It took some crazy twists and turns to get there, but at the end of the night, Minnesota Duluth junior Cal Decowski knocked home a backdoor pass to give #17 Minnesota Duluth [5-4-0, 3-2-0-0 NCHC] a 3-2 overtime win over #7 St. Cloud State [3-4-0, 0-1-0-0 NCHC]. The win was Minnesota Duluth's first win on a Friday night this season, and their first victory in St. Cloud since 2007.
Minnesota Duluth took an early first period on a goal by Justin Crandall. That 1-0 lead would hold up through the second period and set the stage for a back-and-forth third period. St. Cloud State's Jonny Brodzinski tied the game at 1-1 early in the third with a laser of a shot on the power play.
Minnesota Duluth would have a chance to regain the lead with 1:52 of 5-on-3 power play shortly after Brodzinski's goal. The Bulldogs weren't able to capitalize on the two-man advantage a minute and a half after St. Cloud had killed those two penalties, the Bulldogs would take a penalty of their own. St. Cloud's Patrick Russell converted on that power play to give the Huskies a 2-1 lead.
It looked like that lead would hold until Minnesota Duluth juinor Andy Welinski wired a one-timer on the power play above the shoulder of St. Cloud State goalie Charlie Lindgren to send the game to overtime.
In overtime, Austyn Young, who had been up from the fourth line earlier in the game, forced a turnover at the St. Cloud State blue line and fed the puck to Kyle Osterberg, whose backdoor pass found Decowski for the winner.
The two teams will meet again tomorrow night for the second half of this two-game series.
Shots on goal: SCSU 10- 10- 14-1-35 UMD 8-5-7-1-21
Corsi(even strength shot attempts): SCSU 11-14-12-2-39 UMD 12-8-8-1-29 (57.3% to 42.7% SCSU)
Prime Scoring Area attempts: SCSU 3-6-5-0 -14 UMD 4-2-1-1-8
-This was a fun hockey game. There wasn't much scoring in the first two periods, but there was a lot of up-and-down hockey and good scoring chances both ways. It looked like Minnesota Duluth was headed for another loss at their House of Horrors when they failed to score on that 5-on-3 then gave up a goal to go down 2-on-1. Give them a lot of credit for digging deep and finding a way to steal two points tonight.
-The biggest reason Minnesota Duluth won tonight was Kasimir Kaskisuo. He was outstanding, especially in the second period when he faced some really high-quality shots and somehow found a way to get UMD out of the period leading 1-0. It's largely forgotten because of the wild third period, but to me, that's where UMD won this game.
The Bulldogs got outshot and outchanced all evening. Their possession numbers weren't very good. But Kaskisuo kept the game close enough that all UMD needed was one good shot on that late power play to tie the game. Minnesota Duluth didn't win very many of those types of games last year--if anything, they were in St. Cloud's position, losing despite a big shot edge--but they've added that ability with Kaskisuo in net, and that makes them a very dangerous team.
-The blue line is going to be a big concern for St. Cloud State going forward. Judging by ice time, they have a lot of confidence in their top three guys, and not much in the bottom three. The defensive zone turnover on UMD's first goal stands out as a good example of why. Those top three guys, especially Prochno and Prow logged a lot of ice time for the first game of a two-game series, and I think fatigue might have been a bit of a factor on that final turnover.
-That said, I was very impressed with freshman Mika Ilvonen in my first viewing. He played pretty sheltered minutes tonight, which I'm guessing is just a factor of trying to work him into the line-up with this only being his second game. But he's so smooth with the puck. He was a little late on a few reads, but with time, I think he'll be an exceptional player.
-I thought this was a strong game in net from Charlie Lindgren. He didn't stand out like Kaskisuo did, and his numbers will take a bit of a hit with the limited action he faced, but it's hard to fault on him on any of the goals. I thought he was strong positionally all night, and turned some quality chances into easy-looking saves by making himself big in the net. The goalie wasn't the issue for St. Cloud tonight.
-St. Cloud State muddle their way through their first three power play attempts with little success, in part because they were a bit too cute with the puck. On their fourth attempt, it became pretty clear that they were just going to get the puck to Jonny Brodzinski and let him shoot it. His first attempt was blocked by Minnesota Duluth, but he got the puck back right after and fired a beautiful shot for a goal. Brodzinski's shot is one of the biggest weapons in college hockey, and something that should be used more often.
-St. Cloud's Patrick Russell had three excellent scoring chances in the second period and was denied on all three attempts by Kaskisuo. He finally scored his first collegiate goal in the third period when he was left all alone in front. He's a dangerous player in front of the net and has a lot more goals in his future.
-By his own admission, Cal Decowski didn't have to do much on his overtime game-winning goal, but he was effective all night and the puck has a way of finding guys like that. Decowski has played well over the past few weeks, seen his playing time increase and is starting to see the results on the scoresheet. He has points in each of his last four games, with five total in that stretch.
-3976 was the official attendance, but that count feels low, if anything. There was a very good crowd here in St. Cloud tonight, which made for a fun atmosphere. The game on the ice was good, but there wasn't the seething hatred I saw last week between UMD and Miami. It makes a huge difference in atmosphere when it's a local opponent that the fan base knows though.
-Minnesota Duluth is now 4-0-0 on the year when I'm in attendance. I'll be back covering the Bulldogs next Friday at Mariucci, and then the 'Dogs are off my schedule until the North Star Cup. It could be a long December for them.
12:22 Justin Crandall from Dominic Toninato 1-0 UMD
Toninato intercepted an SCSU breakout pass in the high slot. He skated to his left then fired a pass across the crease to a streaking Crandall who deflected the puck into an open net. [Video]
3:13- Jonny Brodzinski from Andrew Prochno and Kalle Kossila (power play) 1-1 tie
On the power play, Brodzinski got the puck at the top of the left circle and fired a laser into the upper right corner of the net. [Video]
8:56- Patrick Russell from Joey Benik and Andrew Prochno (power play) 2-1 St. Cloud State
Russell was left all alone in front of the Minnesota Duluth net on the power play. He took a pass from Benik and deked across the crease to
14:14 Andy Welinski from Austin Farley and Dominic Toninato (power play) 2-2 tie
Welinski took a pass at the top of the umbrella on the power play and blasted a one-timed slap shot into the upper left corner of the net. [Video]
2:06 Cal Decowski from Kyle Osterberg and Austyn Young 3-2 Minnesota Duluth
Young forced a turnover at the St. Cloud State blue line and fed the puck to Osterberg who came into the zone on a 2-on-1. Osterberg made a pass across the crease to Decowski who knocked the puck into the net.[Video]