The #8 St. Cloud State Huskies (4-4-0, 0-2-0 NCHC) fell to the #1 University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs (7-1-2, 4-0-0 NCHC) 5-3 Saturday night at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center.
For the second night in a row, in an eerily similar game to Friday night, St. Cloud State had a 3-1 lead before allowing Duluth to score four straight goals. The Huskies have lost their last six home games against Duluth.
It was St. Cloud State sophomore, Robby Jackson, who, for the second straight night, was able to capitalize in the first minute of the game to give the Huskies an early one-goal lead. Jackson picked up the puck from teammate Will Borgen on the right side of the ice and fired a shot from the high slot, beating Duluth goaltender, Hunter Miska, high, blocker side, again for his second goal of the season. The goal came just 53 seconds into the game.
The Huskies lead would not stand for long, as the Bulldogs were able to answer back just three minutes later. Duluth forward, Joey Anderson, skated the puck into the Huskies zone on a two-on-one and elected to shoot from the right circle, beating Huskies goaltender, Zach Driscoll, glove side to tie the game at 1-1. Anderson had last night’s game-winning-goal, as well as an insurance goal on the empty net to seal the victory for the Bulldogs.
St. Cloud State seemed to be in control for the majority of the first period, applying good pressure on the fore-check. Despite outshooting the Bulldogs 13-7 in the first period, the Huskies still gave up some fast-break opportunities to Duluth off the rush, including a shorthanded breakaway where Driscoll was able to bail out the rest of the team, making a crucial save on Duluth forward, Karson Kuhlman, to keep the game at 1-1.
As the first period came to a close, St. Cloud State was able to recapture the lead after a goal from sophomore, Jacob Benson, with just 1:19 remaining. Benson caught the puck below the goal line and was looking to make a pass to the front of the net before making a power move across the top of the crease to beat Miska, who was sprawled out, with a backhand shot. Dennis Cholowski and Daniel Tedesco were credited with assists on the play.
After a back-and-forth second period, the Huskies were finally able to capitalize on the power play, something they have struggled with as of late, scoring just one power play goal on 16 opportunities in their previous three games heading into Saturday night. St. Cloud State’s Cholowski caught a pass near the blue line from teammate, Jake Wahlin, and fired a low shot through traffic, which was deflected in by Blake Winiecki, beating Miska over the leg pad to give the Huskies a two-goal lead with 4:17 left to play in the second period.
The Huskies finished the game 1-4 on the power play, and 1-1 on the penalty kill.
Minutes later, the Bulldogs were able to cut the Huskies lead to one after a rebound goal from senior captain, Dominic Toninato. The puck was shot toward the net and deflected up into the air off Driscoll, as Toninato was able to swat the puck out of the air and into the back of the net. The goal came with just 1:37 remaining in the period, sending the Huskies to the locker room with a 3-2 lead heading into the third period, just like Friday night’s game.
St. Cloud State’s head coach, Bob Motzko, expressed how it was the goal from Toninato that changed the momentum of the game.
“The turning point in the game was giving up the second period goal with 1:50 left,” said Motzko.
Motzko went on to mention how he felt the Huskies played very well against Duluth this weekend. “I thought, for the most part, for the whole weekend we went toe-to-toe,” said Motzko.
Midway into the third period, after a successful Duluth penalty kill, the Bulldogs were able to even the game at 3-3 after a goal from defenseman, Carson Soucy. Just seconds after killing off the Huskies power play, Soucy carried the puck through the neutral zone, creating a 2-on-2 opportunity before firing a shot from the left circle, beating Driscoll low to tie the game with just over 12 minutes left to play.
As the third period continued, the ice seemed to slant more and more toward the Huskies zone, as the Bulldogs started upping the pressure and creating more and more chances.
Duluth took a one-goal lead late in the third period after a goal from Parker Mackay with 5:18 remaining. Bulldog defenseman, Neal Pionk, made a power move toward the net as Driscoll spread his legs post-to-post, making a desperation save, before Mackay crashed the net for the rebound, finding the back of the net before Driscoll could get back on his feet. The goal from Mackay ultimately proved to be the game winner, as Duluth was able to hold off St. Cloud State in the dying minutes of the third period and score an empty-net goal to seal the victory.
This is the second straight night the Huskies have blown a 3-1 lead against the bulldogs, despite holding a major edge in face-offs, 33-26. The Huskies also held the slight edge in shots (34-32). St. Cloud State forward, Jacob Benson, mentioned how the Huskies failed to show up in the third period this weekend, leading to their losses. “We came to play…now we just gotta learn to play the full 60 minutes,” said Benson. He went on to mention how they remain confident heading into next weekend’s games.
St. Cloud State will play next weekend at Colorado College before returning home for a weekend series against #3 North Dakota Nov. 18-19 at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center.