ST CLOUD, Minn. — Apparently the St. Cloud State power-play unit had something to prove.
After an 0-for-20 streak that spanned over five games, the WCHA’s top unit went 4-for-6 Saturday night at the National Hockey Center to lead the nation’s fifth-ranked team to a 7-2 nonconference win over Alabama-Huntsville.
In fact, the Huskies special teams were productive on both ends.
Mark Hartigan scored a shorthanded goal, finishing up a pretty two-on-one play with Nate DiCasmirro, to get it started at the 2:02 mark of the first and put some fuel into a Husky offense that had been running on an empty tank.
“We needed a good start tonight,” said DiCasmirro, who was a healthy scratch Friday night for the first time all year and responded with a two goals and a pair of helpers. “We wanted to get that feeling back, the feeling we had earlier in the year and we worked hard to accomplish that.”
“It felt like we were back in the good ol’ days.”
DiCasmirro’s words echoed his play. All night long the senior was making plays, whether it was in his own end, or on the offensive.
“I felt good tonight,” he said. “When you see your teammates work hard it only gives you inspiration.”
“Nate (DiCasmirro) was very good tonight,” said St. Cloud State head coach Craig Dahl. “He was making some plays.”
As were the rest of his teammates. After Tyler Butler scored for the Chargers to tie the game at one, Ryan Malone cleaned up his own rebound to give the Huskies a 2-1 lead after one.
St. Cloud scored three times in the second. Malone one-timed home a feed from Hartigan just over five minutes into the session to make it 3-1. Steve Charlebois tried to make it a game with a power-play goal with nine minutes to play in the second, but DiCasmirro carried the puck out of the corner and beat Mark Byrne while the Huskies had the extra man less that two minutes later. Jeff Finger banged one in off the left post a minute and a half after that to make it 5-2.
“If we play our systems and work hard, things go well for us,” said St. Cloud State forward Joe Motzko, who scored a goal of his own in the third and assisted on two others.
St. Cloud outshot the Chargers 48-29. 23 of those shots came in the opening frame, a period that saw Byrne come up with a number of big saves that kept the game close early.
“Their goalie played well,” said Dahl.
“(Byrne) kept us in the game early,” said UAH head coach Doug Ross. “They showed us though why they are a top-five team, they just kept coming.”
With the loss, the Chargers have now dropped 10 of their last 11 contests. St. Cloud State, on the other hand, swept a series for the first time since late December in improving to 22-5-2 on the year, a feeling the Huskies needed to sense again.
“You couldn’t measure (what this means),” said Dahl. “You couldn’t put a dollar amount on it.”