ST. CLOUD, Minn. — St. Cloud State men's hockey coach Brett Larson did not mince words when it came to his assessment of the Huskies' play against Minnesota Duluth on Saturday.
"I thought, 5-on-5, they were the better team tonight," Larson said of when the teams were at even strength. "They were winning puck battles. They were winning races to the puck. Their detail (play) was better than ours.
"I was just happy our power play gave us a chance there."
In a back-and-forth game, the fourth-ranked Bulldogs got a power-play goal from Kobe Roth in the third period and a goal by Noah Cates at 2:00 of overtime in an NCHC game at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the game between the instate rivals was played without fans in the building and it was the home opener for St. Cloud State (6-4), which picked up one point in conference standings. It was the first home loss for the Huskies to the Bulldogs since a 5-3 loss on Nov. 5, 2016.
St. Cloud State had won six straight at home in the series.
"A good battle again, which we expected," said UMD coach Scott Sandelin, whose team improved to 6-2-2 and moved into a tie for first place in the NCHC with North Dakota. "We got a big goal from Catesy at the end, but I liked our guys. We got down in the second period after the penalties and found a way to get it back.
"I thought we had a really strong third period and carried that over into the overtime."
Power play gives SCSU lead
The Bulldogs trailed 3-2 going into the third period after the Huskies picked up two power-play goals in the second period to take the lead. Veeti Miettinen, a freshman wing from Espoo, Finland and a Toronto Maple Leafs draft pick, shot in a power-play goal off the stick of a UMD defenseman at 10:57 to tie the game at 2-2.
Then Easton Brodzinski, a senior from Blaine, Minn., scored his second goal of the night at 12:12 during a power play with the Bulldogs trying to kill off a major penalty for interference to Tanner Laderoute. Brodzinski, who tipped in his first goal, scored on a rebound of a Nick Perbix shot to give the Huskies their lone lead (3-2) of the game.
"We changed some (power-play) personnel toward the end of the (NCHC) Pod and worked on it last week," Larson said. "I thought Brodzy had a nice game and scored a couple. The power play was clicking and gave us a chance."
The power play is working for @SCSUHUSKIES_MH tonight— The NCHC (@TheNCHC) January 3, 2021
Brodzinski scores his second of the game and third PPG for the Huskies to put them in front after 40 minutes#NCHCHockey x #unleashSCSU pic.twitter.com/BJolxsIDxx
St. Cloud State's top power-play unit has Brodzinski with fellow forwards Miettinen, Sam Hentges and Nolan Walker with Nick Perbix as the lone defenseman.
After going 2-for-20 (10 percent) on the power play in their first six games, the Huskies are 6-for-14 (42.9 percent) on the power play in their last three games. St. Cloud State was 3-for-6 with 10 shots on goal on the power play against the Bulldogs.
"We had some misreads and some positioning things that we've got to clean up," Sandelin said of his team's penalty kill, which was at 80.6 percent going into the game. "But they're a good team and you can't go to the (penalty) box too many times against them and they capitalized."
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Tough third period
St. Cloud State led 3-2 going into the third period before Roth scored a power-play goal off a nice cross-ice pass from Jackson Cates at 4:33 of the third period. The Bulldogs outshot the Huskies 12-4 in the third period.
"We only had three or four shots in the third and, I thought, 5-on-5, we played too soft," Larson said. "We lost the puck battles when we needed to win them and we lost races to the puck and we were chasing them most of the night."
The third period has been a strength for the Huskies in the early going. St. Cloud State had outscored opponents 11-3 in the third period before Saturday.
Larson started all three of his goalies during the nine-game NCHC Pod, which concluded on Dec. 20 with a 3-1 win over Denver with David Hrenak in goal. Hrenak, a senior from Považská Bystrica, Slovakia and a Los Angeles Kings draft pick, got the start on Saturday. He stopped 27 of the 31 shots he faced and suffered his second overtime loss of the season.
"You certainly can't fault David on that last one," Larson said of Cates' game-winner. "Cates cut to the middle and used guys as a screen and buried it with a good shot.
"I thought David stopped the pucks he should stop and, obviously, you always want one or two of those back. But he gave us a chance."
No. 4 UMD 4, No. 6 SCSU 3, OT
First period scoring — 1. UMD, Tanner Ladweroute 2 (Koby Bender 3, Jesse Jacques 2) 1:36; 2. SCSU, Easton Brodzinski 4 (Veeti Miettinen 5, Nick Perbix 6) 16:54 (pp). Penalties — SCSU, Micah Miller (hooking) 12:45; UMD, Jackson Cates (slashing) 16:08.
Second period scoring — 3. UMD, Nick Swaney 4 (Jackson Cates 3, Wyatt Kaiser 5) 2:12 (pp); 4. SCSU, Miettinen 5 (Perbix 7, Sam Hentges 4) 10:57 (pp); 5. SCSU, Brodzinski 5 (Perbix 8, Hentges 5) 12:12 (pp). Penalties — SCSU, Perbix (holding) :41; SCSU, Hentges (holding); UMD, Laderoute (interference, major) 8:03; UMD, Noah Cates (hooking) 15:46; UMD, Bench (too many men) 16:26.
Third period scoring — 6. UMD, Kobe Roth 6 (J. Cates 4) 4:33 (pp) Penalties — SCSU, Jared Cockrell (cross-checking) 3:50.
Overtime scoring — 7. UMD, N. Cates 4 (unassisted) 2:00. Penalties — None.
Goalie saves — UMD, Ryan Fanti 5-10-4-0—19 (3 GA); SCSU, David Hrenak 7-8-11-1—27 (4 GA).
Penalties-minutes — UMD 4-11; SCSU 4-8.
Power plays (shots) — UMD 2-4 (7 shots); SCSU 3-6 (10 shots).
Faceoffs — SCSU 28-23
Referees — Brandon Schmitt and Sterling Egan.
Linesemen — Dana Penkivech and Elliott Bucholz.
Three stars of the game — 1. J. Cates (UMD), 2. N. Cates (UMD), 3. Brodzinski (SCSU).