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Huskies and Mavericks Tie in Minnesota Cup Opener

St. Cloud State and Minnesota State finish the opening round of the Minnesota Cup tied 2-2 with the Huskies winning the shootout.

Maverick Lelia Kilduff (#13) plays the puck in her own zone as Megan Roe (#9) catches up.
Cat Lenander

Today the WCHA launched the Minnesota Cup, a new little tournament featuring four Minnesota based teams in two days of non-conference play. This tournament will rotate locations and participants, but for this initial event play took play took place at Ridder Arena and featured Minnesota, Minnesota Duluth, Minnesota State, and St. Cloud State. To kick off the tournament St. Cloud State and Minnesota State played the opening game early in the afternoon.

The game started with a lot of end-to-end puck chasing as the teams felt each other out. The Huskies had more and better chances in the first five minutes of the game. Hallie Theodosopoulos even had a shot that looked like it went under goaltender Abigail Levy toward the net, but must have deflected off part of her because the puck then slid out of the crease instead of toward the goal line. Emily Antony took a hooking minor at 8:51. St. Cloud State generated some nice puck cycling and even managed a couple of shots, but couldn’t convert.

After that the Mavericks regularly found their way into St. Cloud’s zone along the sides and pulled comfortably ahead in shots, though a number of their attempts did go wide. Near the end of the period Jenniina Nylund came down the right side, swooped laterally through MSU’s circles, and then banged the puck home from the left one, unassisted, at 17:10. The goal not only put the Huskies on the board, but sparked a flurry that lasted the rest of the period.

Corbin Boyd’s rebound that goaltender Emma Polusny had to bat away might have been Minnesota State’s first official shot of the period, but the Mavericks were buzzing from the moment they stepped back on the ice. They continued swarming St. Cloud’s end, rarely letting the puck leave the zone as they looked for an equalizer. Eventually MSU found it when Rebekah Kolstad’s slot shot went in on Polusny’s glove side at 7:42. Megan Hinze and Boyd assisted. The Mavericks’ fury did not slow in the slightest and they continued their onslaught in earnest.

Eventually the Huskies managed to generate a little offense, but that effort was curt short by Julia Tylke’s cross-checking penalty at 11:14, which harmlessly expired two minutes later. However, St. Cloud’s moment had passed and MSU just shelled Polusny for the rest of the period. The Huskies thought the period was over, but just as the buzzer sounded Boyd’s last second shot hit Polusny’s inner right thigh and deflected into goal. The referee said it was a good goal, despite it sounding like the bell had started as the puck hit her leg, and video replay couldn’t determine when exactly the puck crossed the line, which meant the on ice call stood. Jordan McLaughlin and Anna Wilgren assisted on the goal and one second was put back on the clock to finish the period.

To start third period Tristen Truax nearly scored with a wraparound attempt and then her teammates piled on more shots. Play involved a lot of puck chasing and both sides piled on shots. Near the halfway point of the period St. Cloud State got a 3-on-1 attempt going in MSU’s zone, but a Husky flubbed a pass and the play devolved into nothing. This didn’t deter the team and they continued pressing for an advantage, eventually working up to an offensive flurry. Janna Haeg nearly tipped in her teammate’s shot, but hit Levy instead. St. Cloud used their timeout at 17:28 and then pulled their goalie at 18:00 for the extra attacker. This pushed play even further and eventually Abby Thiessen batted in Laura Kluge’s redirect from the slot at 18:52. Taylor Wemple had the second assist. Play remained tied for the rest of regulation.

Overtime began with another round of puck chasing. Haeg tried a wraparound, but Levy leapt on the shot before it could go anywhere. The Mavericks buzzed Polusny for a solid minute and a half, causing an absolute mess at the crease in the process, but neither team could find the back of the net in overtime. Officially the game ended a 2-2 tie with shots 41 to 26 in Minnesota State’s favor.

Still, there had to be a shootout. Sofia Poinar, Antony, and Truax shot for MSU, while Tylke, Nylund, and Hannah Potrykus shot for St. Cloud. None of the Huskies could get past Polusny, but Nylund put the puck through Levy’s 5-hole to finally finish the game. Based on the shootout results Minnesota State will face Duluth at 1pm tomorrow, while St. Cloud takes on Minnesota, with the Minnesota Cup on the line, at 4pm.