HOUGHTON, Mich. — No. 17 St. Cloud State Huskies used a pair of opening frame goals to skate away with a huge sweep over a banged up No. 13 Michigan Tech Huskies squad in impressive fashion, 4-1, at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena Saturday Night.
“This was a big weekend for us,” said St. Cloud coach Bob Motzko. “(Michigan) Tech’s a good hockey team, but we were rolling.”
Michigan Tech, needing a stronger performance than the one they gave Friday night, had it in the early going, with senior winger Jordan Foote and freshman winger Jordan Baker both landing huge hits in the opening minutes.
“We didn’t get a lot of pucks to the net ourselves,” said Michigan Tech coach Jamie Russell. “(St. Cloud) played good, smart road hockey with the lead.”
Taking advantage of traffic in front of Tech’s net, captain Matt Stephenson got St. Cloud on the board at the 11:38 mark of the opening frame. Sophomore wingers Ryan Lasch and Ryan Peckskamp both assisted on Stephensons first of the season.
Assistant captain Tyler Shelast had a pair of opportunities to even the game late in the first for Michigan Tech. The initial chance came off a St. Cloud turnover, and a long outlet pass, but Shelast couldn’t find the back of the net.
Off the ensuing faceoff, St. Cloud got the puck over the Michigan Tech blue line, leading to their second goal of the game. Freshman Garrett Roe got the puck into the zone, and sophomore winger Andreas Nodl did a great job keeping the puck in the offensive zone. Roe jumped on the loose puck and fired a long shot that eluded Michigan Tech goalie Rob Nolan between the legs with just twelve seconds left.
“I thought our young guys really played well tonight,” said Motzko.
Michigan Tech had a golden opportunity to cut the lead to one just two minutes into the second period when Baker fed Shelast cutting to the net, but Shelast’s one-timer was stopped by St. Cloud netminder Jase Weslosky.
Baker did finally cut the lead in half at the 10:19 mark of the second when he lifted a rebound off a shot from assistant captain John Schwarz over Weslosky. Junior winger Alex Lord fed Schwarz for the long shot.
“There was a lot of net open for me,” said Baker. “It’s quite the experience to score (in this building).”
St. Cloud regained the two-goal lead just 30 seconds later when Michigan Tech turned the puck over at their own blue line. Assistant captain Garrett Raboin kept the puck in the zone and fired it on net. Freshman winger Nick Oslund cut to the net and redirected Raboin’s shot past Nolan.
Michigan Tech fired ten pucks through to Weslosky in the second period, but only found the back of the net once as the sophomore continued to show why Motzko believes in him night in and night out.
Just as in Friday night’s game, St. Cloud found themselves back on their heels as Michigan Tech put on a full-ice press. Weslosky continued to get himself into position to make timely saves again and again.
Russell juggled his top lines a bit, putting junior winger Malcolm Gwilliam on the wing with senior center Peter Rouleau and Shelast. The line was quite effective at getting the puck deep into the St. Cloud zone, and also did a solid job pressuring the St. Cloud defenders.
“We went down to three lines with the injuries,” said Russell. “I was just trying to spark something chemistry-wise.”
Motzko countered the Michigan Tech attack by sticking to his guns, keeping to his regular line rotation, and the strategy paid off the longer the period progressed.
The Michigan Tech line of Foote, freshman Eric Kattelus and captain Jimmy Kerr also generated scoring chances as Russell continued to find favorable match-ups for them, especially in the final seven minutes of the third, but they couldn’t find a chink in Weslosky’s armor.
“I thought they did a good job keeping us to the perimeter,” said Russell. “There were some rebound opportunities, but our guys have to be willing to get pucks into the slot area.”
Russell burned his time out with 2:38 remaining, trying to rally the troops. He pulled Nolan in lieu of an extra attacker. The move worked for awhile, as Michigan Tech had pressure in the St. Cloud zone, but didn’t really get shots through to Weslosky.
As the Michigan Tech skaters got tired, they turned the puck over in their own end, leading to an empty net tally from Lasch with 1:14 remaining to seal the sweep.
“This is a game we had to earn,” said Motzko. “We’ve got to keep making plays throughout.”
After Friday’s special teams outburst, neither team could find the net on the man advantage as St. Cloud finished 0-3 and Michigan Tech went 0-1.
With the win, St. Cloud improves to 6-0-1 versus Michigan Tech in their last seven match-ups.