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Special teams, big second period give No. 4 SCSU win over No. 3 Denver

Huskies go 3-for-5 on the power play, kill off a big 5-on-3 power play for Pioneers on their way to a 7-3 victory

SCSU vs Denver_0519.jpg
St. Cloud State forward Zach Okabe (14) scores on Denver goaltender Magnus Chrona (30) with teammate St. Cloud State forward Mason Salquist (16) joining the celebration in the first period Friday, Jan. 20, 2023, at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center in St. Cloud.
Jason Wachter / The Rink Live

ST. CLOUD, Minn. — Special teams were the difference in the first game of a series between the top two teams in the NCHC.

St. Cloud State was 3-for-5 on the power play and killed a 5-on-3 short-handed situation in the second period on its way to a 7-3 win over Denver on Friday at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center.

With the win, the Huskies (9-4 NCHC, 17-6 overall) move within three points of first-place Denver (10-3, 19-6). The two teams play again at 6 p.m. Saturday (FOX 9+) at the Brooks Center.

"I love beating those guys and with what's on the line, it feels even better," SCSU senior center Jami Krannila said.

The turning point in the game came in the second period. The Huskies led 3-2 and had to kill a 1 minute, 44-second 5-on-3 power play for the Pioneers and they did. Then Grant Cruikshank came out of the penalty box and led a 3-on-2 break into the Denver zone. Cruikshank got it to Krannila, who scored at 12:46 to make it 4-2 and it ended up being the game-winner.

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"Those are the moments that change a game," SCSU head coach Brett Larson said. "If they score there, it could be a different game. We were able to kill it off and the penalty kill came up big.

"Our top guys played like our top guys tonight. There's no way you beat a team like that when your top guys aren't playing like that. When Jami got that goal after we killed that 5-on-3, this place went nuts."

St. Cloud State went into the game 0-for-15 on the power play in their last five games. The Huskies made Denver pay with the man advantage, getting power-play goals from senior Zach Okabe, junior Veeti Miettinen and Cruikshank.

Another key was a couple big saves by SCSU junior goalie Dominic Basse near the end of the second period. With the Huskies on the power play, Basse had to stop two breakaway attempts to help the Huskies hold onto a 5-3 lead going into the third period.

The game was tied 1-1 before a wild second period in which, there were six goals scored.

Basse made his first start of the season in the first game of a series. Basse, a Chicago Blackhawks draft pick, was coming off a 27-save shutout in his last start against Colorado College. Basse made 28 saves against Denver to pick up his ninth win of the season.

SCSU's three nominees for the Hobey Baker Award all had good nights. Cruikshank, a graduate student from Delafield, Wis., had a goal and an assist and was 12-9 on faceoffs. Jami Krannila, a senior center from Finland, had two goals, a team-leading five shots on goal and was a plus-3. Dylan Anhorn, a senior defenseman from Calgary, Alberta, had two assists.

The Huskies, though, seemed the most excited about the last goal of the game. Mason Salquist, a sophomore center from Grand Forks, N.D., scored an empty-net goal at 19:14 of the third period. It was the first point of the season for Salquist, who was playing in his 22nd game of the season.

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After Salquist scored, he was surrounded in a group hug by his teammates on the bench.

"That was awesome," Krannila said. "Everyone just went nuts on the bench. Everyone feels happy for him. That's probably a big weight off his shoulder with scoring. I'm happy for him."

Okabe, a senior wing from Okotoks, had a goal and an assist and Josh Luedtke, a sophomore defenseman from Minnetonka, added two assists for the Huskies.

READ MORE ST. CLOUD STATE HUSKIES COVERAGE:
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Senior forward Addi Scribner discusses her career, which includes playing in Kansas, and helping East Ridge High School make its first state tournament on this Huskies Hockey Insider podcast episode.
Ahcan is in his third pro season playing in the Boston Bruins organization after playing for the Huskies from 2016-20
Senior from Finland is up for National Player of the Month
Freshman forward from Calgary picked up his first college goal last weekend against Minnesota Duluth.
Huskies will be looking to rebound this weekend with a home NCHC series against Miami
The Rink Live reporters discuss Bulldogs sweeping top-ranked Huskies, Minnesota running away with Big Ten, North Dakota sweeps Miami, recap of WCHA action

No. 4 SCSU 7, No. 3 DENVER 3

Denver 1-2-0—3
SCSU 1-4-2—7

First period scoring — 1. SCSU, Zach Okabe 14 (Spencer Meier 4, Jack Peart 14) 6:35 (pp); 2. D, Carter King 9 (Casey Dornbach 16, Shai Buium 12) 10:34 (pp). Penalties — D, Justin Lee (tripping) 6:03; SCSU, Josh Luedtke (kneeing) 8:42.

Second period scoring — 3. D, Jack Devine 5 (Aidan Thompson 12, Sean Behrens 12) 2:06; 4. SCSU, Jami Krannila 12 (Okabe 12, Ondrej Trejbal 6) 6:32; 5. SCSU, Jack Rogers 2 (Aidan Spellacy 1, Brendan Bushy 6) 9:47; 6. Krannila 13 (Grant Cruikshank 10) 12:46; 7. D, Brett Edwards 1 (Mike Benning 16, Connor Caponi 4) 13:31; 8. SCSU, Veeti Miettinen 6 (Dylan Anhorn 19, Adam Ingram 9) 16:23 (pp). Penalties — SCSU, Bench (too many players) 10:16; SCSU, Cruikshank (high-sticking) 10:32; D, Benning (hooking) 15:47; D, Devine (roughing) 17:48.

Third period — 9. SCSU, Cruikshank 16 (Anhorn 20) 11:56 (pp); 10. SCSU, Mason Salquist 1 (unassisted) 19:14 (en). Penalties — D, Sean Behrens (tripping) 10:07; D, King (tripping) 15:36; D, Rieger Lorenz (slashing) 18:51; SCSU, Anhorn (roughing) 18:51.

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Goalie saves — D: Magnus Chrona 9-10-5—24 (6 GA), Matt Davis (in at 13:54 of third period) x-x-2—2 (0 GA); SCSU: Dominic Basse 9-12-7—28 (3 GA).

Penalties-minutes — D 6-12; SCSU 4-8.

Power plays — D 1-3; SCSU 3-5.

Faceoffs — SCSU 44-22.

Referees — Joe Sullivan, Andrew Wilk

Linesmen — Elliott Bucholz, Andy Dokken

Mick Hatten is a reporter and editor for Forum News Service and helps manage TheRinkLive.com, a website dedicated to hockey. He began working for Forum Communications in November 2018 and has covered St. Cloud State University hockey since 2010. A graduate of St. Cloud State, he has more than 30 years of experience as a journalist and has been a youth hockey coach since 2014. mhatten@forumcomm.com
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