ORONO, Maine — Everything that went completely right Friday night for the Maine Black Bears went completely wrong on Saturday as they dropped the championship game of the Icebreaker Cup to the St. Cloud State Huskies 6-2.
The Huskies were led by the performance of tournament most valuable player Mike Doyle, who netted two goals. The freshman from Anchorage, Alaska, scored three times and added an assist on the weekend.
Maine almost doubled the shot output of St. Cloud, but the Huskies were able to use skill, and some luck, to their advantage.
“We have some real high-skilled guys,” said St. Cloud coach Craig Dahl. “If you make a mistake usually, we can find a way to put the puck in the net.”
St. Cloud did that on a few situations, scoring two of its goals while down a man. Matt Hendriks scored his second goal of the year shorthanded at 14:43 of the first on a partial breakaway where he beat starting goalie Matt Yeats low to the stick side on an assist from Joe Motzko to tie the score at 1.
The second shorthander gave the Huskies a two-goal lead with 3:59 left in the second period. Mark Hartigan made a move around Peter Metcalf and then got Yeats to commit low, exposing the near post, which is were Hartigan put his shot.
Doyle gave St. Cloud the lead with his first goal. It came at 2:26 of the second from the low slot. Doyle was able to find space and slide the puck under Yeats on a shot the standout netminder usually stops.
Doyle’s second was the game winner on the power play at 10:51 of the second. St. Cloud won the offensive zone face-off and defensive breakdown left both Doyle and Peter Szabo wide open. Matt Gens got the puck to Doyle, who one-timed it by a sprawling Yeats to make 3-2 for St. Cloud.
St. Cloud goalie Jake Moreland played big after that, stifling Maine on numerous golden scoring opportunities the rest of the way.
“What can you say about him?” Nate DiCasmirro said. “He was unbelievable. He kept out of trouble when our penalty killing broke down a few times. He did a great job.”
The game was a penalty-filled affair that included two major penalties and a game misconduct. St. Cloud’s Jeff Finger received a major charging penalty for a hit he put on Ben Murphy along the boards at 17:13 of the second.
Almost two minutes later, Maine’s Lucas Lawson received a major and a game misconduct for a hit from behind. That means Lawson must sit out Maine’s next game, at North Dakota on Friday.
“Our defense and our penalty killing was good,” said Dahl, who thought the turning point of the game was the Lawson penalty. “It took them out of a five-minute advantage. We were able to kill off that our major and then we scored right away to start third.”
That goal came from DiCasmirro less than two minutes into the third off of Mike Morrison, who replaced Yeats to start the third.
“I waited to see if the goalie was coming out or not,” DiCasmirro said. “When he didn”t, I shot it to the low stick side, which is where Cully [Jon Cullen] told me to shoot it to beat [Morrison], so I put it there.”
Motzko scored the game’s final goal on a breakaway two minutes later.
The bright spot for Maine was the combination of Colin Shields and Tom Reimann on the power play. Reimann found Shields in the low slot from his point position twice, and the result was two goals.
“We got frustrated after the first period when we weren’t scoring on the power plays,” Maine coach Tim Whitehead said. “Because it was so easy for us to score last night, and we scored on our first one tonight, frustration set in when we couldn’t get it done later in the period.”
Maine was also hurt by the Lawson ejection, as well as a shoulder injury to John Ronan, who may be out for a few weeks.
“We didn”t execute our game plan until the third period,” said Peter Metcalf. “We weren’t as hungry tonight.”
But he knows the team can get better after this loss. “Now we know we’re not invincible, we know that we need to work,” Metcalf said. “You’re going to have bad games, and today was a bad game.”
“As a team, we can play a lot better, but we’ll probably be seeing them down the road in March,” Whitehead said of St. Cloud.
Maine (1-1-0) next travels to North Dakota for a two-game set on Oct. 19 and 20. St. Cloud will put its undefeated record on the line in its WCHA opener, hosting Michigan Tech for two games next weekend.