A stretch of six solid games by Colorado College came to a screeching halt Saturday night.
St. Cloud State dominated play and held the hosts to only 10 shots through two periods and 19 for the game as the Western Collegiate Hockey Association-leading Huskies cruised to a 5-2 victory.
“They played like a team desperate to get a split,” Tigers coach Scott Owens said. “Tonight, they played like a first-place team in a tough league.”
CC senior Rylan Schwartz gave the announced crowd of 7,385, a sellout at World Arena, something to cheer about when he poked in a rebound with 15:48 left to make it 4-2.
Schwartz batted in the loose puck after junior Alexander Krushelnyski redirected a blast by Eamonn McDermott, causing SCSU sophomore goalie Ryan Faragher to bobble the shot and giving Schwartz a chance to reach in for his 14th goal this season.
“We were down 4-2 with 15 minutes left so we had a chance,” Owens said. ‘’I wish we had played better. They won the puck battles like we did (Friday) night.”
After scoring three goals in the second period, SCSU (19-12-1, 16-7-1) went into a prevent-style defense, maintaining possession, keeping two defensemen back and putting in an aggressive forecheck to make the Tigers work the puck up the ice.
Huskies freshman Kalle Kossila and Cory Thorson scored four minutes apart to make it 3-1 midway through the second period and Ben Hanowski scored with 2.2 seconds left to make it 4-1.
Hanowski’s goal came only 4 seconds after a big stop by Huskies sophomore goalie Ryan Faragher (17 saves) on a chance for CC senior Scott Winkler. SCSU’s Drew Le-Blanc then found Hanowski for the breakaway.
The 19 shots were the fewest at home this season with two season-lows of 17 on the road (SCSU, Dec. 15; Alaska-Anchorage, Feb. 2). Colorado College (12-15-5, 9-11-4 WCHA) came into Saturday’s game averaging 28.3 shots.
CC made the most of its first chance.
McDermott made an excellent outlet pass and Schwartz took advantage, hauling it in at the middle of the SCSU blue line and splitting the two surprised defenders for a breakaway.
He beat Faragher with a low shot to give CC a 1-0 lead. It was the 11th time this season the Tigers scored first. The lead would not last.
Eighth-place CC then went 13:50 without a shot and SCSU slowly gained control and never let go.
“The hard-working team won it tonight,” senior captain William Rapuzzi said. “It’s unacceptable. We are not good enough to win by just showing up.”
SCSU rookie Joey Benik scored with 2:36 left for the final margin. The win gives SCSU a two-point lead (33-31) over No. 2 Minnesota, which tied ninth-place Minnesota-Duluth 2-2 earlier Saturday.