COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Mark Hartigan’s second-period goal proved to be all St. Cloud State needed to defeat Colorado College, 3-0, Friday night in front of 6,419 at the Colorado Springs World Arena.
The top-ranked Huskies improved to 13-1-1 (11-1-1 WCHA), while the No. 12 Tigers dropped to 8-6-1 (4-6-1 WCHA). With the win, the Huskies avenged their only loss of the season, a 4-3 defeat at the hands of Colorado College on November 10 at the National Hockey Center.
“That was an exciting hockey game,” said St. Cloud coach Craig Dahl. “It was a fun one for us. Each team had some good chances, we got a few good breaks, and excellent goaltending.”
Colorado College and St. Cloud skated to a scoreless first period. Despite no action on the scoreboard, the first period was full of end-to-end action and good scoring opportunities. Most of those chances belonged to the Tigers as St. Cloud gave them three power-play opportunities. However, St. Cloud goalie Dean Weasler was up to the task, making 18 saves in the period.
The back-and-forth action continued in the second period, although St. Cloud began to pick up its play and get better scoring opportunities. The hard work paid off as the Huskies broke the scoreless tie at 5:27 of the period when Husky forward Hartigan’s blast from the top of the left circle trickled in through Colorado College goalie Jeff Sanger’s legs.
“We just worked hard,” said Hartigan. “When you work hard, you get the bounces and tonight they went our way. Our defense played strong tonight and that helped the transition and got us some scoring opportunities, which we took advantage of.”
“The first line played really well,” said Dahl. “They accounted for eight of the nine points tonight. They gave us the leadership that is expected of them tonight.”
St. Cloud forwards Nate DiCasmirro and Matt Hendricks were both down low, battling for the puck in the left corner. DiCasmirro came up with it and fired a pass to a wide-open Hartigan at the top of the circle. Hartigan one-timed the pass to beat Sanger and give the Huskies a 1-0 lead.
The end-to-end action picked up again after the goal, with both Weasler and Sanger having to make big saves to keep the score at 1-0. Sanger stopped three St. Cloud shots in a flurry less than one minute after the goal was scored to keep his team within one, while Weasler made two sprawling saves in the minutes after the goal to preserve his team’s lead.
St. Cloud extended the lead to 2-0 at 7:00 of the third period when the line of DiCasmirro, Hartigan, and Hendricks hooked up for their second goal of the night. Colorado College attempted to clear the zone by firing the puck the length of the ice. However, DiCasmirro intercepted the clear at the right point and chipped it over to Hartigan, who was ready to fire a slapshot on net, until at the last minute he noticed Hendricks alone at the bottom of the left circle.
Hartigan fired the pass to Hendricks, who redirected it into a wide-open net. Sanger had no chance on the play.
Hendricks added an empty-net goal to seal it for the Huskies. Hartigan and Ryan LaMere picked up assists.
Weasler made 36 saves to earn his first shutout and eighth win of the season. Sanger made 25 saves in a losing effort.
“Seeing a lot of shots early helped me tonight,” said Weasler. “It let me get a feel for the game and the puck. Tonight was my night for some reason. There were a lot of shots that I didn’t see; yet they kept ending up in my glove, or hitting my pads. I just tried to be in the right position, and tonight it worked out.”
“Weasler was the difference tonight,” said Hartigan. “He kept us in the game in the first period and we just fed off of that. He gave us a spark in the locker room and we went from there.”
These same two teams will meet Saturday night to conclude their two-game series. Game time is set for 7:05 p.m. MT at the Colorado Springs World Arena.