St. Cloud gains title with 4-1 win over CC; Tigers draw Dakota

St. Cloud State center Nic Dowd, left, and Colorado College center Cody Bradley battle for control of the puck during the first period Saturday, March 8, 2014, at the World Arena in Colorado Springs, Colo. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

By the third period, the only question was which team Colorado College would face in the playoffs.

No. 4 St. Cloud State cruised to a 4-1 win over the Tigers on Saturday to spoil Senior Night at World Arena.

As a result, CC will travel to No. 9 ranked North Dakota for their best-of-three playoff series at 6:37 p.m. Friday at Ralph Engelstad Arena.

Games 2 and 3 (if necessary) are at 6:07 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

UND enters the postseason as the No. 2 seed after falling 2-1 at home to Western Michigan

"It will be a tough, rugged and hard-fought series," Tigers coach Scott Owens said. "I am sure they are unhappy about losing at home to Western Michigan."

More importantly for the visitors, the victory propelled SCSU to the National Collegiate Hockey Conference championship and possession of the inaugural Penrose Cup. They received the trophy in their locker room after the game.

CC spoiled Huskies goalie Ryan Faragher's shutout bid when Archie Skalbeck lifted in a power-play rebound following a shot by Jaccob Slavin with 18:57 left in the third period. The Tigers played determined hockey over the final 20 minutes for the announced crowd of 6,742.

"We did not play on our heels like we did the first two periods," Owens said. "We were more determined and that gave us something to build on going into the postseason."

Western Michigan's win gave the Huskies (21-8-5, 14-6-3 NCHC) the chance they needed to seize the title. St. Cloud State made sure there would be no doubt.

Sophomore Kalle Kossila took advantage of a CC turnover only 3:53 into the game when he one-timed the puck past junior goalie Courtney Lockwood (20 saves), who made his first career start for the Tigers (6-22-6, 6-13-5-1).

Lockwood had his moments including a stop on a two-on-none breakaway when he stopped a shot by SCSU wing Jimmy Murray, who scored in the first period for the 2-0 lead.

"Courtney was pretty decent especially after he settled in," Owens said.

The visitors pulled away with two scores in 2:16 for a 4-0 commanding lead with 10:19 left in the second period, including one by Tigers killer Jonny Brodzinski, who now has 14 points (11 goals) in eight games against CC.

The sophomore's goal came after a CC defender's stick broke, leaving the puck lying there in the Tigers zone for the score and a four-goal lead.

Here are the other playoff matchups:

No. 8 seed Miami at St. Cloud State; No. 6 seed Denver at No. 3 Nebraska-Omaha and No. 5 Western Michigan at No. 4 Minnesota-Duluth.

All games are Friday-Sunday (times to be announced) except for UNO, which plays Thursday-Saturday because of a scheduling conflict with a Demi Lovato concert in Omaha.

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