A hard-fought back and forth battle between two of the NCHC's top teams ended with St. Cloud State on top after a rocket shot from Jonny Brodzinski with 1:49 remaining in regulation put St. Cloud State up 4-3, and helped lead the Huskies to a home sweep over the Bulldogs.
St. Cloud got the scoring started early, when Jimmy Murray put the Huskies up 1-0 just 30 seconds into the game. Caleb Herbert would tie the game at 18:09 of the first period to tie the game after one period. The Huskies jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the second period thanks to goals by Ethan Prow and Ryan Papa, but Duluth answered back again. Dominic Toninato scored at 10:41 of the second period, and Alex Iafallo tied the game on a 5-on-3 power play five minutes into the third period.
The game seemed destined for overtime as the two teams traded opportunities back and forth for the rest of the period, until Brodzinski's heavy one-timer from the high slot beat Minnesota-Duluth goalie Aaron Crandall to the stick side.
St. Cloud goalie Ryan Faragher made 38 saves on the evening, while his counterpart Crandall made 34 saves in the loss. St. Cloud improves to 17-6-5 on the year, and stays in sole possession of first place in the NCHC with a11-4-3 record. Minnesota-Duluth drops to 13-11-4, and 8-8-2 in the NCHC.
0:30- Jimmy Murray from Nic Dowd and David Morley 1-0 St. Cloud State
Minnesota-Duluth turned the puck over high in the slot in their own end of the ice. Morley intercepted the puck and fed Dowd at the left circle, who flung a backdoor pass to Murray for the easy goal.
18:09 Caleb Herbert from Austin Farley 1-1 tie
Caleb Herbert made a pretty move to walk around an SCSU defender. He lost the puck and it rolled into the pads of Faragher, but Herbert took a second whack at the loose puck, and knocked it through Faragher's legs.
1:40 Ethan Prow from Cory Thorson and Joey Benik 2-1 St. Cloud
Prow got the puck at the top of the slot and sniped a shot over the glove of Aaron Crandall.
6:58 Ryan Papa from Jonny Brodzinski and Tim Daly 3-1 St. Cloud
Right after a Minnesota-Duluth timeout, St. Cloud a face-off back to the point. Kevin Gravel passed it across the blueline to Tim Daly, who fed a cross-ice to Jonny Brodzinski. Brodzinski deked around a defender then passed the puck to Papa, who was alone in the slot, and just had to shoot the puck into an open net.
10:41 Dominic Toninato from Alex Iafallo 3-2 UMD
Minnesota-Duluth forced a turnover behind the St. Cloud net. Iafallo picked up the loose puck and fed it to Toninato cruising down the slot for the one-timed goal.
4:56 Alex Iafallo from Andy Welinski and Caleb Herbert (power play) 3-3 tie
After working the puck around on an extended 5-on-3 power play, Iafallo got the puck at the point and fired a slap shot through traffic that got past Faragher low to the glove side.
18:11 Jonny Brodzinski from Kalle Kossila and Ryan Papa
Brodzinski took a pass from behind the net at the top of the right circle and fired a heavy one-timer that beat Crandall to the stick side.
-This was an excellent game by two very good teams. Both teams had quality chances late in the third period to win the game, but Jonny Brodzinski was the difference-maker, turning an okay scoring chance into a great one. Brodzinski has developed into a legitimate star in college hockey. He had been relatively quiet in this game up to that point, other than a few nice passes, but he's got an absolute bomb for a shot, and showed it off at the exact right time.
-More important than pulling off the win for St. Cloud is that after struggling in the second half of the season, Ryan Faragher finally looked like the Ryan Faragher of old. He made 38 saves(and none of the three goals allowed could be attributed to him, including some really big saves on quality chances early in the game that were the difference for St. Cloud. If he continues to play like that, St. Cloud is going to be a very tough team to beat.
-Minnesota-Duluth got off to another terrible start, giving up a goal just 30 seconds into the game, after a soft turnover, and a few forwards flying the zone early. They recovered from the early mistake much better than Friday night, but it's tough to win on the road when you have to play from behind all night long.
-One turning point in this game that might have been missed came early in the second period. Minnesota-Duluth had a 3-on-1 and freshman Kyle Osterberg took a pass, but missed an easy goal with a wide open net that would have put Minnesota-Duluth up 2-1. Instead, the next shift, St. Cloud came back and scored to go up 2-1, which is a pretty huge two-goal swing. Again, Duluth would come back to even up the game, but it's tough when you're always skating up hill.
-You have to give a lot of credit to Duluth for fighting back as well as did. After going down 3-1, both goals to tie the game were scored by players who had been working hard and were dangerous all night. Dominic Toninato had a great game for UMD and ended up being rewarded for it when a quick turnover behind the SCSU net end up on his stick with a lot of net to shoot at. It's remarkable how often the puck just happens to find a guy that's working hard like that. Alex Iafallo drew a penalty by outskating and outworking an SCSU defender, and less than two minutes later, he was rewarded with a power play goal.
-I was impressed with St. Cloud freshman Daniel Tedesco tonight. Tedesco got off to a slow start this year, but has played really well the past few games and is starting to see more ice time. He looks like he could be a major player down the road.
-5545 was the announced attendance tonight, and this was by far the fullest I've seen the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center this year. The fans in attendance were rewarded with a great game too, that was very close down to the final seconds. This was a fun one, and everything that college hockey should be.
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