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Late Game-winner Propels St. Cloud State to Sweep of Minnesota State

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Minnesota State fought back from a 3-1 deficit to force a 3-3 tie in the third period, but St. Cloud State’s Grant Cruikshank scored the decisive goal, his second of the game, with 3:26 remaining in regulation to give St. Cloud State a 4-3 victory and a weekend sweep over the Mavericks.

Final Scoring

First Period

7:53 Grant Cruikshank from Micah Miller (short-handed) 1-0 St. Cloud State

Miller stole the puck along the left boards after a sloppy clearing attempt by Minnesota State and passed it in front of the net to Cruikshank for the goal.

9:46 David Silye from Brendan Furry 1-1 tie

After extended heavy pressure by Minnesota State, Furry fired a puck on goal and Silye crashed the net to put the rebound back in and tie the game.

Second Period

10:31 Micah Miller from Kyler Kupka 2-1 St. Cloud State

The Huskies forced a turnover off a failed clearing attempt. Miller got the puck at the top of the left circle and fired a hard wrist shot that hit off goalie Alex Tracy’s glove and bounced into the net.

12:08 Chase Brand from Ondrej Trejbal and Joe Molenaar 3-1 St. Cloud State

Trejbal took a knee-high wrist shot from the left point that Brand got a stick on out in front of the net, and his tip deflected the puck underneath Tracy for the goal.

16:00 Josh Groll from David Silye and Steven Bellini 3-2 St. Cloud State

Silye made a tremendous effort to win the puck in the corner and worked it out into the high slot. The puck was knocked away from him, but slid to Groll, who fired a quick low shot that beat Dominic Basse before he could react in time.

Third Period

6:39 Sam Morton from Josh Groll 3-3 tie

Morton made a strong individual effort to bring the puck out of the right corner, evade a defender, then wired a bar-down wrist shot over the shoulder of Basse.

16:34 Grant Cruikshank from Kyler Kupka 4-3 St. Cloud State

Kupka tripped a Minnesota State defender behind the net and won the puck, feeding it to Cruikshank out in front for the game-winning goal.

Game Notes

-It has taken four different teams(counting his original commitment to Wisconsin just shy of eight years ago)but Grant Cruikshank appears to have finally found a home at St. Cloud State. He is leading the way for the Huskies in their perfect 6-0 start to the season with a team-best 6-3-9 scoring line.

The key has been his linemates. Cruikshank played with Micah Miller and Kyler Kupka this weekend, two strong, fast veteran forwards that excel in doing the dirty work in the corners. They’re doing a great job of creating chaos and turnovers and then getting the puck to Cruikshank in great scoring areas.

-Minnesota State is one of the slowest, most deliberate teams in college hockey when it comes to breaking the puck out of their own zone. They don’t try to beat the other team’s forecheck, they use back support to keep playing the puck backwards until the other team gives up on the forecheck.

That works most of the time, especially since teams tend to play pretty conservatively against them. But St. Cloud State adjusted over the course of the weekend and began applying a little heavier forecheck pressure tonight, which ended up creating some more chances for the Huskies. Minnesota State had an opportunity to move the puck out of the zone, but instead tried to play the puck backwards to set something up. A turnover ensued and St. Cloud State ended up with a huge momentum-shifting goal.

-A bit of a tough break for Minnesota State on the game-winning goal. The turnover forced by St. Cloud State’s Kyler Kupka very easily could have been called a trip by the officials. That’s a really tough call to make to put a team on the power play with 3:30 left in a tie game on a play that is 200 feet from their own net. But at the same time, it created a great scoring chance by a play that wasn’t exactly legal.

-Minnesota State got huge games from centers David Silye and Sam Morton. Both ended up creating big goals in Minnesota State’s comeback to even up the score, and easily could have had more that might have tilted the game in Minnesota State’s favor. Minnesota State has been able to maintain such a consistent run of success thanks to their ability to develop lower line players into top line players. Silye and Morton were secondary scorers for Minnesota State last year, but both looked like they could play on any top line in the country this weekend.