ST. CLOUD, Minn. — They are a bit of an odd couple as teammates.

If you talk with Kevin Fitzgerald, a lot of times it can be difficult to keep up with how fast he is talking and there seems to be a grin on his face the whole time.

Micah Miller is typically a bit more soft spoken and has a tendency to come across as pretty serious.

But when you ask Miller about playing on a line with Fitzgerald or ask him something about his teammate's personality, Miller can't help but have an impish grin on his face.

"He works so hard and he's such a lunch pail guy," Miller said of Fitzgerald, a former walk-on and graduate student from Hinsdale, Ill. "He's also got a lot of skill, which he's shown these last few games."

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Fitzgerald, who is an alternate captain, is typically known as the player who is able to crack people up the most among the Huskies with his sense of humor. Miller said that also happens on the ice.

"It's pretty much all the time with him," Miller said with a smile. "He's kind of a character and always gets the guys going. He never lacks energy."

Fitzgerald had a goal and assisted on Miller's game-winning goal on Saturday in a 4-1 nonconference win over Wisconsin on Saturday at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center. Going into a bye week, the third-ranked Huskies are 6-2. The Badgers dropped to 2-4.

Fitzgerald and Miller, besides being linemates, are also St. Cloud State's top two penalty killing forwards. And while MIller, a senior from Grand Rapids, may not be piling up points, his tenacity has been appreciated by the Huskies.

"Micah is an unsung hero on this team," Larson said of Miller, who has two goals, an assist, is a plus-3, has eight blocked shots and 15 shotso on goal in eight games. "He's been our best penalty killer. He plays a 200-foot game. He plays physical.

"We showed the guys a video this morning of about six minutes left to go in the game (Friday) and Micah back-checked from the (opposing) goal line and caught a guy 10 feet in front of our net before he could get a chance to score. We talk about guys that want to win. Micah's been that guy. He's been a huge bright spot for us and it's nice to see his hard work pay off for him."

Besides kind of different personality types, Miller and Fitzgerald are also different physically. Fitzgerald is listed at 6-foot and 175 pounds. Miller is listed at 5-9 and 200 pounds and seemingly most of his weight is muscle.

"Micah is an awesome guy and one of my best friends," Fitzgerald said. "On the ice, I don't know how many faceoffs I lost tonight (5-12 on draws), but at the end of the second period, I just started shooting the puck in Micah's corner and he would just speed to it and win it every time."

And the duo got a chance to team up on the game-winning goal on Saturday. Miller stole a pass in the middle of St. Cloud State's defensive zone and he and Fitzgerald raced into the Wisconsin zone on a 2-on-0 burst. Fitzgerald ended up passing to Miller for a short-handed goal at 5:47 of the second period to give the Huskies a 2-0 lead.

"He'd have been yelling at me if I didn't give it to him," Fitzgerald said of the pass ... and then laughed. "I'm kidding."

Fitzgerald scored St. Cloud State's first goal at 3:13 on the power play. He got the puck in close and quickly shot the puck into the top of the net past Jared Moe. He scored a similar goal on Friday and is tied for the team lead in goals (4), points (8) and power-play goals (3).


Another big night on special teams

For the second straight game, special teams proved to be the difference.

St. Cloud State was 2-for-5 on the power play with 13 shots on goal, got the short-handed goal from Miller and was 4-for-4 killing penalties, holding the Badgers to seven shots with the man advantage.

"Shorties — both ways — power-play goals for us, obviously, were big," Larson said. "It was a little frustrating to give up that shorty in the third period, but special teams was the difference again tonight."

For the series, the Huskies were 5-for-9 with 21 shots on the power play and 9-for-9 on the penalty kill and gave up 12 shots.

St. Cloud State forward Sam Hentges (19) makes a pass 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 forward Sam Hentges (19) makes a pass against Wisconsin in the first period Friday, Oct. 22, 2021, at Herb Brooks National Hockey Center in St. Cloud. Jason Wachter / The Rink Live

Injury updates

The Huskies had four players suffer injuries on Friday, though The Rink Live only reported on three of them.

The one that was not reported was graduate goalie David Hrenak suffered a wrist injury in the win in Game 1 of the series. Hrenak dressed Saturday, but did not play for the first time this season, and was replaced by Jaxon Castor.

"We were leaning toward playing Castor tonight anyway," Larson said of giving the junior from Phoenix, Arizona, his first start of the season. "David got a bone bruise on his hand, right where he holds the stick and it made it real difficult for him. That made the decision easier for us to play Jaxon."

Castor, making his seventh career start, stopped 31 shots to pick up the win.

"He stepped into a tough spot with a team that you knew was going to come out hard after (Friday's 5-1 loss) and we gave up 32 shots," Larson said. "He was calm, composed in there. He had a real solid game."

Castor went into the game with a 4-4 record, with an .884 save percentage and 2.68 goals-against average. The lone goal he gave up Saturday was on a 2-on-1 short-handed rush for the Badgers.

"I think we have three unbelievable goalies here," said Fitzgerald, who included Joey Lamoreaux in that comment. "In terms of what (Castor) did well — no idea. I'm not a goalie guy.

"But he played great and made some big saves tonight."

Senior Nolan Walker, who suffered an upper body injury Friday, was in the lineup Saturday for the Huskies and had a goal, an assist and a blocked shot.

But senior forward Sam Hentges and freshman defenseman Jack Peart — both of whom are Minnesota Wild draft picks — did not play Saturday. Hentges is battling both upper and lower body injuries and Peart suffered an upper body injury on Friday, according to Larson.

"Thankfully, we have a week off next week and these guys are all hopeful to be back in for Colorado College," Larson said.

The Huskies open NCHC play with a series Nov. 5-6 at Colorado College. The Tigers are coming off an interesting weekend. Colorado College picked up a 5-2 win on Friday at Boston College for the Tigers' first win under head coach Kris Mayotte. On Saturday, Northeastern beat the Tigers 1-0 in Boston.

The series against St. Cloud State will be the first NCHC series for Colorado College in Robson Arena. This is the first season the Tigers are playing home games in an arena on campus.

No. 3 SCSU 4, Wisconsin 1

Wisconsin 0-0-1—1

SCSU 0-3-1—4

First period scoring None. Penalties — SCSU, Jami Krannila (slashing) 11:34; SCSU, Krannila (slashing) 18:21.

Second period scoring 1. SCSU, Kevin Fitzgerald 4 (Seamus Donohue 4, Jami Krannila 4) 3:13 (pp); 2. SCSU, Micah Miller 2 (Fitzgerald 4) 5:47 (sh); 3. SCSU, Easton Brodzinski 4 (Veeti Miettinen 4, Nolan Walker 2) 12:49 (pp). Penalties — UW, Zach Urdahl (tripping) 2:05; SCSU, Ondrej Trejbal (hooking) 3:47; UW, Ryder Donovan (roughing) 6:45; SCSU, Krannila (roughing) 6:45; UW, team (leaving penalty box too early) 8:49; UW, Brayden Morrison (hooking) 12:31; SCSU, Brady Ziemer (hooking) 15:01.

Third period scoring 4. UW, Dominick Mersch 2 (Jack Gorniak 2, Jesper Peltonen 1) (sh); 5. SCSU, Walker 4 (unassisted) 19:37 (en). Penalties — UW, Tarek Baker (hooking) 1:00; UW, Roman Ahcan (tripping) 10:49.

Goalie savesUW, Jared Moe 10-9-14—33 (3 GA). SCSU, Jaxon Castor 9-11-11—31 (1 GA).

Penalties-minutesUW 6-12; SCSU 5-10.

Power plays (shots)W 0-4 (7 shots); SCSU 2-5 (13 shots).

FaceoffsSCSU 36-33.

RefereesTimm Walsh and Nick Krebsbach..

LinesemenJustin Hills and Dana Penkivech.

Three stars of the game 1. Fitzgerald (SCSU), 2. Miller (SCSU), 3. Donohue (SCSU).