Men’s ice hockey completes weekend sweep of St. Cloud State

Max Molski

Travis St. Denis scored two goals for the second straight night as Quinnipiac beat St. Cloud State 4-1 on Saturday to improve to 6-0-0 on the season.

St. Denis scored from the right end of the red line on both of his goals in the victory. He said that he found the weak spot in the team’s preparation for the weekend series.

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“It’s kind of a quiet area,” St. Denis said. “After watching some video of St. Cloud, the defense kind of puck-watches, so I try to find the little quiet area there.”

St. Denis put Quinnipiac on the board first nearly 15 minutes into the game. Derek Smith created the shot as he faked a shot from the left side of the red line, passed it to St. Denis in front of St. Cloud State goalie Charlie Lindgren, and St. Denis fired it in.

With 4:16 left in the period, St. Cloud State earned its second power play. The Bobcats not only remained perfect on the penalty kill (22-for-22 on the season), but also scored their first shorthanded goal since last March.

Connor Clifton sent a pass up the ice to Soren Jonzzon. Jonzzon took his time from the right side, sized-up a slap shot and rocketed the puck past Lindgren to put the Bobcats up 2-0.

The Bobcats scored twice in a 36-second span in the third period to arrive at the 4-1 final.

St. Denis scored his second goal of the game on the power play after firing in a rebound that came off Devon Toews’ stick.

Tommy Schutt scored the final goal on a 2-on-1 Bobcats breakaway as he beat Lindgren farside.

Jimmy Schuldt thwarted St. Denis’ attempt for a hat trick with a holding penalty in the final five minutes of play. Pecknold says he has seen St. Denis make progress towards becoming a menace in the ECAC.

“(St. Denis) has been a great player for three years and I think he’s taken another step,” Pecknold said. “Right now, he’s elevated himself to one of the best players in the league.”

Goaltender Michael Garteig made a career-high 41 saves in the Bobcats victory. Garteig’s lone let-up came in the second period as St. Cloud’s Ben Storm swooped by and knocked a rebound in with 5:13 left in the period.

Despite the blemish, both Garteig and head coach Rand Pecknold saw this game as a career highlight.

“Yeah, it’s a career-high for my saves,” Garteig said. “I thought I played a good series against (St. Cloud State) last year, even though we split. Just to get two wins this weekend is so important for down the road.”

“I think Michael Garteig stole the game for us tonight,” Pecknold said. “He was as good as he’s ever been, maybe one of the better games he’s ever played for us.”

Saturday’s victory also marked Alex Miner-Barron’s first game of the season after winning an appeal with the NCAA over his eligibility this summer. Although he did not appear on the score sheet, he and Pecknold were happy with his first appearance.

“The first couple of shifts, the pace was a little fast,” Miner-Barron said. “St. Cloud is an awesome team: a lot of speed, a lot of high-end guys, but as the game got rolling I felt comfortable and thought I did very well.”

“(Miner-Barron) basically thought his hockey career was over and he found out over the summer that he could play,” Pecknold said. “He was in a tough situation but I thought he was good tonight.”

Miner-Barron also said that as the oldest player on the Bobcats’ roster, he will take on responsibility in the locker room.

“Coming back,” Miner-Barron said “I’m more mature and able to communicate with my teammates better, especially young guys.”

The undefeated Bobcats return to the ice on Nov. 6 and 7 as they play a weekend series in New York against Colgate and Cornell. St. Denis says the weekend sweep over St. Cloud State is something the team can lean back on as the season goes on.

“We will look back to this and think, ‘Okay, well we played St. Cloud and put up nine against them.’” St. Denis said. “That’ll definitely give us confidence.”