ST. CLOUD, Minn. — Adam Coole’s been trying to forget his last college game for some time now.
In fact, it’s been over a year and a half. Wisconsin shelled the goaltender for three goals in the first two minutes of a game back in March of 2002. He returned to action Saturday night with a different sweater on his back and erased those demons with a memorable performance. His new team — St. Cloud State — skated to a 3-1 win over those same Badgers to complete the weekend sweep in the first WCHA series of the year.
“I can’t even tell you how I feel right now, there are so many mixed emotions coming out tonight,” said Coole, the Minnesota-Duluth transfer. “Honestly, it seemed like a minute ago I had a Bulldog jersey on, now I’m wearing a St. Cloud State one. This is a very emotional night for [me] and I’m just enjoying every minute of it.”
He looked like he was enjoying the sixty he spent on the ice. He wasn’t called upon often early, with his team controlling play for most of the opening ten minutes, and he was given a lead when St. Cloud State finally capitalized at the 12:15 mark when the Huskies took advantage of a five-minute major to Wisconsin’s Ryan MacMurchy.
The Huskies power play looked to be in sync. They generated a number of good opportunities on their first chance with Nick Licari in the box for tripping, and then found their groove during the major.
After cycling the puck around to the point, Brock Hooton took a pass from Matt Gens just above the right circle. Hooton turned, spotted Peter Szabo sneaking in behind the Badger defense, hit him with the pass and Szabo buried it through the back door.
Wisconsin got some help killing off the rest of the major when the Huskies Casey Borer took an interference penalty after setting a pick behind his own net, but Coole closed shop on a chance by Tom Gilbert on the ensuing power play, and stopped Adam Burish after Tim Conboy turned the puck over just after the Huskies killed off the man-advantage.
“I was happy for him, I even gave him a hug and I don’t usually give goalies hugs after a game,” said St. Cloud State head coach Craig Dahl. “He’s a good kid and he works really hard so you always like to see that.”
He held fort through the first, and eventually the second, even though Wisconsin appeared to have tied it six minutes into the second period on a power play.
Dan Boeser took a shot from the point that hit traffic before ending up behind Coole. The red light went on and referee Derek Shepherd signaled a goal, but Coole and the rest of the Huskies attested that the puck was kicked in. After discussing the play with his assistant referees, Shepherd called it off.
Television replays confirmed that Licari kicked it in.
Like the night before, St. Cloud State struck early in the third when Ryan LaMere found a puck that Hooton left in the slot. LaMere sent a soft backhand towards the net that eluded about six skates, and eventually Wisconsin goaltender Bernd Bruckler to give the Huskies a two-goal cushion.
They scored again on the power play when Hooton, LaMere and Szabo connected on a tic-tac-toe play with the later finishing it off to make it 3-0.
“The key to both nights was the third period,” said Dahl. “We played extremely smart for this early in the year.”
Wisconsin got one back in the first minute of a five-minute power play courtesy of Andy Lundbohm, who pinned Adam Burish to the boards from behind. Andrew Joudrey halted Coole’s shutout bid with just over six minutes to play, but like they had all night long, the Huskies and Coole shut the door after that.
“The shift right after they scored that goal was the shift of the game,” said LaMere. “Even though they still had four minutes of power play left, we went out there, got in there face and took the momentum right back.”
Wisconsin pulled Bruckler with exactly a minute to go, but couldn’t generate anything as St. Cloud had the better of it, missing two open nets.
“It’ll come,” said Mike Eaves of his team’s offense. “Right now we just need to work through this and control what we can control.”
They have a home series next weekend with Quinnipiac then have an off week before heading back to league play with a road trip to Michigan Tech two weeks later.
“We have some time,” said Eaves. “It’ll balance out.”
St. Cloud State, on the other hand, stays home for a while and welcomes Michigan Tech to the den next weekend.