January 7th, 2022: Jaxon Castor stopped all 23 shots he faced, shutting out the Gophers for the first time since March 28th, 2021.
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St. Cloud, MINN – It’s been 650 days since the Gophers have been shut out. They were shut out by Minnesota State to end the season back in 2021. They have played 59 games since then and have never been shut out. Tonight Jaxon Castor slammed the door, stopping all 23 shots.
Anytime a number three ranked team and a number four ranked team battle in a series, you know you’re in for a treat. Game one of this series showed us that.
The Gophers had four players who just returned yesterday from the 2023 World Juniors, the Huskies had one player return. Jimmy Snuggerud, Logan Cooley, Luke Mittelstadt, and Ryan Chesley for the Gophers and Jack Peart for the Huskies. Peart is a Minnesota native and is currently a prospect for the Minnesota Wild.
Cooley had seven goals and seven assists in seven games for Team USA and Snuggerud had five goals and eight assists in seven games for Team USA. Only Canada’s Connor Bedard, who is the projected number-one overall pick in the 2023 NHL draft, had more points.
Out of team USA’s seven defenders, three of them were seen in tonight’s action. Peart had two blocked shots in the 3-0 win and was a plus-one. Mittelstadt had one shot on goal and six controlled exits on six attempts. Chesley only had two controlled exits on two attempts.
St. Cloud outshot the Gophers in the first period 13-10 despite the opening dominance by Minnesota. The second period was a bit of the opposite. The Gophers opened the second with four shots before the Huskies could get one. That one shot came from Aidan Spellacy who gave the Huskies a 1-0 lead.
Spellacy, a fourth-line forward, caught an unreal pass by Joe Molenaar behind the back from the trapezoid. Before his pass, Molenaar pickpocketed Cal Thomas at the blue line and walked all the way in then set up the game’s first goal.
The Huskies added two empty-net goals in the third period and eventually finished off a huge win over the number three-ranked Gophers.
Despite carrying a 5.272 team expected goals value, Castor stopped every shot he faced. The only one he didn’t save, was later overturned on what was called a high stick.
Castor is one of the better college hockey stories out there. He was committed to play for Arizona State after playing in his 2017-2018 season with the Shreveport Mudbugs of the NAHL. But ended up not going and came to St. Cloud. To be eligible he had to play club hockey before he could join the D1 team.
In the last three seasons, Castor played as the Huskies’ backup. He played in five games two straight years and got in nine games last year. This year, splitting time with Dominic Basse, Castor has posted a 1.91 goals against average and a .926 save percentage in ten games. Now, four years after playing club hockey for St. Cloud, Castor posted a 23-save shutout over the number three-ranked Minnesota Gophers.
The Gophers will return to Minneapolis to host the Huskies at 3:00 pm and will look for a better performance. A game I would expect the Gophers to play much better in.