If you’re an opponent of St. Cloud State, the last thing you want to do is put the Huskies on the power play. Not heeding that advice will give the Huskies’ young guns ample opportunity to make you regret taking a penalty.
Sophomore forwards Ryan Lasch and Andreas Nodl, and freshman forward Garrett Roe have carried the offense, especially on the power play, for the eighth-ranked Huskies (19-15-5), who face 11th-ranked Clarkson
(21-12-4) in the first NCAA hockey tournament East Regional semifinal at 4 p.m. today at the Times Union Center.
The winner of that game will face the Michigan-Niagara semifinal winner in Saturday’s regional final at 7 p.m.
Lasch, Nodl and Roe are the Huskies’ top three scorers. Lasch leads the way with 25 goals and 28 assists, and that helped him become a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award. Roe and Nodl each have 18 goals and 26 assists.
“Numbers tell a story. We have a lot of points together,” Roe said. “It’s a collective group [effort]. We’ve been clicking. We’ve been trying to lead this team, and trying to be powerful and make plays when our team needs them.”
But it’s their work on the power play that makes them dangerous. The trio has combined for 33 of the team’s 46 power-play goals, including 21 of 28 in WCHA play. The Huskies have the nation’s fourth-best power play at 23.2 percent.
“They have tremendous chemistry on the power play, and that’s the big thing,” St. cloud coach Bob Motzko said. “It’s been great for us because . . . from Day 1, they’ve just had magic chemistry on the power play. That been a big part of out success from an offensive standpoint. They’re developing, and they’re top-end players. We rely heavily on that trio for offense.”
Lasch, named to the All-WCHA first team, leads the team with 13 power-play goals. He is tied for fourth in the country with Bowling Green’s Derek Whitmore.
“We bought into our system this year,” said Lasch, who has 41 goals and 51 assists in 79 career games. “Our power play’s been pretty good. Overall, we’ve been working really hard for all of our chances. I think that’s the key to our success.
“We’re moving the puck constantly. We know where everyone is going to be. It’s just a kind little bit of chemistry we out there.”
Nodl, a Philadelphia Flyers draft pick, is second on the team, and seventh in the nation, with 11 power-play goals. He doesn’t believe the trio is under any pressure to handle the offensive load.
“Coach is always saying play and have fun. Don’t think about anything,’” Nodl said. “If you don’t get points for a couple of games, you’re eventually going to get them if you keep working hard.
Roe has nine power-play tallies. He is second on the team with four game-winners, one behind Lasch.
“We know that when someone takes a penalty on us, we want to punish them with a goal or two on the power play,” Roe said. “We don’t care which one of us scores the goal, we just want to get a goal.”
Lasch and Nodl each scored seven power-play goals last season. Nodl led the team in scoring (18-28-46), and Lasch was third (16-23-39).
“We had it going with Nodl and Lasch last year,” Motzko said. “We knew we had two special offensive players returning.”
With Nodl on one wing and Lasch on the other, they needed someone to feed them the puck. Enter Roe, who has done a nice job of setting them up.
“We were kind of missing a guy in between on the power play, and that’s where Roe, all of a sudden, fit right in,” Motzko said. “Roe is kind of a jack of all trades. He can go anywhere on the power play. He can run the point, he can run the half-wall and that’s what has been so effective for us. We can throw different looks at people, and Garrett Roe gives us that ability because we can move them all over.”
Clarkson knows it can’t afford to take penalties and put St. Cloud’s power play on the ice.
“They’re one of the best power plays in the nation,” Clarkson forward Nick Dodge said. “It’s a matter of staying in our systems, and not try to do too much. Obviously, we’ve got some great ‘D’ [defensemen], with Grant [Clitsome] and the rest of the crew back there.”