Despite unparalleled regular season success in recent years, St. Cloud State’s hockey team had not won an NCAA tournament game since six years ago today.
That’s because first round horrors that visited the Huskies in 2016, 2018 and 2019 — where as the top seed, they fell to lowly Ferris State, Air Force and American International College — are now tossed aside.
It was not easy for a while.
Saturday afternoon in Albany, N.Y., had a similar feel to nightmares past, with inexperienced Boston University, whose season didn’t start until Jan. 8, leading 1-0 deep into the second period.
But as a No. 2 seed, far from home, St. Cloud’s offense came alive with a bizarre goal, a short-handed penalty shot, and solid goaltending. It all added up to a 6-2 win and relief across Central Minnesota.
Behind 34 saves from senior goalie David Hrenak and two goals from senior forward Easton Brodzinski, the Huskies overcame the early BU goal to take the lead when Micah Miller and Nick Perbix scored 75 seconds apart. After a Terriers equalizer, St. Cloud answered 32 seconds later on Brodzinski's first goal. The NCHC runners-up added three tallies in to ice the game in the third period.
“We stuck to our game plan,” Brodzinski said. “In years past, we kind of got away from that. I think this team really knows what it's like to stick to the structure and stick to what we know ... this team has something special in it."
Five different SCSU players notched goals, as the Huskies tied their largest-ever margin of victory in an NCAA tournament game (a 5-1 win over Notre Dame in 2013, the only time St. Cloud advanced to the Frozen Four.)
SCSU now plans for No. 1 seed Boston College at 4:30 p.m. CDT Sunday. At stake is a spot in the Frozen Four.
St. Cloud State is 3-1 all-time against the Eagles, winning the last three meetings by a 15-3 margin.