If there was any doubt about St. Cloud State’s goaltending situation before St. Cloud State’s 4-3 win over No. 1 Minnesota Friday night, there sure isn’t much anymore.
After an injury to SCSU’s Mike Lee last month — an injury which will likely cost the junior his season — the Huskies were forced to turn things over to Ryan Faragher, a freshman from Fort Frances, Ont. via the North American Hockey League.
And the freshman has responded.
“When Mike went down, we didn’t really know what was going to happen,” admitted junior forward David Eddy, who had three assists Friday. “But he’s stepped up huge. Bigger than we expected. He makes saves where you’re just like ‘Wow, how did he do that?’ He made a couple of those tonight.”
Faragher playing well has become somewhat redundant in the Granite City. It seems to be a topic that comes up for head coach Bob Motzko each week.
“It’s no surprise to us,” said Huskies captain Ben Hanowski, who got things going early for St. Cloud with a goal just 3:52 in. He also added two assists. “He’s done that in all of his games. He’s won a couple for us. I think he won that one.”
Minnesota fired 17 first period shots at Faragher, but only one got past him, allowing the Huskies to take a 2-1 lead into the locker room after 20 minutes. It was the first time this season the Gophers trailed after one.
Sometimes, Faragher said, it’s OK to see that many shots. He said it helped him get into a bit of a zone Friday night.
“In a game like this, it gets you in it early,” Faragher said. “Lots of shots is something you want.”
Faragher faced 11 more in the second period and 15 in the third, stopping 40 in all. Two late Gopher goals made things interesting, but when the chips were down, Faragher stood tall.
“Our goalie played outstanding, I think he got them a little frustrated,” Motzko said. “Penalties got us in trouble early but our goalie held us in.”
Both Faragher and Motzko said the Gophers speed provided some match-up problems early in the game. But Faragher said he was able to adjust. After Nick Bjugstad tied the game at 11:13, he held the Gophers off the board for over two periods, cutting down angles and limiting Minnesota’s rebound opportunities.
He said some film work this week also tipped him off to some Gopher tendencies, something he was able to take advantage of much of the night.
“I knew they were going to be shooting high,” Faragher said. “I watched some of their previous games and it seemed a lot of their goals were going upstairs. I just stayed aware of that, took away the bottom of the ice and made sure my hands were up.”
True to form, Minnesota peppered him with wrist shots high for much of the first 50 minutes. But because of Faragher’s glove, the Gophers were unable to pounce on rebounds.
Quantity, not quality
At the other end put just 18 shots on Kent Patterson but used a pair of power play goals and some easy tap-ins to build a 4-1 lead Minnesota couldn’t overcome.
But things did get a little too close for comfort for Motzko in the third period.
“For 15 minutes, I really liked us,” he said. “When one fell, it made for an interesting run to the finish line.”
First line fantastic for SCSU
The Huskies top line of Hanowski, Eddy and Nic Dowd scored two goals and added five assists on the night.
“They’re playing like a first line right now,” Motzko said. “They’re gaining confidence and they’re doing the job that’s needed.
“The guys that we count on to score, scored for us tonight.”
Power play changes pay off
Following a dismal weekend with the man advantage in Mankato last week, Motzko said he was going to blow up his power play. Whatever he did this week in practice paid off huge, as SCSU went 2 for 5 with the extra attacker.