MANKATO, Minn. — Two weeks ago, St. Cloud State goaltender Tim Boron was in a lot of pain. Friday, he was feeling no pain.
Boron played in his first game since a thumb injury on November 19 and stopped 32 of 34 shots to lead the Huskies to a 4-2 win over Minnesota State (5-6-2 overall, 2-6-1 WCHA) in front of 3,483 at the Midwest Wireless Civic Center.
“My thumb’s about 90 percent, 95 percent,” Boron said. “I didn’t even think about it all day. I was thinking about coming here and getting the W, and that was all I was thinking about.”
The road WCHA win was also the first for SCSU (8-6-1 overall, 4-5-0 WCHA) since the Huskies swept Michigan Tech on February 6 and 7 of last season.
“We talked about it all week. It’s important to win on the road,” St. Cloud coach Craig Dahl said.
Four different players scored St. Cloud’s goals, but Boron was the star.
The SCSU goalkeeper came up big on MSU’s last power play of the second period. Boron made several key saves on shots that went on traffic in front of the net. His sensational performance preserved the Huskies’ 2-0 lead through two periods.
“I was just feeling great and was working hard to see the pucks,” Boron said. “My adrenaline was going, my feet were kicking good. They put up a good screen, but I just felt like I was seeing the puck.”
“He was excellent the whole way through,” senior Mike Doyle said. “He was outstanding coming off that thumb injury. Anytime you get goaltending like that, he’s going to put us in a position to win the game.”
The sophomore made two huge saves in the third to keep MSU at bay. Boron robbed David Backes’ chance early on by coming way out of the net to cut down the angle on Backes’ shot from the right circle.
Then, at the 10:49 mark of the third, Boron robbed Brock Becker’s chance with a glove save. The Huskies’ bench showed its appreciation by banging their sticks on the dashers.
“I thought he played very well,” Dahl said. “He did a great job. That’s too bad he had to lose the shutout, but he did a real nice job. There were no soft goals, and I think he felt real comfortable.”
The Huskies took a 1-0 lead off a power-play goal at 17:37 of the first. With one second left on a roughing penalty to Becker, St. Cloud defenseman Justin Fletcher took a shot from the left point. The puck made it through traffic in front before glancing off the right post and going into the net.
St. Cloud’s second goal came right after a Maverick penalty ended. The puck was cleared from SCSU’s zone into the Minnesota State end. Doyle was skating after the puck and forced MSU goalie Jon Volp to come out and play the puck.
Volp grabbed the puck at the top of the right circle, but his clearing attempt hit Doyle, who corralled the puck for an easy empty-net goal with Volp stuck far out from the net. Doyle’s fourth goal of the year gave St. Cloud a 2-0 lead at 10:08 of the second.
“I saw him coming out, and I thought he’d pass it back over my left side,” Doyle said. “So I faked like I was going right, and then I went left to where he eventually shot it into me. I think he kind of fanned on it too.”
“I think he had to go get it, otherwise the kid’s in on a breakaway,” MSU coach Troy Jutting said. “But you gotta move it to one side or the other, you don’t shoot it right back at the kid.”
The Huskies put MSU away in the third with a goal from Dave Iannazzo. Matt Francis made a nice play to send Iannazzo on a partial breakaway, and, with Kyle Peto hooking him, Iannazzo beat Volp low at the 9:00 mark. Iannazzo leads the Huskies with eight goals and 15 points.
Doyle and Iannazzo, both seniors, have been Maverick killers in their collegiate careers. In seven games each against MSU, Iannazzo has 11 points and Doyle 10.
“I don’t know what that is,” Doyle said. “I guess it’s one of those things where you match up well against the other team, and sometimes it takes a little luck too.”
Josh Singer put the Huskies up 4-0 at the 15:42 mark of the third.
MSU mounted a short-lived comeback as Brad Thompson and Austin Sutter scored in a 46-second span in the final four minutes of the game. But the Mavericks got no closer, and the game ended 4-2.
“I don’t think we played great, but I thought we played pretty good,” Jutting said. “We just didn’t score. We had a lot of chances. We really felt like their goaltender did a nice job, and we gotta do a better job of getting it by him when we’re in those situations.”
The Mavericks outshot SCSU 34-33, but went 0-4 on the power play. St. Cloud went 1-4 with the man advantage.
The two teams finish off the home-and-home series Saturday night with a game in St. Cloud. The puck is set to drop at 7:05 p.m.