No. 8 St. Cloud Holds Off Notre Dame 2-1
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Freshman left wing Mike Rucinski and sophomore right wing Jason Goulet scored in the first 25 minutes and junior goalie Brian Leitza made the narrow lead hold up as the eighth-ranked St. Cloud State defeated Notre Dame 2-1, in non-conference hockey action Saturday at the Joyce Center.
The third line again led the way for St. Cloud (15-8-3), as Rucinski scored midway through the first, of an assist from Goulet, before Rucinski set up a score by Goulet early in the second for what proved to be the game-winner.
Goulet and freshman center Matt Noga also scored in Friday's 5-2 loss to the Irish, giving the Huskies third line all four St. Cloud goals in the weekend series.
Notre Dame (8-16-1) missed out on a chance to equal last season's win total (with 10 games still remaining) and also missed the opportunity to post the program's first three-game win streak since 1993-94.
St. Cloud outshot the hosts for the second straight night, 22-18, marking Notre Dame's third-lowest shot total of the season and lowest in 15 games (since a 17-shot effort at Boston College on Nov. 8). The Irish failed to maintain their recent offensive fire, having scored 15 goals in the previous three games heading into Saturday's action.
The Huskies opted to start junior goaltender Brian Leitz, after starting sophomore Tim Lideen on Friday, and the Lake Villa, Ill. native responded with 17 saves while helping St. Cloud thwart six of seven Irish power-play chances.
Notre Dame junior goalie Matt Eisler continued his stellar play, making 20 saves while lowering his season goals against average to 3.27 (lowest by an Irish netminder since 1971). Eisler has allowed just five goals in his last three games.
Irish freshman Ben Simon was involved in two of the biggest plays of the game, experiencing highs and lows in a span of just three minutes. The U.S. junior national team member cut the lead to 2-1 at the 15:24 mark of the second period, after skating to the left circle and blasting a power-play shot through the legs of Huskies goaltender Brian Leitza.
Minutes later, Simon was slapped with a five-minute major penalty for hitting from behind and was forced to miss the remainder of the game due to the corresponding game misconduct penalty. Simon collided into the back boards with St. Cloud defenseman Josh DeWolf at the 18:07 mark, with DeWolf crumpling to the ice after the hit.
DeWolf, who ironically would have been a teammate of Simon's on the U.S. junior national team if not for an injury, remained flat on the ice for 10 minutes before returning to his feet and being helped off the ice. Due to the excessive delay, the game headed into the second intermission with 1:53 remaining in the second period and the teams played the remainder of the second period to begin the third period.
The visitors failed to capitalize on the five-minute major, which included a 4:14 power-play stretch, managing just two shots on goal.
Notre Dame managed just six shots on goal in the first period and didn't fare any better in the second, as the Irish didn't record their 10th shot of the game until Simon's goal. the second period featured just three shots from each team in the first 14 minutes of the period.
St. Cloud took a 1-0 lead at the 11:26 mark of the second period, when freshman Rucinski took a pass from Goulet near the right boards, skated into the slot and faked a shot before beating Eisler to the upper left corner.
The third line continued to produce for the Huskies in the opening minutes of the second period, with Rucinski sliding a short pass in the slot for Goulet, who one-touched a shot from the left side of the crease into the upper right corner of the net (3:31).
Leitza made several noteworthy saves in the final minutes. With 6:30 remaining, Notre Dame's Brian Urick was open at the top of the crease but Leitza made the save off his pads. With a minute and a half to play, Brian McCarthy skated free down the left wing and fired a shot to the five-hole but Leitza had his stick ready for the save. Irish defenseman Ben Nelson had the final chance of the game, with seven seconds left to play, sending a shot from the top of the circle that Leitza stopped with a kick save off his right skate.
In other action Saturday involving Centeral Collegiate Hockey Association teams, Ohio State (5-13-0) pulled off a 3-2 upset at fifth-place Michigan to pull even with Alaska-Fairbanks (5-17-0) for ninth place in the CCHA, just a point back of 5-11-1 Notre Dame (the top eight teams advance to the CCHA Tournament). Michigan (14-1-2) downed Miami, 3-0, dropping the Redskins (13-6-0) into third-place while Lake Superior (12-5-3) moved into sole possession of second place after skating to a 1-1 tie at Western Michigan. That tie allowed WMU (5-8-4) to extend its lead on the Irish to three points.
Notre Dame coach Dave Poulin: "It was a terrific effort. Too many penalties obviously. ...But all in all a terrific effort, a terrific effort by Matt Eisler. You hold a quality team like that to two goals tonight and two goals last night. We need to score some goals, though. We had the chances...We are going to take a lot of positives from this weekend. That we can play. That we can flat-out play if we set our minds to it and stay focused... We passed the puck extremely well, we created a lot of offensive chances, we did a good job in the neutral zone. On the tapes I watched, St. Cloud had probably 15 breakaways against Minnesota. We didn't up a single one. That's terrific defensive play and terrific neutral zone play. Our transition game was really good... The penalty kill was good, but the power play moved the puck as well as we have. They really zipped passes. We just gotta score... I really hope (this weekend was a step towards national prominence), I really do. We'll know better as we go, but I really think this was a huge step for us. I like a lot of things I saw here today. They've ste the standard now. As they continue to increase the standard, I can demand it. They are starting to believe that they have what they have."
ST CLOUD STATE 1 1 0 - 2 NOTRE DAME 0 1 0 - 1
1st - SCS 1. Rucinski 2 (J. Goulet) 11:46, 2nd - SCS 2. J. Goulet 11 (Ruckinski) 3:31; ND 1. Simon 3 (Fraser) 15:24.
Shots on Goal: SCS 11-4-7/22, ND 6-5-7/18. Saves: SCS (Leitza) 6-4-7/17, ND (Eisler) 10-3-7/20.
Power Play: SCS 0-for-5, ND 1-for-7. Penalties: SCS 9 for 18:00, ND 8 for 27:00.
St. Cloud State Huskies: 3- Geno Parrish, 5- George Awada, 7- Andy Vicari, 9- Matt Cullen, 10- Matt Bailey, 11- Mike O'Connel, 14- Sacha Molin, 15- Rob Klasnick, 16- Matt Noga, 17- Mike Maristuen, 19- Jason Goulet, 21- Mark Parrish, 22- Josh DeWolf, 23- Jason Stewart, 24- Kyle McLaughlin, 26- Dave Paradise, 28- Randy Best, 30- Tim Lideen, 31- Brian Leitza, 33- Mike Rucinski.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish: 1- Matt Eisler, 2- Nathan Borega, 6- Tyson Fraser, 8- Ben Simon, 9- Aniket Dhadphale, 11- Lyle Andrusiak, 13- Brian McCarthy, 15- Brian Urick, 17- Tim Harberts, 18- Sean Seyferth, 19- Troy Bagne, 20- Neal Johnson, 21- Steve Noble, 22- Craig Hagkull, 24- Sean Molina, 25- Benoit Cotnoir, 27- Ben Nelsen, 29- Terry Lorenz, 30 Erik Berg, 31- Forrest Karr, 33- Joe Dusbabek.
SCORING 1st Period SCS 1. Rucinski 2 (Goulet) [17-18-20-22-27] 11:46 2nd Period SCS 2. Goulet 11 (Rucinski, O'Connel) [13-19-21-24-25] 3:31 ND 1. Simon 3 (Fraser), PP [21-25-33] 15:24 PENALTIES 1st Period SCS 1. Cullen (interference) 8:43 SCS 2. Awada (roughing) 12:20 ND 1. Urick (tripping) called by linesman 14:05 ND 2. Andrusiak (delay of game) 16:39 SCS 3. Cullen (slashing) 16:51 2nd Period ND 3. Urick (interference) 5:19 SCS 4. M. Parrish(interference) 5:33 ND 4. Dusbabek (slashing) 8:39 SCS 5. Awada (slashing) 8:39 SCS 6. McLaughlin (cross checking) *ND goal* 14:03 SCS 7. G. Parrish (roughing) 16:53 ND 5. Simon (check from behind) served by Hagkull 18:07 ND 6. Simon (game misconduct) 18:07 ND 7. Dusbabek (roughing) 18:07 SCS 8. Leitza (slashing) served by Klasnick 18:07 3rd Period ND 8. Andrusiak (interference) 5:26 SCS 9. Klasnick (tripping) 8:09