ST. CLOUD, Minn. — If St. Cloud State doesnt play again at the DECC, the Huskies wont feel too bad.
Theyre 0-3 in the last three games there and arent scheduled to be in Duluth during the 2009-10 campaign. St. Cloud State and Minnesota Duluth do not meet again during the Western Collegiate Hockey Association mens regular season until Feb. 11-12, 2011, a series that would be played in the new DECC expansion rink.
UMD also has no fondness for the National Hockey Center. After Saturdays 4-2 loss to St. Cloud State, the No. 18-ranked Bulldogs are 1-9-1 the past 11 games in the concrete building and 0-7-1 the last seven regular-season games. The last UMD victory here was 3-1 on March 9, 2007, to open the WCHA playoffs. The last regular season win here was Nov. 27, 2004.
A bizarre second period before a crowd of 6,051 was another chapter in UMDs road woes. St. Cloud State broke from a tie with the only three goals of the period, two shorthanded, for a 4-1 lead after 40 minutes.
We came ready to play, but we didnt follow through, said UMD junior defenseman Chad Huttel. It was a very frustrating game and were not happy about it because we know were a better team. Among other things we took dumb penalties, me included.
Sophomore center Drew LeBlanc of Hermantown got loose for a shorthanded score, his first goal of the season, as he came in alone and put the puck though the legs of UMD goalie Brady Hjelle at 3:36 of the second period to put St. Cloud State up 2-1. Jared Festler followed seven minutes later shorthanded and Tony Mosey scored on a power play with 15 seconds left in the period.
We want to keep constant pressure on the other team. We have good depth and we like to roll four lines, said LeBlanc, who faced Hjelle in high school and in the U.S. Hockey League. I didnt do anything fancy [on his goal]. I just found an opening.
The Bulldogs had a chance to get back into the game when a puck was covered in the St. Cloud State crease by a player other than the goalie, and Division I scoring leader Justin Fontaine was awarded a penalty shot. He was turned away by junior goalie Dan Dunn with 7:24 left in the second period.
UMD (3-1-1 overall and 2-1-1 in the WCHA) outshot St. Cloud State 11-7 for the period, but was outscored 3-0.
It was an awful, awful, awful period, said UMD coach Scott Sandelin. [St. Cloud State] was more determined and took advantage of everything we gave them. Our battle level was very average.
The outcome marked the first league loss of the season for UMD and the first league win of the season for St. Cloud State (2-2-2, 1-0-1), which scored its most goals of the young season.
The teams exchanged first period goals. The Huskies gained their first lead of the series as star winger Ryan Lasch was outmanned in the offensive zone, but whipped a shot high past Hjelle from the right circle at 3:17. UMD got even on its first power play of the game. Hjelle pushed the puck up ice to Jack Connolly, who relayed to Rob Bordson at the crease. Bordson deked Dunn and tucked the puck behind him with 9:48 left.
We wanted to dominate physically and they matched us, said UMD senior center Drew Akins, who had the only goal of the third period, on a power play. Every time we got something going, we did something wrong and lost momentum. There are no excuses for giving up shorthanded goals.
Goalie Kenny Reiter played the final period for UMD, which finished with a 33-27 shots on goal edge. The loss was the first of Hjelles career after starting out with a UMD-bests 4-0-1 mark. He did get his second assist of the season.
UMD returns home Friday to open a nonconference series with Clarkson University (2-2) of Potsdam, N.Y while St. Cloud travels to Michigan Tech for a pair of conference tilts.