ST. CLOUD, Minn. — Joe Jensen had played 15 games in his college hockey career before he notched his first goal, but with two goals Saturday night in St. Cloud State’s 3-2 win over Minnesota-Duluth, the freshman has scored seven times in seven games and is one of the biggest reasons that the Huskies have only one loss in their last nine games.
Playing without top scorer Ryan Malone, St. Cloud State scored three times in the final period to slip past the Bulldogs in front of 6,342 at the National Hockey Center, the building’s 40th consecutive sellout.
In fact, all the scoring came in the third, as the goaltenders held the wall up for the first 40 minutes.
“We had to get some goals from some other people tonight,” said St. Cloud State head coach Craig Dahl. “We did, and more importantly, for the fourth straight game we had good play from all four lines and the goaltender.”
Heading into the third period it didn’t seem like the walls were going to cave in, as Isaac Reichmuth and Jake Moreland held court for two periods without flinching, but on this night, as bodies and helmets started flying around, it was bound to happen.
Jensen broke the deadlock 1:31 into the third, flipping a nifty backhand over Reichmuth’s glove, off the crossbar and into the net.
“I didn’t even see an opening,” said Jensen. “I was just trying to get a good shot on net.”
With the way the first two periods played out it appeared that the goal might be enough, but the Bulldogs had other ideas, and they came from one of the unlikeliest of sources; the fourth line.
Duluth caught the Huskies in their own end and Justin Williams sent what seemed to be a harmless shot at Moreland, but the goaltender lost the puck in the crease where a diving Evan Schwabe poked it home just over two minutes after the Huskies had scored.
The game stayed tied until 11:28, when Husky forward Brock Hooton carried the puck into the Duluth end and hit a sliding Derek Eastman with a pass. Eastman, celebrating his 23rd birthday, tipped it home over a sprawled Reichmuth.
“That’s what an offensive defensemen does for you,” said Dahl. “He’s got a lot of skill and once again played outstanding.”
But again, Eastman’s goal wouldn’t be enough as Tim Stapleton found himself left alone in front of Moreland before burying a pass from Junior Lessard, this time only 1:25 after the Huskies took the lead.
“We had some bad letdowns, but we answered,” said Minnesota-Duluth head coach Scott Sandelin.
But so did St. Cloud State, and the final one came with 3:51 to play off the stick of the suddenly-threatening Jensen. This time he took a pass from Joe Motzko, just to the right of Reichmuth, and whistled a shot between the goaltender’s pads.
“It’s too bad when you don’t have a player like Malone in the lineup but when you have other guy’s step up it’s really good for us,” said Jensen, who swears he hasn’t changed any eating habits or any other superstitions in the last seven games. “And tonight we were able to do that.”
The win pushed the Huskies’ record to a season-best four games over .500 and gave them a four-game winning streak, something they haven’t had since last February.
They’ll get a shot at making it five in a row Saturday night, as the teams travel to Duluth for a 7:05 game at the D.E.C.C.