MINNEAPOLIS — An entertaining night of hockey saw St. Cloud State overcome a furious Minnesota charge in the third period, as the Huskies scored late to break a 1-1 deadlock en route to a 3-1 win Friday at Mariucci Arena.
Garrett Roe tallied twice for SCSU, including the game winner with 1:41 left in regulation, and Jase Weslosky made 28 saves for the victory. Minnesota’s Alex Kangas matched Weslosky save for save most of the evening, but came up short despite 32 stops.
“We’ve had third periods this year where we’ve had leads or been tied and we needed our goalie to hold it for us, and he did a great job. You’ve got to give him all the credit,” said SCSU head coach Bob Motzko of Weslosky.
Minnesota (11-10-2, 5-8-0 WCHA) outshot St. Cloud (11-10-2, 6-8-1) by a margin of 15-5 in the final frame, but the Huskies scored on two of their five shots on goal to salt away the win.
“That kind of sums up our season,” said Minnesota head coach Don Lucia. “I thought we played a great third period; we had a number of chances. We turned it over there in the last two minutes and they made the play.”
After dominating the third period but failing to solve Weslosky, Minnesota got its chance to break the deadlock with four minutes left when Blake Wheeler, storming through the high slot, was hauled down, giving the Gophers their third power play of the evening. But nothing came of the man-advantage, and seconds later St. Cloud turned the tables.
Off a turnover in the neutral zone, Andreas Nodl picked up the loose puck and fed Roe for a one-one-one with Kangas. Roe beat the Minnesota netminder to his left, a skimming shot from short range for his second goal of the game and 13th of the season at 18:19.
“It was chipped out at the blueline, and I knew ‘Nods’ was going to end up with it somehow,” said Roe. “I just took off and by the time I realized Nods had it I was gone, and I was all alone.”
Nodl added the empty-netter with six seconds left to account for the final score.
“It was good to see us jump out in the third,” said a downcast Mike Howe, who scored Minnesota’s only goal. “Unfortunately, we didn’t execute.”
Howe’s mood was representative of the Gophers as a whole. “When you play as hard as we did in the third period and don’t get rewarded, it makes it difficult,” said Lucia.
Minnesota took the early lead on Howe goal’s just 2:37 into the first period. Howe set up the play himself, circling around the zone and finding Fischer for a shot that rebounded in front for Howe to put away, giving the Gophers a 1-0 edge.
Later in the frame, the Huskies had a golden opportunity off a wild carom that Nodl retrieved, catching Kangas well out of position, but Nodl’s shot on the empty net clanged off a Minnesota defenseman to keep SCSU off the scoresheet. Likewise, Tom Pohl’s attempt to extend the Gopher lead proved fruitless when his point-blank attempt ended up squarely in Weslosky’s pads.
St. Cloud dominated the period in shots on goal, 14-7, but quality scoring chances were roughly even despite the Huskies’ two power plays versus none for the Gophers.
The Huskies’ best chance of the second period came after a turnover in the Gopher zone, permitting Nodl to feed Matt Hartman down low for a two-on-none alongside Roe, but Kangas slid across the crease to make an outstanding stop on Roe’s stuff attempt.
Mike Carman nearly extended the Gopher lead at 11:25 of the second period, but Weslosky got a piece of his slapshot, which bounced off the right post before landing in the crease. Mike Hoeffel thought he had put the rebound away during the ensuing scrum, but the officials made no signal and video review did not alter the call on the ice.
Late in the period, a hit from behind by R.J. Anderson gave St. Cloud its fourth power play, and the Huskies capitalized to tie the game. With seconds remaining in the man-advantage, Roe took a pass from Ryan Lasch and fired from the high slot. Kangas appeared to make the stop, but the puck trickled through his pads at 16:21.
The score stayed 1-1 after 40 minutes of play, with SCSU outshooting Minnesota 16-8 in the middle frame.
“I liked our second period. We got down 1-0, and we just had to hold the fort. Our power play scores most every game,” said Motzko.
Both teams now head to St. Cloud’s National Hockey Center for Saturday’s rematch, with the Huskies having the chance to complete the weekend sweep.
“All you do after a Friday win is breathe easier for a few hours,” said Motzko. “All we have is that opportunity now. … We’re all in that mode right now except for two teams [Colorado College and Denver]. We’re beating each other up.”