Fifth-ranked Minnesota Duluth scored three goals off three St. Cloud State turnovers to beat the top-ranked and NCHC-leading Huskies 3-1 on Friday night at Amsoil Arena, spoiling the return of Brett Larson to his hometown and alma mater.
Larson is in his rookie season as head coach of the Huskies, having played and served as a UMD assistant coach.
Sophomore wing Nick Swaney, freshman wing Noah Cates and sophomore center Justin Richards scored for the Bulldogs (12-5-2 overall, 5-3-1 NCHC) while junior goaltender Hunter Shepard finished with 30 saves on 31 shots.
Friday was the first regulation loss of the season for the Huskies (14-3-2, 6-1-2) in NCHC play. They came into the weekend with a seven-point lead on second-place Western Michigan and an eight-point lead on the third-place Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs took a 1-0 lead 8:50 into the first period via a pickpocket play by senior center Peter Krieger, who gave Huskies freshman defenseman Nick Perbix a little bump along the end boards to free up the puck. Krieger backhanded a pass to sophomore wing Nick Swaney, who easily buried his shot while streaking up the middle for his sixth goal of the season.
The Huskies turned the puck over behind their own net again just before the midway point of the third period, leading to the second UMD goal. Senior defenseman Jon Lizotte fumbled the puck behind the blue line and then kicked out to the top of his own crease, where Cates was waiting to score his fifth goal of the season.
Richards scored on a solo breakaway with 1:38 remaining in regulation to give the Bulldogs a 3-1 lead. He was off to the races after Huskies sophomore wing Easton Brodzinski at the blue line bounced a puck off the shin of Richards while trying to keep the puck in the UMD zone.
The Huskies tied the game with under four minutes to play in the second when a shot by junior defenseman Jack Ahcan was deflected through by senior wing Robby Jackson. Ahcan’s shot was set up by Jackson, who dug the puck out of the corner before finding Ahcan at the blue line.