MINNEAPOLIS — Getting off to fast start is the best case scenario for a hockey coach. So when Minnesota forward Mike Hoeffel scored on a breakaway just 1:04 into the opening period, coach Don Lucia was pleased.
Of course, that he was there at all was inspirational enough to his team, after missing the last four games due to a medical issue.
The first goal started at the Gopher blueline when a St Cloud defenseman tried to keep the puck in the zone. Unfortunately for the Huskies, it instead hit Gopher forward Jake Hansen and defected out of the zone to center ice. Hoeffel picked up the puck and was off on a breakaway. His 30 foot wrister beat Jase Weslosky low.
“The first goal early was very important to us,” remarked Lucia on Hoeffels goal. “We were able to play with a lead from start to finish.”
“Very, Very disappointed,” commented Bob Motzko on St Clouds effort. “We weren’t passing good. We weren’t shooting good. We sure weren’t moving our feet.”
“After what they [Minnesota] went through last week, they needed and easy game and they got it,” added Motzko.
The middle of the period was dominated by Minnesota as they carried play and built a 9-1 shot advantage. With about five minutes left in the period St. Cloud started getting some chances.
Jordan Schroeder put the Gophers up 2-0 at 17:47 on a one timer from Ryan Flynn. RJ Anderson fed the puck in low behind the goal line to Flynn. Flynn turned and fired a quick pass to Schroeder who was charging up the lane for the quick one timer
St. Cloud came out with fire in the early in the second out shooting Minnesota, 6-2. Outlasting the Gophers and getting under their skin, St. Cloud drew a penalty on Cade Fairchild for unsportsmanlike conduct call at 4:07. A minute later, Tony Lucia was called on a holding giving St Cloud a 5-on-3 for 55 seconds.
The Huskies did everything but score on the two man advantage. Travis Novak hit a pipe. Ryan Lasch connected on a one timer from seven feet only to be robbed by Alex Kangas, who came across the goal mouth and got a piece of the puck with his blocker putting the high shot over the net.
As often happens when the home team gets a big penalty kill, they find new life. Minnesota took advantage.
Mike Carman extended the lead to 3-0 at13:55 of the second on a pass from Cade Fairchild. Fairchild hit with pass diagonal through the lane. Carman’s back was to the goal. He fired a quick turnaround shot that found the near corner.
St. Cloud only goal came 20 seconds later when Aaron Marvin picked a puck off Kevin Wehrs at Minnesotas blueline and scored on Kangas on a short breakaway
Justin Bostrom reestablished Minnesota’s three goal lead at 17:04 of the second on a fast break goal. Hoeffel fed Bostrom who split the defenders and lifted a backhand over Weslowsky.
Patrick White scored the only power-play goal of the game at 7:53 of the third.
“Obviously it felt good getting behind the bench. It was alot better than sitting in the hospital getting a test,” said Lucia.
The same two teams face off at five p.m. Central time, this time in St. Cloud.