ST. CLOUD, Minn. — Senior goaltender Bryce Luker went 0-11 as a transfer to Canisius (0-1-1, 0-0-0 AHA) before picking up a 43-save tie with No. 17 ranked St. Cloud State (1-0-1, 0-0-0 WCHA) Saturday.
“The kid had a whale of game; you’ve got to give him credit,” St. Cloud State head coach Bob Motzko said.
Luker, who had a career-best 47 saves at the National Hockey Center back in 2003 with Michigan Tech, turned it on during the clutch, providing the backdrop for a three-goal rally for the Golden Griffins.
“We learned one of those lessons that every team has to learn at one point, and that is to not let off the gas pedal. We had them right where we wanted them — we were dominating,” Huskies defensemen Craig Gaudet said.
To Luker the game was a bit of dj vu to the one in 2003.
“I didn’t expect to have a dj vu like that. It was almost an identical situation,” Luker said.
The game was October 24, 2003 and Luker picked up a 3-3 tie versus a St. Cloud State team that was 2-0 at the time.
After being shut out 7-0 on Friday, not getting a shot on goal until 15:30 into the game and being pinned down 3-0 into the second period, Canisius remained resilient and used two late five-hole goals on sophomore goaltender B.J. O’Brien to claim the tie.
“We’ve always got to keep working hard and get our bounces where we can. That is our team mentality,” Luker said.
The game could be seen as a statement by the five-year-old Atlantic Hockey Association, which had one of its teams grab a point from a ranked opponent.
“We are a relatively new conference and a game like this can put our conference on the map,” Luker said.
Gaudet opened the scoring 3:40 into the game with a top-shelf slapshot goal off of a rebound.
“I just got the puck in the slot and just tried to get on the puck and just aimed for the glove side of the net and just got lucky got to put it on the net and good things can happen,” Gaudet said.
It was the second career goal for the Saskatchewan native, who spent most of last season inactive on the bench. Gaudet is expected to play a stronger role this season and has played in both games with the second line.
Later in the period Golden Griffins freshman defender Scott Jenkins hit the penalty box for tripping and the Huskies capitalized on the power play. Sophomore forward Ryan Lasch centered the puck to senior assistant captain Nate Dey, who tipped it in for the easy goal.
Early in the second period freshmen Tony Mosey scored his third goal of the season as he tipped in a rebound shot off of Luker, putting SCSU up 3-0.
Canisius finally broke through for the first time in the season at 9:44 into the second with a Chris Forman goal that was assisted by Josh Heidinger and Derek Danowski.
“Defensemen comes out of the penalty box and does a behind-the-back pass — that is going to happen,” Motzko said.
David Kasch then stole more momentum from the rowdy 6,037 in attendance with a five-hole goal that was fed by Carl Hudson and Pat Kenney just 3:21 into the third.
Quickly David Cianfrini mimicked Kasch with an unassisted five-hole goal 42 seconds later.
“That’s classic hockey — we were dominating the game and thought everything was fine, and we let a couple get in and their guy was great,” Motzko said.
The Huskies squandered opportunities to break the tie late in the game with two Canisius penalties in the third and one more in the overtime period.
“I am not real happy at some of our offensive opportunities. We let them wilt away on us; we were getting plenty of chances,” Motzko said.
The Huskies put up 18 shots on goal in the third and overtime periods and had several chances to score, including a John Swanson feed that did not quite make it to Garrett Roe as the final ticks went off.
“We got a little too comfortable and started to play by ourselves a bit instead of using each other and I think that hurt us,” Gaudet said.
O’Brien did not see any shots in overtime as he recorded the tie in his first regular-season appearance that saw him make 10 total saves.
St. Cloud State will travel to Minnesota-Duluth for a two-game series next weekend while Canisius heads to Nebraska for the Omaha Stampede where the Griffs are slated to take on Alabama-Huntsville.