St. Paul, MN – Should the Huskies and Bulldogs meet again before the end of the 2016-17 season there is one player the Huskies need to handcuff. Two weeks ago, Kyle Osterberg scored the game-winner in the Saturday rematch between the two teams to salvage a weekend series with the Huskies in Duluth. Once again on Saturday, January 28 in the championship game of the North Star College Cup Osterberg was the hero scoring the overtime goal six minutes into the session to capture the tournament championship. With the tournament on its last legs it finally gave the Bulldogs a piece of the North Star Cup history and validated the strength of the NCHC with its two members in the title game.
After surviving two Bulldog power play opportunities in the first period, the Huskies took the early lead in the contest with a goal by Will Borgen (Jackson | Lizotte) at 18:17. Robby Jackson carried the puck into the Bulldog zone, put on the brakes and fed Will Borgen who was joining the rush who beat Hunter Miska from between the dots for a 1-0 SCSU lead. This was Borgen’s second goal of the 2016-17 season. In a fairly evenly matched first period, the Huskies outshot the Bulldogs 7 to 6 and killed two Bulldogs man-advantage opportunities.
Despite a scoreless second period, the Huskies found themselves hanging on towards the latter part of the period as the Bulldogs suddenly found their legs and applied significant pressure in the last minute or so of the period. And, despite Bulldog forward Dominic Toninato placing a puck off the post, the Huskies were still clinging to a 1-0 lead. SCSU outshot UMD 10-8 in the period and failed to convert on the only power play opportunity in the second period.
UMD finally capitalized on an opportunity 42 seconds into the third period on a defensive miscue by the Huskies. Alex Iafallo was left all alone in front of the Huskies goal and was slipped a pass by Adam Johnson which he placed over the shoulder of Jeff Smith to tie the game at 1-1. The Huskies had a glorious opportunity five minutes into the period but Mikey Eyssimont was unable to bury a goal mouth opportunity with Miska out of position. Each team traded 12 shots on goal in the period with regulation ending in a 1-1 tie sending the game to an overtime session.
The Huskies appeared to have the early advantage in the overtime session with several grade A opportunities but it was the Bulldogs who ended the game six minutes into the session on the overtime winner by Osterberg. Neal Pionk put a shot on goal and the rebound came clean to Osterberg who was positioned perfectly in the left crease to bury the puck past an out of position Jeff Smith. The goal gave the top-ranked Bulldogs the title in the North Star College Cup and their fourth win in five games vs the Huskies thus far in the 2016-17 season.
Jeff Smith who put forth another strong effort, stopped 32 of 34 UMD shots on goal in the loss. His record drops to 6-7-0 on the season. Hunter Miska, who was named MVP of the tournament stopped 31 of 32 SCSU shots on goal. Both teams were unsuccessful on the power play with SCSU 0 for 1 and UMD 0 for 2. the Huskies overall record once again drops to less than .500 at 12-13-1.
The Huskies return to the road next weekend with another tough series vs the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.
Stars of the Game: Hunter Miska (UMD) Kyle Osterberg (UMD) Alex Iaffalo (UMD)