St. Paul, MN – In the post-game press conference, an obviously disappointed Brett Larson spoke of how proud he was of his team. When asked if he’d change anything heading into the NCAA tournament he simply responded “I’m not going to re-do anything because I loved our team tonight.” Having to watch the UMD celebration after a 3-2 double overtime loss in the NCHC Frozen Faceoff Championship game he said “It was hard to watch UMD celebrate. It was painful. You set out to achieve a goal and you fall short. Obviously we are disappointed. I loved how our team played. They have nothing to hang their head about.” Jimmy Schuldt was practical in his comments. “we are not invincible” he said. “Credit to them (UMD) for a helluva battle. We need to move on quickly. Lucky for us there is more hockey to be played. Teammate Patrick Newell concurred “this hurts right now but we’ll take it and move on”.
It was another classic hard-fought contest between two teams creating quite a rivalry with each other. With the record between the Bulldogs and Huskies nearly dead even at 10-9-1 in the last twenty it was another game that could have gone either way. And, the Huskies did their best to try to bury the Bulldogs early outshooting them 15-6 in a period fully dominated by the Huskies. UMD coach Scott Sandelin admitted “it didn’t look so good early. It’s not that we played bad -they made us be bad in the first period.That first period couldn’t end quick enough.”
The Huskies captured an early lead on a goal by Robby Jackson who has been red hot lately 7:45 into the contest. Patrick Newell placed a shot on goal from above the left circle and in a scramble in front of the UMD goal Blake LIzotte got a piece of it but it was Robby Jackson (B Lizotte | Newell) who punched it past Shepard for a 1-0 lead. After a series of penalties to both teams, the Bulldogs scored their first goal of the game at 10:49. Parker Mackay entered the SCSU zone and made a drop pass to Scott Perunovich who chopped a backhand pass from the right wall to Mikey Anderson who unloaded a cannon of a shot that beat SCSU’s Hrenak clean from between the top of the circles. In a period dominated by the Huskies they outshot UMD 15-6 but were held from doing any more damage than one goal by Shepard, easily the most valuable player of the period. It appeared the Bulldogs intent was to try to slow down the hard-charging forwards of the Huskies by playing an extremely physical game with Patrick Newell, Jimmy Schuldt and Blake Lizotte the recipients of some heavy hits in period one.
The teams skated to a scoreless draw in period two with the Huskies unable to convert on two man-advantage opportunities and the Bulldogs unsuccessful on a power play of their own. In a much tighter game than the first period, the Huskies outshot UMD 7-5.
A penalty to Matt Anderson at 18:47 of period two carried over to period three and the Huskies cashed in 28 seconds into the period on a goal by Patrick Newell (B Lizotte | Ahcan), his 21st of the season. Blake Lizotte took a shot from the high slot that was blocked but it bounced out to Newell who spun and took a quick shot from the high slot that beat Shepard for a 2-1 SCSU lead. With less than ten minutes left in the game, it appeared the Huskies increased their lead to two goals on a nice effort by Blake LIzotte. However, following the celebration, the play as reviewed and it was waved off stating it had not crossed the goal line. This turned out to be a huge break for the Bulldogs who converted a turnover in the SCSU defensive zone with 4:51 remaining to tie the game at 2-2 while short-handed. A cross ice pass by the Huskies ended up on the stick of Tanner Laderoute who fed the puck back to Billy Exell who slapped it past Hrenak from the high slot. The Bulldogs outshot the Huskies 8-7 in the period.and with the score tied at 2-2 send the game to it’s first twenty minute overtime session.
The Bulldogs took a timeout in the first overtime to reorganize at 13:56 shortly after Nolan Walker had a serious opportunity to end the game by stuffing the puck past the right pad of Shepard from the left of the goal. But, Shepard threw his right pad back to stunt the attempt by Walker. Shots were dead even 7-7 in the first overtime.
The second overtime became a little more tactical as the teams were wearing down and simply didn’t have the legs they had earlier in the game. UMD’s NIck Swaney finally ended the game for the Bulldogs 7:29 into the session capitalizing on another SCSU turnover. An attempted shot into the UMD zone by the Huskies deflected to Tanner Laderoute who fed Nick Swaney in the mid slot and he backhanded the puck past Hrenak for the overtime game winning goal and the 2019 Frozen Faceoff Championship.
The Huskies maintained a nine shot advantage and ended up outshooting the Bulldogs 39-30. On the power play, the Bulldogs reversed the success the Huskies had in the previous series in St. Cloud only allowing one goal in seven opportunities. The Bulldogs also had no success on the power play going 0 for 3. David Hrenak stopped 27 of 30 Bulldog shots on goal while Hunter Shepard turned aside 37 of 39 shots.
Patrick Newell (1-1-2) and Blake Lizotte (0-2-2) were the only Huskies with a multiple-point game.
Three Stars of the Game: #1 Swaney (UMD) #2 Shepard, #3 David Hrenak
NCHC Frozen Faceoff All-Tournament Team:
Forwards: Robby Jackson (SCSU), Blake Lizotte (SCSU), Patrick Newell (SCSU).
Defensemen: Jimmy Schuldt (SCSU), Mikey Anderson (UMD).
Goaltender: Hunter Shepard (UMD).
Most Valuable Player: Hunter Shepard (UMD).