St. Cloud State built a 2-0 lead and survived a scare late in the second period to hold off Bemidji State 2-1 and advance to tomorrow’s North Star College Cup championship.
The Huskies got the scoring started on their first power play of the game when Jacob Benson shoved home a rebound at 6:01. Blake Winiecki would add to the lead 7:16 into the second period.
The Beavers provided some pushback late in the second period when defenseman Zach Whitecloud scored to bring the Beavers within one, then nearly tied the game with a man advantage to end the period.
But the Huskies were able to withstand that surge, and the Beavers never seriously threatened in a very quiet third period.
St. Cloud State will face #1 Minnesota Duluth in tomorrow’s NSCC championship game, while Bemidji State will battle Minnesota for third place.
Notes and Thoughts
-Both of St. Cloud State’s goals tonight were set up by the net front presence of Blake Winiecki. His size and strength make him immovable there, which causes a lot of problems for other teams. That’s a big reason why he’s such a coveted NHL free agent target.
-Bemidji State is such a humbling team to play against because they do not make anything easy. Every time they got the puck across center ice, they made sure the puck went deep into the zone. It’s not the most exciting hockey to watch, but it’s extremely effective at keeping games close.
-Bemidji State’s best chance came late in the second period when they almost tied the game. Jeff Smith made a huge save on Phil Marinaccio late in the second period that really changed the complexion of the third period. Smith has quietly started to pull away as the Huskies’ number one goalie, earning the last eight starts, and playing well enough to continue earning them. He didn’t have to make many spectacular saves tonight, but stopped all the ones he needed to.
-I discussed the game with Mick Hatten of the St. Cloud Times, which you can view here.
Shots on Goal: BSU: 9-10-8-27 SCSU: 11-2-8-21
Even strength shot attempts: BSU: 22-13-17-52 SCSU: 11-8-14-33
Prime scoring area attempts BSU: 3- 5-3-11 SCSU: 7-4-4-15
What do the numbers tell us?
Bemidji State actually attempted a lot more shots than it felt like they took. Possession felt pretty even in this game despite what the numbers say. A lot of that owes to the fact that most of Bemidji State’s attempts were not from dangerous positions on the ice.
6:01 Jacob Benson from Blake Winiecki and Jack Ahcan (power play) 1-0 St. Cloud State
Ahcan took a shot from the point that was deflected and saved by Bitzer. Winiecki got two attempts at a rebound that were blocked, but the third rebound kicked over to Benson at the left side of the crease and he jammed it home.
7:16 Blake Winiecki from Nick Poehling and Mikey Eyssimont 2-0 St. Cloud State
Poehling worked the puck from behind the net to Winiecki at the right edge of Bitzer’s crease. Winiecki spun and fired a low shot that beat Bitzer to the far side.
17:35 Zach Whitecloud from Leo Fitzgerald and Myles Fitzgerald 2-1
Whitecloud joined a Bemidji State rush into the zone as a late trailer. Fitzgerald dropped the puck to him and he walked in and fired a shot over Smith for the goal.