Come playoff time, winning and losing hockey games often comes down to the bounce of a puck.
St. Cloud State took advantage of some good bounces in the second period to score three times in a five-minute span to bounce Notre Dame from the NCAA Midwest regional with a 5-1 win in a semifinal at Huntington Center on Saturday.
“I’ve seen our team do this a handful of times: We score the [goal], and our team gets a little giddy-up and we started to go,” St. Cloud State coach Bob Motzko said. “We scored two power play goals and three goals there in a very short span and then we settled in and we played a very smart hockey game.”
The ninth-ranked Huskies (24-15-1) advance to the regional final to play Miami at 4 p.m. today at Huntington Center. Notre Dame, ranked fourth nationally, finished its season 25-13-3.
PHOTO GALLERY: St. Cloud State defeats Notre Dame
St. Cloud State got on the board first when Ben Hanowski pounded the rebound of a shot from the point past Steven Summerhays at the 11:32 mark of the period.
Just 14 seconds later Notre Dame looked to have possibly tied the game when Anders Lee rushed the St. Cloud net and got the puck past Ryan Faragher.
Referee Chip McDonald reviewed video and disallowed the goal, ruling that Lee had kicked the puck into the net.
“The play happened so fast, you are trying to get it back to your stick…it just went to the goalie instead,” Lee said. “It was clearly a kicking motion; I was just trying to get it back to my stick.
“That’s just a reaction play at that high speed; it’s unfortunate that it was that clear on video.”
The game remained 1-0 St. Cloud until the 9:28 mark of the second period, when Detroit Red Wings draftee Nick Jensen’s shot from the point was redirected to Joey Benik, who scored the first of his two power-play goals.
The Huskies’ Cory Thorson scored at 13:35 of the second period, and 58 seconds later Jonny Brodzinski made it 4-0 with his team-leading 23rd goal of the season.
“I thought they did a really good job of clogging up the neutral zone and we turned pucks over,” Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson said. “When you do that you’re generally going to give up chances against, and they took advantage of a couple.”
Notre Dame needed to get things rolling quickly in the third period, but instead was called for three penalties in the first six minutes.
“We wanted to come out with a lot of energy, stay out of the penalty box,” ND forward Mike Voran said. “We knew that if we were going to win the game that we would have to take some chances. The penalties definitely didn’t help us, but we were doing it to ourselves.”
Voran got the Irish on the board with a short-handed goal at 7:44 of the period, but Benik scored his second goal of the game on the power play at 11:07 to re-establish St. Cloud’s four-goal advantage.
The Huskies held on to hand Notre Dame — which came into the game having won seven in a row — its most lopsided loss of the season.
“You don’t expect that,” Motzko said. “The biggest thing is we just wanted to play a good hockey game. It’s been a couple years since we’ve been on this stage and we were one game away from the Frozen Four a few years ago and we’ve been in this position a few times since I’ve been here. … You could see us settling in. And we’ve played like that a handful of times during the year.
“We got comfortable and I’m happy with how we played.”
Contact John Wagner at:firstname.lastname@example.org,419-724-6481 or onTwitter @jwagnerblade.