Article Written by Cam Anderson.
The St. Cloud State men’s hockey team defeated the nation’s 2nd ranked team, Minnesota State, in game one of homecoming weekend at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center. Anticipation was high for this nonconference matchup between the two in-state rivals, and the Huskies were able to come from behind and secure a win in a highly competitive matchup.
Period one started cautiously and defensively with few scoring chances on both sides. The Mavericks pressed hard midway through the period leading to a powerplay caused by a tripping minor on St. Cloud State’s Aiden Spellacy. The Huskies were able to kill off the penalty thanks to a few saves by goaltender Jackson Castor. Momentum swung the Huskies’ way once the penalty was killed, and the physicality became more prevalent with a couple of big hits by Bushy and Spellacy for the Huskies. With 6:30 remaining, senior forward Zach Okabe shot from the high slot resulting in the lone goal of the period giving the Huskies the 1-0 lead into the break.
Minnesota State tied the game at 1-1 early in the second period on the powerplay with a tip-in goal by Sam Morton off a pass from defenseman Akito Hirose. Midway through the period, Spellacy was called for another penalty, resulting in another goal for the Mavericks on the delayed penalty with a slapshot by defenseman Tony Malinowski. In a period controlled by Minnesota State, the Huskies pressed back later in the period, creating goal-scoring opportunities. With less than two minutes in the period, the Huskies were able to capitalize on a crafty play from Okabe to Cruikshank in the slot, beating the goaltender, Keenan Rancier. That goal gave the transfer senior his fourth goal in five games at St. Cloud State.
St. Cloud started the third period on the powerplay, and it took 35 seconds to regain the lead on a net-front scramble scored by forward Kyler Kupka. Following the goal, the game was fast-paced with few whistles and zero penalties. Both teams battled hard for the next goal, however, both goalies made big saves, and no more goals were scored. The Huskies were able to hold on late with immense help from Castor’s 11 saves in the period to get the win in game one of the series.
The men’s hockey team starts the season with a record of 5-0 for the first time since the 2018-19 season.