DULUTH, Minn. — Minnesota Duluth wasn’t necessarily facing a crossroads in its season Saturday night, but a critical moment with less than a month to play in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association men’s schedule. The Bulldogs looked to regroup after the program’s most lopsided loss in nearly five years and most lopsided home loss in nearly a decade.
St. Cloud State stunned UMD with a six-goal victory Friday and scored the first three goals in the rematch. UMD fought back.
The No. 3 Bulldogs scored the final three goals for a 3-3 overtime tie before 6,713 fans to avoid losing consecutive games for the first time this season. Sophomore center Jake Hendrickson got the equalizer unassisted at 8:04 of the third period to make UMD 5-1-5 in OT this season.
“We came into the game wanting to show a lot of effort and to get back to our forechecking game; that’s what we showed, especially in the second and third periods, and overtime,” said Hendrickson.
Ninth-place St. Cloud State (12-14-4 and 8-11-3 WCHA) scored the final seven goals in Friday’s 8-2 win and the first three Saturday for a 3-0 advantage. Third-place UMD (18-6-5 and 13-5-4) gained a point, as goalie Kenny Reiter shut out the Huskies for the final 44 minutes, 37 seconds.
The Bulldogs led in shots on goal 33-25.
“It seemed like a fluky weekend where we had to work extra hard for any bounces,” said Reiter. “Give St. Cloud State credit for burying its chances. The difference (Saturday) is we did a much better job of taking care of the puck and (Jake Hendrickson) gave us a chance to win.”
The Huskies scored twice in 35 seconds midway through the first period for a 2-0 lead. UMD gave the puck away behind its net and winger Jared Festler simply tucked a shot inside the right post at 9:41. That came on a power play. Winger Travis Novak followed that with a goal at the crease at 10:16.
If Friday’s home crowd was shocked, Saturday’s fans were likewise.
Just 23 seconds into the second period the lead was 3-0. Center Aaron Marvin took a drop pass in the slot and converted.
“Since Christmas, we’ve been pretty good,” said St. Cloud State coach Bob Motzko of going 7-3-2 the last 12 games. “We were swept at Omaha last weekend, and then went right back on the road, against another good team, and competed hard.”
Just 95 seconds after the Marvin goal, the Bulldogs got on the board in a five-on-three power play. Justin Fontaine, at the left edge of the net, scored his 18th goal of the season, 58th of his career and 145th career point (to pass Brett Hull at No. 20 for career points). Freshman winger J.T. Brown cut the lead to 3-2, skating through the slot with 5:35 left in the second period.
The Bulldogs finally got even when Hendrickson knocked down a St. Cloud State clearing attempt from the left boards, skated to the slot and banked a shot off the crossbar and over goalie Mike Lee’s blocker shoulder. It was the first goal of the season and second of his career year for the former Burnsville (Minn.) High School player.
UMD had chances to win with four shots on a power play in the final two minutes of the third period, and four shots in overtime after killing a St. Cloud State power play.
“Considering where we were at one time in the game, and especially after Friday, this is a good point to earn,” said UMD coach Scott Sandelin. “We were certainly better and worked harder, and stayed with it.”
UMD center Jack Connolly, skating on a power play with nine minutes left in regulation, took a two-handed slash to an arm from St. Cloud State’s Marvin and was tended to in the training room before returning. Connolly said the injury didn’t appear serious. There was no penalty called on the play. UMD defenseman Brady Lamb was out of the lineup after suffering an upper body injury Friday and was replaced by senior Chad Huttel.
The Bulldogs left the series tied with Nebraska-Omaha for third in the WCHA with 30 points. North Dakota leads with 32 and Denver is second with 31.
UMD goes on the road this weekend for the first time in a month in a series at Minnesota State-Mankato.