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St. Cloud State Completes Amazing Comeback in 6-5 Overtime Win

st. cloud team (Matt Christians) Matt Christians

This is what an idiot wrote earlier tonight:

Yeah, not quite a dagger.

Minnesota led 5-2 early in the third period and looked to be in complete control of tonight’s game with a very impressive effort. About midway through the period, St. Cloud State’s Jacob Benson bounced a puck into the net off his foot. No big deal. Just a little stat-padder on the way to an 0-3 start to the season for the Huskies.

Then Mikey Eyssimont scored a power play goal by catching Minnesota goalie Eric Schierhorn off his angle by a tiny fraction. Wait a minute. Now it’s a one-goal game with 6:01 to play.

Minnesota settled the game down for a bit until St. Cloud State pulled their goalie—Zach Driscoll, who came on in replacement of Jeff Smith after the fifth goal—and Judd Peterson was able to score his second goal of the game to tie it at 5-5 with 1:13 remaining.

By that point, it almost seemed like a foregone conclusion as to what was going to happen. Schierhorn made a great save with 30 seconds remaining to send the game to overtime. But in the OT, a St. Cloud State scoring chance drew a Minnesota penalty, and with the man advantage, Jack Ahcan scored his first career point by making a beautiful cross-ice pass to a wide open Jake Wahlin, and Wahlin buried the game-winner.

St. Cloud State’s win is their first of the season in three tries after being swept at Minnesota State last weekend. Minnesota falls to a 2-1-0 record. The two teams will meet for the second game of the series tomorrow evening in St. Cloud.

Notes and Thoughts:

-I had a lot of stuff I was going to say that obviously got dumped because of what happened in the final 10 minutes of the game. This game had a remarkably similar feel to Minnesota State’s late comeback from 2-0 down at Mariucci Arena last year. Minnesota was in complete control of this game and looked extremely good. And then.....I-still-don’t-know-what-happened happened.

-Even though they somehow walked out of here with a win, there are still some distressing trends for St. Cloud State. Needing to score six goals to win isn’t going to cut it most nights. I thought goalie Jeff Smith actually had a pretty good game, despite allowing five goals on 32 shots and being pulled. He made some big saves in the first period to keep the Huskies in the game, and I didn’t feel like he let in any soft goals.

Most of the blame likely belongs to the defense in front of him. Early in the game, I thought there was a little too much aggression in terms of going up the ice by guys that are better-suited to playing a more stay-at-home game. The net-front defense was also really problematic again, which is particularly bad because I’m sure that was a focal point this week after struggling so much in Mankato last week. It’s still a work-in-progress from a group that is talented, but trying to calibrate how and when to use that talent.

-I also still have some concerns about St. Cloud State’s forwards, though those concerns were bigger at 5-2 than they are now. One thing I think they lack is a true #1 line. Judd Peterson has been phenomenal both times I’ve seen St. Cloud State play. A lot of people have written the Sabres pick off as not getting signed next summer, but he looks like he’s going to force Buffalo to make a decision on him. Beyond Peterson though, I’m not sure they’ve found the right linemates to play with him.

The good news is that I think their depth is really good. Fitting that the rally started with some hard work by the fourth line, which was very good tonight.

-Meanwhile, there’s not much bad I can say about Minnesota other than giving up four goals in the final 12 minutes, which, obviously, is not ideal. Their depth at forward is going to give teams fits. The line of Leon Bristedt-Rem Pitlick-Vinni Lettieri was great all night. The fourth line even generated a couple chances, even though they’re still not scoring in games.

It’s going to be tough to bounce back from a loss like this, but I think Minnesota will, and I still think they’ll be a team that is solidly in the NCAA Tournament by the end of the year.

-If the tighter enforcement of rules leads to more 11-goal games and teams aren’t able to park the bus in front of their net with any lead in the third period, then sign me up. This was a game you could watch and have fun without a deep personal investment in either team, and college hockey needs more games like that.

Fancy Stats

Shots on Goal: UM: 11-18-6--0-35 SCSU: 9-9-17-5-40

Even strength shot attempts: UM: 10-17-4-0-31 SCSU: 11-11-25-4-51

Prime scoring area attempts: UM: 6-11-3-0-20 SCSU: 4-6-11-4-25

What do the numbers tell us?

What you probably already guessed. Minnesota was in complete control of the game and then took their foot off the gas, allowing St. Cloud State to mount an improbably comeback.

Final Scoring

First Period

12:10 Vinni Lettieri from Leon Bristedt and Rem Pitlick 1-0 Minnesota

Pitlick and Bristedt came down the ice with a 2-on-1. Pitlick made a pass from the right wing to Bristedt as Bristedt cut towards the crease. Smith made the initial save, but Lettieri trailed the play and was able to jam home the rebound in the crease.

Second Period

1:08 Tyler Sheehy from Tommy Novak and Steve Johnson 2-0 Minnesota

Sheehy snuck behind the SCSU defense and was left all alone in front of the net, where he was able to backhand Novak’s pass behind Smith for the goal.

2:20 Jimmy Schuldt from Patrick Newell and Robby Jackson (power play) 2-1 Minnesota

Schuldt took the puck at the top of the point and blasted a low slap shot that beat a screened Schierhorn to the blocker side.

9:19 Leon Bristedt from Vinni Lettieri and Rem Pitlick (power play) 3-1 Minnesota

Lettieri got the puck low at the left circle and made a no-look pass to Bristedt on the right win that Bristedt finished off.

14:38 Mike Szmatula from Tyler Sheehy and Justin Kloos (power play) 4-1 Minnesota

Kloos’ shot from the left circle was blocked by Smith, but Sheehy banged at the rebound in front of the net and chipped it over Smith. Szmatula batted the puck out of the air to insure Sheehy’s shot went into the net.

17:11 Judd Peterson from Jake Wahlin 4-2 Minnesota

Wahlin intercepted a pass behind the Minnesota net and fed it out to Peterson at the right side of the crease. Peterson’s first shot was denied, but he was able to chip the rebound over Schierhorn for the goal.

Third Period

2:34 Tommy Novak from Tyler Sheehy and Jake Bischoff 5-2 Minnesota

Jake Bischoff stepped out of the penalty box at the conclusion of a penalty and caught the puck as it rimmed out of the Minnesota zone. He passed the puck to Sheehy, who gave it to Novak on a 3-on-2. Novak fired a high snap shot over Smith for the goal.

10:23 Jacob Benson from Daniel Tedesco and Ben Storm 5-3 Minnesota

Tedesco fired a hard pass across the crease from the left wing. Benson drove the net hard and the puck bounced off his skate and into the net.

13:59 Mikey Eyssimont from Robby Jackson and Patrick Newell (power play) 5-4 Minnesota

Eyssimont had the puck at the bottom of the right circle and took a high wrist shot that beat Schierhorn to the far corner.

18:47 Judd Peterson from Blake Winiecki and Patrick Newell (extra attacker) 5-5 tie

Winiecki won the puck behind the net and fed it to Peterson has he streaked to the front of the net. Peterson’s low shot beat Schierhorn and tied the game.

Overtime

2:53 Jake Wahlin from Jack Ahcan and Dennis Cholowski (power play) 6-5 St. Cloud State

Cholowski had the puck at the top of the umbrella and dumped it off to Ahcan at the top of the left circle. Ahcan faked a shot, then fired a pass across the box to a wide open Jake Wahlin. Wahlin finished off the goal into a wide open net for the game-winner.