At the National Hockey Center in St. Cloud, host St. Cloud State outlasted the Minnesota men Saturday, 4-3.
Netminder Ryan Faragher led the way for St. Cloud State, as he posted 36 saves, allowing the Huskies (18-11-1 overall, 15-6-1 WCHA) to remain atop the conference standings.
“They’ve got a lot of big bodies,” Faragher said of the visiting Gophers, “and they crash and they get the rebounds. … We needed to come out tonight with a great effort. I think the guys came out and showed we’re capable of (playing) with the top teams.”
St. Cloud State owned a decisive, 4-1 lead early in Saturday’s third period, after star Drew LeBlanc lit the lamp on a breakaway.
But top-ranked Minnesota (19-5-4 overall, 11-5-4 WCHA) made a fierce, last-gasp effort. First, Gophers standout Nick Bjugstad scored a goal thanks to a vicious slap shot, with 9:08 remaining. Then, with 5:34 to go, Minnesota’s Nate Condon scored his tenth goal of the season, helping the visitors draw to within 4-3.
But St. Cloud State’s defense stood tall from there on out. The Gophers had scored four or more goals in 11 of their past 12 contests entering Saturday night.
“St. Cloud State is a very good team,” noted Minnesota head coach Don Lucia. “It was certainly entertaining for the fans. We made a couple mistakes … You’re not going to win giving up four goals on the road.
“We’ll take (the weekend split),” Lucia added, “and move forward.”