St. Cloud State Breaks Streak

     Here are some Saturday stories on the WCHA’s performance on the first day of the NCAA tournament Friday. St. Cloud State wins, Wisconsin wins, Denver loses. All in one-goal games. St. Cloud State meets Wisconsin at 8 p.m. Saturday in the West Regional final in St. Paul. North Dakota is in action Saturday, meeting Yale at 4 p.m. (FSN) in a Northeast Regional semifinal in Worcester, Mass. Bemidji State plays Michigan at 6:30 p.m. (FSN) in a Midwest Regional semifinal in Fort Wayne, Ind.

     Stories below are from the St. Cloud Times, Denver Post and Wisconsin State Journal:

By Kevin Allenspach • • March 27, 2010

ST. PAUL — There were no doves flying. The Vienna Boys Choir didn’t break into "Hallelujah!" And the end of the world as we know it isn’t predicted for today.

A bright light is, however, shining on the St. Cloud State hockey program.

Tony Mosey scored arguably the biggest goal in school history — a power-play tap-in 23 seconds into the second overtime period Friday night.

It lifted the Huskies to a 4-3 victory over Northern Michigan in the NCAA West Regional semifinals at the Xcel Energy Center.

The goal also sent SCSU fans and alumni celebrating after eight previous losses in the national tournament.

"It’s huge to get that monkey off our back," said Mosey.

Mosey took a pass from Garrett Roe and redirected the puck into the net from in front of the crease — scoring the winner on the Huskies’ 54th shot. "That same play actually happened earlier in the game and I missed a wide-open net. I knew Roe was going to give it to me again."

Roe finished with a goal and two assists. Ryan Lasch scored with the man advantage and Travis Novak gave them an early lead. And rookie goalie Mike Lee made 42 saves as the Huskies survived despite blowing a two-goal lead late in the second period and a one-goal margin with less than four minutes remaining in regulation.

But the Huskies advanced to today’s regional title game against Wisconsin. The Badgers beat Vermont, 3-2. Today’s game will start at 8 p.m. and can be seen on ESPNU, with the regional champion advancing to play the East Regional on April 8 at the Frozen Four in Detroit.

"Nothing comes easy," said Huskies coach Bob Motzko, who had two NCAA defeats while former coach Craig Dahl was 0-6 — none of which were played any close than the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. "We tried to tell (the players) that. You just didn’t want it to sink in, that ‘Oh, no. Here we go again.’ ‘

The Wildcats took the first shot of the game, a long slapper from center. After that, the Huskies took over. SCSU fired the next seven shots on NMU goalie Brian Stewart, culminating with Novak’s goal at 8:14.

Lasch then created a power play on which he scored to make it 2-0. He dug the puck out of some skates in front of Stewart and stuffed a shot five-hole.

Northern Michigan got back in it with a power-play goal, too, less than two minutes later. With LeBlanc off for hooking, the Wildcats set up shop in the SCSU zone and the puck never came out for almost the full minute that it took for Justin Florek to score. Swedish defenseman Erik Gustafsson passed to Jared Brown for a one-timer in the left circle. Florek flicked the rebound inside the left post on Lee.

The Hockey East officials working the game then went into action, whistling six penalties in the next 16 minutes until Roe picked the top right corner on the man advantage at 12:52 of the second period.

"I thought there was great goaltending at both ends and we were very nervous early," said NMU coach Walt Kyle, who got 50 saves from Stewart. "We turned pucks over and we weren’t making smart plays. I thought somewhere in the second (period), we really found a way to change and get the momentum going in our favor."

The Wildcats turned up their intensity and Ray Kaunisto eventually pulled them back within a goal late in the second. Roe turned the puck over near his own blue line and Kaunisto went the other way, around Oliver Lauridsen, and shoved a shot around Lee at 16:12.

And, late in the third, NMU junior defenseman Erik Spady frustrated the Huskies by scoring his first goal of the season on a slap shot through traffic and over Lee’s glove at 16:11.

"There was way too much special teams play and we got a little cute and let them back into the game," Motzko said. "We had a 3-1 lead and then they started playing harder. But I did like that after they tied the game we came back and had two or three great chances right away."

Roe rang the right post behind Stewart in the closing moments of regulation sending the teams to overtime. And Motzko channeled a little Herb Brooks.

"When coach came in, he told us not to be nervous," Mosey said. "He said to stay on our toes and we were meant to be here. That kind of gave us a little spark … we knew if we kept grinding away that one of those opportunities would pay off."

By Mike Chambers, Denver Post

ALBANY, N.Y. — Promising no more. There is no tomorrow for the University of Denver hockey team. After beginning and ending the regular season ranked No. 1, the Pioneers folded their already withered tent Friday at the NCAA Tournament East Regional.

Top-seeded DU came out flat and was eliminated 2-1 by fourth-seeded Rochester Institute of Technology at the Times Union Center in the opening game of the tournament.

The Pioneers played well offensively in the final 36 minutes, but RIT senior goalie Jared DeMichiel was up to the challenge.

"It hurts more than I can even explain," said sophomore Joe Colborne, one of DU’s program-record 13 NHL draft picks. "We had the team."

It was the third consecutive oss for the Pioneers, who hadn’t lost two straight until last weekend’s poor showing at the Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoff finals in St. Paul, Minn.

Denver (27-10-4), the WCHA regular-season champion, has now lost its NCAA Tournament opener three consecutive years, including the latter two as No. 1 regional seeds.

"Definitely stings a lot. Hardest thing for me is, it’s the end of the road for a great group of guys," said DU captain Rhett Rakhshani, one of six seniors.

"It’s not easy stuff," added senior wing Tyler Ruegsegger. "Even though we never got past the first round, I wouldn’t change a thing with the group of guys we had. The things we did on and off the ice, we grew in character and represented our school well."

RIT, which won its NCAA-leading 11th consecutive game, scored 5:02 into the game and stood tall behind DeMichiel (39 saves). The Tigers went ahead 2-0 on a power-play goal with 7:24 remaining, but DU got back within a goal when Colborne scored his team-leading 22nd goal on the power play with 5:26 to go.

The Pioneers couldn’t get another puck past DeMichiel in the final 1:10, when goalie Marc Cheverie (23 saves) was pulled for an extra attacker.

"We played poised. We weathered some storms, and I don’t think we gave up a lot of great chances," RIT coach Wayne Wilson said. "Jared was right where we needed him to be, and our power-play goal was a nice goal, a timely goal that let us breathe a little easier. I think Jared was the difference. He kind of shut the door and looked really, really solid."

RIT freshman defenseman Chris Tanev got the Tigers’ first goal, beating Cheverie with a wrist shot from the right circle and through traffic.

After 20 minutes, it was clear DU was still in the slump that began last week against North Dakota and Wisconsin.

The pace picked up with 14 minutes to play in the second period, when the Pioneers began to dominate. But DeMichiel was stellar. DU amassed 26 shots after two periods and 40 for the game.

"In these one-game shootouts, scoring the first goal is very critical," DU coach George Gwozdecky said. "Even though we were able to generate some offense throughout the game, their goaltender, DeMichiel, was very, very good. We have nothing to hang our heads (about). RIT played very, very well."

RIT, regular-season and playoff champions of the relatively weak Atlantic Hockey Association, won its first nonconference game of the season. It had been 0-6.

"It was important to get the first goal so we weren’t back on our heels thinking, ‘Oh, no,’ " Wilson said.

In the end, DU was saying that.

ST. PAUL, Minn. — One way to enhance your candidacy with voters is to deliver when the stage is biggest, the spotlight the hottest and the pressure the greatest.

Blake Geoffrion is no politician – at least not when it comes to campaigning — but the senior center and tri-captain for the Wisconsin men’s hockey team has his name on a ballot in an election where the polls will close in a few days.

Geoffrion scored the decisive goal as the Badgers got all their production on the power play and emerged with a 3-2 victory over Vermont in the NCAA West regional semifinals Friday night before an announced crowd of 7,281 at the Xcel Energy Center.

On a day when most of other nine Hobey Baker Award candidates in action failed to produce on a headline-making level, Geoffrion scored his team-best 26th goal and added an assist as top-seeded UW moved within one win of the NCAA Frozen Four.

Junior defenseman Brendan Smith, also a Hobey nominee, added two assists while making the power play (3-for-7) such a critical weapon for the Badgers.

“Their play and their game and the results speak for themselves,” UW coach Mike Eaves said of Geoffrion and Smith. “In a big game, they played the way they’re capable of, and if you’re going to win these type of games, your best players have to be your best players and they were that tonight for us.”

The decision means the fifth-ranked Badgers (26-10-4 overall) will face Western Collegiate Hockey Association rival St. Cloud State (24-13-5) Saturday night for the right to keep playing for a national title.

It will be the sixth meeting of the season between the schools and the second in a week in this building. The Huskies claimed a 2-0 victory — their third in the season series — during the WCHA Final Five semifinals.

“We want a little redemption,” Smith said.

Geoffrion’s night included his 14th power-play goal of the season, an assist, a team-high seven shots and an 18-13 effort in faceoffs, a clutch showing sure to impress the two dozen Hobey voters whose ballots must be turned in Monday. The three finalists will be revealed Wednesday with the winner announced April 9 during the Frozen Four in Detroit.

“You think you have him covered in that slot area, especially on the power play, and he finds a way to get shots off,” Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon said of Geoffrion.

Smith, meanwhile, helped set a physical tone against a XXXL opponent with some big hits and did some creative work on the power play, especially on the winning conversion.

“He’s a very difficult player to forecheck and I thought he made some great outlet plays,” Sneddon said. “Obviously we tried to take him away on the power play, so it freed up some other guys to hurt us.”

Freshman defenseman Justin Schultz and senior right winger Michael Davies also scored power-play goals for the Badgers, who got 28 saves from junior goaltender Scott Gudmandson.

UW came into the NCAA tournament wobbly on special teams — 9-for-50 on the power play (15 percent) over its previous nine games and having allowed eight power-play goals in the last five games — but got a nice jolt of adrenaline early in the opening period.

The Badgers had the man advantage at 5 minutes, 51 seconds when Schultz walked from the right point and squeezed off a wrister that handcuffed goaltender Rob Madore (39 saves).

But Eaves’ biggest midweek worry — how his club would start the game — soon came to life. That concern was exacerbated by a 40-minute delay to the start brought on by the St. Cloud State-Northern Michigan semifinal that needed two overtimes before the Huskies prevailed 4-3.

The Badgers didn’t seem to have their edge, which is why they soon stared at a deficit.

The Catamounts tied it at 7:28 when defenseman Dan Lawson was credited with his first goal of the season off a pileup in front of Gudmandson. Officials initially blew the play dead, but awarded the goal after video review.

Lawson was involved in the moment when Vermont assumed the lead on the power play at 15:54. Gudmandson made two stops, but was on his belly when center Brian Roloff converted a rebound from below the right circle, ending an 0-for-23 stretch spanning seven games.

“I think the biggest thing is we were getting outworked and losing a lot of battles along the wall,” Geoffrion said.

Davies tied it on the power play 4:02 into the second, a period dominated by the Badgers and their ability to control the puck and the tempo. That was evident in a 16-3 edge in shots.

Sophomore center Derek Stepan was moving left to right behind the cage when he passed back to Davies below the left circle. It took a great top-shelf wrist shot to beat Madore.

UW took the lead for good on a power-play sequence that had some key individual segments.

Smith did a great job to hold the zone at the left point, dangling around a defender before feeding Schultz at the far point.

Schultz was driving to the net when he left a pretty backhanded drop pass for Geoffrion in the slot.

Geoffrion stopped on a dime near the right hash, turned and zinged a low wrist shot the beat Madore to the left corner at 19:16.

It was an example of how the UW power play worked all night, a night when it had to come through.

“I think we just took what was given and that was good for us,” Smith said.

3 thoughts on “St. Cloud State Breaks Streak

  1. Congratulations, St. Cloud Community College, you now have as many NCAA wins as Holy Cross! In another decade maybe you’ll catch RIT!

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