PITTSBURGH — St. Cloud State jumped to a 3-1 lead early in the second period, but Minnesota State responded with two goals in a 2:16 span to draw even, 3-3, through two periods of play in the opening game of the 2021 Men’s Frozen Four.
St. Cloud State has never trailed in the game, but was under siege late in the second by the Mavericks. Minnesota State held a 15-7 shot advantage in the second period.
Special teams have played a major role through 40 minutes. Both teams are perfect on the power play, St. Cloud scoring once and Minnesota State capitalizing on both of its man advantages.
Minnesota State was whistled for the game’s first penalty, a hooking call to Brendan Furry at 2:12. And St. Cloud State took full advantage.
Captain Spencer Meier pinched in from the point and was in perfect position to bury the rebound of Zack Okabe’s shot at 3:18 for the 1-0 lead.
Though it took Minnesota State until the 9:21 mark to get its first shot, when the Mavericks got a chance on the power play, they too capitalized.
Nathan Smith picked up a loose puck after the St. Cloud defense blocked a shot. Smith fired the puck through traffic blocker side on David Hrenak to tie the game at 1 at 16:09.
The game wasn’t tied for long as Kyler Kupka provided the answer off the ensuing faceoff. Kupka, filling the spot on the top line vacated by Easton Brodzinski who broke his femur in the Albany Regional final, had an easy tap in when Nolan Walker feathered a nifty pass after freezing goaltender Dryden McKay. The goal came just 10 seconds after Minnesota State had drawn even on the power play.
Early in the second, the Huskies opened a two-goal lead taking advantage of a bad turnover by the Mavericks. Skating from his zone, Julian Napravnik made a blind, behind-the-back pass that went right to the stick of St. Cloud State’s Will Hammer, who promptly fired it high over the blocker of McKay.
Minnesota State, though, fought back.
At 12:07, Walker Duehr scored his 10th of the season, burying the rebound of Dallas Gerads’ shot on an odd-man rush. Then, after a St. Cloud State penalty 45 seconds later, Smith scored his second of the game on the man advantage, cutting in from the half boards and firing a shot under the crossbar.