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Zach Okabe scores on a rush in overtime to send SCSU to Frozen Faceoff championship

Jami Krannila skipped a pass to Okabe going down the middle and Okabe buried a backhand at 5:45 to end North Dakota's season

St. Cloud State players celebrate following their win over North Dakota on Friday, March 17, 2023 at the Frozen Faceoff at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Contributed / Jim Rosvold / NCHC

ST. PAUL — A rush play goal by Zach Okabe sends the St. Cloud State men's hockey team to the NCHC Frozen Faceoff championship game for a record sixth time.

St. Cloud State senior center Jami Krannila crossed the North Dakota blue line and made a pass to Okabe going down the middle. Okabe went to his backhand and beat Drew DeRidder with a high shot at 5:45 of overtime to give the Huskies a 3-2 win.

The Huskies (23-12-3) will play Colorado College (13-21-3) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Xcel Energy Center for the championship.

St. Cloud State tied the game at 2-2 on a goal off a rush at 5:06 of the third period. Senior wing Zach Okabe made a cross-ice pass to senior center Jami Krannila, who one-timed the puck in. Krannila became the 22nd player in SCSU's NCAA Division I era to score 20 or more goals in a season.

The Fighting Hawks took a 2-1 lead into the third period. The go-ahead goal came on a gritty play by senior wing Judd Caulfield, who fought through a check in front of the net to knock in a loose puck from close range at 12:29 of the second period.


The game was tied 1-1 after the first period.

St. Cloud vs. North Dakota
North Dakota defenseman Ethan Frisch (15) looks back at his first-period goal against St. Cloud State during the NCHC Frozen Faceoff on Friday, March 17, 2023 at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Contributed / Jim Rosvold / NCHC

North Dakota took a 1-0 lead on a nice passing play on the power play. The play finished off when senior defenseman Ethan Frisch knocked in a cross-ice pass from sophomore center Jake Schmaltz at 6:18.

SCSU evened the game at 1-1 also on the power play. On a cross-ice pass from freshman defenseman Cooper Wylie to junior wing Veeti Miettinen, who one-timed a shot past Drew DeRidder at 17:16.

St. Cloud State 3, North Dakota 2

UND 1-1-0-0—2
SCSU 1-0-1-1—3

First period scoring: 1. UND, Ethan Frisch 7 (Jake Schmaltz 7, Jackson Blake 26) 6:18 (pp); 2. SCSU, Veeti Miettinen 11 (Cooper Wylie 4, Grant Cruikshank 12) 17:16 (pp). Penalties — SCSU, Ondrej Trejbal (holding) 5:28; UND, Nick Portz (holding) 8:28; SCSU, Josh Luedtke (hooking) 8:28; UND, Frisch (holding) 15:58.

Second period scoring: 3. UND, Judd Caulfield 10 (Mark Senden 10, Gavin Hain 7) 12:29. Penalties — SCSU, Wylie (hooking) 2:35; UND, Dylan James (checking from behind) 5:22; UND, Cooper Moore (boarding) 18:12.

Third period scoring: 4. SCSU, Jami Krannila 20 (Zach Okabe 17, Veeti Miettinen 22) 5:06. Penalties — SCSU, Joe Molenaar (holding) 5:45.


Overtime scoring: 5. SCSU, Okabe 17 (Krannila 19, Miettinen 23) 5:45. Penalty — UND, Gavin Hain (tripping) 1:15

Goalie saves — UND, Drew DeRidder 6-3-4-5—18 (3 GA); SCSU, Jaxon Castor 4-10-7-2—23 (2 GA).

Penalties-minutes — UND 5-10; SCSU 4-8.

Power-play goals, opportunities (shots) — UND 1-3 (3 shots); SCSU 1-4 (3 shots).

Faceoffs — UND 39-27.

Referees — Nathan Wieler, Sterling Egan.

Linesemen — Erik Contino, Justin Hills.

Three stars of the game — 1. Okabe (SCSU), 2. Miettinen (SCSU), 3. Caulfield (UND).


Attendance — 10,242.

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Mick Hatten is a reporter and editor for Forum News Service and helps manage TheRinkLive.com, a website dedicated to hockey. He began working for Forum Communications in November 2018 and has covered St. Cloud State University hockey since 2010. A graduate of St. Cloud State, he has more than 30 years of experience as a journalist and has been a youth hockey coach since 2014. mhatten@forumcomm.com

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