Article Written by Samantha Roering. Photo by Samantha Roering.
The Huskies took a break from conference play over the weekend to face off against the number 14-ranked University of Michigan. It was a hard battle on both ends, but St. Cloud State would ultimately fall short in a 2-0 loss on Friday.
“They buried their chances, and we didn’t. That’s, I think, what it comes down to,” Coach Larson said of the game.
The first two periods were the most intense, with neither team able to see the scoresheet. A little over six minutes into the third period, Michigan’s T.J. Hughes got the Wolverines on board first. 10 minutes later, Garrett Schifsky added to Michigan’s lead after a defensive misplay by Jack Peart. That all led to the first Huskies home shutout since November of 2016.
Though the final score doesn’t reflect it, there were things for the Huskies to feel good about. They generated more opportunities than Michigan, outshooting them 30-27. Ryan Rosborough led the team in shots, setting a career-high with six. Joe Molenaar and Barrett Hall also set career highs in shots, with five for Molenaar and four for Hall.
Another impressive feat for St. Cloud was how their penalty kill handled the best power-play unit in college hockey. Heading into the game Michigan’s penalty kill had a successful conversion rate of 35 percent on the power play. However, they couldn’t do any damage with the extra attacker on Friday, with St. Cloud State holding them 0/5 and allowing them only two shots through 8:41 of penalty minutes.
“I mean it starts with Coach Shyiak, the structure and detail he gives to us. He does a great job, and then it’s just individually, each of us making sure we’re sharp,” Dylan Anhorn spoke of the team’s recent penalty kill success.
Michigan’s penalty kill was then able to shut down opportunities when St. Cloud had the one-man advantage. St. Cloud went 0/3 on the power play, generating three shots through six minutes with an extra man.
The Huskies also lacked dominance on faceoffs, winning 41 percent of the draws. Some of that is expected, as their top man on the dot, Mason Salquist, missed the game and is considered week-to-week with an upper-body injury.
In Salquist’s absence, freshman forward Tyson Gross stepped up for the team, winning 50 percent of his faceoffs. All other forwards combined for 35 percent against Michigan’s centers.
“I thought they (Michigan) started with the puck too much. Our faceoff game definitely got to get better, not just the centers, but all five guys,” Coach Larson explained.
The ability to quickly win the puck and start driving play was key for Michigan’s offensive game, though St. Cloud’s defense hung with them. St. Cloud blocked 12 shots Friday night, with Karl Falk, Dylan Anhorn, Jack Peart, and Cooper Wylie each picking up two blocks.
However, there were a couple of shifts in which the Huskies couldn’t hold onto the puck in their own end, leading to scoring chances and even goals for the Wolverines.
“They tried to play a bit more of a possession game, which, I think at times, caught us off guard,” Anhorn said.
Friday’s loss against Michigan marks their third straight loss against the team. The Huskies have never won against the Wolverines, with a record of 0-3-0.
The Huskies will look for their first win against Michigan on Saturday night during game two. It’ll be important for the team to show up with the same competitive energy but take it a step further.
“I can’t fault the guys tonight. I got to do a good job of making sure we look at the tape and see if there’s any adjustments we can make,” Coach Larson said, “That’s on me to have the team prepared tomorrow night. The guys just need to show up and dig a little bit deeper to find a way.”