, and have not won in St. Cloud since 1987, the Huskies’ first season in Division I. They remain in last place in the WCHA with 11 points.
“We had a strong first period, but we had a lot of chances we didn’t convert on,” said Alaska-Anchorage coach Dave Shyiak. “We got free flowing a little bit in the second and third. Any time you give a good team as much ice as they got where they can go up and down and make plays, they’re going to do it.”
St. Cloud State plays host to No. 7 Colorado College in a pivotal WCHA series next weekend at the National Hockey Center. Alaska-Anchorage is idle next week before traveling to Colorado Springs to take on the Tigers for two games, Feb. 17th and 18th.
“There aren’t any breaks in the WCHA – Colorado College is a viable final four team,” said Shyiak of the teams’ common next opponent. “A win’s a cure for everything, and we just need to find our next win and build from that.”