Consistent hockey has not been a strong suit of the St. Cloud State Huskies this season. They’ve struggled along with a brutal schedule, sitting below .500 entering this weekend series.
However, thanks to another strong effort, SCSU made the fans forget both of those things, and in doing so they accomplished something they hadn’t done in 10 months.
Jonny Brodzinski scored and had an assist, and Rasmus Reijola made 17 saves as St. Cloud State held off No. 5 Miami late for a 3-2 victory, picking up its first sweep of the season.
“St. Cloud played better than we did all weekend,” said Miami coach Enrico Blasi. “They deserved to win both nights.”
Kevin Morris and Austin Czarnik scored for Miami, which came to SCSU tied for the NCHC lead but fell to fourth place behind Nebraska-Omaha, Minnesota-Duluth, and North Dakota after the sweep.
“Getting swept hurts a lot,” said left winger Cody Murphy, as his team suffered their first sweep of the season. “That’s a great team over there.”
The Huskies hadn’t swept anybody since last March 7-8, when they won a pair of games at Colorado College to win the NCHC’s inaugural regular season championship. They came out with a vengeance Saturday, not even allowing Miami to get a shot on goal until there was 8:45 left in the first period.
“This is the best feeling I’ve had in my life,” laughed Reijola, as the sophomore goaltender picked up his first collegiate victory.
“I liked our game tonight,” said Huskies coach Bob Motzko, as his team moved up to fifth place in the NCHC standings. “It was a very good team victory.”
St. Cloud State came out on fire to begin the game, grabbing the lead just over two minutes in when Brodzinski grabbed a drop-pass in the left circle from Jimmy Murray and sniped it top-shelf, clanging it off the pipe and in for his 12th goal of the season.
Miami’s Alex Gacek got penalized with two minutes left, giving St. Cloud a power play. Patrick Russell converted on that power play with 11.4 seconds left, scoring from the side of the net on a nice feed from David Morley to make it 2-0 after one.
Bob Motzko thought the first period was the difference in the game.
“It was a huge key,” he said. “Just when you thought our power play was ishy, Morley makes a play to put us up there [by two] at the end.”
The Huskies domination carried on into the second period, but the raucous crowd of 4,482 was finally settled down when the RedHawks got a big power play thanks to a hooking call on Joe Rehkamp. Kevin Morris then buried a rebound of a Louie Belpedio shot from the point at 11:28 to cut Miami’s deficit in half at 2-1.
The Huskies restored their two-goal lead just over five minutes into the third period when Brodzinski made a beautiful pass over to a charging Joe Rehkamp, who netted his second of the season.
“‘Brodzy’ picked it out of the air, made a perfect pass, and I just kinda tapped it in,” he said.
The RedHawks cut it back to a one-goal deficit with about nine minutes remaining when Austin Czarnik ripped a laser from the slot that went top shelf. Despite late pressure however, Miami couldn’t get the equalizer and left St. Cloud without any points.
Williams made 26 saves for Miami, which also suffered its first sweep since last March against Minnesota-Duluth and fell to 7-5 in NCHC play and 14-8 overall. The RedHawks will be idle next weekend before hosting the Denver Pioneers the following week, and Blasi knows his team has a lot of work to do before then, which includes clearing their minds.
“We gotta have short memory and get ready,” he said.
St. Cloud State improved to 4-5-1 in conference play and 9-10-1 overall with the big sweep. They will travel to Denver next weekend in an NCHC series.