St. Cloud State takes Kendall Hockey Classic crown

The No. 12 St. Cloud State hockey team won both of their battles in last weekend’s Kendall Hockey Classic — plundering the tournament gold pan as the winner of the four-team tournament hosted by UAA.

After wins Friday for both the Seawolves and Huskies, the two teams squared off Saturday for the first time in over two years to decide who would win this year’s Classic.

The Huskies showed off early why they have been a regular in the NCAA tournament in the last decade. The team from St. Cloud, Minnesota and member of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference connected on passes all over the ice and applied defensive pressure whenever the Seawolves obtained possession of the puck.

“If you want to be an NCAA tournament team — that’s how good you have to be,” head coach Matt Thomas said following the game. “They don’t make mistakes defensively, and they execute offensively.”

Freshman forward for the Huskies Robby Jackson helped several times in the Huskies’ offensive execution in the first period. After a succession of several rapid passes, the forward put home the first goal of the game near the right UAA goal post. It was Jackson’s first ever collegiate goal.

The Huskies scored again several minutes later, converting on their very first power play opportunity. With UAA freshman Luke McColgan watching from the penalty box, senior St. Cloud forward Joey Benik picked up his second power play goal of the weekend. Teammate Jimmy Murray provided what was likely the “assist of the night” on the play — a no-look, backhand pass across the slot to Benik – who promptly sent it in.

Less than three minutes later, the Huskies struck again. It was Jackson again who found an opening, scoring in nearly the same spot as he had only five minutes prior.

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The game took a sharp turn in the second period. The 2,000-plus Seawolf fans in attendance were jolted back to life when sophomore forward Tad Kozun scored from several feet in front of Husky goaltender, Rasmus Reijola.

UAA scored again less than three minutes later, capitalizing on the stadium’s renewed energy. This time it was sophomore forward Matt Anholt who was responsible. The assistant captain shot a puck near the bottom of the face-off circle that deflected off a St. Cloud defenseman and into the net. The goal stood following an official review of the play.

The Huskies regained control of the game in the third period. The Seawolves had trouble clearing the puck away from their zone which led to several scoring opportunities for the Huskies.

Mantha did his best to keep the game close, seeking out pucks as they slid through players’ legs. Mantha finished the third period with 10 saves. However, St. Cloud State would go on another offensive run, scoring three more goals in the third period. St. Cloud senior forward Jimmy Murray got around a Seawolf defenseman and forced a backhand shot past Mantha to extend his team’s lead to two goals.

The Seawolves could not capitalize on a power play in the early part of the period. Husky Jon Lizotte was sent to the penalty box for tripping and game misconduct at 4:07 of the period, but St. Cloud was able to kill off the penalty. Only a couple minutes after the penalty expired, it was the Seawolves who found themselves in the penalty box. St. Cloud’s David Morley scored a 5-3 power play goal following penalties to UAA’s Dylan Hubbs and Wyatt Ege at the 7:03 mark.

The scoring was rounded out with an empty-net tally at 11:44 in the period by St. Cloud sophomore Judd Peterson.

“We’re always trying to stay positive even after losses,” UAA defenseman Wyatt Ege said after the game. “We’re always taking things from it and ready to get back to work Monday.”

The Seawolves play their next two games in Fairbanks at the Brice Alaska Goal Rush Tournament. The tournament features the Seawolves, UAF Nanooks, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), and American International College.

UAA downs Arizona State in overtime, 3-2

Junior Brad Duwe sent a puck over the left shoulder of goaltender Robert Levin to give UAA a thrilling 3-2 overtime victory over the Arizona State Sun Devils last Friday in the Kendall Hockey Classic. The 4-on-4 overtime period came after the teams skated to a 2-2 tie at the end of regulation.

UAA’s Mason Mitchell and Wyatt Ege each shined in their Seawolf debuts. The two freshmen each recorded their first NCAA goals. Mitchell’s tally came at the 12:46 mark of the first period while Ege’s came near the halfway point of the third. Ege’s goal tied the game at 2, swinging the momentum back in UAA’s favor heading into the overtime period. The Sun Devils’ Jack Rowe and Liam Norris each scored for Arizona State. The Sun Devils put the Seawolves on the power play on 9 separate occasions.

Arizona State recorded their first NCAA victory the next night when they defeated the University of Alaska Fairbanks 2-1.