College hockey: St. Cloud State tops No. 3 Minnesota Duluth behind Jeff Smith's 41 saves
DULUTH, Minn. -- The St. Cloud State University men's hockey team (10-10-1, 5-7-1 NCHC) returned to the win column with a thrilling 2-1 victory at No. 3 Minnesota Duluth (12-5-4, 8-4-1 NCHC) on Friday, Jan. 13 at Amsoil Arena.
The victory snapped a two-game losing streak for the Huskies and sets up tomorrow night's rematch at Amsoil between the Huskies and Bulldogs. The game on Saturday, Jan. 14 is set to start at 7:07 p.m CT.
In a classic NCHC defensive battle, the Huskies grabbed a 1-0 lead at 11:38 of the first period with an even-strength marker by freshman defender Jack Ahcan. He was assisted on the play by Robby Jackson and Blake Winiecki.
The two teams went scoreless through the remainder of the first period and into the second period before Ahcan posted the game winner at 10:06 with his fourth goal of the season. Jacob Benson and Mikey Eyssimont each had assists on the goal, which was Achan's 14th point of the year. The assist was Eyssimont's ninth of the season, and it moved him into the team's point lead at 19 in 2016-17.
SCSU goalie Jeff Smith was impressive throughout the evening with 26 saves and no goals allowed through the first two periods. He was barraged with 16 shots on target in the third period and only allowed one goal when UMD's Riley Tufte scored at 13:30 of the third with assists from Brenden Kotyk and Adam Johnson. In the game, Smith had a career-high 41 saves and improved his season record to 4-5-0. He season stats moved to .902 on the save percentage and 2.79 on the goals against average after the victory.
Of note, Smith's 41 saves were the most charted by a SCSU goalie since Charlie Lindgren had 45 against Omaha in a 2-1 win in OT on March 13, 2015. In terms of a regulation game, Smith's 41 saves were the most in regulation time since Ryan Faragher had 42 saves against Michigan Tech on March 1, 2013 (5-3 win).
In the contest, UMD outshot the Huskies 42-29. On the power play, SCSU was 0-2 and UMD was 0-5. Hunter Miska was the goalie of record for the Bulldogs with 27 saves in the game.