ST. CLOUD, Minn. -- This is not the first time things have gotten crazy during Homecoming at St. Cloud State.
The place that gave us riots on a Saturday night in October more than 30 years ago was this time home to a wild and wacky hockey game that ended with the Minnesota Gophers winning 4-3 in overtime, and St. Cloud State crying foul over the game-winning play.
Officially, Sammy Walker’s second goal of the game ended things just 36 seconds into a 3-on-3 extra session. The goal came after Walker’s linemate Blake McLaughlin appeared to pull down Huskies defenseman Nick Perbix from behind, no call was made, and the Gophers scored to end it. As boos and debris rained down on the rink and Huskies coach Brett Larson walked across the ice to yell at the officials, the Gophers skated off with their third win of the season.
Bryce Brodzinski and Aaron Huglen scored second period goals for the Gophers (3-1-0) after they fell behind 1-0, and Walker scored early in the third period before the Huskies rallied to force overtime.
Gophers coach Bob Motzko, on the visitors bench for the first time after being the Huskies head coach for 13 seasons, felt a no-call on the winning play was correct.
“It was a dive at the end. The kid, he knows he dove,” Motzko said, offering the idea that a hooking call on McLaughlin and an embellishment call on Perbix would have been the only appropriate whistle. “But if you’re going to call it he should’ve called two and two. I felt we deserved to win that game. I know it’s going to be controversial how it played down, but it played the way it was supposed to tonight.”
Blake McLaughlin (#FlyTogether) steals the puck with what should be a penalty and then sets Sammie Walker (#GoBolts) up in front for the overtime goal.— J.D. Burke (@JDylanBurke) October 17, 2021
Minnesota wins 4-3 in overtime, regrettably, on perhaps the worst non-call I've seen in some time. I feel for St. Cloud State. pic.twitter.com/DWu1G4DElD
Not surprisingly on a night filled with emotion, Larson had a different view.
"I'm embarrassed that that happened and that non-call really ruined a great hockey game," Larson said. "There were two teams that, I thought, played great tonight and just gave our fans a treat — a back-and-forth game between great hockey teams. Unfortunately, that situation really left a tough taste in your mouth.”
The Huskies got goals from Sam Hentges, Jack Peart and Nolan Walker, but fell to 4-2-0 overall. They got stellar goaltending from David Hrenak, who had 29 saves in the loss.
Hentges, a Minnesota Wild draft pick, made the first mark on the scoreboard during a classic scramble in front of the Gophers’ Jack LaFontaine, in which the goalie made the first save, but lost sight of the puck with traffic around the crease. The play was reviewed, and the goal counted.
Early in the second period the Gophers drew even on Huglen’s first collegiate goal. Hrenak made a highlight reel save on a shot by Huglen, a freshman from Roseau, Minn., but later on the same shift the rookie slipped a rising shot under the goalie’s armpit to forge a 1-1 tie.
“Opportunity came and I was glad I got to capitalize on it,” said Huglen. “St. Cloud State’s got really good structure and obviously is a really good team, really well-coached. It was bound to be a good game, I’m just glad we came out on top.”
Brodzinski gave the Gophers their first lead of the weekend later in the second, stealing the puck from Perbix behind the Huskies net, then curling to the top of the crease and beating Hrenak with a wrist shot.
The Huskies and Gophers traded goals in the opening 73 seconds of the third, with Peart’s first collegiate goal producing a 2-2 tie, and Walker taking the lead back on the next shift. With Ben Meyers in the penalty box on a cross checking call that was reviewed for a possible major penalty, the Huskies’ Walker re-directed a puck past LaFontaine to produce overtime.
Motzko received a mostly warm reception from the Huskies fans before the game, and admitted it was a homecoming for him as well.
“It’s different. I have great memories here and then to see a crowd like this and the intensity, I’ve lived through this,” Motzko said. “This is a special place, and it was special tonight too.”
Minnesota Gophers coach Bob Motzko, forward Aaron Huglen and forward Sammy Walker spoke to The Rink Live following their team's 4-3 overtime win at St. Cloud State on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021.
LaFontaine finished with 29 saves. Motzko praised his goalie’s game, especially in the first period when the raucous crowd made the atmosphere unfriendly at best.
Minnesota 4, St. Cloud State 3, OT
First period — 1. SCS, Sam Hentges 1 (Easton Brodzinski, Josh Luedtke), 9:52. Penalties — Matt Staudacher, MIN (roughing), 12:04; Bryce Brodzinski, MIN (roughing), 12:04; E. Brodzinski, SCS (roughing), 12:04; Nick Perbix, SCS (roughing), 12:04; Jack Perbix, MIN (high sticking), 13:48; Kyler Kupka, SCS (hooking), 17:16.
Second period — 2. MIN, Aaron Huglen 1 (J. Perbix, Brock Faber), 3:20. 3. MIN, B. Brodzinski 4 (unassisted), 17:03. Penalties — None.
Third period — 4. SCS, Jack Peart 1 (unassisted), 0:19. 5. MIN, Sammy Walker 2 (Blake McLaughlin), 1:13. 6. SCS, Nolan Walker 3 (Veeti Miettinen, N. Perbix), 15:51, (pp). Penalties — Walker, MIN (tripping), 11:11; Ben Meyers, MIN (cross checking), 15:44.
Overtime — MIN, Walker 3 (McLaughlin), 0:36. Penalties — None.
Shots on goal — MIN 8-15-9-1—33; SCS 15-5-12-0—32. Goalies — Jack LaFontaine, MIN (32 shots-29 saves); David Hrenak, SCS (33-29). Power plays — MIN 0-of-1, SCS 1-of-3. Referees — Tom Sterns, Sterling Egan. Linesmen — Andy Dokken, Elliot Bucholz. Att. — 5,530.