UMD has SCSU's number again, holds on for 4-3 win
Bulldogs score twice in the third period to beat Huskies for the 5th straight time
ST. CLOUD — For the Minnesota Duluth men's hockey team, maybe it just needs to face St. Cloud State more often.
The Bulldogs got two goals from Quinn Olson, goals from Carter Loney and Cole Spicer and 34 saves from Zach Stejkstal to beat No. 6 St. Cloud State 4-3 in an NCHC game on Friday at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center. The two teams play the last game of the regular season at 6 p.m. Saturday (FOX 9+) at the Brooks Center.
"I think tonight was a huge win for us and our momentum," said Olson, a senior wing from Calgary, Alberta. "We've got to stay level-headed and bring it into (Saturday) and see what happens."
It is the third win of the season for the Bulldogs (10-13 NCHC, 15-17-1 overall) over the Huskies (11-9-3, 19-11-3). UMD has defeated SCSU five straight times and in six of the teams' last seven meetings.
"I thought our guys played a real strong game," said UMD coach Scott Sandelin, whose team has a two-point lead over North Dakota for fifth place in the standings. "We got off to a two-goal lead and, against this team, it's never safe. I thought we were playing really well and they got a bounce that gave them their first goal and gave them a little bit of momentum and then they tied it.
"I thought Carter Loney's goal was big-time, a great individual effort. (Cole) Spicer's goal was a great play. Isaac (Howard) gave him a great pass and it ended up being the game-winner."
With the loss, SCSU is in fourth place in the conference standings, three points behind both Western Michigan (14-8-1, 22-12-1) and Nebraska Omaha (13-8-2, 18-12-3) going into the last game of the regular season. The Mavericks took a 5-4 overtime loss on Friday at North Dakota, while Western Michigan pounded Miami 5-0.
"I loved our battle level, loved our compete level — especially after getting down," SCSU coach Brett Larson said. "It was 2-0 after the first and we thought we had a pretty good first period. A couple of their chances went in.
"I loved our guys' response in the second. We only gave up five shots in the third and created a ton of chances. I have no problem with the guys' compete or fight tonight. I thought that was the best part of our game, actually."
Olson, scored the first two goals of the game and the Bulldogs led 2-0 after the first period.
It was 2-2 going into the third after the Huskies got two goals from senior Kyler Kupka in the second period.
The Bulldogs took a 3-2 lead at 3:32 of the third period when Loney stole the puck from SCSU defenseman Cooper Wylie in the neutral zone, went in and scored on a breakaway.
On a rush, UMD got a goal from Spicer on a nice passing play from Isaac Howard and Jack Smith at 9:27 to take a 4-2 lead.
The Huskies got an extra attacker goal by Mason Salquist at 19:35 of the third period to cut the deficit to 4-3. SCSU had one last gasp when it had an offensive zone faceoff with 2 seconds left. The puck went back to Jami Krannila, but his slap shot went off the heal of his stick and into the corner to end the game.
Kupka ends goal drought
A big reason why the Huskies got back into the game was because of Kupka, a senior wing from Camrose, Alberta. Kupka had his first multi-goal game of the season and snapped a 10-game drought without a goal.
"It's been awhile and I had been going through a tough stretch, so it was nice to get on board," said Kupka, whose last goal was Jan. 14 against Colorado College.
Kupka was playing on a line with graduate student center Grant Cruikshank and fifth-year senior wing Micah Miller and that line had eight shots, including four by Kupka. Kupka's goals tied the game 2-2 going into the third period.
"I thought we had a great start to the year, not only finding the score sheet, but playing in the other team's end and being hard to play against," said Kupka, whose line had nine goals in the season's first eight games. "We kind of lost it for a bit, but hopefully, this is a sign for things to come."
Banged up defense, power play revamp
Typically, the Huskies dress and play seven defensemen. On Friday, there were only six out of the nine on the roster who were well enough to play.
Senior Dylan Anhorn has been out since Jan. 21 when he broke two bones in his foot during pregame warmups and is out for the season.
On Feb. 25 in Omaha, both sophomore Jack Peart and Ondrej Trejbal suffered injuries and both did not play Friday and will not play Saturday. When Anhorn was healthy, he was running the top power-play unit and Peart was running the second power-play unit.
Since Anhorn got injured, Trejbal had moved into running the second power-play unit.
With all three of them injured, the coaching staff had to do some experimenting to find some new components. Sophomore defenseman Josh Luedtke ran one power-play unit, freshman defenseman Cooper Wylie ran another and senior wing Zach Okabe also saw time on the point on the power play.
"We had some new guys step up and filled roles and I was proud of the way our guys played tonight," Luedtke said. "We trust everyone in our room and we have a really competitive 'D' core. When we lose some of our key pieces — like those guys — we have guys we trust.
"We definitely had to spend some time going over some (power-play) systems stuff — me and other guys had not been in those spots earlier this year. We spent more time going over that and it's something we need to know."
Luedtke, who was paired with graduate student Brendan Bushy during even strength on the top defensive pairing, had three shots on goal, two blocks and was a team-leading plus-2 in the game.
"I think Bushy is always a player that I've looked up to," Luedtke said. "He's real easy to communicate with and does all the little things right. It's always fun to be able to learn from him.
"I thought we worked hard, were able to break pucks out tonight and that's something we're going to have to do (Saturday), for sure."
UMD 4, No. 6 SCSU 3
First period scoring — 1. UMD, Quinn Olson 6 (Dominic James 14, Wyatt Kaiser 13) 10:10 (pp); 2. UMD, Olson 7S (Kaiser 14, Darian Gotz 3) 19:37. Penalties — UMD, Owen Gallatin (holding) 6:34; SCSU, Grant Ahcan (interference) 9:00; UMD, Will Francis (slashing) 15:42.
Second period scoring — 3. SCSU, Kyler Kupka 8 (Aidan Spellacy 4) 8:38; 4. SCSU, Kupka 9 (Adam Ingram 14, Cooper Wylie 2) 10:52 (pp). Penalties — UMD, James (tripping) 9:26; SCSU, Spellacy (contact to the head, major) 10:58; UMD, Isaac howard (holding) 13:22.
Third period scoring — 5. UMD, Carter Loney 2 (unassisted) 3:32; 6. UMD, Cole Spicer 3 (Isaac Howard 10, Jack Smith 3) 9:27; 7. SCSU, Mason Salquist 3 (Micah Miller 10, Jami Krannila 18) 19:35 (ea). Penalties — UMD, Kaiser (tripping) :37; SCSU, Josh Luedtke (tripping) 2:14; UMD, Luke Loheit (holding) 6:57.
Goalie saves — UMD, Zach Stejkstal 9-9-16—34 (3 GA). SCSU, Jaxon Castor 7-10-4—21 (4 GA).
Penalties-minutes — UMD 6-12; SCSU 3-9.
Power-play goals, opportunities (shots) — UMD 1-2 (3 shots); SCSU 1-5 (11 shots).
Faceoffs — SCSU 44-26.
Referees — Nick Krebsbach and Nathan Wieler.
Linesemen — Elliott Bucholz and Dana Penkivech.
Three stars of the game — 1. Olson (UMD), 2. Kupka (SCSU), 3. Loney (UMD).