St. Cloud State punched their ticket to the National Championship Game. Here is why they can win:
- When St. Cloud State scored the game-winner late in the third with less than a minute to go in the game. I didn’t think they would have given up four goals, but they did. They showed resiliency and their defense finally stood tall at the end of the game. It has to get tighter next game but they had the classic bend don’t break defense we see in sports like football.
- Kings goalie prospect, David Hrenak is an athletic goalie who can usually make a nice glove save. He muffed one and it found the back of his net. That is a test and the fact that he and his team held on and came back from blowing a two-goal lead shows character. He’s now ready to face a powerhouse for all the marbles but he’s run the gambit of emotions for sure.
- The Penguins home arena is a nice place to have the Frozen Four. Pittsburgh has great hockey fans and fans from all over have come to the city. There is only 25% of the arena capacity here live and about 35 media members, but the atmosphere is still as good as any NHL game I’ve been to this season. There is a great vibe in the arena. Media, fans, everyone feels a little more normal being able to work and attend this event.
- Cloud State had never advanced to a title game in the history of the hockey program until now. Head coach, Brett Larson laid it out perfectly after the game.
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“Felt like we had to play a little rope-a-dope tonight. I thought Mankato played really well. They played really heavy. We had trouble breaking pucks out and maintaining offensive zone time for extended periods. Fortunately, we were opportunistic tonight. When we got a chance we were able to bury it.”
- Joe Molenaar tied the game up 4-4 with his first goal of the season and in his short career with the Huskies thus far. It was a hell of a time to get on the scoreboard. Teams need contributions from players like that to give them a shot in the arm. Nolan Walker scored the game-winner. It was a beautiful deflection. He didn’t have a game-winning or game-tying goal in this abbreviated season. He picked a great time for that as well. Players stepping up like this could seem them win a title for the first time. Let’s see what happens there’s one more game left.