St. Cloud State's Frustrating End
Huskies Drop Final Five Semifinal to Wisconsin
by Nick Maxson/CHN Reporter
ST. PAUL, Minn. St. Cloud State fought and battled with a tough Wisconsin team on Friday afternoon. Ultimately the Huskies proved their own worst enemy, losing to the Badgers, 4-1, in Friday's WCHA semifinal.
Despite the loss to a tough Wisconsin team, St. Cloud feels it had a chance to win the game.
It did — the game broke evenly with both teams trading momentum back and forth.
The frustration started early when St. Cloud sustained offensive pressure, but could not find a way to get a shot through to Wisconsin goaltender Joel Rumpel.
The Huskies began to surge, and possibly the most controversial play of the tournament seemed to have robbed St. Cloud of the go-ahead goal late in the first period. It appeared Badger goaltender Joel Rumpel threw his stick to stop an otherwise wide open net. Officials saw it otherwise, even after review.
“I made the first save. The rebound slipped out to my right. I dove across the puck hit my stick and knocked it out my hands and the puck just squirted wide,” Rumpel said.
The play was reviewed, but ultimately the puck never crossed the goal line, keeping the score level, 1-1.
The emphasis on the review was never placed on the goaltender’s stick being thrown, and, according to the WCHA, the play never should have gone to review.
“We all saw what happened, so you had to ask,” said St. Cloud coach Bob Motzko.
Frustration meter: elevated.
St. Cloud seemed to have the edge, controlling the play and having most of the puck possession. Throughout the game, they just seemed a shade short of breaking it open.
In failing to do so, the pressure quickly overflowed.
The first self-inflicted damage came early in the second when Huskies defenseman Taylor Johnson took a hooking penalty, sucking the momentum out of St. Cloud State.
The Badgers did not waste much time as a shot from the high slot beat SCSU goaltender RyanFaragher high, and Wisconsin had another lead at 2-1.
“I saw Nic (Kerdiles) going down the wall. There was a big space in the middle of the ice. I just slid in there, and Nic made an unbelievable pass to find me in the slot. I don’t know if it hit something, but I just got to the net and ended up going in,” said Badger defenseman John Ramage.
Now down by a goal, and with Wisconsin seeming to be getting its goals easy, the water was boiling for the Huskies whose hard work was not getting rewarded.
Frustration meter: high.
Despite the frustration, the Huskies were still confident in their play and felt like they could close the gap.
“ I think we felt good about where we were at. We were putting pressure on and getting our chances to score. Give (Rumpel) credit, he stood tall for them,” said Husky forward Drew LeBlanc.
Wisconsin would draw the next two penalties near the end of the second and at the beginning of the third period. St. Cloud State could not convert on either opportunity.
Frustration level: meltdown.
“We talked about getting more pucks and bodies to the front of the net, creating some screens and taking his eyes away. But they did a good keeping us to the outside and limiting our opportunities to get pucks to the net,” said Husky forward Ben Hanowski.
“If we get a chance to play next weekend, that’s something we are going to have to work on is getting more pucks and bodies to the net,” he said.
Midway through the third period, defenseman Tim Daly received a major penalty and game misconduct for a hit from behind. The Badgers quickly doubled their lead to 3-1, when Kerdiles scored 11 seconds in the power play.
That seemed to be the nail in the coffin for the Huskies. Still with over four minutes to kill in the penalty and now down by two, time was the enemy for St. Cloud.
The team knows it’s in difficult position, but an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament is still a possibility.
“Bubble Trouble,” said Motzko about his team’s chances to earn a bid to the national tournament. “We are 8-3-1 against the teams that are in the tournament in our league. That’s not a bad record against that group. Our non- conference games are what's haunting us right now.”
St. Cloud will have until Sunday to learn their fate. Left only to think about Friday's frustrating loss, the Huskies will have to move on and adjust after a difficult departure from their final WCHA tournament.