St. Cloud State and North Dakota battled to a 2-2 draw on Friday night at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center in St. Cloud, in the first game of their two-game weekend series.
Our full recap of the game will be posted later tonight.
Here are my takeaways from tonight’s game.
-This game got off to a fast start, and stayed fast throughout. It was a battle between St. Cloud State’s impressive forward group, which carried possession most of the night, and North Dakota’s defense, which I thought played excellent.
A lot of credit goes to Cam Johnson, who was credited with 37 saves tonight. He caught a rough break on St. Cloud State’s first goal, which was a slow shot that was tipped in front of him, but he was locked in most of night and seeing the puck really well.
-He needed to be good too. Coming into tonight’s game, I don’t think many people would have expected North Dakota to hang in the game if they knew they were going to go short-handed seven times. But the Fighting Hawks were able to kill off all seven power plays, including a stretch in the second period when they went down two men back-to-back.
It wasn’t like they were bad power plays for the Huskies either. They were moving the puck around well, but couldn’t get the clean shot they needed to score. The closest they came in the first period was when Blake Lizotte caught a pass on the backdoor and his wrist shot hit the post. North Dakota definitely played with fire tonight and was lucky to escape.
-While St. Cloud State’s forwards were very good tonight, it was an uncharacteristically bad night for their defense. North Dakota struggled to set much up offensively, but they generated a number of Grade-A chances off turnovers by the St. Cloud State defense, including on their first goal.
-It was an eventful end to the game for North Dakota defenseman Christian Wolanin. It started on St. Cloud State’s goal to take a 2-1 lead. Wolanin picked up a puck at the left point and made a nice, patient play to circle all the way around the net back up to the top of the point waiting for a play to open up. But when he got to the top of the point, he panicked and fired a bad pass that was picked off by Ryan Poehling and taken down the ice for a breakaway goal.
Wolanin redeemed himself on his next shift though. He once again took the puck in deep behind the net, but this time found Johnny Simonson in the slot and slipped a nice pass to him that eventually led to Cole Smith’s rebound goal.
Then Wolanin ended the game with this pretty shootout winner.
-It was a quiet night for North Dakota freshman Grant Mismash. Mismash was maybe the closest to a snub among the forwards for the recently announced US World Juniors camp roster. Tonight kind of showed why that was. On pure talent, Mismash is probably in the top 12 on that team, but is a bit limited in terms of role. He’s a guy that is great in the offensive zone, but isn’t really a 200-foot player. On a night when North Dakota didn’t spend much time working in the offensive zone, he was pretty quiet. I can understand USA Hockey wanting somebody a little better on the defensive end for a fourth line role.
11:31 Easton Brodzinski from Patrick Newell and Kevin Fitzgerald 1-0 St. Cloud State
Newell took a harmless looking shot from the right circle that hit off Brodzinski’s foot and deflected past Johnson for the goal.
15:16 Rhett Gardner from Christian Wolanin and Colton Poolman 1-1 tie
Gardner skated the puck into the zone off a turnover down the left wing. Smith got a piece of his high wrist shot, but was not able to keep it from going into the net.
6:15 Ryan Poehling unassisted 2-1 St. Cloud State
Poehling intercepted a cross-ice pass just inside the St. Cloud State blue line, and raced down the ice on a breakaway. He made a quick move to his backhand and scored.
9: 14 Cole Smith from Johnny Simonson and Christian Wolanin 2-2 tie
Wolanin skated the puck behind the SCSU net and slid it out to Simonson in the slot. His initial shot was stopped, but Smith was right in front of the goal, and was able to jam home the rebound.