Pittsburgh, Pa. --- Minnesota State came back from a two-goal second-period deficit to take a one-goal lead, but could not hold on in falling 5-4 to St. Cloud State in a NCAA Division I men's hockey Frozen Four semi-final game Thursday at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Pa.
The Huskies held a 2-1 lead after the opening 20 minutes of action and extended the margin to 3-1 early in the second before the Mavericks roared back with three straight goals to take a 4-3 lead. SCSU, one of Minnesota State's oldest and most-played opponents and winners of this year's Northeast Regional, tallied twice in the last ten minutes of regulation to claim the win.
Capitalizing on the game's first power play, St. Cloud State junior defenseman Spencer Meier pounced on a rebound after Maverick goaltender Dryden McKay stopped a couple of shots to put the puck into the net at 3:18 of the opening period. The Mavericks responded at 16:09 with a power play goal of their own after a shot from the point from freshman defenseman Akito Hirose bounced off a body to Nathan Smith and the sophomore center from Hudson, Fla., wristed a shot past David Brenak stickside at 16:09 to knot the score at 1-1. The Huskies wasted no time regaining the lead when Kyler Kupka fired the puck into the left side of the net at 16:19 and the score stood 2-1 in favor of St. Cloud State after the first period of action.
A defensive zone turnover led to a Will Hammer goal and at 2:40 of the second period, St. Cloud State increased their lead to 3-1. The Mavericks continued to work their way back. Senior forward Walker Duehr got his 10th goal of the season at 12:08, finding a rebound and putting the puck into the net in making it a one-goal game. Then at 14:23 Smith registered his second power play marker of the game, knotting the score at 3-3 after taking the puck off the left boards and skating to the middle of the slot before roofing a shot over Brenak's left shoulder.
The Mavericks took their first lead of the game at 4:18 of the third on a play where Dallas Gerads tapped in a feed from Walker Duehr for his ninth goal of the season. The Huskies came back, scoring at 10:14 on a rebound chance by Joe Molenaar. Then, with the game tied at 4-4, a deflection by Nolan Walker with just over 53 seconds left in regulation gave the Huskies the victory.
Minnesota State, which converted on both of its power play chances in the game, owned a 29-22 advantage in shots on goal.
Junior netminder Dryden McKay, a finalist for this year's Hobey Baker Award and the Mike Richter Award, finished with 17 saves and finishes the season with a 21-4-0 record.
The Mavericks, who were making their first Frozen Four appearance this year after capturing the NCAA West Region championship, complete 2020-21 with a 22-5-1 record.