ALBANY, N.Y. — It was a game in which there were things that happened that veteran hockey people have not seen.
It was a game where there were a couple long delays for some ice getting repaired and where, not only a piece of Plexiglas had to be repaired, but a chunk of the boards had to be put back together.
There was a penalty shot goal and the most goals for the St. Cloud State men's hockey team in its 21-game NCAA Division I tournament history. It is tough to paint a complete picture of the game, but the Huskies are just glad with the outcome.
St. Cloud State scored three goals in each of the last two periods to beat Boston University 6-2 in the semifinals of the Northeast Regional on Saturday at Times Union Center. The second-seeded Huskies (18-10-0) play top-seeded Boston College (17-5-1) at 4:30 p.m. Sunday (ESPN2) for the region title and a trip to the Frozen Four.
This will be the sixth regional championship game (2015, 2014, 2013, 2010, 2001) for the Huskies, who will be looking to qualify for their second Frozen Four (2013).
"(The Huskies) came out and played hard right away and they handled some adversity," said Brett Larson, who is in his third season as SCSU's head coach. "Getting scored on 8 seconds into the second period ... I was proud of the guys. They didn't let it rattle them and they were able to rally from there and play well down the stretch."
The win also snapped a three-game losing streak in the NCAA tournament for the Huskies. In each of those three games (2019 vs. AIC, 2018 vs. Air Force, 2016 vs. Ferris State), the Huskies were the No. 1 seed in their region and lost in the first round.
Like each of those games, the Huskies gave up the first goal. St. Cloud State won the faceoff to open the second period, but when Huskies senior defenseman Seamus Donohue could not handle it cleanly, Wilmer Skoog got to a loose puck and put a backhand past David Hrenak for a 1-0 Terriers lead.
But the Huskies scored six of the last seven goals of the game to pick up the win. For the Huskies' eight seniors, it was their first NCAA win.
"The third time is the charm, I guess," SCSU senior wing Easton Brodzinski said. "We stuck to our game plan. 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. Over the years, we've had a lot of good teams here and a lot of downfalls. But I think this team has something special in it."
Brodzinski comes up big
Brodzinski had two goals, including the game-winner, to help lead the Huskies.
"Brodzy is our go-to guy in tough moments," Larson said of Brodzinski, who is tied for the team lead in game-winning goals (3) this season and has 12 in his career. "He's able to come through. He's got hockey sense. He's got a great stick. I think he showed tonight that he can play in big-time games. He's a guy that, when you need to have a play be made or need to find a way to get on that score sheet, he's got the ability to do it."
His three game-winning goals have come in the last seven games and Brodzinski also has an assist on three other game-winning goals this season. In a wild 3:46 stretch of the second period, the teams scored four goals. With the game tied 2-2, Brodzinski went out in front of the net and snapped in a pass from below the goal line by Nolan Walker at 16:00 for the game-winner.
"It was an unbelievable pass by Walker," Brodzinski said of his linemate, who had a career-best three assists. "(Sam) Hentges was also a workhorse on that shift. We were on them the whole time and I think we got two or three turnovers from them.
"That definitely helped with the offense. It was a great look from Walker out to the slot and I just got enough wood on it and it went in."
Brodzinski added his second goal of the game when he drove to the net for a rebound goal at 10:04 of the third period to give the Huskies a 5-2 lead. It was the 55th goal of his college career and moved him past former NHL forward Matt Hendricks and into 14th place on the program's career goals list.
The last time that the Huskies won an NCAA tournament game, Easton's brother, Jonny, scored an extra attacker goal with 37 seconds left in regulation to push SCSU's game against Michigan Tech into overtime. Then Judd Peterson scored at 8:11 of overtime to send the Huskies to the West Regional championship game in Fargo, N.D.
The only time St. Cloud State has won an NCAA regional title was in 2013 in Jonny's freshman season when the Huskies beat Miami 4-1 for the Midwest Regional title in Toledo, Ohio. In 2013, the Huskies also set the program's previous record for goals in an NCAA tournament game when they beat Notre Dame 5-1.
1st penalty shot goal since 1992
With the Huskies clinging to a 3-2 lead, St. Cloud State's Chase Brand took a contact to the head major penalty at 3:29 of the third period. With SCSU trying to kill off that five-minute penalty, Krannila won a race to a loose puck that went into the slot of the BU zone.
Krannila battled with Terriers captain Logan Cockerill for the puck and Cockerill tripped Krannila and was awarded a penalty shot.
"Jami's goal definitely boosted our confidence a lot," Brodzinski said. "As soon as he got (the penalty shot), everybody knew where it was going and knew that it was going in. So we had a lot of confidence."
Krannila's goal gave the Huskies a 4-2 lead at 4:17 of the third period.
"At first, I didn't even think I was going to get a penalty shot," Krannila said. "Coach (Larson) asked me if I wanted to take it or go on a power play. I said, 'I'm gonna shoot it.'
"In practice, I've seen Easton do that move probably 100 times and it usually goes in. I thought that maybe I would try that, too, and I got lucky and it went in."
Krannila took his time skating into the Boston University zone after the puck was placed at center ice. He skated to near one of the inside hashmarks and threw in a wrist shot for the goal.
Terriers coach Albie O'Connell was not sure that he should have been awarded a penalty shot.
"It looked like a good play by our guy (Cockerill)," O'Connell said. "That was the turning point in the game, 100%. I thought Cockerill made a good play on it. He hits the puck and I understand the trip (call). I didn't think the guy (Krannila) had the ability to even get a shot off or score a goal with the pressure that Cockerill put on him."
Shorthanded penalty shot? Shorthanded penalty shot.— Eliteprospects (@eliteprospects) March 27, 2021
Jami Krannila, a @sfstampede alumni, goes in for the shorthanded break, and draws a penalty shot.
He beats Drew Commesso (#Blackhawks) to make it a 4-2 game for @SCSUHUSKIES_MH https://t.co/Hh6OwkC28k pic.twitter.com/4HPqxC6Ca5
Odd bounces, delays,
That was far from the oddest play or thing that happened in the game.
With the Terriers leading 1-0, the Huskies got a goal on a play that left O'Connell and Larson dumbfounded. Walker was battling for the puck behind the BU net with Terriers center Nick Zabenah.
As he was falling to the ice, Walker flipped the puck high into the air over the back of the net and onto the stick of junior wing Micah Miller. Miller caught the pass and, in one motion, threw it into the net before goalie Drew Commesso saw where the puck had gone and it was tied 1-1 at 12:14 of the second period.
"Their first goal was one for the ages, about as strange as you can get where the puck shoots over the net and no one knows where it is except for the guy standing in center field," O'Connell said. "Basically, he put it down and put it into the net."
"That was one of the strangest goals I've ever seen," Larson said.
There's something to be said for being in the right place at the right time. But you don't need to tell Micah Miller that, as he collects the puck in the slot and sends it past the BU goalie to get @SCSUHUSKIES_MH on the board. pic.twitter.com/zwtyOEZbuW— Eliteprospects (@eliteprospects) March 27, 2021
St. Cloud State also got some good bounces on its second goal. Junior defenseman Nick Perbix got to a puck near the boards and the hash mark. He blasted a shot that went off two Terriers players and into the net 1:15 after Miller had scored for a 2-1 lead.
"We had an easy clear and it hit the ref in the butt," O'Connell said. "It went back into our zone. We tried to get a clear and if it (just) hits Cockerill, it's going wide. It hits Vlasic and it goes in. I'd say that a little bit of Lady Luck was on their side on their first two goals."
There were also two delays in the third period. Donohue took a hit into the boards and the force of the hit knocked out a piece of Plexiglas and also caused a section of the boards to split. So there was a delay to get the glass replaced and try to get the boards back together.
That happened after St. Cloud State killed Brand's major penalty.
"I actually think the glass going out was a lucky break for us," Larson said. "We had just killed off a 5-minute major and we had a lot of guys expel a ton of energy on that kill."
Then there was another lengthy delay when the ice in the neutral zone needed to be repaired.
"Is it like 6 o'clock at night right now?" Larson asked at about 3 p.m. after the game started at noon. "It felt really long. What else could happen? All of a sudden, they're bringing in a fire hydrant thing out there to fix the ice."
Whatever the odd combination of moments may have looked like, the Huskies will take them and will take on the No. 2 overall seed in the tournament in the Eagles. Boston College won Hockey East's regular season title, has won five national titles and is making its 36th NCAA appearance.
BC advanced to the regional title game after players from Notre Dame tested positive for COVID-19 and the Irish had to withdraw from the tournament. Their game was declared a no contest.
SCSU 6, Boston University 2
First period scoring — None. Penalties — BU, Dylan Petersen (checking from behind, major, game misconduct) 9:08; SCSU, Micah Miller (slashing) 15:14.
Second period scoring — 1. BU, Wilmer Skoog 4 (Logan Cockerill 5):08; 2. SCSU, Micah Miller 2 (Nolan Walker 11, Ondrej Trejbal 9) 12:14; 3. SCSU, Nick Perbix 7 (Will Hammer 5, Kyler Kupa 4) 13:29; 4. BU, Jake Wise 1 (unassisted) 15:28 (pp); 5. SCSU, Easton Brodzinski 12 (Nolan Walker 12) 16:00. Penalties — BU, David Farrance (high-sticking) 4:40; SCSU, .Jami Krannila (slashing) 13:48.
Third period scoring — 6. SCSU, Krannila 11 (penalty shot) 4:17; 7. SCSU, Brodzinski 13 (Walker 13) 10:04; 8. SCSU, Veeti Miettinen 11 (Brendan Bushy 6, Krannila 11) 15:02. Penalties — SCSU, Chase Brand (contact to the head, major, game misconduct) 3:29; BU, Logan Cockerill (tripping) 4:17; BU, Luke Tuch (roughing) 18:15; SCSU, Luke Jaycox (roughing) 18:15; SCSU, Krannila (holding) 19:55.
Goalie saves — BU, Drew Commesso 14-9-9—32 (6 GA). SCSU, David Hrenak 10-8-16—34 (2 GA).
Penalties-minutes — BU 5-21; SCSU 6-23.
Power plays (shots) — BU 1-4 (9 shots); SCSU 0-2 (11 shots).
Faceoffs — SCSU 43-30.
Referees — Colin Kronfrost and Brett DesRosiers..
Linesemen — Sam Shikowsky; Linesman: Nick Bradshaw.