No. 4 St. Cloud State cruised to a 4-1 win over the Tigers on Saturday to spoil Senior Night at World Arena.
As a result, CC will travel to No. 9 North Dakota for their best-of-three playoff series at 6:37 p.m. Friday at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
Games 2 and 3 (if necessary) are at 6:07 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. UND enters the postseason as the No. 2 seed after falling 2-1 at home to Western Michigan
“It will be a tough, rugged and hard-fought series,” Tigers coach Scott Owens said. “I am sure they are unhappy about losing at home to Western Michigan.”
More importantly for the visitors, the victory propelled SCSU to the National Collegiate Hockey Conference championship and possession of the inaugural Penrose Cup. They received the trophy in their locker room after the game.
CC spoiled Huskies goalie Ryan Faragher’s shutout bid when Archie Skalbeck lifted in a power-play rebound following a shot by Jaccob Slavin with 18:57 left in the third period. The Tigers played determined hockey over the final 20 minutes for the announced crowd of 6,742.
“We did not play on our heels like we did the first two periods,” Owens said. “We were more determined and that gave us something to build on going into the postseason.”
Western Michigan’s win gave the Huskies (21-8-5, 14-6-3 NCHC) the chance they needed to seize the title. St. Cloud State made sure there would be no doubt.
Sophomore Kalle Kossila took advantage of a CC turnover only 3:53 into the game when he one-timed the puck past junior goalie Courtney Lockwood (20 saves), who made his first career start for the Tigers (6-22-6, 6-13-5-1).
Lockwood had his moments including a stop on a two-on-none breakaway when he stopped a shot by SCSU wing Jimmy Murray, who scored in the first period for the 2-0 lead.
Courtney was pretty decent especially after he settled in,” Owens said.
The visitors pulled away with two scores in 2:16 for a 4-0 command with 10:19 left in the second period, including one by Tigers killer Jonny Brodzinski, who now has 14 points (11 goals) in eight games against CC.
The sophomore’s goal came after a CC defender’s stick broke, leaving the puck laying there in the Tigers zone for the score and a four-goal lead.
Here are the other playoff match-ups:
No. 8 seed Miami at St. Cloud State; No. 6 seed Denver at Nebraska-Omaha and No. 5 Western Michigan at No. 4 Minnesota-Duluth. All games are Friday-Sunday (times to be announced) except for UNO, which plays Thursday-Saturday because of a scheduling conflict with a Demi Lovato concert in Omaha.
CC shuffles lines, rests some players
With no chance to move up to sixth place, Colorado College rested some players – notably freshman defenseman Gustav Olofsson and senior goalie Josh Thorimbert – to prepare for next week’s National Collegiate Hockey Conference playoffs.
Thorimbert made 33 consecutive starts before Saturday’s night off. He is now No. 10 on the all-time career saves list with 2,062 saves behind NHL netminder Curtis McElhinney (2,069) and Wisconsin goalie coach Jeff Sanger (2,161). Thorimbert passed Dan Griffin (1971-75, 2,047) on Friday.
“(Thorimbert) has carried the load this year,” CC assistant Joe Bonnett said. “It’s a good game for him to catch his breath. (Junior) Courtney (Lockwood) has worked hard and earned his (first college) start.”
Olofsson played 15 games in a row since the world junior championships in early January.
“It will be good for him to take a step back and see things from a different angle,” Bonnett said. “He needs to get his second wind for the playoffs.”
The Tiger coaches also shuffled the lines to see if new combinations may click, notably putting freshman center Christian Heil between senior Alexander Krushelnyski and rookie right wing Alex Roos and moving freshman Sam Rothstein to another line between senior Michael Morin and rookie Matt Hansen.
The move was to make four balanced lines with equitable offensive potential for a team averaging 1.97 goals, up from 1.91 before Friday’s four scores.
“We wanted to shake thing sup a little bit,” Bonnett said. “We wanted more balanced lines that make all four better and make them a tougher matchup.”
Sophomore Hunter Fejes played for the first time since sustaining a lower-body injury against Western Michigan on Feb. 14.
CC finished 5-4-3 at home in league play. … The three second-period goals in 7:29 by Scott Wamsganz, Cody Bradley and Jaccob Slavin was the quickest three of the season and marked the third time the Tigers tallied three in one period. CC fell to 2-1 in games when they scored three in a single period. … CC ended the regular season at 4-7-5 on Fridays and 2-14-1 on Saturdays.
No. 4 St. Cloud State 4, Colorado College 1
St. Cloud State 2 2 0 –4
Colorado College 0 0 1 –1
First period – 1. SCSU, Kossila (unassisted) 3:53; 2. SCSU, Murray (Rabey) 9:17. Penalties – SCSU, Nevalainen, tripping, 1:31; CC, Krushelnyski, holding, 9:38.
Second period – 3. SCSU, Dowd (Daly) 7:25; 4. SCSU, Brodzinski (Papa) 9:41. Penalties – SCSU, Nevalainen (interference), 2:02; CC, McDermott, interference, 6:00; SCSU, Brodzinski, tripping, 6:40.
Third period – 5. CC, Skalbeck (Slavin, Rothstein) 1:03 (PP). Penalties – SCSU, Dowd, hookig, :42’ CC. Taft, tripping, 3:09.
Power play – SCSU 0-3, CC 1-4. Shots on goal – SCSU 8-7-9 –24; CC 6-8-7—21. Saves-minutes – SCSU, Faragher 6-8-6 –20; CC, Lockwood 6-5-9 –20. Referees – Patafie, Sterns, Linesmen – Keltie, Shaw. Attendance – 6,742 (7,380 capacity).