Article Written by Samantha Roering. Photo by Samantha Roering.
The crowd at the Herb Brooks Center was invested. After being shut out the previous night, the Huskies came from behind a three-goal deficit and played through a scoreless overtime. In the scorebooks, the game was settled as a 3-3 tie, but for everyone in the arena, it wasn’t over yet. It was in the midst of a shootout.
Five skaters had taken the ice for their shot. Veeti Miettinen scored in style before Dominic Basse blocked a Michigan skater from scoring. Zach Okabe fell short on his shot, and Basse let one slip past him. Then, Kyler Kupka found the back of the net again after a two-goal night.
It had come down to the sixth skater. If Michigan made this, the shootout would continue. If Dominic Basse made the save, the Huskies would win the shootout. Fans were on their feet as Basse made the save, giving St. Cloud a shootout victory.
“It’s just an emotional thing more than anything with those shootouts. Our fans got to celebrate, and we got to celebrate,” Coach Larson said.
It certainly was a night full of emotions for the Huskies. Michigan picked up an early lead less than two minutes into the game. They made it a 2-0 lead before the first period was over and added to it again in the second.
It would have been easy for St. Cloud to get frustrated. They felt their game was strong, but a couple of unlucky bounces had the scoreboard looking differently. They were also struggling to stay out of the box, facing college hockey’s top power play a few more times than they liked.
Yet, the team didn’t give up. Dominic Basse reflected that more than anyone on the ice. After giving up three goals from the 19 shots in the first two periods, he stopped all 11 shots he faced in the third period and overtime. His ability to remain calm in the net, not letting the intensity get to him, allowed his team in front of him to do the same.
“What I give him a ton of credit for is he held his emotions in check. He didn’t waiver. He didn’t get off his game,” Coach Larson praised.
A minute after Michigan’s third goal, St. Cloud was challenged again. A holding penalty against Karl Falk would put them back against the Wolverine’s dangerous power play. However, this is when they finally caught a break. Veeti Miettinen scored shorthanded off a pass from his brother Verner. It was Veeti’s team-leading tenth goal of the season.
Heading into the third period, they had cut the deficit to two, and there was a spark of hope for the Huskies. They’d get an early power play, and Kyler Kupka, with a baseball-esque swing, got the puck past Michigan’s goaltender.
The celebration was halted as the Huskies had another challenge ahead. Ryan Rosborough took a five-minute major penalty, and St. Cloud faced five minutes against a lethal power play. This game-defining moment was tasked to the penalty kill, and they shined under the pressure.
Michigan put up 13 shots during the power play, but Dominic Basse and the Huskies kept them all out of the net. The penalty kill picked up six blocked shots during this stretch, with Jack Peart taking two.
“I think that was huge, obviously. That put us in a tough spot there, but we took it with a really good attitude on the bench. We were confident. We were able to kill it off, and I feel like we gained a lot of momentum through that,” freshman forward Tyson Gross said.
The energy shift that it created was clear. Much of the action was in St. Cloud’s offensive zone after the kill. They looked strong on faceoffs, were desperate to put the puck on the net, and played with an urgency that wasn’t there before.
They had a power play opportunity of their own, but nothing would come of it, and Dominic Basse was then sent to the bench. St. Cloud was buzzing with energy and was finding opportunities with the extra attacker, but the clock was running low, and their chances kept barely missing.
It was with nine seconds left in the game they finally broke through. Kyler Kupka picked up his second goal of the game, with assists going to Zach Okabe and Tyson Gross.
“He (Anhorn) kind of just desperately put it away, and it somehow just landed on my stick. I knew time was kind of ticking down. I saw there were bodies at the net, threw it there, and Kupka did the rest,” Gross said of the goal.
The game was then sent to overtime, where neither team finished it off. Overtime passed, and it officially ended in a tie. The decision was made to go to a shootout, in which the Huskies would emerge victorious.
As a whole, it was a weekend of growth for the Huskies, with several freshmen stepping up in big moments. Tyson Gross had a huge weekend, filling the role of top-line center. He picked up two assists in Saturday’s game and was the team’s best forward on faceoffs. Barrett Hall was another freshman forward who showed growth in his game. After setting a career-high of four shots on Friday’s game, he followed it up on Saturday with five.
Saturday’s tie saw contributions from everyone on the team, underclassmen and upperclassmen alike. It was a test of grit for the team, who kept playing hard, even when they faced a deficit. “Though we’re a young team, we’re definitely maturing. I think that’s a huge step, to show that we can get into a situation like that, hold our game together, and keep going,” Coach Larson said.