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Minnesota Duluth 6 Minnesota State 2: Final Notes and Thoughts

Matt Christians

A night after losing on their home ice, Minnesota Duluth returned the favor to Minnesota State in front of a Verizon Wireless Center record crowd of 5375. Dom Toninato's shorthanded goal at 3:39 of the third period broke a 2-2 tie and the Bulldogs never looked back, finishing the game with a 6-2 victory.

The Mavericks controlled the first period of play and ended the frame with a 1-0 lead thanks to a rebound goal by Dylan Margonari. But the Bulldogs controlled play after the first twenty minutes. Kyle Osterberg opened the scoring the Bulldogs at 1:49 of the first period on a long shot that fooled Minnesota State goalie Cole Huggins. Carson Soucy put the Bulldogs ahead 2-1 at 12:35 of the second frame with a pair of nice moves around the MSU defense.

Minnesota State captain Chase Grant would tie the game late in the second period when he tipped a shot past UMD goalie Kasimir Kaskisuo, but that would end the scoring for the night for the Mavericks.

After Toninato gave the Bulldogs the lead, Jared Thomas would score his first career goal on the power play, thanks to a nice pass from Toninato. Thomas and Tony Cameranesi would both add empty net goals in the final four minutes of the game to give the game its' final score.

The weekend split leaves both teams at 2-2-0. Minnesota State will open WCHA league play next weekend against Alabama-Huntsville, while Duluth hosts Denver to open NCHC play.

Fancy Stats:

Shots on Goal: MSU: 10- 17-11-38   UMD 7-7-6-20

Corsi(even strength shot attempts): MSU: 20-18-8-46 62.2%   UMD: 12-16-0-28 37.8%

Prime Scoring Zone chances:  MSU 7- 7-5-19 UMD 1-10-4-15

Notes

-Minnesota Duluth had a complete turnaround after a lackluster first period. The Bulldogs only managed one shot from the prime scoring area in the first period, and that came in the closing seconds when Karson Kuhlman was able to sneak behind the MSU defense for a good chance.

-But they completely controlled the play after the first period. The possession-based stats don't begin to tell the story  of the territorial advantage UMD had in the last two period. For much of the second period, Minnesota Duluth was able to keep MSU penned in the MSU zone. They didn't generate a lot of shots, but that constant pressure was bound to break MSU eventually.

-A big part of the problem for Minnesota State is the depth on defense is lacking. Too many turnovers in their own end from the back line extended shifts. But tonight there were also a lot of soft plays from forwards to swat at pucks rather than making a play to clear the zone. With the long change in the second period, they had some really long shifts.

-The Bulldogs were really aggressive at holding their ground on their own blue line and not allowing Minnesota State to gain zone entry on the rush. In the first period, MSU was effective at dumping the puck into the zone and regaining possession on the forecheck, but after the first period, they didn't have the same success and really struggled to generate pressure in the offensive zone.

-The Mavericks finished the night 0-for-6 on the power play with a shorthanded goal allowed. That's about as bad as it can possibly get on the power play. The game-winning shorthanded goal came after Minnesota State iced the puck twice on the power play, and UMD finally made them pay for being careless with the puck.

The Bulldogs weren't much better, but they finally got a nice goal on their fifth man advantage of the night to ice the game.

-If there was one area where the Bulldogs struggled, it was in the face-off circle. They finished the night with 24 wins against 45 losses in the face-off circle. That difference showed up in two areas. First, the Bulldogs lost a lot of draws on the power play, and the difficulty getting possession and getting set up led to a lot of their power play woes for most of the night. Minnesota State's second goal came directly off a UMD face-off loss in their own end too.

-Dom Toninato scored his fifth goal of the season tonight. Other than playing a huge part in UMD's face-off woes, Toninato continues to look like he'll breakout into one of college hockey's better players this year. His finish on the game-winning was big time. He's seeing a lot of ice time in all roles for UMD right now, and after the game, UMD head coach Scott Sandelin seemed to want to rely on that first line a little less, but they're playing so well and really carrying the Bulldogs.

-I also really liked the way Kyle Osterberg played tonight. His goal was kind of a cheap one, though you have to give him credit for putting a hard shot on net from so far out. He does a lot of little things though, including winning puck battles against guys much bigger than him. Every time I see him play, he seems like he deserves more credit than he gets.

-Kasimir Kaskisuo earned his first collegiate win stopping 36 of 38 shots. He wasn't outstanding, but was as good as he needed to be. He had no hope on the second goal that was tipped right in front of him. He didn't make a lot of Grade-A saves, but didn't need to, and made all the saves he should have. It was a very positive sign after some early troubles in net for the Bulldogs.

-Cole Huggins had an okay game for the Mavericks. The first goal he allowed to Osterberg was weak, but he made a beautiful glove save on Alex Iafallo a few minutes later to steal back the goal he gave up. His numbers will take a hit because UMD didn't throw a lot of easy shots his way, but he was solid enough. The goaltending job still seems wide open for MSU. Both goalies will likely start a game against Alabama-Huntsville next weekend.

-A split seems like a good result for this series. Both of these teams are pretty good and picked up a nice non-conference win that will look good at the end of the year. Strangely, if two teams are going to a split a home-and-home, this was the way to do it. Both teams pick up some bonus points in the computer rankings for winning on the road.

-It has to be a little disappointing for Minnesota State to drop this game in front of such a big crowd. It's a good sign that the Mavericks were able to draw such a big crowd; hopefully they return. This was arguably the toughest home game on the MSU schedule this year--their January series with Ferris State should be more intense--and fans will likely see better performances out of their team in the future.

Final Scoring

First Period

6:03 Dylan Margonari from Jean-Paul LaFontaine and Casey Nelson 1-0 Minnesota State

LaFontaine drove to the net hard from the right wing. Kaskisuo made the initial save with his pad, but Margonari followed the play and jammed home the rebound after crashing the net hard.

Second Period

1:49 Kyle Osterberg from Justin Crandall 1-1 tie

Osterberg fired a long shot from the left point that beat Huggins to the glove side

12:35 Carson Soucy from Kyle Osterberg and Derik Johnson and 2-1 UMD

After a long shift inside the MSU zone, Soucy picked up the puck and the right point and made two dekes past the MSU defense to stuff the puck in the short side on Huggins.

Chase Grant from Brett Stern and Jordan Nelson 2-2 tie

Nelson won a face-off from the left circle cleanly back to Stern who fired a waist-high slapper that was tipped by Grant in front of the net and went past Kaskisuo.

Third Period

3:39 Dominic Toninato from Alex Iafallo (shorthanded) 3-2 UMD

After Minnesota State iced the puck on the power play, Toninato knocked a face-off behind the MSU net. Iafallo picked it up and fed the puck to Toninato who fired a high, hard shot that beat Huggins.

9:24 Jared Thomas from Dominic Toninato and Alex Iafallo (power play) 4-2 UMD

Iafallo worked the puck out of the left corner to Toninato in the slot. Toninato drew two MSU defenders and made a pass to Thomas at the right circle, who one-timed a puck along the ice to beat Huggins.