ST CLOUD, Minn. — The last time St. Cloud State goaltender Jake Moreland had the opportunity to play against North Dakota, the Grand Forks native gave up four goals as the Fighting Siouxsqueaked by the Huskies4-3 in November of 1999 inMoreland’s hometown.
Saturday night at the National Hockey Center, almost two years to the day after that loss, Moreland got his redemption as the Huskies used four first-period goals to cruise to a 6-1 win to give St. Cloud State a sweep of the defending league champs.
Moreland, who stopped 38 of the 39 shots the Fighting Sioux sent in his direction, lost a shutout streak of more than 111 minutes when Rory McMahon beat him while he was knocked out of the play midway through the third period.
But by that time, the game was all but over.
“He played outstanding, absolutely outstanding,” said St. Cloud State head coach Craig Dahl, who has his team off to the best start in school history at 8-0.
“It’s always fun to beat those guys,” said Moreland, who last Saturday shutout Minnesota State-Mankato in Mankato. “I had something to prove tonight against this team. I wanted to go out and show I wasn’t going to be nervous against them.”
By the time Moreland even saw his first shot, those nerves must have been somewhat settled, as the Huskies built a 2-0 in the first two minutes of the game and extended that lead to 4-0 before the first period was over.
Nate DiCasmirro scored the first of his three goals just 36 seconds into the game, while Derek Eastman’s shot from the point found its way though a crowd in front of the net and by Fighting Sioux goaltender Andy Kollar just 1:10 later on the power play.
DiCasmirro one-timed home his second goal off of a pretty cross-ice pass from Ryan Malone at the 6:51 mark, and Ryan Lamere scored an unassisted goal to give the Huskies a 4-0 cushion with 7:35 still to play in the first.
The Huskies, who entered the game clicking on over 42 percent of their power-play opportunities, scored on half (3-for-6) of their chances with the extra man on Saturday night.
“I am real pleased with our power play,” said Dahl. “It is something we work on everyday and it has really paid off for us.”
“We just move the puck around,” said DiCasmirro, who completed his hat trick with a power-play tally off another feed from Malone with 6:48 to go in the second. “It’s not brain surgery, it’s just finding the open man and going to the net and we have bee able to do that.”
With top-ranked Minnesota skating to a 5-5 tie with Michigan Tech, it is likely that the Huskies will overtake the Gophers as the top-ranked team in the country Monday, but they don’t want to think about it.
“It’s a good feeling to know that people feel that way about us but now the tough part is going out and playing like you are (number one) every single night,” DiCasmirro said. “We never even talked about being ranked second though, so I don’t think this will effect us.”