ST. PAUL, Minn. — It’s been said before that hockey is a game of bounces — the first game of the North Star College Cup proved that notion correct.
Minnesota-Duluth downed Minnesota State 5-4 in overtime in the first game of Minnesota’s inaugural Division I hockey tournament at the Xcel Energy Center.
Alex Iafallo scored on the power play with seconds left in overtime to break a 4-4 tie. Tony Cameranesi and Austin Farley assisted on the game-winning goal.
“It was a big play by Tony and he just got it out to me and I put it in,” Iafallo said.
All in all, there were three power-play goals and two shorthanded ones in the game.
“I’m proud of our guys for staying with it,” UMD coach Scott Sandelin said. “It was kind of weird when they got their shorthanded goal, it was almost like due diligence that we got one.”
Andy Welinski got the Bulldogs on the board first when his wrister from the point found its way past Mavericks’ netminder Cole Huggins and to the back of the net.
“They came out and dictated the pace,” Minnesota State coach Mike Hastings said. “I thought that we reacted instead of acting.”
Johnny McInnis tied things up halfway through the first when he banked a shot from behind the goal line off of UMD goaltender Aaron Crandall.
Matt Leitner made it 2-1 Mavericks on a power-play wrist shot from the blue line.
“We had a much better start to the second period,” Hastings said. “And from that point on, up until the 10-minute mark of the third period, I though we were OK.”
In the second period, the scoring and fluky bounces continued.
“There was a lot of bounces and crazy things,” Sandelin said. “We had a couple pucks hopping over sticks. There was just some crazy bounces and it never seemed to settle down.”
Farley tied things up for UMD early in the second when a shot by Dominic Toninato went off of him and by Huggins.
Adam Krause then made it 3-2 Bulldogs when he found a centering pass from Iafallo in traffic and hammered it home.
Jean-Paul LaFontaine tied things up late in the second when his shot from a cluster of people barely crossed the goal line. It originally looked like Crandall made the save, but the play was reviewed and eventually called a goal. LaFontaine’s goal was on the power play – he leads the nation with 12 power-play goals.
MSU took the lead thanks to a shorthanded goal by Zach Lehrke. After killing a short five-on-three power play, Zach Palmquist hit Lehrke coming out of the box and sprung him on a breakaway.
Kyle Osterberg tied the game again minutes later when Huggins failed to handle a harmless shot from the point. Osterberg gobbled up the rebound and scored on a backhand shot.
Hastings was quick to the defense of his goaltender after the game.
“Cole Huggins has pulled our bacon out of the fire multiple times this year,” Hastings said. “Thought he had it and it popped out and they scored. That was a big momentum changer.”
Minnesota-Duluth will play the winner of the Minnesota-St. Cloud State tomorrow at 7 p.m. CST. Minnesota State will play the loser of said game at 4 p.m. CST.