St. Cloud, MInn. - The #8 St. Cloud State University men's hockey team (22-14-1) moved one step closer to St. Paul with a 6-1 victory over Alaska Anchorage (4-24-7) in the opening game of the WCHA playoffs on Friday, March 15 in St. Cloud, Minn.
The victory gives the Huskies a 1-0 edge in the best of three series, which will continue with a 7:07 p.m. game at the National Hockey and Event Center on Saturday, March 16. If needed, the third and deciding game would be played at 7:07 p.m. on Sunday, March 17 at the NHEC.
The Huskies turned in an impressive effort to gain the early lead in the playoff series at the NHEC. In the first period, SCSU sophomore Garrett Milan opened the Huskies' scoring with his second marker of the season at 3:15 of the first. Rookies David Morley and Joey Benik each had assists on the play.
UAA replied at 4:24 of the first period with an even-strength goal by Scott Warner on assists from Scott Allen and Alex Gellert.
St. Cloud State then posted the game winning goal before the end of the first period with a power play goal by Morley at 15:08. Ben Hanowski and Benik each had assists on the play for the Huskies. This was Morley's team leading seventh power play goal of the season and his 10th goal overall for the Huskies in 2012-13.
In the second period, SCSU continued to pour it on with a goal at 4:06 by freshman forward Jonny Brodzinski. Hobey Baker candidate Drew LeBlanc notched his nation-leading 35 assist of the season on the play and the second assist went to Taylor Johnson, his fifth of the season.
Benik pushed SCSU's lead to 4-1 with a power play goal at 7:40 of the second period as Morley scored his third point of the night with the first assist. Rookie defender Ethan Prow added the second assist on the play, which was his 11th of the season. On the season, Morley now has 10 goals, nine assists and nine points. He ranks 10th in the nation this year with seven power play goals.
To cap the second period, freshman Jimmy Murray rocked his fifth goal of the season at 19:21 of the period. Hanowski provided the solo assist on the play for the Huskies. Hanowski now has 12 assists this season and 26 points for the Huskies. In his career at SCSU, Hanowski has 108 career points.
NOTE: Hanowski is a top 10 candidate for the 2013 Senior CLASS Award. Fans can vote for Hanowski at the Senior CLASS Award fan voting website. You can vote once a day during the fan voting!
To finish the scoring, Brodzinski made it 6-1 with a goal at :22 of the third period. This was Brodzinski's team leading 21st goal of the year. He currently ranks 6th in the nation among all NCAA Division I players with 21 goals this season and he leads all NCAA Division I first-year players with 21 goals this year.
Brodzinski needs one more goal in 2012-13 to tie the Huskies' team record for most goals in a season by a first-year player. Mark Hartigan tallied 22 goals during his first year with the program in 1999-00.
In the contest, SCSU outshot the Seawolves 32-23 and the Huskies were 2-of-5 on the power play. UAA was 0-of-3 on the power in the game. SCSU goalie Ryan Faragher made 19 saves and was the goalie of record in the game. Joseph Phillippi finished the final 6:07 of play for SCSU and made three saves to end the game. Rob Gunderson had 26 saves in the loss for UAA.
Tickets are available for the Huskies' second playoff game against UAA at 7:07 p.m. on Saturday, March 16. For complete ticket information, please call 1-877-SCSUTIX or visit www.scsutickets.com. Tickets are just $12 for this playoff game.
Fans will want to come out on March 16 as the WCHA's MacNaughton Cup will be on display during the first two periods of the game in the south concourse of the NHEC. Fans will have an opportunity to get up close and take photos with the MacNaughton Cup during this time.