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MEN’S HOCKEY: Beavers fall to No. 2 Huskies in goaltending battle

St. Cloud State senior forward Patrick Newell (14) goes to his backhand to try to get around Bemidji State defenseman Dan Billett to shoot on Beavers goalie Hank Johnson in the first period Friday at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center in St. Cloud, Minn. (Photo courtesy of Maddie MacFarlane, St. Cloud State University)1 / 3
Bemidji State's Adam Brady (19) tries to get to the puck as he battles St. Cloud State's Kevin Fitzgerald in front of goalie Jeff Smith during the second period Friday at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center in St. Cloud, Minn. (Photo courtesy of Maddie MacFarlane, St. Cloud State University)2 / 3
St. Cloud State's Easton Brodzinski (right) celebrates his power-play goal in the first period with teammates Jimmy Schuldt (center) and Ryan Poehling (11) on Friday at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center in St. Cloud, Minn. (Photo courtesy of Maddie MacFarlane, St. Cloud State University)3 / 3

ST. CLOUD -- The Bemidji State men’s hockey team couldn’t get anything past St. Cloud State goaltender Jeff Smith, falling 2-0 to the Huskies Friday night at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center.

BSU provided a tough challenge for St. Cloud State.

"Bemidji (State) was really tough to play against and I saw a lot of frustration on our bench that I haven't seen in a while,” said SCSU head coach Brett Larson.

"Give credit to Bemidji for that. We've got to learn to fight through those things together and not show the frustration."

But the No. 2-ranked Huskies got a power-play goal from Easton Brodzinski in the first period and 32 saves from Smith to beat the Beavers in a non-conference game.

The Beavers (5-3-1) outshot the Huskies 32-21, hit a post and had a goal disallowed in the loss. It was the second straight game that Bemidji State has been shut out, but there were positives.

"I think we dominated them down low," Beavers goalie Hank Johnson said. "I think we put them on their heels and we were able to get a lot of pressure."

Winning special teams

The Huskies (10-1) won the special teams battle. St. Cloud State managed two shots on its three power plays, but Brodzinski was able to redirect a pass from Ryan Poehling from in close at 11:46 of the first period for a 1-0 lead.

Brodzinski had a power-play goal disallowed a few minutes earlier because he kicked the puck into the net.

"It was kind of crappy to get the first one called off, but I kicked it in a little bit," said Brodzinski, a sophomore from Blaine. "It was nice to come back out and get one a few minutes later and put the team ahead. We kept the lead from there."

Part of how they kept that lead was by killing all three of Bemidji State's three power plays. The Beavers had six shots on the power play, but are 0-for-12 on the power play in their last two games.

"They were committed to blocking shots and doing things the right way," Larson said of his team, which blocked 15 shots in the game. "So much of penalty kill is just heart. You can draw some things up, but you have to have heart on the PK."

Best 'D' core?

Speaking of defense, Johnson had an interesting comment that can be up for debate. Bemidji State's top four defensemen (Tommy Muck, Dan Billett, Justin Baudry and Dillon Eichstadt) have combined to play 329 college games and Johnson has high praise for them.

"We have the best 'D' core in the nation," he said. "They were trying like hell to keep everyone out of my way and let me see the puck. They were good on the back end tonight."

A statement like that will start a big debate among many teams. St. Cloud State has the No. 4-scoring defensive group in the nation.

The teams will square off again Saturday in a 6:07 p.m. rematch in St. Cloud.

No. 2 St. Cloud State 2, Bemidji State 0

BSU 0 0 0 -- 0

SCS 1 0 1 -- 2

First period -- 1, SCSU, Brodzinski (R. Poehling, Lizotte), 11:46, PP.

Second period -- No scoring.

Third period -- 2, SCSU, Fitzgerald (Smith), 18:49, EN.

Goalies (saves-shots) -- BSU, Johnson (19-20); SCSU, Smith (32-32).