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College men's hockey: Top-ranked UMD completes sweep of St. Cloud State

Minnesota Duluth finished off a weekend sweep of St. Cloud State with a 5-3 win on Saturday at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center in St. Cloud, Minn. (Matt Wellens/mwellens@duluthnews.com)

ST. CLOUD — Top-ranked Minnesota Duluth and No. 8 St. Cloud State experienced a bit of deja vu Saturday at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center.

Like Friday’s 5-3 come-from-behind win for the Bulldogs, the Huskies scored in the opening minute only to give up the equalizer just a few minutes later.

And also like Friday, the Huskies saw a 3-2 lead in the third period wither away. The Bulldogs scored three goals in the third — just like they did Friday — to rally for a 5-3 victory and a sweep of the Huskies in NCHC play.

It was UMD’s sixth consecutive win over the Huskies (4-4 overall, 0-2 NCHC) in St. Cloud after going winless in 12 games (0-10-2) at National Hockey Center from 2007-2014.

The win also keeps UMD (7-1-2, 4-0) atop the early NCHC standings with 12 points. The Bulldogs’ 4-0-0 mark is their best start in the league’s four seasons.

“It’s kind of scary when the same guy scores the first goal of the first period, but again, it was a mirror image of last night’s game,” Bulldogs coach Scott Sandelin said. “I thought we got better as the game went on. We had a good, strong third period.

“Second half of the game we played pretty well. It’s a big win, a big win. Another good character win for our team.”

Third periods have been good to the Bulldogs so far this season. Heading into Saturday, UMD was outscoring the opposition 11-2 and outshooting foes 98-59. UMD outscored the Huskies 3-0 in the third on Friday and outshot them 13-8 in the period.

On Saturday, it was another 3-0 advantage in goals while both sides tied with nine shots apiece in the final 20 minutes.

Saturday’s rally started with Bulldogs senior defenseman and alternate captain Carson Soucy, who tied the game with an unassisted goal 7:33 into the third period. The scoring play started as a two-on-one short-handed breakaway for Soucy and junior wing Karson Kuhlman of Esko, but the penalty expired as the two made their way down the ice.

Soucy said he considered passing to Kuhlman, but shooting was a safer play after he had been on the ice killing a penalty for more than 30 seconds.

“I just tried to skate as fast as I could down the ice,” Soucy said of the game-tying goal. “I saw there was only one guy back, so just try to skate down and get a shot on net.”

Sophomore defenseman Neal Pionk went coast-to-coast with just over five minutes to play in regulation to get a shot on net. His attempt to stuff the puck in the net failed — foiled by a kick save — but sophomore wing Parker Mackay was there to finish the job and put UMD ahead 4-3.

“I just got on the ice and Neal turned it up and made a great play down the ice just going hard to the net,” Mackay said of the game-winner. “Neal again made a fantastic play and was able to put a rebound there for me. I luckily was there to tap it in.”

Huskies sophomore wing Robby Jackson — who picked up his first goal of the season Friday — put UMD down 1-0 in the opening minute for the second consecutive night by beating freshman goaltender Hunter Miska with a shot to the near post, stick side and over the goalie’s shoulder. His goal Saturday came 19 seconds later than Friday’s goal.

Miska, making his fourth consecutive start, would rebound and go on to make 31 saves.

Sophomore wing Jacob Benson put the Huskies ahead 2-1 with less than two minutes to play in the first period by walking from behind the net to the front unchallenged for an easy goal.

Junior center Blake Winiecki made it 3-1 for the second consecutive night by redirecting a shot by freshman defenseman and Detroit Red Wings first-round draft pick Dennis Cholowski during a power play late in the second period.

Like Friday, though, when St. Cloud State went ahead 3-1, the two-goal lead was short-lived.

UMD senior center and captain Dominic Toninato of Duluth pulled UMD within a goal with less than two minutes to play in the second period by battling his way to the front of the Huskies net and swatting home his own rebound. It was Toninato’s second goal of the weekend and season.

Bulldogs freshman wing Joey Anderson — who scored his first two goals of his collegiate career Friday — tied the game at 1-1 four minutes into the game by forcing a turnover and creating his own breakaway. Anderson put the puck over the left shoulder of freshman goalie Zach Driscoll.

On Friday it was Anderson’s linemate, Toninato, responding to the quick Huskies goal by tying the game just over five minutes into the first.

“I think we’re feeling a little guilty about our first periods,” Pionk said. “Out first period has not been very good and it’s unacceptable. We seem to turn it on in the third period, but from here on out we have to play a full 60 (minutes).”

Minnesota Duluth............... 1-1-3—5

St. Cloud State.................... 2-1-0—3

First period — 1. SCSU, Robby Jackson 2 (Will Borgen), 0:53; 2. UMD, Joey Anderson 3, 4:04; 3. SCSU, Jacob Benson 3 (Dennis Cholowski, Daniel Tedesco), 18:41. Penalties — Blake Young, UMD (tripping), 9:56; Jackson, SCSU (hooking), 19:22.

Second period — 4. SCSU, Blake Winiecki 4 (Cholowski, Jake Wahlin), 15:43 (pp); 5. UMD, Dominic Toninato 2 (Karson Kuhlman, Brenden Kotyk), 18:23. Penalties — Alex Iafallo, UMD (interference), 4:44; Kotyk, UMD (slashing), 14:42.

Third period — 6. UMD, Carson Soucy 2, 7:33; 7. UMD, Parker Mackay 2 (Neal Pionk), 14:42; 8. UMD, Soucy 3 (Alex Iafallo, Anderson), 18:45 (en). Penalties — Willie Raskob, UMD (tripping), 5:29.

Shots on goal — UMD 7-16-9—32; SCSU 13-12-9—34. Goalies — Hunter Miska, UMD (34 shots-31 saves); Zach Driscoll, SCSU (31-27). Power plays — UMD 0-of-1; SCSU 1-of-4. Referees — Todd Anderson, Joe Sullivan. Linesmen — Jeff Schultz, Sterling Egan. Att. — 4,310.

Matt Wellens

College hockey reporter for the Duluth News Tribune covering the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs men's and women's teams, as well as the NCAA Division III programs at St. Scholastica and Wisconsin-Superior.

(218) 723-5317
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