Joey Benik scored a pair of power-play goals and St. Cloud State got single goals from Ben Hanowski, Cory Thorson and Jonny Brodzinski as the Huskies ended Notre Dame's season with a 5-1 loss at the NCAA Midwest Regional in front of a crowd of 2,988 at the Hutchinson Center.
Mike Voran scored the lone Notre Dame goal, snapping St. Cloud goaltender Ryan Faragher's shutout bid at 7:44 of the third period short-handed.
The loss ended the season for the Irish with a 25-13-3 overall record and snapped a six-game winning streak in March and a nine-game unbeaten streak (7-0-2) that started on Feb. 17. St. Cloud State advances to Sunday's 4:00 p.m. regional championship game against the Miami Redhawks who defeated Minnesota State, 4-0, in that semifinal game. The ninth-ranked Huskies are now 24-15-1 for the year.
"We were disappointed with the outcome, but St. Cloud played a great game," said Irish head coach Jeff Jackson.
St. Cloud State opened the scoring at 11:32 of the opening period as Hanowski scored his 17th goal of the season as he banged a rebound past Irish starter Steven Summerhays to make it 1-0.
Defenseman Andrew Prochno fired a slapshot from the right point that Summerhays kicked out towards the left face-off circle. Hanowski was there to whip a shot past the goaltender as he tried to recover to make the stop.
The Irish looked like they tied the game just 28 seconds later with Lee putting the rebound of a Peter Schneider shot past Faragher. The officials went to the replay and ruled that Lee had directed the puck past Faragher with his foot and waved the goal off.
"That play happened so quick. You are just trying to get the puck back to your stick and it went to the goalie instead," said Lee following the game.
"It was clearly a kicking motion. I was trying to get it back to my stick and get it back to the net. It was a reaction play at that high speed."
"I don't think we got overly excited about the goal being overruled," said Voran.
"Anders came back to the bench and said it was definitely a kicking motion. We weren't to high and I don't think it disturbed us too much."
The Huskies out shot the Irish, 11-10, in the opening period.
The second period belonged to St. Cloud State as the Huskies scored three times to open a 4-0 lead after 40 minutes of play.
"I thought they did a really good job of clogging up the neutral zone," said Jackson.
"That caused us to turn pucks over and when you do that you are going to give up chances against and they took advantage of a couple of them. It was a result of good offensive transition from doing a good job clogging up the middle."
Benik gave St. Cloud a 2-0 lead at 9:28 of the second period when he scored on the power play, notching his fourth goal of the season.
With Mario Lucia off for tripping at 8:08, the Huskies went to work. Hanowski moved the puck from the left boards to Nick Jensen at the left point. The junior defenseman ripped a shot through a screen that Summerhays made the pad save on. Benik was parked on the right side and had an empty net to put the puck in.
The lead would go to 3-0 at 13:35 off some strong forechecking by the Huskies as they kept the puck in play behind the net before it came in front to Thorson who tucked the shot between Summerhays' pads for his 11th goal of the season. His linemates, Brooks Bertsch and Benik picked up assists on the goal.
Brodzinski, St. Cloud's leading goal scorer on the year, closed out the period with his 22nd of the year at 14:43 as he converted a pass from Jimmy Murray to make it a 4-0 game.
In the third period, Mike Johnson replaced Summerhays in goal with the Notre Dame starter finishing the game with 14 saves on the afternoon.
The Irish were forced to kill three consecutive penalties and held St. Cloud State off the scoreboard while finally breaking through on Faragher with a short-handed goal at 7:44 to make it a 4-1 game.
"We wanted to come out in the third with a lot of energy and stay out of the penalty box," said Voran.
"Obviously, that didn't happen. We knew that if we were going to win the game, we had to take some chances. The penalties didn't help us. We were doing it to ourselves."
With the Huskies applying pressure in the Irish zone, Bryan Rust broke up a pass and skated down the ice with the puck, carrying it to the top of the left circle in the St. Cloud zone where he fired a shot on Faragher. The sophomore goaltender made the stop but left a juicy rebound that Voran, trailing the play fired over his glove hand for his fifth goal of the season.
For Voran, it was his first game back in the lineup after missing the last three with a lower body injury.
The Huskies then closed out the scoring with their second power-play goal of the night with Benik cashing in the same way he did the first, banging a rebound past Johnson for his fifth of the season at 11:07 for the 5-1 final.
On the night, the Huskies were 2-for-7 on the power play while the Irish had just one chance going 0-for-1.
St. Cloud State out shot Notre Dame, 23-18 in the game. Faragher made 17 saves in picking up the victory. Johnson made four saves in the final 20 minutes of the game.
"I'm proud of this group of kids regardless of the outcome," said Jackson.
"They had a good season, just not good enough, plain and simple. Until our program wins a national championship I won't feel like we accomplished what we set out to do."
** IRISH NOTES **
** Jackson on his four-man senior class of Sam Calabrese, Mike Johnson, Nick Larson and Kevin Nugent: "They are four great kids. I am extremely proud of them. They will all graduate with degrees from Notre Dame. They were good citizens off the ice. They were great as far as coaching them. They all had great attitudes and they all had their ups and downs. They are strong character kids with great futures ahead of them."
** In six trips to the NCAA Championships, Notre Dame has lost in the first game three times and advanced to the regional final three times. There, they have won the regional twice and lost once. The Irish have advanced to two Frozen Fours in their six NCAA appearances.
** With the loss, Notre Dame is now 6-6 all-time in NCAA play.
GAME SUMMARY 1 2 3 - F #11/#9 St. Cloud State (24-15-1) 1 3 1 - 5 #4/#4 Notre Dame (25-13-3) 0 0 1 - 1Scoring
First Period: SCSU: Ben Hanowski 17 (Andrew Prochno, Kalle Kossila), 11:32.
Penalties: SCSU: 0 for 0 minutes; ND: 2 for 4 minutes.
Second Period: SCSU:. Joey Benik 4 (Nick Jensen, Hanowski), PPG, 9:28; ND: SCSU: Cory Thornson 11 (Brooks Bertsch, Benik), 13:35; SCSU: Jonny Brodzinski 22 (Jimmy Murray), 14:53.
Penalties: SCSU: 0 for 0 minutes; ND: 1 for 2 minutes.
Penalties: SCSU: 1 for 2 minutes; ND: 4 for 8 minutes.
Shots On Goal: St. Cloud State 11 - 7 - 5 - 23 Notre Dame 10 - 3 - 5 - 18
Power Plays: SCSU: 2 for 7 ND: 0 for 1