ST. CLOUD, Minn. — Led by Scott Meyer’s 36 saves and Duvie Westcott’s pair of goals, St. Cloud clinched second place in the WCHA with a solid 5-2 win over Minnesota on Saturday night at the National Hockey Center.
Special teams helped key the win for SCSU (27-8-1, 20-8-0 WCHA), as the Huskies held the powerful Minnesota power play without a goal despite nine opportunities. St. Cloud, meanwhile, scored one power-play goal and added a shorthander that put the game away in the third.
The Huskies’ runner-up standing is their best conference finish since SCSU joined the league in 1990-91, putting them in a strong position to go after a bye in the NCAA tournament. St. Cloud is currently fourth in the nation in the Pairwise Rankings, which emulate the NCAA tournament committee’s selection process.
Minnesota, meanwhile, ends in third place with a 25-10-2 record, 18-8-2 in the WCHA.
SCSU charged to a quick 1-0 lead in the game as Tyler Arnason posted his team-leading 24th goal of the season at 8:00 of the first with assists from Westcott and Ryan LaMere.
Mark Hartigan tallied at 11:54 to send St. Cloud to the first intermission with a 2-0 lead, and in the second stanza, Westcott gained the eventual game-winner with his ninth goal of the season at 8:20 on the power play. Hartigan and Brandon Sampair set the play, with Sampair gaining a team-record 34th assist. The old record of 33 was set by Jeff Saterdalen in 1989-90.
Minnesota got on the board at 15:50 in the second with a goal by John Pohl, but in the third, Westcott iced the game with a shorthander at 4:14 with assists from Sampair and Arnason to make it 4-1.
Motzko charted his 14th goal of the season at 6:06 of the third before UM ended the scoring with a goal by Matt DeMarchi at 16:27.
Meyer put in a strong bid for year-end honors with another outstanding effort in the crease, charting an impressive 36 saves as the Gophers outshot the Huskies 38-30. Adam Hauser was the keeper of record for UM with 25 saves.
The Minnesota power play, the most efficient in the nation coming into the game, was held scoreless over the series. SCSU was 1-of-5 on the power play, while UM went 0-of-9. Over the weekend, UM was 0-of-15 on the power play.
Both teams will host first-round series next weekend, with St. Cloud entertaining ninth-place Alaska-Anchorage and Minnesota receiving a visit from Michigan Tech.