ST. CLOUD, Minn. — Getting points of any kind in a game against top-ranked North Dakota this season has been akin to trying to break a cement slab with a rock hammer. It happens, but it takes a ton of persistence.
The St. Cloud State men's hockey team was able to chisel out two points from a tie against the Fighting Hawks in a back-and-forth game that ended in a 3-3 tie after the five-minute overtime.
Junior Easton Brodzinski scored in the shootout and David Hrenak stopped Jordan Kawaguchi's attempt to give the Huskies its second win in a shootout at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center. The Huskies (8-9-2-1 NCHC, 11-12-6 overall) and NCHC-leading Fighting Hawks (14-2-3-2, 23-3-4) play Game 2 of their series at 6:07 p.m. Saturday.
"Just a war from the drop of the puck," St. Cloud State head coach Brett Larson said. "I'm just really proud of how our guys battled through the ups and downs. There were moments when we were playing really well and moments where they were really taking it to us.
"I just thought the guys handled the momentum swings pretty well."
Jack Poehling, a senior from Lakeville, Minn., batted in a pass from Brodzinski from behind the net at 7:07 of the third period to tie the game at 3-3. On the play, Jack's twin brother took a hit to the head that North Dakota's Judd Caulfield received a five-minute major penalty for.
The Huskies got four shots on the ensuing power play, but were not able to push across the go-ahead goal.
"That was the best the power play looked (Friday)," said Larson, whose team was 0-for-2 with two shots and gave up a short-handed goal in their first two power plays in the game. "Spencer (Meier) hit the crossbar and we had some other Grade A chances on the (major) power play and you usually judge the power play by the chances you're creating.
"We created enough there, but didn't bury it."
Both teams led
North Dakota took a 1-0 lead on a short-handed goal by wing Westin Michaud at 17:46 of the first period. Michaud won a battle on the boards and raced the puck to the front of the St. Cloud State net and the fifth-year senior and former Colorado College forward scored.
The Fighting Hawks outshot the Huskies 11-4 in the first period and carried that momentum about halfway through the second period.
"I think what happened was we got some of the nerves out in the first period," Larson said. "Nerves can give you two things. One, they can give you energy and our guys were flying, for sure. But we weren't very poised with the puck.
"I told the guys to take a deep breath, trust in yourself and let's go out and executive better in the second period and I thought we did that," said Larson, whose team was outshot 14-10 in the second period. "(Defenseman Jack Ahcan) made a great play to get us going."
Ahcan, a senior All-American from Savage, Minn., scored at 12:54 of the second period to tie the game at 1-1. Ahcan rushed the puck up the ice from his goal line and then went to the front of the net after a pass to Micah Miller and got a rebound goal off of a Jack Poehling shot.
Jack Poehling then scored his first goal of the game at 15:07 from a bad angle to give the Huskies a 2-1 lead.
Freshman phenom Shane Pinto scored a power-play goal at 19:09 of the second period and Jacob Bernard-Docker added a goal at 4:06 of the third period to give the FIghting Hawks a 3-2 lead. But then Jack Poehling got the equalizer.
Rare shootout win
St. Cloud State's other shootout win was on Nov. 30, 2013 at Miami. Blake Lizotte, who is now with the Los Angeles Kings, scored that shootout winner.
The Huskies had lost their other shootout this season on Feb. 8 at Colorado College. In that shootout, Nolan Walker was stopped and the Tigers got the extra point. Larson said he knew that he would go to Brodzinski, who has 12 goals this season and 42 in his career, as the first shooter this time.
"We went with Walks two weeks ago because he had just scored and was really hot at the time," Larson said. "Easton is our leading goal scorer for a reason and I wasn't going with anybody else.
"Then a huge save by David (Hrenak)."
Hrenak stopped Kawaguchi, who is second in the nation in points (45) and has 15 goals.
The win gave the Huskies 27 points, but they dropped four points behind Denver for fourth place. That's because Denver beat Miami 7-3 on Friday.
"Every point is huge for us right now," said Larson, whose team plays host to Denver next weekend. "We needed those and tomorrow is going to be even harder. The top team in the country is not going to come in here tomorrow without their best, so it's going to be another battle.
"We've got a find a way again tomorrow night to get some points."
The top four teams in the NCHC at the end of the regular season will play host to a best-of-three series in the opening round of the conference playoffs.
No. 1 NORTH DAKOTA 3, SCSU 3
First period scoring — 1. UND, Westin Michaud 14 (Matt Kiersted 21, Harrison Blaisdell 9) 17:46 (sh). Penalties — SCSU, Nick Poehling (slashing) 4:55; UND, Jordan Kawaguchi (boarding) 16:22; SCSU, Jake Wahlin (hooking) 20:00; UND, Kiersted (unsportsmanlike conduct) 20:00.
Second period — 2. SCSU, Jack Ahcan 7 (Jack Poehling 10, Micah Miller 9) 15:07; 3. SCSU, J. Poehling 7 (N. Poehling 14, Miller 10) 15:07; 4. UND, Shane Pinto 15 (Michaud 12, Jordan Kawaguchi 30) 19:09 (pp) . Penalties — UND, Zach Yon (too many men) 3:06; SCSU, Clark Kuster (interference) 7:17; SCSU, J. Poehling (hooking) 18:09; UND, Cole Smith (roughing) 19:31; SCSU, Esaton Brodzinski (roughing, holding) 19:31.
Third period — 5. UND, Jacob Bernard-Docker 5 (Pinto 11, Zach Yon 1) 4:06; 6. SCSU, J. Poehling 8 (Easton Brodzinski 13, N. Poehling 15) 7:07 Penalties — .UND, Caulfield (interference) 7:07.
Goalie saves — UND: Peter Thome 4-8-14-1—30 (3 GA); SCSU: David Hrenak 10-13-5-4—34 (3 GA).
Penalties-minutes — UND 5-13; SCSU 6-12.
Power plays (shots) — UND — 1-4 (4 shots); SCSU 0-3 (6 shots).
Faceoffs — 31-31.
Referees — Geno Binda and Nick Krebsbach.
Linesmen — Dana Penkivech and Jeff Schultz.
Attendance — 4,794.