St. Paul, Minn. – St. Cloud State participated in the fourth and last year of the North Star College Cup tournament at the Xcel Energy Center. Created to keep in-state rivalries alive, the tournament featured Minnesota NCAA D1 men’s hockey teams.
The Huskies played Bemidji State in the first game of the tournament on Friday, and they gained a 2-1 victory over the #20 ranked Bemidji to advance to the championship game on Saturday. Jacob Benson and Blake Winiecki were the two goal scorers for the Huskies on Friday. SCSU goaltender Jeff Smith saved 26 of 27 shots – SCSU went 1-4 on the power play and 3-3 on the penalty kill.
Duluth won 3-2 over the University of Minnesota on Friday, making them the team for SCSU to beat to become back-to-back North Star Cup champions. Minnesota Duluth had not won the North Star Cup coming into the 2017 tournament.
The Huskies took on the #1 ranked Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs in Saturday’s North Star Cup championship game, and SCSU gave the #1 ranked team a run for their money. SCSU sophomore defenseman Will Borgen got the scoring started at 18:17 of the first period. Even after a number of good chances for both teams, UMD’s goalie Hunter Miska and SCSU’s Jeff Smith each stood strong in net; the Huskies would retain their 1-0 lead heading into the third period. Duluth forward Alex Iaffalo broke the shutout at 0:42 of the third period.
This NCHC battle would not be decided in regulation. In tournament style play, the teams took an intermission to play a full overtime period with 20 minutes on the clock. Senior forward Kyle Osterberg of UMD ended the last North Star College Cup by tipping in a rebound past Smith in the sudden death OT. Minnesota Duluth won its first North Star Cup and saw to it that there were no repeat winners of the tournament.
St. Cloud State travels to Grand Forks, ND next week to take on NCHC rival University of North Dakota. They’ll look to change the outcome from the last meeting with UND where the Huskies were shut out on back-to-back nights.