St. Cloud State Senior Gives Team Chance at Another Frozen Four
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ST. PAUL, Minn. A Los Angeles Kings draft pick, Nic Dowd had the opportunity to leave after his junior season. After all, he helped lead St. Cloud State to a Frozen Four, the first in school history, and could've left quite satisfied with all that was accomplished.
Instead, Dowd came back and put up a season worthy of being a Hobey Baker Award finalist. And thanks to his goal in overtime Saturday night, the Huskies are one win away from a return trip to the Frozen Four.
Dowd ripped a perfect wrist shot over the glove of Notre Dame goalie Steve Summerhays, giving his team a 4-3 win and capping a less-than-perfect night.
“I kind of lost mobility in my entire body after that one went in so it is tough for me to say what I was trying to do there," Dowd said. "David made a great play in the neutral zone and kind of bumped it over to me. It was pretty fortunate for me to get it in. At this point, any shot is a good shot and it was pretty fortunate for it to have hit his stick and then find the top shelf. Just happy to be here another day.”
The David he referred to is David Morley, linemate, and someone who thankfully did hear Dowd's calls.
“Once I got the puck, I just heard Dowd yelling as he was flying down the wall there and I just passed it to him," Morley said. "Then stood there and watched him work his magic there and next thing I knew it was going into the top corner so it was just one of those things."
St. Cloud State managed to rally in overtime and find its legs after it was outshot 36-12 in regulation. Even in overtime, the Huskies had to hold their breath when Notre Dame's Vince Hinostroza, who had the tying goal, came in alone on a breakaway only to see his backhanded get robbed by Ryan Faragher.
The Huskies had two power plays in overtime but couldn't convert, but then got one late from Dowd.
“We had a great overtime. Give [Ryan] Faragher some credit, he held us in there and made the big save in overtime on the breakaway," Huskies coach Bob Motzko said.
"It wasn’t a pretty three periods. You have to credit Notre Dame. They played outstanding tonight. They had a game plan and they stuck to it and got it deep. We just could not get going. I wish we could tell you that we made these great changes into overtime but we just played in overtime. Nic [Dowd] had a great play and we score a goal. Not much we can say about it. Best thing is we hung around there, Faragher was strong and we did get a few sticks on some plays. The couple of key plays we made became so critical to us.
"We live to fight another day.”
The Huskies were coming off a two-week layoff, having not played since losing to Miami in the NCHC quarterfinals.
Whether it was rust, or whatever, St. Cloud State took a while to get going, and was fortunate to take advantage of some opportunities to put up three goals in regulation.
“We’ve been a pretty good team all year," Motzko said. "The real question is why were we so quiet in the first three? We scored quite a few goals this year and we have a team capable of doing so. In overtime it just started to work. Maybe it was because we were off for two weeks and it took us a while to wake up. Why overanalyze it?”
Said Dowd, “It’s not like coach came in and said anything different between periods. Nothing really changed and we didn’t implement many changes in our back check. I think something that can’t be taught was us playing with a little bit of urgency in the overtime. For us seniors, this is it. I know the younger guys don’t want to let us down and we don’t want to let them down either.”
St. Cloud State certainly played long enough to shake off whatever rust was left over. Now it faces former WCHA rival Minnesota on Sunday for the chance at another Frozen Four bid. The Huskies and Gophers met previously at the Xcel Energy Center this season, back on Jan. 24 in the inaugural North Star College Cup’s semifinals. Minnesota won that game, 4-1.
"At this time of the year it (being tired) doesn't really affect anyone," Morley said.
Another big positive for the Huskies was the return of Andrew Prochno to the lineup. He'd been out since February with an injury.
"That's one of the bright spots," Motzko said. "He didn't look rusty, a big plus for us."