PITTSBURGH — Each team struck on the power play but Kyler Kupka’s goal late in the first is the difference after one period as St. Cloud State leads Minnesota State, 2-1, in the opening game of the 2021 Men’s Frozen Four.
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.
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 Kupka provided the answer off the ensuing faceoff.
St. Cloud State held an 8-6 shot advantage in the first period.