'28-year-old' forward scores his 1st goal for SCSU and it's the game-winner against Western Michigan
Aidan Spellacy reached the milestone in his 25th game playing for St. Cloud State after transferring from Robert Morris. The alternate captain played a big role in a 4-1 win.
ST. CLOUD, Minn. — If you look it up, Aidan Spellacy turned 24 on June 13th.
But after he scored his first goal in two seasons for the St. Cloud State men's hockey team on Saturday, there was some good-natured ribbing of the Huskies alternate captain. Spellacy was given the puck and then head coach Brett Larson got the locker room to laugh.
"Lars said that was the first time he's given a first goal puck to a 28-year-old," Spellacy said with a laugh. "I'm only 24."
Spellacy scored a goal from in close to the net at 14:52 of the second period and it ended up being the game-winner for the fourth-ranked Huskies, who beat No. 17 Western Michigan 4-1 in an NCHC game at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center.
The win gave SCSU (2-2 NCHC, 9-3 overall) a series split with the Broncos (3-1, 8-5).
For Spellacy, it was his first goal since March 12, 2021, in an Atlantic Hockey playoff game against Niagara when he was playing for Robert Morris University. The graduate student forward transferred to St. Cloud State before the 2021-22 season.
"[Freshman Ryan Rosborough] made a great play behind the net and got it to me," said Spellacy, who is from Lakewood, Ohio. "He made a great play back and it just found my stick."
The goal gave the Huskies a 2-0 lead, but the team enjoyed it for more than just that. Spellacy played in 19 of the team's 37 games at forward last season and had one assist. Spellacy is so well thought of by his teammates that he was voted to be an alternate captain this season.
"It's special because everyone loves him so much," said SCSU senior center Jami Krannila, who had two goals in the game. "He gives everything to the team ... Seeing him get his first feels super, it's amazing."
Spellacy has played center and wing for the Huskies. On Saturday, he was the center for a line with Rosborough and freshman wing Grant Ahcan, one night after Spellacy and Rosborough sat out as healthy scratches.
"I'm really excited about that line," Larson said. "I thought they played exactly the way we wanted them to. They got our ground game going.
"We needed some more of those body blow shifts where we sustain time in their end and I thought they did a great job of that."
The team also named Spellacy its Player of the Game for his play.
"That's usually just a team thing, but I thought I'd say it here and I thought that was pretty cool," Larson said in the postgame press conference. "For him to get the game-winner ... the guy is really unselfish, does whatever he can for the team whether he's in the lineup, out of the lineup. He's pulling for these guys and wants them to win.
"For a guy who didn't play much last year, it says a lot about him that the team voted him assistant captain this year. He's just one of those guys who is there whenever you need him."
International Exchange Line reunites, Krannila has big game
There was a lot of shuffling in the lineup after Friday's disappointing 4-2 loss for the Huskies to the Broncos.
Three of the four lines had goals, which included Krannila's. Krannila and senior right wing Zach Okabe were reunited with junior left wing Veeti Miettinen for the game, bringing back the International Exchange Line, which has played the majority of three seasons together.
Krannila's first goal came off a rebound of a slap shot by Okabe at 9:13 of the second period, which gave the Huskies a 3-0 lead.
"I dumped it in and Oaks got in on the forecheck and was wheeling and took a slap shot for some reason," Krannila said with a smile. "I was laughing when he started winding up.
"Then I got a rebound and the goalie made a great save. (Brendan) Bushy kicked the puck to me like we were playing soccer before games. He's been learning. I just kind of passed it through the crease and their guy took it in. I got a little lucky, but when you do the right things, I guess you get rewarded."
Krannila, a preseason All-NCHC pick, has five goals in his last five games and 12 points in 10 games this season.
Brand gets injured, Cruikshank stays hot
Senior wing Chase Brand got injured twice in the game. Brand had a slap shot go off his left hand with 3:48 left in the second period.
He returned to play, only to take a hit behind the Western Michigan goal line where it appeared he took contact to the head with 2:11 left in the game. Brand lay on the ice for several minutes before athletic trainer Bryan DeMaine came onto the ice to check on him.
Brand got up and skated off under his own power. Larson said that Brand was in the training room after the game, being evaluated.
There was no call made on the hit. Larson said that the team looked at the replay, but decided it was borderline as to whether or not a call would be made and the Huskies were leading by three goals at the time.
Brand had an assist, a shot on goal, a blocked shot and also killed penalties during the game. He played on a line with sophomore center Mason Salquist and junior right wing Joe Molenaar.
The goals keep coming for fifth-year center Grant Cruikshank. He opened the scoring with his 10th goal of the season at 1:05 of the first period.
Cruikshank has transferred twice in his college career. He played his first three seasons at Colorado College before playing for the University of Minnesota last season.
To put his hot start in perspective, he had 11 goals in 40 games as a freshman at Colorado College, 11 goals in 34 games as a sophomore and now he is tied for third in NCAA Division I in goals this season through 12 games.
No. 4 SCSU 4, No. 17 WESTERN MICHIGAN 1
First period scoring — 1. SCSU, Grant Cruikshank 10 (Micah Miller 5) 1:05; 2. SCSU, Aidan Spellacy 1 (Ondrej Trejbal 2, Ryan Rosborough 1) 14:52. Penalties — WMU, Jack Perbix (holding) 1:29; SCSU, Jack Peart (holding) 7:01; SCSU, Brendan Bushy (tripping) 7:50; WMU, Dylan Wendt (interference) 10:04; WMU, Tim Washe (roughing) 12:31.
Second period scoring — 3. SCSU, Jami Krannila 5 (Zach Okabe 6, Jack Peart 7) 9:13. Penalties — None.
Third period scoring — 4. WMU, Ryan McAllister 6 (Carter Berger 7, Max Sasson 12) 16:42 (ea); 5. SCSU, Krannila 6 (Chase Brand 2, Dylan Anhorn 11) 17:35 (en). Penalties — SCSU, Okabe (tripping) :18; SCSU, Brady Ziemer (cross-checking) 3:10.
Goalie saves — WMU: Cameron Rowe 11-8-6—25 (3 GA); SCSU: Dominic Basse 2-4-5—11 (1 GA).
Penalties-minutes — WMU 3-6, SCSU 4-8.
Power plays (shots) — WMU 0-4 (1 shots); SCSU 0-3 (8 shots).
Faceoffs — SCSU 40-20.
Attendance — 4,152.
Three stars of the game — 1. Spellacy (SCSU), 2. Krannila (SCSU), 3. Cruikshank (SCSU).
Referees — Brian Hankes, Ryan Hersey.
Linesmen — Tony Aronson, Elliott Bucholz.