The St. Cloud Norsemen couldn’t overcome a slew of penalties, including being at the wrong end of a two-man advantage three times, and fell to fellow 2022 Robertson Cup Championship final four qualifier New Mexico 5-2 in the first game of the 2022-23 regular season at the NAHL Showcase.
The Ice Wolves came out of the gates firing as they scored twice in the first period on goals by Sully Scholle and Blayde Pogreba and New Mexico outshot St. Cloud 16-6 in the opening 20 minutes. Alfred Lindberg would add a second period goal 7:42 into the middle frame but at the halfway point of the second the Norsemen seemed to swing momentum their way and would capitalize on that effort late in the period.
Veteran Norsemen defenseman Broten Sabo never didn’t get on the scoresheet but was a big factor in the first goal, twice paying the price physically to set the table. Sabo first rimmed the puck around the boards before absorbing a check then just before he was tied up he handed the puck off to Ryan Cutler who feathered a saucer pass to Kade Peterson at the right point. Peterson crept into the middle of the right circle and fired low on New Mexico goalie Carsen Stokes. Stokes’ left pad save left a juicy rebound just outside the crease and Tyler Dysart wasted no time one-timing the loose puck into the twine to make it a 3-1 game at the 17:18 mark of the second. The goal was a power play tally for the Norsemen as six seconds were still remaining on the hooking minor taken by Jake Dalton.
The goal late in the second period propelled St. Cloud to a strong start in the third going but they couldn’t capitalize as Stokes kept their offense at bay. Scholle scored for the second time in the contest at the 9:14 mark of the frame and gave the Ice Wolves a three-goal lead back.
In his first game in a Norsemen uniform, Daniels Murnieks was set up on the power play by Evan Pahos and St. Cloud converted just 11 seconds after Grant Ellings was called for high sticking. Murnieks wristed a laser from the top of the left circle over Stokes’ glove to make it a 4-2 game with just under four minutes to play but six seconds after the goal was scored two penalties were assessed against the Norsemen and New Mexico converted on the 5-on-3 with Ryan Johnson scoring the Ice Wolves’ lone power play goal on the nine penalties called against St. Cloud.
The game was the first of four in consecutive days for the Norsemen at the 19th Annual NAHL Showcase and St. Cloud is next in action Thursday night vs. Lone Star Brahmas at 7:45 on Rink 4 at the Super Rink in Blaine, Minnesota. All games in the 2022 NAHL Showcase can be seen on hockeytv.com.