North Dakota came into the NCHC Frozen Faceoff knowing that certain permutations of results this weekend elsehwere could potentially get them into the NCAA Tournament regardless of their outcome this weekend, but the only way they could guarantee a spot in next week’s big tournament would be to win both games this weekend to secure an automatic bid.
On Friday evening, they came up just short, falling to top seed St. Cloud State 3-2 in overtime on a game-winning goal by the Huskies’ Nick Poehling.
The Huskies would play with the lead for most of the game, jumping out to an early 1-0 lead on a goal by Patrick Newell. North Dakota tied the game early in the second period on a pretty wrap-around goal by Nick Jones, but the Huskies had an answer just over a minute later on a goal by Easton Brodzinski.
North Dakota senior goalie Cam Johnson did spectacular work to keep North Dakota within striking distance by making multiple tough saves to keep the game 2-1, which allowed North Dakota to tie the game on the power play midway through the third period.
But after a slow third period, St. Cloud State came out strong in the overtime frame and ended it early. The Huskies attempted all four shots in the extra frame, including the winner from Poehling when he forced a turnover at the UND blue line and buried his shot.
St. Cloud State will meet Denver in tomorrow’s championship game. North Dakota will meet Minnesota Duluth in the consolation game, needing a win to help their chances of making the tournament, and then spending a long night sweating out results to the east.
Notes and Thoughts
-St. Cloud State’s first goal was a beauty set up by the incredible lateral movement of Jack Ahcan.
Beauty of that play is Ahcan got the puck in similar position a few shifts later and the shot-blocker had to loosen his gap so much to protect against it that Ahcan was able to make a cross-ice pass back door that just missed.— Chris Dilks (@ChrisDilks) March 16, 2018
-If this was the last game at North Dakota for Cam Johnson, he went out with a good one. St. Cloud State generally outplayed North Dakota in this one, but Johnson made a ton of Grade-A stops, especially when his team was down 2-1 in the second period to allow North Dakota enough time to eventually tie the game.
-This one ended on a tough play with North Dakota making an ugly unforced error at their own blue line with the puck. But the difference in this game isn’t that St. Cloud State didn’t make those types of mistakes. They had a couple bad turnovers as well. The difference is that North Dakota just doesn’t have the type of offensive firepower to really consistently punish the opposition when they make a mistake like that. A similar turnover in North Dakota’s favor in the first period ended with a whiffed one-timer. They had another clean 2-on-1 fall apart due to a missed pass. They’re North Dakota and they’ll always have good players, but they really lack a dynamic difference-maker.
-The biggest bright spot for North Dakota was the continued emergence of Nick Jones. Jones scored the first goal on a great individual effort to beat a defender, get around the net and beat Hrenak to the post on tight wraparound. He set up the second North Dakota goal by threading the needle on an excellent cross-ice pass as well.
-St. Cloud State looked content to shut this one down after 40 minutes and try to protect a 2-1 lead in the third period. They spent a lot of time in their own zone, and eventually ended up taking a penalty that North Dakota converted on(even though North Dakota’s power play was dreadful up to that point). To their credit, they were able to turn it back on for the overtime, where they completely carried play and were rewarded with a quick winner.
Shots on goal: SCSU: 6-15-12-1-33 UND: 8-6-9-0-23
Even strength shot attempts: SCSU: 17-18-14-4-53 UND: 12-9-12-0-33
Prime scoring area attempts: SCSU: 4-7-6-1-18 UND: 5-5-10-0-20
What do the numbers tell us?
St. Cloud State had the better overall run of play. North Dakota’s best stretch was in the third period, when they were able to generate more shots in the prime scoring area. But St. Cloud State controlled the overtime early and was able to put the game away.
5:54 Patrick Newell from Jack Ahcan and Blake Lizotte 1-0 St. Cloud State
Ahcan picked up the puck at the top of the point, and scooted to his right, around a shot blocker and drawing another defender towards him. He made a pass to Newell in the slot, and Newell buried a high shot.
4:39 Nick Jones from Trevor Olson and Colton Poolman 1-1 tie
Jones brought the puck in wide on the right wing. He skated it around the net and made a diving wrap-around attempt that wedged between Hrenak’s pad and the inside of the net.
5:53 Easton Brodzinski unassisted 2-1 St. Cloud State
St. Cloud State brought the puck into the UND zone on an offensive rush. North Dakota was able to bat away a Ryan Poehling drop pass, but Brodzinski was able to pick up the puck on the secondary rush and fired a shot into traffic that went in.
10:10 Jordan Kawaguchi from Trevor Olson and Nick Jones (power play) 2-2 tie
Jones held the puck along the left boards and found a passing lane across the ice to Olson. Olson one-timed a pass to Kawaguchi at the front of the net and Kawaguchi finished off the nice passing play.
1:47 Nick Poehling unassisted 3-2 St. Cloud State
Poehling stole the puck near the North Dakota blue line on the right wing and skated two strides in and fired a high snap shot that beat Johnson for the overtime winner.