East met West tonight as Clarkson University traveled to St. Cloud to take on the St. Cloud State Huskies. Ironically, it was the player that hailed from the farthest east that was the difference for the western team tonight. Freshman Andreas Nodl, a native of Vienna, Austira, scored the first goal of the game, and set-up teammate Andrew Gordon on the second goal, as St .Cloud cruised to a 4-0 win over Clarkson.
Clarkson got off to a slow start in the first period, as it seemed like the Golden Knights had difficulty adjusting to the Olympic-sized ice sheet. Early in the first period, St. Cloud came down the ice on a 3-on-2 and Clarkson defenseman Phillippe Paquet misplayed the angle, allowing St. Cloud's John Swanson to break down the middle and feed a pass across the crease to Ryan Lasch, who was stopped by Clarkson goalie David Leggio. Leggio was tested against later in the first period when defenseman Casey Borer snuck behind Clarkson's defense and tipped a pass across, but the attempt was gloved by Leggio. St. Cloud appeared to take a 1-0 lead in the game, when the Huskies fired a shot from the bottom of the circle that Leggio mishandled and trapped underneath his pads. Referee Brad Albers reviewed the play, and there was no conclusive evidence that the puck crossed the line.
"I thought it was underneath me the whole time," said Leggio after the game. "I really didn't think it was that close."
Despite holding a slight advantage in play, the Huskies only outshot Clarkson 14-10 in the first period, mainly due to the four shots Clarkson generated on goal during their two powerplays in the period.
But after the first intermission, St. Cloud took control of the game. Just twenty-three seconds into the second period, Andrew Gordon got control the puck behind the net and threw a soft pass towards the front of the net. Leggio tried to block the pass, but missed, allowing Nodl to fire the puck into the net. St. Cloud controlled the play for the rest of the period, only allowing Clarkson to take four shots on goal.
The Huskies struck quickly again to start the third period. This time, twenty seconds into the third period, the roles were reversed as Nodl made a brilliant pass from the sideboards to a streaking Andrew Gordon, who deposited the insurance goal for the Huskies.
"They got rewarded when they were working," St. Cloud Head Coach Bob Motzko said of his top line, which had been struggling prior to this game.
Clarkson's comeback attempt was hurt when seven minutes into the third period, Phillippe Paquet was called for a five-minute major penalty and game misconduct for a hit from behind on St. Cloud's Aaron Brocklehurst. The Huskies failed to convert on the powerplay, but was able to take a large chunk of time off the clock without much pressure from Clarkson. The Huskies added to their lead at 12:02 of the third period when Garrett Raboin found Matt Hartman in the slot, and Hartman beat Leggio to score his first goal of the season. The Huskies closed out the game when John Swanson scored an empty net goal with fifteen seconds left in the game.
"We got outworked, and they were the better team," said Clarkson head coach George Roll.
The other major story for St. Cloud tonight was the impressive performance of 18-year-old freshman Jase Weslosky, who earned a 24-save shutout tonight, in just his second career start.
"It's still Bobby Goepfert's team," Motzko said, "but we're going to be playing Weslosky more and more."
Weslosky is now 2-0, with a goals against average of 1.00 and a save percentage of 96.3%. Weslosky was humble after the game, crediting his teammates for helping make sure he was able to see the puck, but Weslosky's outstanding performance was not lost on his teammates.
"He's a calm kid that doesn't get rattled," said fellow freshmen Garrett Raboin. "He makes saves that most goalies won't."
Weslosky won't be in net for the Huskies tomorrow night, but that's probably little consolation to the Golden Knights, because that means they will have to face All-American goalie Bobby Goepfert as they try to earn a split in this non-conference series.