Huskies Bounce Back, Clip UND
Cory Thorson’s goal lifts St. Cloud State over North Dakota and back into a tie in the Penrose Cup race.
SAINT CLOUD—They came into the weekend tied at 39 points apiece.
After a split, they’re tied again as the race for the NCHC’s Penrose Cup nears the inaugural finish line.
St. Cloud State kept the Penrose from heading to Grand Forks by beating North Dakota, 3-1, Saturday night in St. Cloud.
This was a night after UND went into the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center and used five-second period goals to beat a flat Huskies team, 5-2.
“We competed tonight,” SCSU coach Bob Motzko said. “We were aggressive, we were winning battles and we were putting pressure on their goalie and last night, we stayed on the perimeter.
“Usually, when you’re mad after a game, you’re not as bad as you think you were and when we watched the film of last night’s game, we were as bad as we thought we were.”
SCSU was eager to get back on the ice after UND pushed the Huskies around for 60 minutes Friday with good checking and overall control of the play.
Huskies captain Nic Dowd took it upon himself to bust up UND’s flow and keep it from continuing into Saturday’s game.
The senior caused a big-time collision in open ice that sent him and the UND player flying on the opening shift. The hit landed Dowd in the box for elbowing but Dowd’s intent was to establish a presence early.
“I was pretty flat last night, individually, and when you’re leaders play a flat game, it trickles down to the rest of the team,” Dowd said. “I saw an opportunity to hit a guy and I took it. It resulted in a penalty but the boys said they’d kill it off any time so I think it set the tone.”
UND went up 1-0 at the 14:17 mark of the first period on Rocco Grimaldi’s shorthanded breakaway goal but the Huskies tied the game 1:27 later on a goal by Joey Benik.
Cory Thorson scored the game-winner late in the second period when put a wrist shot past UND goaltender Zane Gothberg.
The loss was UND’s first in six games going back to Feb. 6 against Nebraska-Omaha.
The Huskies have split the last two weekends after four straight games of at least gaining a point.
It’s still UND by a nose for the top NCHC Playoffs seed.
With a home series against Western Michigan, North Dakota has the advantage over St. Cloud State going into the final weekend.
UND swept the Broncos on the road in December.
The Huskies play Colorado College on the road this weekend. SCSU tied and defeated the Tigers in November.
The teams could finish with joint custody of the Penrose Cup but only one of them will get the No. 1 seed, which UND holds because it leads SCSU in the first criteria (total wins), 14-13.
UNO is the only other team still in Cup contention with 39 points. The Mavericks are at Minnesota-Duluth to end the regular season.
But the Cup isn’t the top item on SCSU’s collective mind.
“There’s not a lot to say about it now,” Dowd said. “We’re just taking it one game at a time. We’ll play CC and see what happens. We have CC on our minds and that’s all that matters. We won’t even get to think about (the Cup) if we don’t play well against CC anyway.”
That’s not to say it wasn’t brought up before the UND series.
“We bring it up very little to the team,” Motzko said. “Except for tonight, I said ‘let’s go for it. This game keeps us in the hunt. Doggone it, let’s go for it.”