ST. CLOUD, Minn. — The key to that game was about as obvious as a pie in the face.

Third-ranked St. Cloud State scored on its first three power plays and was 5-for-5 on the penalty kill in a 5-1 nonconference win over Wisconsin on Friday at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center. The Badgers (2-3), who were playing in St. Cloud for the first time since Nov. 5, 2011, play the Huskies again at 6 p.m. Saturday.

Huskies coach Brett Larson chuckled when he was sarcastically asked if special teams were important in Friday's win.

"Huge, obviously the difference," Larson said. "Our power play was able to capitalize on its chances.

"Our penalty kill came up big for us. Without the penalty kill being as good as it was, it would have been different."

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The Huskies held the Badgers to five shots on goal on their five power plays. Wisconsin is 1-for-16 on the power play this season.

"I think we got good pressure on them when when got up the ice on them when they were trying to break out," Huskies junior center Jami Krannila said of his team's penalty kill. "And we didn't give up many second chances."

The Huskies scored all the goals they would need in a 1:13 span of the first period, both on the power play. Spencer Meier, SCSU's senior captain from Sartell, scored on a shot from inside the faceoff circle that went off goalie Cameron Rowe and slowly rolled into the net at 12:17.

Then Krannila finished off a 2-on-1 rush with linemate Zach Okabe with a goal at 13:30 to give the Huskies a 2-0 lead.

"We've been doing that play for a while and it's actually the first time it connected," Krannila said of receiving a pass on the back door from Okabe. "It's been there a lot of times and sometimes we miss (the pass) or I just miss the net. This time, we got the goal."

While the special teams play impressed Larson, he was not pleased that the Huskies were given 24 penalty minutes, including their second 10-minute misconduct penalty of the season when Krannila took one after Okabe was called for interference at 18:35 of the second period.

"The disappointing part of the game from our staff's standpoint was our discipline," Larson said. "At times, we took undisciplined penalties ... Our discipline needs to be better (Saturday) night.

"I thought our (penalty) kill was aggressive and that's where I thought our strength was. We were able to pressure them up the ice and then on their (offensive) zone entries."

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St. Cloud State defenseman Josh Luedtke (21) moves the puck against Wisconsin in the first period Friday, Oct. 22, 2021, at Herb Brooks National Hockey Center in St. Cloud.  Jason Wachter / The Rink Live
St. Cloud State defenseman Josh Luedtke (21) moves the puck against Wisconsin in the first period Friday, Oct. 22, 2021, at Herb Brooks National Hockey Center in St. Cloud. Jason Wachter / The Rink Live

1st goal for Luedtke

For the third straight game, Josh Luedtke was in the lineup for St. Cloud State on defense. Luedtke, a 21-year-old freshman from Minnetonka, scored the Huskies' fifth goal during 4-on-4 play at 17:12 of the second period.

"For a freshman, he's stepping in and doing a really good job," Larson said. "I was happy for him, getting his first college goal. That's a big moment in anyone's career.

"He just competes so hard and with his skating, it's a great combination."

It was a bit of an odd play that he scored on. With the 4-on-4, Perbix got the puck below the Wisconsin goal line. He found Luedtke racing down the middle and he was able to snap in a shot off the pass for the goal.

"Everyone that gets recruited here is a great player and he's impressed a lot of people," Perbix said. "He has an absolute motor and he's stronger than he looks.

"I love seeing guys score their first goal and, being a part of it, it's even more special. I remember scoring mine and how cool it was and how great it felt to kind of get the monkey off your back."

So what were two defensemen doing that low in the offensive zone there?

"It happens more often than it should," Perbix said with a wide smile. "I love 4-on-4. I tell everyone, 'I'm not playing a position, I'm playing hockey.' I just have to beat my guy up the ice and get it down there.

"I'll work on that."

St. Cloud State forward Sam Hentges (19) sends the puck past Wisconsin forward Tarek Baker (16) in the first period Friday, Oct. 22, 2021, at Herb Brooks National Hockey Center in St. Cloud.  Jason Wachter / The Rink Live
St. Cloud State forward Sam Hentges (19) sends the puck past Wisconsin forward Tarek Baker (16) in the first period Friday, Oct. 22, 2021, at Herb Brooks National Hockey Center in St. Cloud. Jason Wachter / The Rink Live

Wait and see on injuries

It was not all good news for St. Cloud State. Three St. Cloud State players left the game with injuries including freshman defenseman Jack Peart, senior center Nolan Walker and senior wing Sam Hentges. Larson did not have any updates on the injuries, but Peart left the game in the first period, Walker with 3:58 left in the second period and Hentges in the third period.

Hentges was playing in his second game after missing two games with an upper body injury. Walker appeared to suffer an upper body injury in the neutral zone. He was skating with the puck, appeared to lose an edge and fell to the ice. He fell right in front Wisconsin forward Roman Ahcan, who tried to get out of the way, but it appeared that Walker's head ran into Ahcan's knee on the replay.

All of the players will be evaluated again in the morning and it could mean new linemates for Easton Brodzinski, who played on the top line with Walker and Hentges in the game.

With the bench shortened, Perbix seemed to take more control of the puck and the tempo of the game in the third period.

"I thought Perbix controlled the puck, very poised with it and made some really good plays under pressure," Larson said. "When we had a shorter lineup as the game went and some guys out with Walker and then Krannila out with the misconduct, we were two centers down, we had to manage those shifts. Perbs did a good job of calming things down."

against Wisconsin takes a shot at St. Cloud State goalie David Hrenak (34) in the first period Friday, Oct. 22, 2021, at Herb Brooks National Hockey Center in St. Cloud.  Jason Wachter / The Rink Live
against Wisconsin takes a shot at St. Cloud State goalie David Hrenak (34) in the first period Friday, Oct. 22, 2021, at Herb Brooks National Hockey Center in St. Cloud. Jason Wachter / The Rink Live

Hrenak strong again

And, oh by the way, Huskies goalie David Hrenak stopped 22 of the 23 shots he saw on Friday. The lone goal he gave up came during a scrum in front of the net and the puck bouncing around.

Hrenak, a graduate student from Slovakia and a Los Angeles Kings draft pick, has given up one goal in five of his seven starts and also has a shutout. He has a save percentage of .943 and a goals-against average of 1.37.

"This year, I think every single game, he has been awesome," Krannila said. "He's been super good.

"Even if he gives up a goal, he keeps playing the same way. He doesn't get off his game. He's a huge reason why we keep winning games."

St. Cloud State goalie David Hrenak (34) smothers a shot by Wisconsin forward Liam Malmquist (23) in the first period Friday, Oct. 22, 2021, at Herb Brooks National Hockey Center in St. Cloud.  Jason Wachter / The Rink Live
St. Cloud State goalie David Hrenak (34) smothers a shot by Wisconsin forward Liam Malmquist (23) in the first period Friday, Oct. 22, 2021, at Herb Brooks National Hockey Center in St. Cloud. Jason Wachter / The Rink Live

No. 3 SCSU 5, Wisconsin 1

Wisconsin 0-0-1—1

SCSU 2-3-0—5

First period scoring 1. SCSU, Spencer Meier 1 (Seamus Donohue 2, Jami KRannila (3) 12:17 (pp); 2. SCSU, Krannila 4 (Zach Okabe 3, Donohue 3) 13:30 (pp).. Penalties — SCSU, Kevin Fitzgerald (slashing) 7:48; UW, Jake Martin (holding) 10:49; UW, Anthony Kehrer (tripping) 12:37; SCSU, Sam Hentges (interference) 14:17; SCSU, Ondrej Trejbal (holding) 19:00..

Second period scoring 3. SCSU, Kevin Fitzgerald 3 (Kyler Kupka 3, Micah Miller 1) 4:05; 4. SCSU, Easton Brodzinski 3 (Nick Perbix 4, Sam Hentges 3) 9:06 (pp); 5. SCSU, Josh Luedtke 1 (Perbix 5) 17:12.. Penalties — UW, Tarek Baker (tripping) 8:40; SCSU, Easton Brodzinski (tripping) 11:02; SCSU, Mason Salquist (roughing) 15:17; UW, Joss Ess (roughing) 15:17; SCSU, Zach Okabe (interference) 18:35; SCSU, Krannila (misconduct) 18:35.

Third period scoring 6. UW, Max Johson 1 (Brock Caufield 1) 6:17 .. Penalties — UW, Jesper Peltonen (slashing) 3:33; SCSU, Brendan Bushy (interference) 10:16; UW, Corson Ceulemens (embellishment) 10:16.

Goalie savesUW, Cameron Rowe 8-10-x—18 (5 GA), Jared Moe (in at :00 of 3rd) x-x-10—10 (0 GA). SCSU, David Hrenak 7-7-9—23 (1 GA).

Penalties-minutesUW 6-12; SCSU 8-24.

Power plays (shots)W 0-5 (5 shots); SCSU 3-4 (8 shots).

Faceoffs30-30.

RefereesTimm Walsh and Nick Krebsbach..

LinesemenJustin Hills and Dana Penkivech.

Three stars of the game 1. Krannila (SCSU), 2. Perbix (SCSU), 3. Donohue (SCSU).

Attendance3,774.

St. Cloud State defenseman Josh Luedtke (21) has his shot bounce off the goalpost and grabbed by Wisconsin goalie Jared Moe (35) in the third period Friday, Oct. 22, 2021, at Herb Brooks National Hockey Center in St. Cloud.  Jason Wachter / The Rink Live
St. Cloud State defenseman Josh Luedtke (21) has his shot bounce off the goalpost and grabbed by Wisconsin goalie Jared Moe (35) in the third period Friday, Oct. 22, 2021, at Herb Brooks National Hockey Center in St. Cloud. Jason Wachter / The Rink Live