MINNEAPOLIS (GopherSports.com) – Darian Romanko’s early third-period goal proved to be the game-winner in a defensive affair as the tenth-ranked Gopher Men’s Hockey program shut out No. 1 St. Cloud State 2-0 at 3M Arena at Mariucci on Sunday evening.
No. 10 Minnesota (13-10-1, 4-7-1-1 Big Ten) defeated the top-ranked team in the nation for the first time since a dominating 8-1 win over Boston College at the Mariucci Classic back on Dec. 30, 2012. The Gophers have not shut out the top-ranked team in the nation in the past 18 seasons when scores against ranked opponents were tracked. St. Cloud State (13-3-3, 7-2-1 NCHC) stumbles for just the third time this season and first in its last nine games.
The two teams skated evenly throughout the opening frame, with Minnesota taking a 10-9 advantage in shots on goal to the locker room as both Mat Robson and the Huskies’ David Hrenak maintained zeros through one. St. Cloud State looked to break the tie late in the second, but Mikey Eyssimont’s rip from the top of the face-off circle was called back when review showed the Huskies had six players on the ice. Instead, the teams remained scoreless after two.
Early in the third, Romanko picked off a clearing attempt by a Huskies defender and skated in with an open look, ripping his second of the second. The unassisted tally came at 3:10 of the period. Mike Szmatula scored his second of the weekend against the empty net in the closing moments of the period, assisted by Jack Ramsey, to put the game on ice for the Maroon & Gold.
Robson stopped all 34 shots he faced to earn his second victory as a Gopher and Minnesota’s second shutout in its last four games. Hrenak made 19 saves for St. Cloud State. The Gophers were 0-for-2 on the power play while holding the Huskies to an 0-for-3 night.
Minnesota hosts Michigan in a Big Ten series next weekend at 3M Arena at Mariucci, beginning with a 7:00 p.m. opening face-off Friday night between the Gophers and Wolverines.
The Huskies return home to resume play in the always rugged NCHC next weekend when they host the Western Michigan Broncos at 7:37 pm on Friday and 7:07 on Saturday.