After sweeping the then fourth ranked Denver Pioneers a week ago at the National Hockey Center in St. Cloud, the SCSU Huskies were back to more of the same dominance Friday night.
The Huskies used two goals — including the eventual game from sophomore forward Garrett Roe — in a 6-2 win over the visiting Wisconsin Badgers.
Husky freshman Travis Novak started the scoring for St. Cloud at the 12:25 mark of the opening period, on a great individual shorthanded effort from the SCSU speedster.
After St. Cloud dumped the puck halfway into the UW zone, Wisconsin senior netminder Shane Connelly went to clear the puck along the right wing. Only problem: Novak met him halfway. Connelly’s attempted clear hit off Novak and caromed into the right corner where Novak fired from behind the net, hitting the Wisconsin goaltender in the back into the goal.
“(Novak) is so fast and the thing is (Connelly) made the right play, it was just the wrong guy to make it against,” SCSU head coach Bob Motzko said of Novak’s play. “You saw (Novak) just wait and wait and then try to make the bankâ€¦it was just one of those nice hockey plays.”
Even Novak noted that he was thinking bank the whole way.
“I was waiting for (Connelly) to position himself the whole time,” Novak said. “That way I could wait for the bank.”
Holding a 1-0 lead into the second period, the Huskies wasted no time finding the net again. Just 14 seconds into the period, senior St. Cloud native John Swanson found himself into the Wisconsin zone by himself and rifled a shot beating Connelly five-hole.
The Huskies charted the game winner on their second of five even-strength goals at the 14:58 mark of the second on a wonderful setup from junior forward Ryan Lasch. Streaking two-on-one into the Badger zone, freshman forward Jared Festler found Lasch who fed Roe on the left wing setting up an easy tap-in goal.
Wisconsin scored their first goal of the evening at the 16:10 mark of the second to pull within two of SCSU. Junior forward John Mitchell lit the lamp for the fifth time this season, with assists credited to sophomore forwards Podge Turnbull and Sean Dolan.
St. Cloud State opened the third period down a man, after freshman blue-liner Nicholas Rioux took a penalty with nine seconds remaining in the second. But, the Huskies special teams shined again, killing off an important Badger man advantage early in the third.
SCSU would continue the third by opening the flood gates with three goals in under three minutes to put the Badgers away. The first of three, once again set up by Festler and Lasch, came at the 7:46 mark of the period on a beautiful no look behind the back feed to Roe waiting between the circles.
One minute and 51 seconds later, sophomore forward Nick Oslund charted his third goal of the year to put the Huskies up, 5-1. Forty-two second later, freshman forward Drew LeBlanc also lit the lamp, faking a shot on Connelly from the left circle, causing him to fall to the ice, leaving the top of the net open for his second career goal.
Wisconsin would net the final goal of the contest at the 15:24 mark on the power play, when sophomore defenseman Brendan Smith fired a laser top corner from the blue line.
Once again, SCSU netminder junior Jase Weslosky was excellent in net, this time allowing only two goals on 34 shots on net. Connelly, who was sporadic at times, stopped 21 of 27 shots for the Badgers in the loss.
The Huskies (8-4-0, 3-3-0 WCHA) and Badgers (4-7-2, 4-5-2 WCHA) will be back for the finale of the two game set tomorrow night at the N.H.C. in St. Cloud. The puck drops at 7:07 CST.