Steeves ignites dormant Bulldogs power play in 5-3 win over No. 1 St. Cloud State
Freshman wing Ben Steeves recorded his second hat trick of the season and UMD scored four power play goals, including three on a Huskies major penalty.
DULUTH — Minnesota Duluth entered Friday’s game against No. 1-ranked St. Cloud State 0-for-8 on the power play in its last four games. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs’ leading goalscorer, freshman wing Ben Steeves, had gone seven straight games without a goal.
Both skids came to an end Friday as Steeves recorded the second hat trick of his rookie season. The Bulldogs power play also struck four times in a 5-3 victory at Amsoil Arena that knocked the Huskies out of the top spot in the NCHC.
“I just like how we played,” said coach Scott Sandelin, whose Bulldogs host the Huskies again at 7:07 p.m. Saturday at Amsoil Arena. “They are a great transition team, but I thought we played a strong game. Obviously our special teams was the difference.”
All three of Steeves’ goals came via the power play as the Bulldogs scored three times on a Huskies major penalty that began late in the second before finishing early in the third. The first two goals during Josh Luedtke’s checking from behind infraction — a hit on Steeves — came off the stick of Steeves in the final 13 seconds of the second and opening 62 seconds of the third.
Freshman wing Kyle Bettens added another power play goal with 15 seconds left in the major for his fourth goal in seven games and third goal in three games.
The Bulldogs, who only had eight power plays in the previous four games and 10 total in six games to start 2023, officially finished 4-for-8 on man advantages Friday, scoring the four goals off six Huskies penalties that lasted 11 minutes, 19 seconds.
“We made a couple tweaks on it, moved some guys around, worked on it a little bit, got some pucks to the net, and (Steeves) does what he does best,” Sandelin said of the power play. “Our guys did a good job. We some faceoffs, I thought our (zone) entries were better. That leads to spending a little more time in their zone.”
UMD fell behind 2-1 in the opening seven minutes of the second period via goals by SCSU freshman wing Adam Ingram and a 5-on-3 power play strike from fifth-year senior center Grant Cruikshank — the former Colorado College Tiger and Minnesota Golden Gopher.
Steeves tied the game on a UMD 5-on-3 advantage midway through the second, tallying his first goal since scoring on Dec. 9 against Denver. Six days before that, he registered his first hat trick of his young college career in a 4-0 win over Colorado College.
Like his hat trick on Dec. 3, the one Friday was also a natural hat trick.
“Those past seven games, I was getting a lot of shots blocked,” said Steeves, who now has a team-high 15 goals and 19 points. “I wasn’t shooting less. One of the games I had seven shots against Omaha. This week I really focused on getting shots through, shooting at different angles. I think that helped.”
Sophomore center Carter Loney gave the Bulldogs the early lead on Friday, tallying his first goal of the season 25 games in. He was set up by junior wing Luke Mylymok, who flicked a puck off the side wall to Loney near the top of the faceoff circle.
Seconds earlier from almost the same spot along the wall, Mylymok sent a puck to fifth-year senior Jesse Jacques in the slot, but the Hermantown native missed high on his chance.
It was a solid start for the Bulldogs on Friday as they outshot the top-ranked Huskies 10-6 in the opening 20 minutes despite having to kill off a power play less than four minutes in.
Loney said UMD came into the night focused on getting pucks on net, especially on the power play, where 10 of UMD’s 28 shots on goal came from.
“It was good. It's just the mentality of throwing pucks on net, that shot mentality,” Loney said. “That's something we have to be a little bit better at, just focusing on getting pucks on the net.”
Matt’s Three Stars
3. UMD sophomore center Carter Loney — Sandelin said this week UMD needed offense from more than just the freshmen. Loney stepped up with the early goal to get the Bulldogs going Friday.
2. UMD sophomore center Dominic James — A three-assist night for James, giving him 17 points now this season.
1. UMD freshman wing Ben Steeves — He became the fifth Bulldog to tally two hat tricks as a freshman, with Mike Peluso being the last in 1995-96.
St. Cloud State 0-2-1—3
Minnesota Duluth 1-2-2—5
1. UMD, Carter Loney (Luke Mylymok, Derek Daschke), 7:52
2. SCSU, Adam Ingram (Mason Salquist), 2:00
3. SCSU, Grant Cruikshank (Veeti Miettinen, Ingram), 7:05 (pp)
4. UMD, Ben Steeves (Wyatt Kaiser, Dominic James), 10:29 (pp)
5. UMD, Steeves (Kaiser, James), 19:47 (pp)
6. UMD, Steeves (James, Quinn Olson), 1:02 (pp)
7. UMD, Kyle Bettens (Jesse Jacques, Derek Daschke), 4:03 (pp)
8. SCSU, Ingram (Joe Molenaar, Jack Peart), 6:39
Saves — Jaxson Carter, SCSU, 23; Matthew Thiessen, UMD, 25.
Power play — SCSU 1-3; UMD 4-8. Penalties — SCSU 6-15; UMD 4-8.