Article written by Samantha Roering. Photos accredited to Samantha Roering.
The St. Cloud State Huskies were on thin ice after getting swept by the Minnesota State Mavericks the previous weekend. Emotions were running high and the team knew they had to play better.
“We’re kind of pissed about last weekend and it’s been mentally a really tough week for us. We’ve been going really hard in practice,” Veeti Miettinen said.
The tough week paid off for the Huskies as they got the bounce back win they needed on Friday when they hosted Alaska Fairbanks. The Huskies came out in dominant fashion, winning 4-1.
The first period sent a message that this is a team that can overcome setbacks. Scoring three goals in the first period of play, they demonstrated that they weren’t going to let the rough start to the season get to them.
Opening the scoring on the power-play, it was Veeti Miettinen who got the Huskies on the board first. His goal would get the momentum going in St. Cloud’s favor and set the tone for the rest of the game.
“A lot of times, the secret to getting some offensive mojo going is your power play’s got to score and to get that one from Veeti early, I thought that gave our team a boost,” Coach Larson said.
Following Veeti’s goal, Nick Portz scored his first goal in a Huskies jersey to make it a 2-0 lead for St. Cloud. Then, it was Adam Ingram’s turn to put one in the net, giving the Huskies their third goal, with less than a minute left in the first period.
The Huskies outshot the Nanooks 10-3 in the opening period of play. St. Cloud was in control of the gameflow, looking solid on both sides of special teams. After giving up the first powerplay goal, Alaska Fairbanks kept the Huskies from scoring on the other four opportunities. SCSU did still continue to generate good looks despite not scoring again with the extra man.
SCSU’s penalty kill was perfect throughout the night, killing all 5 penalties. Contributing to that was Dominic Basse, who was nearly flawless in net, making saves on 12 of 13 shots faced. His rebound after a rough outing in Mankato was exactly what the team needed to get back in the win column.
“He came out. He was prepared. He was ready,” Coach Larson said of Dominic Basse’s performance, “He had to make a couple big saves when he wasn’t getting a lot of action in that first period. That’s tough and I thought he stood up when we needed him to.”
Basse wasn’t the only one who stepped up when it was needed. Jack Peart made some big plays on the defensive side, Kyler Kupka had a two assist night, and both Adam Ingram and Veeti Miettinen had multi-point nights as well.
The Huskies gave up just one goal, in the third period. It seemed like they started to let their foot off the gas in the second and it slipped away from them when Dawson Bruneski found the scoresheet.
They were able to recover and found their way back to playing a strong game, with Joe Molenaar scoring in the third to give them a 4-1 lead. Molenaar was one of several forwards for the Huskies who seemed to play with a little extra grit. They were hard on pucks and made it difficult for the Nanooks to defend.
“The forward group, we asked them to play a certain style tonight. We asked them to be hard to play against, to pressure their defense. I thought for a couple periods, we did that,” Larson explained of the expectations coming into the game.
As a whole, the team had started to find some chemistry, with all four lines creating opportunities for the team to score. They ended the night outshooting the Nanooks 34-13, finding an offensive spark that had been lacking in previous games.
“It felt good to see, especially that first period. You could tell the guys had a little pent up emotion and energy after last weekend. They came ready to play tonight,” Coach Larson said of the team’s effort.