My first order of business when I became the cruel dictator of college hockey: If a team wants to have skating cheerleaders, whatever the hell they do must be done on dirty ice. Having thirteen cheerleaders and a mascot skating around the ice doesn't make a huge difference, but it doesn't help either.
Attendance is still grim a few minutes before the start of the game. I'm not great at guessing attendance, but I'd say between one and two thousand right now. It's tough to distinguish between Minnesota-Duluth fans and Minnesota fans, but it's about 60% maroon and gold, 40% Husky Red, and a dozen or so purple Mankato jersies. It's not the least attended game at a major arena I've ever seen(those old Thursday CCHA Tournament Play-In games were pretty brutal), but it's not going to be considered a success.
Players are being announced now. I'll update after goals and at the end of the period.
UMD Goal-Matt Greer Assists: Andrew Carroll, Trent Palm 1-0 Minnesota-Duluth
Akins won a face-off back to Palm, who fired a shot from the point. Carroll got a whack at the rebound, then Greer stuffed the second rebound into the open net.
End of the 1st Period
St. Cloud started out as the stronger team out of the gate with a big possession and position advantage, but didn't really get any shots on goal. Duluth started to slowly take over control of the game, then SCSU got the momentum back after a good powerplay at the end of the period, and they carried that advantage for the rest of the period.
Keeping track of the officials, who for this game are two newer officials in Friesma and Welker, there were three penalties and I thought all three were legitimate calls. Both teams played a fairly clean and open game, and there were a couple potential ticky-tack calls that I've seen other officials make that these guys let go, which was nice to see.
Attendance improved throughout the period. It looks like a lot more Mankato and Minnesota fans showed up. They could probably fill the lower bowl if everyone bunched together.
St. Cloud had a few quality chances. Festler made a nice one-on-one move against a UMD defenseman and fired a shot on Stalock. He kicked the puck out to Roe in the slot, but he couldn't find the handle. SCSU also had a couple opportunities on their second powerplay of the period. Duluth didn't do a ton with their one powerplay. Aside from their one goal, they had a few other decent chances, but nothing too serious.
UMD Goal-Nick Kemp Assists: MacGregor Sharp and Mike Connolly 2-0 UMD
A bad turnover on his blueline by Chris Hepp leads to a Duluth 2-on-1. Duluth doesn't capitalize on the original chance, but Sharp digs the puck out from the corner and sends it to Kemp in the slot who beats Weslosky.
UMD Goal- Goal: Josh Meyers Assist: Evan Oberg, Jack Connolly 3-0 Minnesota-Duluth
Duluth was on a 4 x 3 powerplay. Weslosky made an incredible save on Jack Connolly to rob a goal from him. After the face-off, Duluth resumed possession, worked the puck around on the powerplay to Meyers who fired a one-timer into the top shelf.
UMD Goal-Goal: Mike Connolly Assists: MacGregor Sharp, 17 Josh Myers 4-0 UMD
With Duluth on the powerplay, Sharp fired a low shot that was going wide, but Connolly deflected the puck with his backhand to tip it into the net.
End of 2nd Period
Minnesota-Duluth has made sure the third period of this game won't be all that interesting. The big difference right now is that Alex Stalock made a couple key saves early in the period, and Duluth's powerplay is vastly superior to St. Cloud's. The Huskies' PP looks sloppy and ragged, while Duluth is moving the puck around very well.
Both goalies made some sensational stops this period. It's tough to really fault Weslosky for any of the goals that he's let in. He made some amazing stops, but it's too much to ask him to make great stop after great top when Duluth is firing away on the powerplay.
SCSU Goal-Goal: Nick Oslund Assists: Garrett Raboin 4-1 UMD
After controlling the puck in the UMD zone for a long period of time, Oslund broke free and fired a wrister from the left circle over the shoulder of Stalock.
UMD Goal-Goal: Drew Akins Assists: Jack Connolly, Justin Fontaine 5-1 UMD
Another powerplay goal for UMD. Akins got the puck on the side of the net, facing away from the net, and made a great spin move to jam the puck into the net.
Garrett Roe took out an unsuspecting UMD player with a very high hit next to the UMD bench. Roe then got into it with Andrew Carroll, who was sitting on the bench at the time, earning both unsportsmanlike penalties.
End of Game. Final Score Minnesota-Duluth 5 St. Cloud State 1
Duluth pretty much carried the third period of play. St. Cloud looked very flat. The big difference in this game was the powerplay. Duluth netted three goals with the man advantage, while St. Cloud was terrible with the man advantage. I can't think of too many instances where they were able to complete a meaningful pass on the powerplay. Jase Weslosky was decent, but his team didn't make the game competitive enough to make a difference. It's a very nice win for Duluth, and a huge disappointment for St. Cloud, who is still looking for their first WCHA points.
Overall, the game just didn't seem to have much energy to it. I think the sparse crowd played into that somewhat. There were a few moments of feistiness, but otherwise, it wasn't a very physical game at all.