St. Cloud, North Dakota Advance to St. Paul With Game 3 Wins
by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor (@CHN_AdamWodon)
A brief, but rough, second period stretch did in St. Cloud State in Game 2 of its best-of-3 series with Minnesota Duluth. So when Luke Loheit opened the scoring just 38 seconds into the second period of Game 3, giving UMD a 1-0 lead, it may have felt like deja vu.
But instead, the Huskies turned the tables. They pumped 21 shots on the UMD goal over the rest of the second period, and got goals 14 seconds apart to take a 2-1 lead.
“It lifts the bench up, for sure, especially after Wyles got that first one,” St. Cloud forward Grant Cruikshank said to the St. Cloud Times. “We just felt like we were playing the right way. We were playing hard. We were playing better than them and carrying the play, it felt like.”
Cruikshank added his 21st of the season later in the period, and St. Cloud rode that the rest of the way to win the series and reach the NCHC semifinals next weekend in St. Paul.
St. Cloud will face North Dakota. The Huskies have already secured the NCAA Tournament, while UND needs to win the tournament to make it.
“We call it the ‘Body Blow Theory’ where last night, UMD body-blowed us and then the left hook was the three goals they scored in three minutes,” St. Cloud coach Brett Larson said to the St. Cloud Times. “We kind of feel like we were able to body blow them tonight and that led to our second period.”
As for Duluth, its streak of seven consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, which was the longest active run, is now over. It follows an uncharacteristic up-and-down regular season, for a program that made four Frozen Fours and won two championships since 2017. The team’s final record of 16-20-1 is its first losing year since 2012-13.
“It sucks,” Sandelin said to the Duluth News-Tribune. “It’s been a long time since we’ve lost in the first round (2014-15), but we gave them a hell of a battle. It was a great series. …
“I thought our guys grew. I thought our guys battled really hard all week. I thought we played some pretty good hockey right now. We ran into a team that was a little better tonight.”
After losing Game 2, Larson and his staff decided to switch goaltenders. Dominic Basse and Jaxon Castor split time all season, with nearly identical stats. But Basse got the nod in…
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