St. Cloud State finally played a complete conference game.

The Huskies (6-4-0 overall, 1-3-0 WCHA) scored early, grabbed a 2-0 lead and held on as SCSU defeated Denver 4-2 Friday in front of 5,942 at the National Hockey Center.

The win was the first conference victory this season for St. Cloud State.

“We came out slow, we weren’t ready to play,” said Pioneers assistant captain Tyler Ruegsegger. “They came out ready to play and pounced all over us right from the beginning.”

The Huskies outshot the Pioneers (6-3-1 overall, 4-2-1 WCHA) 15-2 in the first period but led only 1-0 after 20 minutes. Garrett Roe took a fine pass from Jared Festler in the slot, made a move, and slipped the puck under Marc Cheverie at 4:46.

Denver escaped the first period otherwise unscathed, thanks in large part to Cheverie.

“Sometimes he was lucky, sometimes he was just good,” said Pioneers coach George Gwozdecky. “We were lucky to be in the game at that point.”

St. Cloud went up two five minutes into the second on a goal by David Carlisle. He shot from the point found its way through traffic and under the armpit of Cheverie at 5:17. Roe and Festler added assists.

Denver got on the board shortly thereafter, as Luke Salazar rifled a wrist shot past Jase Weslosky from the near circle. It was the freshman’s seventh goal this season.

After a rough first period, Denver outshot SCSU 11-7 in the second period and trailed 2-1 headed to the third.

“There were a couple of shifts where I think we started to get it going,” Ruegsegger said. “Then it kind of fell apart again.”

Michael Olson made it 3-1 Huskies 4:40 into the third period. His goal would stand as the game winner, as the Pioneers would close back within one 1:19 later, but could not find the equalizer.

Patrick Wiercioch took advantage of a questionable diving call on SCSU’s Ryan Lasch by lighting the lamp just 20 seconds into DU’s third man advantage of the night. The goal was his fifth this season.

But St. Cloud again pushed their lead to two goals, as Aaron Marvin capped scoring with a pretty wrist shot that snuck just under the cross bar at 14:45. The goal was the sophomore’s fourth of the year.

“You can call it desperation, you can call it hunger, you can call it urgency,” Gwozdecky said. “One group of skaters wanted a lot more than the other group.”

Denver and St. Cloud State will play game two of the series Saturday at the National Hockey Center. Face off is set for 7:07 CST.