St. Cloud, MN – The Huskies received a double dose of frustration after being dealt a 2-1 loss by the CC Tigers in the final regular season game at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center on Saturday, March 4. With North Dakota defeating Miami 5-2, the Huskies were certain to be on the road for the first round of the NCHC playoffs. However, just as important was keeping their overall record above .500 for Pairwise eligibility purposes and staying relevant in the Top 16 of the Pairwise. They did neither losing their 10th Saturday contest of the season, falling to a .485 winning percentage and dropping to #18 in the Pairwise. The end result is hitting the road to face North Dakota at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks next weekend in a best of three first-round playoff series. With a mathematical probability of making the NCAA tourney plummeting to 9% it becomes necessary to win next weekends playoff series or hang the skates up for the season.
On the other hand, you have to give credit to last place Colorado College who literally had nothing to play for but pride in the Saturday rematch. Winless since February 1, the Tigers could have mailed it in thinking more about their first-round playoff series with arch rival Denver next weekend. But, they were the team that played like they had something on the line in earning their fourth conference win of the season. Yielding the first goal of the game, they then clamped down and with a solid effort by first-year goaltender Alex Leclerc and some timely scoring gave themselves some momentum and confidence heading into next weekends series with #1 Denver.
With all of the games offense in period one, the Huskies started off on the right track getting a power play goal by Jimmy Schuldt (Benson | Cholowski) for an early 1-0 lead. On a 5 x 3 advantage, Jacob Benson fed Schuldt at the blue line who rifled a shot past Leclerc for a 1-0 advantage. This was Schuldt’s 7th goal of the season. The Tigers responded at 15:26 on a pretty goal by Branden Makara. Taking possession of the puck outside the SCSU blue line, Makara angled in on Jeff Smith doing a half spin and backhanding the puck top shelf to tie the game at 1-1. St. Cloud native, Matt Hansen who always seems to play well against the Huskies scored the game-winning goal on a power play at 16:39. Teemu Kivihalme wristed the puck towards the SCSU goal and it deflected off a SCSU defender and then off the crossbar dropping in the crease where Hansen tapped it in for his 6th goal of the season.
The teams skated to two scoreless final periods of hockey although it was not without opportunity for the Huskies. With Ben Israel whistled for a check from behind with 7:26 remaining in period two and a subsequent penalty to the Tigers Matt Hansen, the Huskies had two full minutes of a 5 x 3 advantage. The Huskies may have managed three shots on goal and Leclerc and the Tigers weathered the storm. The third period was riddled with penalties, nine to be exact with 6 of them on the Huskies. This included 14 minutes of penalties on the Huskies Will Borgen.
SCSU outshot the Tigers 26 to 20 in the game and attempted 53 shots compared to 36 for Colorado College. The Huskies Jack Ahcan led the team with 11 attempted shots. The Huskies also had a 30-21 advantage in faceoffs. SCSU was penalized 8 times for 24 minutes while the Tigers had 8 penalties for 27 minutes. Alex Leclerc stopped 25 of 26 shots on goal in earning the win. SCSU’s Jeff Smith turned aside 18 of 20 shots on goal in the loss.
The loss drops SCSU’s overall record to 16-17-1 heading into the first round of the playoffs next weekend in Grand Forks.
Honored in a post-game ceremony were SCSU seniors Daniel Tedesco, Nate Widman, Ben Storm and Niklas Nevalainen who played their final game at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center.
Stars of the Game: Matt Hansen (CC) JImmy Schuldt (SCSU) Alex Leclerc (CC)