St. Cloud State exploded for 16 goals on the weekend in a sweep of Western Michigan on the road, with a closer-than-it-looks 5-2 win on Friday and an 11-1 romp on Saturday. Sophomore Patrick Russell had an empty-netter in a 5-2 win Friday and then added two goals Saturday, while Joey Benik had four goals Saturday and a goal Friday. Benik’s output Saturday was the first time a St. Cloud player scored four goals in a game since 2002, when Mark Hartigan did so. The power play was particularly potent for the Huskies, who notched six power-play goals on the weekend. St. Cloud now has the sixth-best offense in the country, and is tied with North Dakota for the NCHC conference lead. Goaltender Charlie Lindgren played both games, and now has a 1.48 goals-against and a .944 save percentage.
Goals still a challenge
Home ice didn’t prove a cure for what ails Minnesota-Duluth, as the Bulldogs could only muster one goal on the weekend in a series against No. 8 Denver. The goal proved enough to get a tie Saturday, and the Bulldogs did gain a point with the three-on-three OT goal. It was the first time ever that the three-on-three format was employed in the NCHC, and Tony Cameranesi, who had tied the game at 6:17 of the third, scored 2:45 into the three-on-three session. Denver goalie Tanner Jaillet made 45 saves on the night before the three-on-three session, and his teammate Evan Cowley made 27 saves in Friday’s 3-0 shutout. Duluth hasn’t won a game outright in November, last winning against Mass.-Lowell on Oct. 30. The Bulldogs only have one win in their last eight games.
North Dakota rebounds
After suffering its first loss last weekend against Wisconsin, North Dakota has won three straight. This weekend, North Dakota swept a conference series against Miami in two very different games. Friday, North Dakota struck three times in first period and another two times in the second period in a 6-2 win. Saturday however, Miami got two second-period goals to take a 2-1 lead, and then Josh Melnick scored at 14:21 to give Miami a 3-2 lead. Nick Schmaltz scored a goal with the netminder pulled at 18:26, and then Luke Johnson won it for North Dakota in OT with a goal that banked in off Miami goaltender Ryan McKay just 1:23 in. Junior Matt Hrynkiw, who had never played a minute in net for North Dakota before this year, is now 8-1-1 after making 19 saves Friday and another 11 on Saturday. North Dakota will next face the conference’s other undefeated team when it travels to St. Cloud State this weekend.