Power play units start slowly
Six NCHC teams opened their regular season slates this weekend (Omaha won an exhibition game Friday), and didn’t usually set the world alight while playing with a numerical advantage.
The conference’s teams that played counter games Friday finished with a combined two wins, a tie and two losses. Part of that can be put down to special teams play, as Colorado College, Miami, Minnesota Duluth (which defeated Minnesota in an Icebreaker tournament semifinal) and North Dakota together went 2-for-25 on the power play. UMD accounted for both goals.
Western Michigan pounded four power play goals of its own past Ferris State goaltender Justin Kapelmaster in WMU’s 6-1 win in Kalamazoo, Mich.
Saturday didn’t go much better on the power play front. CC, UND and St. Cloud State all won, but the six NCHC teams that played that night went a combined 5-for-30 when playing a man up. In the second game of a home-and-home series, WMU went 1-for-9 in a 3-2 loss at Ferris State.
Western (1-1) won’t have to wait long to get going again, as Bowling Green (0-0) visits Kalamazoo this Tuesday.
Huskies’ top defensemen, goalie dominate
St. Cloud State came out flying in its regular season opener Saturday, winning 4-0 on the road against a Minnesota State team that had swept the Huskies in Mankato this time last year. A big reason for the reversal in fortunes had to do with SCSU’s defense.
Jimmy Schuldt and Jon Lizotte, two of St. Cloud’s top four defensemen, played key roles at both ends of the ice. Schuldt scored the opening goal with a ripped shot from the blue line past Jason Palowski, later had an assist and finished plus-four. Lizotte doubled SCSU’s lead three minutes into the second period and was ultimately a plus-three on the night.
Huskies goaltender Jeff Smith was terrific, making 42 saves to record his first career shutout and his team’s first since just before last season’s holiday break. St. Cloud was outshot by MSU 42-26. Both teams went 0-for-1 on the power play.
SCSU (1-0) plays at home this next Friday and Saturday against Alaska (0-1-1), another non-conference opponent from the WCHA. The Huskies will wear pink jerseys in the second game of the series, and all proceeds from a silent auction for the jerseys will go to Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Central Minnesota.
Bulldogs finish second at Icebreaker
Minnesota Duluth hoped to use Parker Mackay’s goal 1:45 into Friday’s 4-3 overtime victory over in-state rival Minnesota as a springboard to further Icebreaker success in Saturday’s final, but that wasn’t meant to be.
Instead, Michigan Tech scored on four of its first nine shots and buried on its first three power-play opportunities in a 4-3 win at Duluth’s AMSOIL Arena. UMD led 39 seconds in on a Riley Tufte goal before Nick Wolff soon doubled the lead. The first period ended tied at 2-2, though, thanks to a Tech rally that began with a 5-on-3 power play goal at 11:47.
Scott Perunovich, one of 10 freshmen on this season’s UMD roster, briefly tied the game at 3-3 in the second period before Tech scored the eventual game-winner midway through the same frame.
UMD (1-1) faces in-state foe Bemidji State (0-0) next weekend in a home-and-home set.