ST. CLOUD, Minn. — For the second straight year, the St. Cloud State Huskies opened their season scoring seven goals, this time defeating the Mercyhurst Lakers 7-2. In front of an announced crowd of 6,054, the Huskies used three goals in the first period, including the game winner from Hobey Baker hopeful Ryan Lasch.
But it wasn’t just Lasch that left fans at the National Hockey Center in St. Cloud excited for what may prove to be one of the fastest Husky teams in recent memory. SCSU got seven goals from seven different sources, including a goal from each member of the Huskies third line.
After Nick Oslund set the tone just 1:25 into the contest on a goal with assists from Chris Hepp and David Carlisle, the Huskies would pick up right where 2007-2008 left off, excelling on their power play. SCSU would make it a 2-0 contest three minutes and six seconds later, as Lasch and St. Cloud native John Swanson would hook up with Garrett Roe on the power play.
Mercyhurst would add an even strength goal at the 12:52 mark of the first on a shot from the point by Steve Cameron with assists from Cullen Eddy and Brett Robinson. But just over two minutes later the Huskies would put the game away with their third goal of the period at the 15:23 mark, when Roe and Brett Barta connected with Lasch for the game winner.
Dreams would come true during the second period for a new favorite local. Paired on the third line with Roe and Swanson, freshman and Little Falls, Minnesota native Jared Festler would squeeze a wrister five-hole on another Minnesota native, ruining a homecoming of sorts for Mercyhurst netminder Matt Lundin, a native of Apple Valley (a south suburb of Minneapolis).
“It feels like home out here, because (St. Cloud) is so close to where I live,” Festler said. “It feels like I’m almost playing in Little Falls but its 20 times bigger and with wilder fans.”
All three members of the Huskies third line had nothing but positive feedback on each other’s play, even the Freshman Festler gained praise from last year’s key freshman Roe.
“He’s great, he’s a young kid but plays like he’s a season vet,” Roe said. “When you’re a smart player and you know the game, goals and points and plays seem to find you rather than you trying to find them.”
St. Cloud would continue their scoring just a minute and 32 seconds after Festler landed his first collegiate goal, as captain Garrett Raboin would net the Huskies second power-play goal of the night, thanks to a setup from Roe.
Swanson would finish the scoring for the third line when all three forwards connected on a goal at the 16:41 mark of the second period. With assists from Festler and Roe, the goal marked the second time in as many periods that St. Cloud would score three goals.
“It’s great, he makes plays and scores goals,” Festler said of Roe. “He’s tops in the league, and he proved it last year and again tonight with four points.”
Just one goal by each team would be tallied during the third period of Friday night’s game. Neil Graham of the Lakers would cut the Huskies the Huskies lead to four at 6-2 but SCSU sophomore goaltender Jase Weslosky would stop the other eight shots of the period, securing a 25 save victory for St. Cloud.
The Huskies would chart their seventh and final goal of the game when Brent Borgen was fed a perfect pass from Brian Volpei and Raboin, as SCSU finished the power play at 3-7 on the evening.
Making 25 stops, including a few for the highlight real, head coach Bob Motzko explained that the reason everything gelled on defense was because of the superior play by Weslosky.
“Our special teams were very solid last year, and obviously we want to reestablish ourselves again this year. A lot of those key guys are back, our power-play comes out and gets three, the four on four and then I was really happy the penalty kill. Jase was the main reason our penalty kill was so good tonight, we had some seems on our penalty kill.”
Weslosky and the Huskies (1-0) will return back to the National Hockey Center Saturday night as they finish a two-game non-conference set with Mercyhurst College (0-1) beginning at 7:07pm.