Add another 30 shots to the pile for Minnesota State without anything to show for it. David Morley's first period rebound goal as he trailed a 2-on-1 rush was all the offense St. Cloud State would need to win their home opener over the Mavericks by a final score of 4-0 at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center in St. Cloud, Minnesota on Friday night.
Murray's first period tally against the run of play gave the Huskies a lead and Jimmy Schuldt's rocket one-timer from the point 10:55 into the second period took the life out of a Minnesota State team that has scored just two goals in three games this season, despite firing 96 shots on goal over those three games.. The Huskies would add third period goals by Patrick Russell and Kalle Kossila to round out the scoring.
Charlie Lindgren made 30 stops for his second shutout in two games this season. Cole Huggins also stopped 30 shots in the losing effort.
St. Cloud State stays a perfect 3-0-0 on the season while Minnesota State is still winless on the season at 0-3-0. The two teams meet again for the series finale tomorrow night in St. Cloud at 7:07pm
Notes and Thoughts:
-I'm starting to like this St. Cloud State team. I think I picked the Huskies fifth in the NCHC, and the media picked them sixth, but I'd be surprised if this team wasn't hosting a first round playoff series in March. St. Cloud State's biggest issue last year was that if Jonny Brodzinski or Joey Benik weren't scoring, nobody was scoring. The level of depth is so different this year though. Kalle Kossila is healthy after spending last year plagued by injury. Ryan Papa is back from injury. The freshman are good. And all of a sudden, St. Cloud can threaten with all four lines.
The fourth lines were matched up most of the night and that was a decisive win for St. Cloud State, capped by the fourth line creating some sustained pressure in the Minnesota State zone in the second period, leading to Jimmy Schuldt's back-breaking goal.
The defense was the other question mark heading into the season, but they were perfect tonight. The freshmen they brought in did not look like freshmen. The two Finnish defensemen were quiet and unnoticeable, which is a good result for them. They did a good job of containing Minnesota State and keeping many of those 30 shots low percentage.
-It's still only three games into the season, but the same old story for Minnesota State. The Mavericks dominated possession through the first half of the game, but couldn't find a way to put the puck in the net. Bryce Gervais missed another semi-open net early. Brad McClure was stopped on a penalty shot. Meanwhile, the Mavericks pressing to find some sort of offense led to a turnover at the opposition blue line and a 2-on-1 that turned into the game's first, and ultimately deciding goal.
Part of the problem may be, well is, a lack of skill. But even still, on 70 shots on goal, one would think something would have to bounce off somebody into the net or find a hole somewhere and trickle in. Minnesota State's shooting percentage for the season is down to 2.08%. That's unsustainably low, but I also said the same thing last week when their shooting percentage was an robust 3%.
-It also speaks to Minnesota State's mentality right now that they were pretty much done after St. Cloud State's second goal. A 2-0 lead feels like a 10-0 lead right now with how much they're struggling to put the puck in the net.
-A nice crowd here in St. Cloud tonight. Announced attendance was 4018 and that didn't seem inflated much, if at all. The biggest positive was that tonight was one of the fuller student sections I can remember in some time here. Some of that might be a change in student ticketing policy here in St. Cloud. Some of it might be playing an opponent most of the students had actually heard of. There was even a nice 'Fuck Mankato' chant at various points in the evening from the students. That kind of passion makes the game fun, and is something you just don't see very often anymore in conference play.
Shots on goal: SCSU: 9-10-14-33 MSU: 11-11-8-30
Even strength shot attempts: SCSU: 14-14-18-46-45.1% MSU: 21-19-16-56-54.9%
Prime scoring area attempts: SCSU: 5-8-13-26 MSU: 8-7-8-23
What do the numbers tell us?
Minnesota State didn't hit their 60% possession mark like they have in their last three losses, but they were at that number for the first half of the game before basically giving up after St. Cloud State's second goal. The Huskies didn't generate a lot through the first half of the game, but really turned things on in the third period with a lot of quality chances.
8:43- David Morley from Joey Benik and Jimmy Murray 1-0 St. Cloud State
After some extended pressure in the St. Cloud State zone, Minnesota State turned the puck over at the St. Cloud State blue line sending Murray and Benik in on a 2-on-1. Murray fed Benik whose one-timer was stopped by Huggins, but the rebound stayed in the crease and Morley, who was trailing the play, jammed home the rebound for the goal.
10:55 Jimmy Schuldt from Niklas Nevalainen and Ben Storm 2-0 St. Cloud State
After a scramble in front of the Minnesota State net, the puck was kicked back to Nevalainen at the point. He slid the puck D-to-D to Schuldt who unleashed a one-timer that beat a sliding Huggins high to the glove side.
10:39 Patrick Russell from Kalle Kossila 3-0 St. Cloud State
Patrick Russell picked up the puck behind the net after a scramble in front of Huggins and tucked a backhand wraparound into the net.
14:32 Kalle Kossila from Patrick Russell 4-0 St. Cloud State
Kossila brought the puck towards the net from the right half circle and fired a high shot over the short side should of Huggins.