SCSU overcomes scary 1st period injury to Josh Luedtke, beats St. Thomas in opener
Sophomore defenseman from Minnetonka took a check and had his head hit the glass and had to be taken off the ice on stretcher
MENDOTA HEIGHTS, Minn. — The St. Cloud State men's hockey had to overcome a scary moment in the first period, but grinded out a 3-1 nonconference win over St. Thomas on Saturday at St. Thomas Ice Arena.
About 7 minutes into the first period, defenseman Josh Luedtke took a check in the defensive zone and did not get up. Emergency personnel had to come onto the ice and he was taken off on a stretcher and to the hospital and did not return.
The good news is that Luedtke is able to move his arms and legs and Huskies head coach Brett Larson said that the initial reports that the team has received have some positive signs.
"The preliminary reports we are hearing is that it at least sounds like it might not have been the worst that we had been fearing from when we were watching," Larson said. "But I don't know anything more than that right now."
The game was scoreless at the time. The Huskies scored three goals in the first period after the injury to pick up the win.
As Luedtke was taken off the ice, players from both teams came over near his path to show their support. The 10-15 minutes that he was down on the ice, the sold-out crowd of 975 was silent.
After Luedtke left the building, Larson brought the team together to talk with them.
"There were watery eyes on the bench, including mine — we were all extremely worried about him," Larson said. "The message was, he'd want us to play for him. He's an ultimate competitor and he would not have wanted us to not play our fricken game to get it done because of him.
"And I just tried to get the guys to take an emotional reset for a second."
Fellow defenseman Dylan Anhorn, a transfer from Union, was playing his first game for SCSU. But having practiced with Luedtke for about the last six weeks, he has gotten to know him and said it was emotional to see the sophomore from Minnetonka leave the ice.
"It's hard to describe. You're so jacked up to play a game and something like that happens and everything gets put in perspective," Anhorn said. "He's such a hard-working kid and, in the dressing room, he's one of the best people you could know. Something like that is terrible.
"It could have been a lot worse — from the reports we're hearing. So that's good to hear."
There was no penalty called on the hit to Luedtke. But Anhorn scored off a faceoff at 8:44 and then Zach Okabe scored on a 2-on-1 rush at 9:08 to give the Huskies a 2-0 lead. Adam Ingram, a Nashville Predators draft pick scored on the power play for his first college goal at 16:02 of the first period to give the Huskies a 3-0 lead.
"It was a tricky situation," Anhorn said. "We all said it on the bench that we want to do this for Lutz. He'd want us to come out and play hard for him. That energized our bench right away and that's a big reason why we were able to come out with a couple goals right after that terrible accident."
To give you an idea of how well-respected Luedtke is, he was a captain his last season of junior hockey for the Des Moines Buccaneers in the USHL and he was the team captain his senior year at Minnetonka High School.
Luedtke was not sure how much he was going to play as a freshman when the season started because the Huskies had seven returning defensemen. But he ended up playing so well that he played in 33 of the team's 37 games and tied for the team in plus/minus at a plus-17.
"I think we played for Josh tonight," Larson said. "Josh is one of the most respected guys on this team, a really good person and he cares about this program a lot, loves his teammates. There's no doubt that kind of lit a fire under us to play for him."
Anhorn makes a good first impression
Anhorn, a 23-year-old senior from Calgary, Alberta, had a strong game in his debut with his new team. He scored the team's first goal, had an assist on SCSU's third goal and saw time on the power play and penalty kill.
"We've been really impressed with Dylan, right from the start of camp," Larson said. "He's got really good puck poise, plays with his head up, makes good plays. He's a nice addition to our power play and he played some heavy minutes for us tonight at crucial times at both ends of the rink."
Conversely, Anhorn has had a number of items strike him about his new team.
"It's such a close-knit group and really a family," Anhorn said. "A lot of people say that about their cultures, but it's different here. Every player looks out for one another. It's such a well-structured program starting with the coaching staff and throughout the lineup and how we like to execute.
"I just love the culture and how determined they are to win. It's contagious and I think we're going to have a lot of success this year."
Castor is No. 1 star
The biggest question for the Huskies going into the season is who is going to replace David Hrenak in goal? Hrenak started the last five seasons.
In the opener, senior Jaxon Castor stopped 10 shots to pick up the win. That's not an overwhelming number of shots, but it included stopping two breakaways.
"I thought Jaxon played really well," Larson said. "That breakaway he stopped in the second period — if they score on that, it's 3-2 and we're really in a battle. I thought he made crucial saves at crucial times in the game."
Ingram scores 1st college goal
Ingram may have had some nerves, but the freshman center from West St. Paul, Manitoba, showed why he is a third-round draft pick of the Nashville Predators. Ingram scored his first college goal on a wrist shot from the top of a faceoff circle at 16:02 of the first period on the power play.
"It feels great, but (Kyler) Kupka had a good screen up front," Ingram said. "I didn't really see it go in, but that's awesome."
He also scored the goal with his parents and grandmother at the game.
Ingram tied for 18th in the USHL in goal with 26 in 54 games, including eight on the power play. He was the center on a line with junior Joe Molenaar and senior Chase Brand on the wings.
"I was a little bit nervous going into the game, but you get that in every first game of the year," said Ingram, who scored on his lone shot of the game. "I think overall, I had a pretty good game and our line had some good chances out there."
The teams play the second game of their series at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center.
SCSU 3, ST. THOMAS 1
First period scoring — 1. SCSU, Dylan Anhorn 1 (Jami Krannila 1, Zach Okabe 1) 8:44; 2. SCSU, Okabe 1 (Veeti Miettinen 1) 9:08; 3. SCSU, Adam Ingram 1 (Miettinen 2, Anhorn 1) 16:02 (pp). Penalties — UST, Lucas Wahlin (cross-checking) 15:36.
Second period — 4. UST, Carson Peters 1 (Jarrett Lee 1) 17:16. Penalties — SCSU, Ondrej Trejbal (cross-checking) 4:16; UST, Luke Perunovich (interference) 6:00; UST, Jarrett Lee (faceoff violation) 10:29; SCSU, Ingram (tripping) 11:47; UST, Luc Laylin (boarding) 18:47.
Third period — No scoring. Penalties — SCSU, Micah Miller (roughing) 5:21; UST, Garrett Daly (roughing) 5:21; UST, Peters (cross-checking) 6:00; SCSU, Miller (interference) 10:33; SCSU, Brendan Bushy (slashing) 15:52.
Goalie saves -— SCSU: Jaxon Castor 2-6-2—10 (1 GA); UST: Aaron Trotter 6-6-8—20 (3 GA).
Penalties-minutes — SCSU 5-10, UST 6-12.
Power plays (shots) — SCSU 1-5 (1 shots); UST 0-4 (2 shots).
Faceoffs — SCSU 33-20.
Three stars of the game — 1. Castor (SCSU), 2. Anhorn (SCSU), 3. Okabe (SCSU).
Attendance — 975.
Referees — John Boche and Tony Czech.
Linesmen — Eric Standke and Kyle Domin.