ST CLOUD, Minn. — It did take 12 games, but Friday night at the National Hockey Center, Minnesota-Duluth finally picked up its first WCHA win, shocking St. Cloud State — the nation’s top-ranked team — 3-2, in front of 5,932 fans. It was just the Huskies’ third loss of the year.
“Any time you can beat a team in this league it’s good,” said UMD head coach Scott Sandelin. “This one does feel pretty good though.”
It didn’t appear early on however that the Bulldogs had any chance of pulling off the upset. St. Cloud jumped on UMD early and dominated the majority of the first 20 minutes, outshooting the Bulldogs 15-6 and claiming a 1-0 lead on freshman Mike Doyle’s power play tally 4:30 in.
But that would be the only goal of the period, as UMD jumped on goaltender Adam Coole’s back and rode the hot netminder for the entire 60 minutes.
“Their goaltender played outstanding,” said Huskies head coach Craig Dahl. “But the way we played in the second period really was the story, we looked like garbage.”
Dahl was dead on.
Neil Petruic and Tyler Brosz each knocked rebounds past SCSU goaltender Dean Weasler 2:13 apart midway through the second to give the Bulldogs a 2-1 lead. The Huskies committed 22 second-period turnovers, were outshot 13-10, and looked disinterested for the majority of the middle stanza.
If not for a late Ryan Malone goal to knot the game at two, the Huskies were looking at possibly their worst 20-minute onslaught since the Saturday night affair at Colorado College, where they were blown out 5-1.
“We were playing with absolutely no confidence in the second,” said Dahl. “We were making long passes and not skating with the puck at all, we can’t win playing like that.”
The third was a different story though, as St. Cloud peppered Coole, sending 20 shots in his direction. He was the difference, stopping numerous close-in chances in the closing minutes and making Andy Reierson’s power-play goal at the 5:29 mark stand as the game winner.
“All week long we wanted to make a statement and I think we did that tonight,” said Coole, who finished with 43 saves on the night. “That might be the best offensive team I have ever played against, but 20 guys came out tonight and really played for each other and that was exactly how we did this.”
“Adam played outstanding,” said Sandelin. “But that is what you need to win in this league, good goaltending, and we definitely had that tonight.”
Sandelin noted that they will need it Saturday night as well though, as the Huskies aren’t used to losing.
“We know we are going to see a different team tomorrow night,” he said. “How we handle that will be interesting.”