For the second straight night, a first period goal was all the offense St. Cloud State would need to defeat in-state rival Minnesota State. The Huskies prevailed by a final score of 3-0 to stay perfect on the season. Minnesota State, meanwhile, remains without a win on in the early season and was shut out for the third consecutive game. The Mavericks have now gone 195:23 without scoring a goal dating back to the third period of their season-opening game against Nebraska-Omaha.
Patrick Russell put the Huskies on the board early when his heavy wrist shot from the right wing snuck under the pads of Huggins and into the net. Freshman Robby Jackson extended the lead in the second period with a rebound goal for his third of the season, and Judd Peterson capped the weekend sweep with an empty-net late in the game.
St. Cloud State goalie Charlie Lindgren stayed perfect on the season with his third shutout in as many starts. Cole Huggins took another hard-luck loss stopping 21 of 23 shots faced, but receiving no offensive support.
St. Cloud State travels to Quinnipiac next weekend for what should be a series against two highly-ranked opponents. Minnesota State begins WCHA conference play next weekend with a trip to Bemidji to face the Beavers of Bemidji State.
Notes and Thoughts:
-Last night I said it was the same old story for Minnesota State and tonight was another chapter. Once again, they had their chances: Teddy Blueger beat Lindgren cleanly with a shot that rang off the pipe, a big rebound on a 2-on-1 that would have been a tap-in goal missed an MSU stick by inches, Lindgren made a tremendous save on a 2-on-1 to take a goal away. But the longer their goal-less streak drags on, the more it seems to weigh on them. There is a lot of over-thinking and second-guessing going on right now that is taking away some quality chances too.
Another 24 shots without a goal tonight dropped Minnesota State's shooting percentage to 1.7% on the season. Shockingly, that's not the worst number in the NCAA(Minnesota is at 1.4%), but it's more than twice as bad as the next highest ranked team(Northeastern at 3.7%). Which is to say, this team is probably bad offensively, but nobody is that bad offensively. It's just not possible. For comparison's sake, the two-win 13-14 Alabama-Huntsville team shot 5.5%. John Hill's one-win Alaska-Anchorage team shot 6.6%. Minnesota State(and Minnesota) could be a historically bad team--which they likely aren't--and still have a heavy course correction coming their way.
-I doubt anybody had Jimmy Schuldt on their preseason all-rookie team, but he's an early front-runner to be there at the end of the season. Schuldt was on the top pairing with Ethan Prow and played two rock solid games this weekend. That's huge for the Huskies to have him replace fellow Minnetonka alum Andrew Prochno and not miss a beat, and really changes the complexion and outlook of the unit as a whole.
-Some bad news for St. Cloud State that Prow left the game in the third period to be evaluated for a concussion after it looked like he was tripped and hit his head on the knee of an MSU player. Hopefully that's not a long-term injury because he plays a big role for the Huskies.
-Neither goal for St. Cloud State was a pretty one, but on both plays, they got the puck to the front of the net, had guys charging hard towards the net, which yielded some friendly bounces. Sometimes a team can make their own luck by being aggressive like that.
-There's not much else to say about a game with just two real goals. St. Cloud State got the lead early and played very responsibly to keep it a low-event game. Somebody in the press box wrote "Nobody deserves to be nominated" on their three stars ballot*. The two teams combined for only 24 shots on goal each and even the number of shot attempts was fairly low. The Huskies are great at clogging up the neutral zone which really slows the game down, and did a tremendous job of getting sticks into passing lanes and bodies into shooting lanes. It doesn't make for very exciting hockey to watch, but it's effective.
*It wasn't me**
**Because I didn't know we could do that
Shots on goal: SCSU: 8-8-8-24 MSU: 10-7-7-24
Even strength shot attempts: SCSU: 11-13 MSU: 21-14-
Prime scoring area attempts: SCSU: 3-5- MSU: 6-5-
What do the numbers tell us?
I didn't see third period numbers, but the third period felt about the same as the second period. Minnesota State had another strong first period with a significant edge in shot attempts, but nothing to show for it. After that, St. Cloud State really made it tough for them to generate much offense. Neither team was getting a lot of high-quality chances in the prime scoring area. Like I said above, it was a very low-event game.
4:20 Patrick Russell from Niklas Nevalainen and Jon Lizotte 1-0 St. Cloud State
Russell came down the right wing and fired a low, heavy shot that Huggins initially got a piece of, but the puck trickled under his leg and into the net.
9:32 Robby Jackson from Judd Peterson and Nathan Widman 2-0 St. Cloud State
Peterson's shot from the right wing off the rush was stopped by Huggins, but Jackson drove the net hard and his second effort was enough to jam the puck under Huggins and into the net.
16:16 Judd Peterson from Patrick Russell (empty net) 3-0 St. Cloud State
Russell broke the puck out of the St. Cloud State zone and passed it to Peterson, who scored on the open net from near the MSU blue line.