St. Cloud State got a pair of points from senior Joey Benik, and Colorado native Mikey Eyssimont got the game-winner against his home state team to lead St. Cloud State to a 4-2 victory in the NCHC Frozen Faceoff semifinals a spot in tomorrow's championship final against Minnesota Duluth.
The two teams got off to a slow start, with neither team registering a shot on goal for over seven minutes. But Joey Benik got the scoring started on the power play at 7:45 of the first period for the only goal of the opening frame.
After Troy Terry tied the game for Denver in the second period, it was Benik striking again, setting up David Morley with a perfect pass from behind the net to give Morley a wide open net for the goal.
Eyssimont would net the eventual game-winner on a strange play behind the goal. Eyssimont just fired a puck from deep in the left towards the front of the net, but caught a lucky bounce when he hit a DU defender and bounced over the shoulder of Denver goalie Tanner Jaillet for the goal. Denver would answer back 22 seconds later to get within one goal, but despite extremely heavy pressure in the third period, couldn't get the game-tying goal. Jimmy Schudldt capped off the Husky victory with a full-ice clearing attempt that hit the empty net.
The loss means Denver will face North Dakota in tomorrow's consolation game at 3:38pm CST. St. Cloud State meets Minnesota Duluth in the championship game at 7:38pm.
Notes and Thoughts:
-There's not as much to say about this game. With both games comfortably in the NCAA Tournament, there didn't seem to be the same intensity in this game as the first one. It's nice for St. Cloud State to have the opportunity to skate for a championship tomorrow, but I don't think Denver will lose any sleep over this loss. Some might even argue it's to Denver's benefit to wipe the slate clean and refocus heading into the NCAA Tournament after an 11-game winning streak to end the season.
-Joey Benik always seems to love the big stage, and he ended up making the difference for St. Cloud State tonight. He just missed a nice chance shorthanded early in the game when he barely missed the top corner on an open shot. He didn't make the same mistake twice when he got another chance on the power play a few minutes later. His assist was a thing of beauty too. On a night with not much separating the two teams, he was the difference.
-The Huskies really went into a shell in the third period to protect their 3-2 lead. Somehow, the Pioneers only had four shots on goal after they cut the lead to 3-2. They spent almost the entire 17 minutes in the Husky zone and had some quality chances, including Tariq Hammond making a nice rush and putting the puck off the inside of the post. But the Pioneers just couldn't find the right bounce at the right time to get the tying goal.
7:45 Joey Benik from Ethan Prow and Kalle Kossila (power play) 1-0 St. Cloud State
On the power play, Benik got space at the top of the right circle and fired a high, hard wrist shot that beat Jaillet high to the blocker side.
6:29 Troy Terry from Tariq Hammond and Danton Heinen 1-1 tie
Terry carried the puck into the slot and fired a hard wrist shot that may have been tipped and beat Lindgren high to the glove side.
11:29 David Morley from Joey Benik and Jimmy Murray 2-1 St. Cloud State
Benik skated the puck behind the Denver net. As Jaillet turned to cover the far side, Benik slipped a pass out to Morley on the near side, and Morley put the puck in a wide open net for the goal.
1:41 Mikey Eyssimont from Kalle Kossila 3-1 St. Cloud State
Eyssimont was behind the goalline in the left corner and fired a puck towards the front of the net. It hit off a Denver defender in front and bounced over the shoulder of Jaillet for the goal.
2:13 Evan Janssen from Troy Terry and Quentin Shore 3-2 St. Cloud State
Janssen skated into the slot and took a pass from behind the net by Terry and knocked it home for the goal.
18:43 Jimmy Schuldt unassisted (empty net) 4-2 St. Cloud State
Schuldt iced the puck from deep in his own zone, but hit the open net for the goal.