Anyone that missed Minnesota Duluth’s 5-3 win over St. Cloud State on Friday night was treated to a repeat performance on Saturday, as the Bulldogs completed the road sweep with another 5-3 victory.
Just like Friday night, the Huskies struck early with a goal by Robby Jackson 53 seconds into the game, and just like Friday night, the Bulldogs answered back to even the score in the first period.
The Huskies jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the second period for the second straight night thanks to goals by Jacob Benson and Blake Winiecki. But once again, Minnesota Duluth clawed back to tie the game, this time by Dominic Toninato and Carson Soucy.
And once again, it was Minnesota Duluth that found the game-winning goal late when Neal Pionk weaved through the St. Cloud State defense for a scoring chance, and Parker Mackay knocked home the rebound that he left.
The Bulldogs added an insurance empty-net goal, just like last night, to bring the game to its’ final 5-3 tally.
The sweep keeps Minnesota Duluth unbeaten in four NCHC conference games, and will keep the Bulldogs atop the national polls for a second week. St. Cloud State falls to 4-4-0 on the season, and will play their second NCHC conference series weekend at Colorado College.
Notes and Thoughts:
-There’s bound to be a lot of disappointment for St. Cloud State after letting a two-goal lead slip away for a second straight night, but I do think there are some positives to take away from this weekend.
The biggest thing that stuck out to me is that there was a night-and-day difference from their defense tonight compared to when I saw them on their first two weekends of the season. They finally started to look like the dynamic group that many hoped they would be at the start of the season. They were really quick in transitioning the puck up the ice, especially in the first period, which led to some transition offensive opportunities for the Huskies.
I was especially impressed with Will Borgen, who was all over the ice tonight, but did so in a less reckless way than he did at the start of the year. At his best, it feels like the Huskies have six guys out on the ice because he can pressure down low in the offensive zone, but is also providing solid defense.
-The other positive for St. Cloud State is that I thought their fourth line outplayed UMD’s fourth line pretty convincingly, and was rewarded for it with a goal by Jacob Benson. I’m still not sure the Huskies have the high-end firepower to carry their offense, so they’re going to have to do it with depth and wearing the other team down.
-Minnesota Duluth definitely looked like the #1 team in the country tonight. The most impressive thing about the way they played is that they were able to take a punch from St. Cloud State in the first half of the game, and then just kept coming back at them and grinding the Huskies down to get back into the game.
The comeback started with an impressive display of cycling by UMD’s veteran top line until finally Dom Toninato broke through with a rebound opportunity. I talked last week about how the Bulldogs may lack a true sniper—though Joey Anderson definitely looked like he could be that guy on his confident finish tonight—but they’re so strong and quick and they force the opposition to spend so much time defending that it’s only a matter of time before they break through.
-First round NHL Draft pick Riley Tufte is now six games into his college career without registering a point. I’ll write more about what I’ve seen out of Tufte next week, but looking over my notes, I think that will come out more positive than most expect. He had some chances for that first point tonight that just didn’t work out for one reason or another, but if he keeps that up, they should come eventually.
Shots on goal: SCSU: 13-12-9-34 UMD: 7-16-9-32
Even strength shot attempts: SCSU: 20-15-16-51 UMD: 9-25-14-48
Prime scoring area attempts: SCSU:8-8-6-22 UMD: 1-11-8-20
What do the numbers tell us?
St. Cloud State controlled play for the first period, but the Bulldogs bounced back and kept chipping away as the game progressed.
0:53 Robby Jackson from Will Borgen 1-0 St. Cloud State
Jackson collected a turnover at the top of the right circle, took two strides towards the face-off dot and fired a perfect snap shot into the upper corner over Miska’s shoulder.
4:04 Joey Anderson unassisted 1-1 tie
Anderson intercepted the puck in the neutral zone and skated in on a two-on-one. He kept the puck himself and beat Driscoll over the glove side shoulder for the goal.
18:41 Jacob Benson from Dennis Cholowski and Daniel Tedesco 2-1 St. Cloud State
Benson took a pass from Cholowski at the right goal line. Benson initially looked to pass, but seeing that he was uncovered, he walked out to the front of the net and deked around Miska for the goal.
15:43 Blake Winiecki from Dennis Cholowski and Jake Wahlin (power play) 3-1 St. Cloud State
Cholowski took a shot from the top of the point that Winiecki tipped just in front of Miska for the goal.
18:23 Dominic Toninato from Karson Kuhlman and Brendan Kotyk 3-2 St. Cloud State
After a long sequence of cycling by the Bulldogs in the Husky end, Kuhlman directed a puck towards the front of the net and Toninato tipped it on net. The first attempt was saved, but Toninato batted his own rebound out of the air to knock the puck in.
7:33 Carson Soucy unassisted 3-3 tie
Soucy gloved down a shot from the point on the SCSU power play and broke the puck back up the ice on a 2-on-1 as the UMD penalty expired Soucy held the puck himself and rifled a wrist shot from the left circle that beat Driscoll to the far side.
14:42 Parker Mackay from Neal Pionk 4-3 Minnesota Duluth
Pionk made a dazzling end-to-end rush to get around the St. Cloud State defense. Driscoll made a sliding save to deny his chance, but Mackay was on the doorstep to clean up the rebound for the game-winning goal.
18:45 Carson Soucy from Alex Iafallo and Joey Anderson (empty net) 5-3
Soucy picked up a missed shot off the back boards at the left side of the net and tucked home an insurance goal for UMD.