BURLINGTON, Vt. — St. Cloud State’s Nate Dey scored two goals in the second period to propel the No. 6 Huskies to the Sheraton/TD Banknorth Catamount Cup title, 4-2 over 13th-ranked Vermont, Saturday, at Gutterson Fieldhouse.
Two of the better defensive clubs in the nation went toe-to-toe, playing an even first period before the Huskies (12-3-3) took control in the middle stanza. The Catamounts (11-6-1) hung tough making it interesting in the third, but in the end, St. Cloud found a way to extend its unbeaten streak to 13 games (10-0-3).
“That was a good, good hockey game,” said SCSU coach Bob Motzko, “and it’s gonna make us both better down the stretch there to play in that.”
The teams traded goals in the opening period. Vermont got on the board first, at 13:29, when Corey Carlson ripped a wrist shot high to the stick side of Bobby Goepfert. The goal, Carlson’s third in two nights and fifth of the season, was made possible by a long headman pass through center to Viktor Stalberg, who left it for Carlson in the left circle.
The goal seemed to give the Cats momentum, as they nearly grew the lead to two on a power play shortly after. Instead, The Huskies knotted the game at one, in the final minute. Andrew Gordon deflected a puck past the pad of Joe Fallon, at 19:27. Justin Fletcher and Matt Stephenson assisted on the goal.
“A little bit of a mental lapse there,” UVM coach Kevin Sneddon said of the late-period marker. “We hate to give up a goal in the final two minutes of any period. I don’t think it knocked the wind out of our sails, but I think it gave them more energy to come out in the second period, and I thought they took it to us pretty good.”
That the Huskies did. SCSU kept UVM hemmed in its own zone most of the period. Dey helped the Huskies to a two-goal lead to the third.
The first-line center made it 2-1 crashing the net, as a shot from Andreas Nodl rang the pipe. Dey collected the rebound and put it home at 12:11.
The lead was extended, with less than two minutes remaining in the period. This time, Dey converted a feed from the nation’s leading freshman scorer, Nodl.
Motzko had nothing but praise for Dey. “Nate Dey’s having a really good junior year for us and he’s had moments like that in the first half of being called on to produce.
“Your upperclassmen, they have to pull you through big games.”
Nodl took a hitting-after-the-whistle penalty at 0:52 of the third period. While not officially a power-play goal, Nodl wasn’t back into the play when Peter Lenes one-timed a Torrey Mitchell pass past Goepfert from the point. Dean Strong got the second assist on the goal that cut the Huskies’ lead to one, setting the stage for a wild third period.
“Sometimes, you gotta live through [freshman mistakes] we dodged a bullet today. Sometimes mistakes are good,” said Motzko, referring to Nodl’s penalty.
Vermont had numerous quality chances to equalize the score, in the period, but Goepfert was up to the task. He made two saves each on Lenes and Chris Myers from the slot.
Nate Raduns found an empty net with 0:35 remaining, to assure that the trophy would find a home in St. Cloud.
Goepfert made 22 saves; Fallon had 17.
The Huskies connected on one out of five power plays, while the Cats were 0-for-4.
Sneddon, while not satisfied with the outcome, was proud of his team’s effort against formidable opposition.
“We have nothing to feel bad about lots to build on,” he said. “[The Huskies] are one of the best teams in the country and certainly played a great game tonight. I thought it was a great college game.
Vermont found itself in an unfamiliar circumstance, Saturday. “We’re not always gonna be the team that’s leading, we play great with the lead [but] we gotta learn to come together and come back from some adversity in games we’re still not quite there yet, but I thought we did a much better job in the third period.”
Both teams jump back into conference play next weekend. SCSU hosts Alaska-Anchorage, while UVM has a key series with New Hampshire.