College men's hockey: St. Scholastica beats rival UWS to improve to 3-1-1 under new coach Madsen
Five games into the 2018-19 season, the St. Scholastica men's hockey team has gotten exactly what it wanted out of its new head coach.
According to players, Tim Madsen has been honest. He's let the Saints play fast and free in the offensive zone. And on Tuesday, he led St. Scholastica to a 3-1 victory over bridge rival Wisconsin-Superior at Mars Lakeview Arena.
The Saints not only improved to 3-1-1 in their first year under Madsen with the victory over the Yellowjackets, they got some revenge for losing the lone meeting last season 2-1 at Wessman Arena.
"Being 3-1-1 is huge for us. It's what we wanted," Saints junior forward Dustin Cordeiro said after scoring his first two goals of the season. "We wanted to come in here and prove we can be a winning team. Superior, 'Battle of the Bridge', of course we want to win that battle. Last year we lost to them in a rough one. This year it was nice to get a big 'W' against them."
The Yellowjackets fell to 2-6-1 on the season under third-year coach Rich McKenna, who entered this season with a 17-34-5 mark (.348). Junior forward Andrew Durham scored UWS' lone goal of the game — his seventh of the season — with 10:03 left and senior goaltender A.J. Smith made 30 saves.
The Saints were already ahead 3-0 by the time UWS got on the scoreboard, though.
Cordeiro gave St. Scholastica a 1-0 lead 7:35 in by deflecting a puck through. He made it 3-0 just over two minutes into the third period on a solo breakaway. Freshman defenseman Sam Fuss gave St. Scholastica a 2-0 lead at the second intermission, scoring a power-play goal with 9.6 seconds left on the clock.
Saints sophomore goaltender Nick Trenciansky made 32 saves in his fourth start of the season to improve to 3-0-1 as the starter.
"It's awesome," Saints captain Kristofer McKinzie out of Duluth Marshall said about the win. "The start of the season, we couldn't have asked for anything better. A 5-0 start is what everyone strives for, but a new coach, new systems, and getting to know each other is something that we needed to do. At 3-1-1, we'll take it."
Madsen left the Cloquet-based Minnesota Wilderness of the North American Hockey League in the offseason to take over the Saints program from Mark Wick, who was fired after 14 seasons at the helm.
McKinzie said the 34-year-old Madsen has brought a new energy to the program. The new coach is knowledgeable and he's already won the respect of the players through his strong communication skills and honesty, the captain said.
"Most importantly he's honest," McKinzie said. "That's something that all the guys wanted, and they got it. It's awesome to have him behind our bench."
Madsen, who spent seven seasons as an assistant coach at Niagara from 2009-16, said he is proud to be 3-1-1 through five games considering the team is still figuring out his systems, principles and style of play. The team is also without two key forwards due to injuries — sophomore Parker Mismash and junior Brett Radford.
Offensively, the Saints have been solid, getting scoring by committee. Cordeiro actually joined a four-way tie for the team-high in goals Tuesday.
Defensively, the team has given up just 10 goals in its first five games, and four of those came in a 4-3 overtime loss at Aurora on opening night.
Madsen said he'd still like to see his Saints get better defensively. He'd like to see them manage the puck better as well.
Otherwise, he has few complaints thus far, as it's been a real smooth transition from juniors back to the college level. The team chemistry has been a big reason why, he said.
"I know a lot of teams say this, but they are best buddies. They love each other. It's really fun to be around them," Madsen said.
"I had heard about it when I got the job how tight the team was, and you hear that all the time. But being around them, I believe it. I don't think there is one guy that doesn't like another guy. They are really a joy to be around and fun to work with. I don't think we're even close to where we're going to get to or where we want to get to."
St. Scholastica 1-1-1—3
First Period — 1. CSS, Dustin Cordeiro 1 (Jon Hansen, Nolan Ross), 7:35.
Second Period — 2. CSS, Sam Fuss 2 (Jordan Fralich, Kyle Star), 19:50 (pp).
Third Period — 3. CSS, Cordeiro 2, 2:05; 4. UWS, Andrew Durham 7 (Chad Lopez), 9:57.
Saves — A.J. Smith, UWS, 30; Nick Trenciansky, CSS, 32.