Men’s hockey: St. Cloud roughs up St. Thomas in its Division I debut

ST. CLOUD — The good news St. Thomas men’s hockey coach Rico Blasi shared with his team after its loss to high-powered St. Cloud State on Saturday night at the Herb Brooks Center was that the mistakes it made fall into the category of “correctible.”

The bad news is there were a whole bunch of them.

The Tommies committed 10 penalties, gave up seven power-play goals and two shorthanded goals in a 12-2 loss to the Huskies in their Division I debut.

Let the record also show that the Tommies were in a bit of an ornery mood afterward, and anxious for the rematch on Sunday night at Xcel Energy Center.

“We got our first goal, played in our first game, and that’s cool,” said defenseman John Schuldt, one of the Tommies’ three alternate captains. “But I’m not the type of person that takes a lot of moral victories after you get beat like that.

“Hopefully our first home game is better.”

Blasi knew going in that the Huskies’ speed and skill were going to be a major challenge for his team, and that’s exactly what transpired.

“They’re going to exploit you in certain situations,” Blasi said. “We didn’t manage the puck well at times, and their transition game becomes really evident.”

All 13 Tommies who transferred in from Division I programs were in the lineup. Four freshmen — all forwards — also dressed, including Cameron Recchi, who skated on right wing on the Tommies’ No. 1 line.
Recchi scored on a third-period power play.

Graduate transfer Peter Thome started in goal for the Tommies. He was replaced by Jacob Berger in the second period after surrendering the Huskies’ sixth goal.

“It’s a tough one to swallow,” Schuldt said. “I thought we were ready. We just have to move on. You get two games in college hockey (per weekend), and I think this is the biggest example of, learn from your mistakes, take the positives and go to the next game.”

The Tommies took four minor penalties in the first period, and the Huskies cashed in twice as they took a 3-0 lead into the first intermission.

St. Cloud center Kevin Fitzgerald opened the scoring with a power-play goal at 5:40 when he tucked the puck past Thome from in tight. Huskies right winger Easton Brodzinski made it 2-0 when he redirected a pass from the slot at 9:22.

The Huskies added an even-strength goal at 19:23 when Jami Krannila beat Thome on a redirection just off the top of the crease.

“Coming out of the first period, I actually thought we felt pretty good,” Blasi said. “Were we skating with St. Cloud? Probably not. But we did a lot of good things.”

St. Thomas scored a power-play goal of its own at 1:15 of the second period when Christiano Versich beat St. Cloud goalie David Hrenak on a wrist shot from the left circle. But the Huskies dominated the remainder of the period, scoring five times to take an 8-1 lead.

“We knew coming in that they have a good power play,” said Tommies defenseman Trevor Zins, a transfer from St. Cloud State. “There were some penalties that were obvious, and there were others … it is what it is.

“We take it as a learning experience. Obviously, we have to stay out of the box tomorrow.”

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