ST. CLOUD, Minn. — Freshman Jase Weslosky, starting in only his second game of his collegiate career, stood tall in net for No. 17 St. Cloud State on Friday night by turning aside all 24 shots he faced against the nation’s fourth-best offense, while Andreas Nodl and Andrew Gordon each tallied a goal and an assist as the Huskies blanked No. 18 Clarkson 4-0 at the National Hockey Center on Friday night.
“You always want to be prepared,” said Weslosky. “I have to be prepared as a backup to go in at any moment, so I try to stay prepared no matter where I am or what time it is during the season. It’s the worst thing in the world when you get thrown into a situation and you aren’t ready for it.”
Clarkson (6-4-1) had some of their best looks of the game in the first period, especially from junior Shawn Weller, who camped out in front of the net for significant portions of the period. All told, the Golden Knights forced Weslosky to make 10 saves in the first period as they put the freshman to the test early.
St. Cloud State (3-3-3), meanwhile, was blasting away in their own end during the first twenty minutes. The Huskies put 14 shots on net, all of which were turned away by junior netminder David Leggio, including a hair-raising backhander by SCSU junior Nate Dey that was initially called a goal, but overturned on review. Dey’s shot from along the goal line seemed destined for the goalpost, but Leggio’s outstretched leg caught the puck first.
“I was surprised that they reviewed it,” said Leggio, who tried to re-enact the shot for his teammates during the delay to figure out how the puck could have entered the net. “We don’t really have goal review in [the ECACHL]. I was trying to see if my pad could have been too far into the net. At first I didn’t feel the puck and then I kind of spun around to reach back with my glove hand and I felt it under my pad then. The only thing I was thinking was that maybe it had hit the back of the net and then under my pad.”
Ultimately, the video goal judge could not see the puck at all, which was a good indication that the puck hadn’t gone in and had been saved as Leggio described.
SCSU asserted control of the game once the second period got underway. Just 23 seconds into the period, freshman Andreas Nodl netted his fifth goal of the season when he dove for a loose puck in front of the net and poked it high over Leggio and in, opening the game’s scoring.
The remainder of the second period was largely comprised of a passing exhibition on both sides several passes would be made in neat order, but very few quality scoring chances would result. St. Cloud blasted away at the net from the outside and put 11 more shots on Leggio in the period, while Clarkson was only able to attempt 9 shots in the entire period, only 6 of which were on net. Other than the goal, a minor penalty to Clarkson freshman Tim Marks resulting in only one SCSU shot was the only noteworthy event of the entire second frame.
The Huskies started the third period the same way they started the second: with a bang. Junior Andrew Gordon took a backhanded pass from Nodl in the slot in front of Leggio and blasted home the one-timer just 20 seconds into the game’s final period to increase the SCSU lead to 2-0.
From here, however, the script did not follow that of the second. St. Cloud began a barrage that lasted for most of the period, and did not let up. 16 of 24 attempted shots ended up on net during the period, while Clarkson struggled to keep up on their end of the ice. Weslosky was called on to make some fantastic saves during the third period, but only needed to make eight saves overall to complete the shutout.
Junior Matt Hartman scored for St. Cloud with eight minutes to play to put the game out of reach at 3-0 shortly after the conclusion of an extended power play which had resulted from a poorly timed hit from behind by Clarkson sophomore Philippe Paquet on St. Cloud State’s Aaron Brocklehurst. An empty-netter in the game’s waning moments by sophomore Johnny Swanson rounded out the evening’s scoring.
Junior Nate Dey had assists on SCSU’s first two goals of the contest to increase his team leading total to nine, while freshman defenseman Garrett Raboin earned assists on the Huskies’ last two goals for the first points of his collegiate career.
St. Cloud State snapped a five-game winless streak (0-2-3) with the victory.
“We played a very strong defensive game,” said SCSU head coach Bob Motzko. “Our young goaltender was outstanding. He’s been in there twice now, and he’s getting better in practice, he’s getting stronger, and he looked good in there tonight. He looked comfortable, you could tell he could see the puck. There was a play late where he sort of steered the puck over to the corner, where a lot of young guys would have wanted to just gobble up the puck and get the whistle.
“This is still Bobby Goepfert’s team,” said Motzko, throwing cold water on the idea that Weslosky’s efforts could create a goaltending controversy with the somewhat struggling senior netminder. “[Weslosky] is our future and we are going to continue preparing him as we’ve always intended.”
Clarkson fell for the third time in as many games.
“We had a couple of blown coverages early in both the second and third periods that cost us the game,” said Clarkson head coach George Roll. “We have to do a better job defensively coming out of the gate. Both times we had a guy standing right there that let their man go right by and you can’t have that when you’re struggling to score goals like we’ve been the last two games now. You have to take care of your own end, and on both of those instances, we didn’t.”
David Leggio made 38 saves in the loss.
“He made some huge saves and didn’t get a lot of support,” said Roll. “The goals he gave up were three point-blank opportunities. It’s something where we have to be better in front of him and it certainly isn’t a reflection of him.”
“We normally score a lot of goals,” said Leggio. “But [Weslosky] stopped a lot of our better chances by getting across the net well. He’s a good goalie and he certainly proved that to us tonight.”
The non-conference series concludes Saturday night at the National Hockey Center.