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St. Cloud State Tops Minnesota State 3-2

2021 NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Championship - Northeast Regional Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images

The home team prevailed in the opening game of a two-game set between two top ten teams on Friday night. An early third period power play goal by Kyler Kupka was enough to give #8 St. Cloud State a 3-2 win over #2 Minnesota State on Friday night.

Final Scoring

First Period

13:30 Zach Okabe from Spencer Meier and Veeti Mietinen 1-0 St. Cloud State

Okabe wheeled with the puck around the Minnesota State net into the high slot. A screened Keenan Rancier never saw Okabe’s shot as it zipped past him for the goal.

Second Period

2:56 Sam Morton from Akito Hirose and Lucas Sowder (power play) 1-1 tie

Hirose got the puck at the top of the point and slid a backdoor pass to Morton, who tipped the puck in off of his backhand.

9:28 Tony Malinowski from Steven Bellini and Brendan Furry (extra attacker) 2-1 Minnesota State

During an extended delayed penalty, Minnesota State worked the puck back to Malinowski at the left point and his slapper beat Jaxon Castor cleanly.

18:36 Grant Cruikshank from Zach Okabe and Kyler Kupka 2-2 tie

St. Cloud State forced a turnover behind the Minnesota State net. Okabe got the puck in the corner and swung a pass out to Cruikshank, who was all alone in front of the net for an easy goal.

Third Period

0:35 Kyler Kupka from Grant Cruikshank and Dylan Anhorn (power play) 3-2 St. Cloud State

After a prolonged scrum in front of the Minnesota State net, Kupka was able to dig out a loose puck and jam it into the net.

Game Notes:

-Overall, a fun, fast-paced, high-skill hockey game, as you’d expect from two teams of this caliber. In the end, it was St. Cloud State that made the plays in the third period and were able to come out with the win.

-As is usually the case, this was a game that was won in the hard areas of the ice in front of each teams net. Minnesota State probably had the better overall run of play throughout the game, but the Mavericks couldn’t do as much with their offensive zone time. Things were a little too perimeter-oriented for the Mavericks, whereas St. Cloud State scored their game-winning goal by winning a battle to dig out a loose puck in front of the net and make a play. That was the type of play Minnesota State was missing all night.

Credit a veteran group of St. Cloud State defensemen who bring a ton of experience and defend very well in their own zone. Also credit St. Cloud State goalie Jaxon Castor, who was rock solid tonight. He made a number of key saves to keep St. Cloud State in this game, especially in the second period when the game might have gotten away from them if they had fallen behind by two goals.