1. If you didn't catch Friday's article on CC's penalty kill, it might be worth a read ("Treads realign CC's play"). The Tigers' penalty kill was phenomenal tonight, holding St. Cloud State to just one goal on 10 shots in eight power plays. The Huskies entered the game clicking at 22.8 percent (21 of 92), but that dropped to 22 percent (22 of 100) after Friday.Of course, goaltender Richard Bachman deserves a lot of credit, but the forwards -- especially Scott Thauwald, Chad Rau and Scott McCulloch -- did a stand-out job possessing the puck when they took it away from the Huskies' power play. All of the defensemen kept St. Cloud State off of Bachman's pads and combined for several takeaways in the slot. Impressive.
2. Speaking of McCulloch, it was good to see him score for the first time since Nov. 3 against North Dakota. The senior left wing and alternate captain has been doing so many positive things while playing on the third line, but scoring hasn't been one of them. Coach Scott Owens has repeatedly praised McCulloch's defensive efforts and leadership this season. In three of the Tigers' four losses -- all of which came on the road -- that third goal proved elusive. It was a big goal.
"I've been focusing on getting chances," McCulloch said. "When the chances stop coming, that's when you have to start worrying. I think just focusing on that and helping the team win in other ways is what has kept me going and just kept me in a positive mind-frame. I don't think being negative around the guys would help me any or help us win."
3. As I said below after the first period, the defensemen really established themselves early. St. Cloud State only scored once and did not score on even strength for a reason.
"They have a few high-end skill guys that we had in mind," defenseman Ryan Lowery said. "Our goal was to knock them around and knock them in. Collectively, as a D-corps, I think we did that pretty well. I would say it was a goal coming into the weekend."
When asked if the defensemen contributing two of the Tigers' three goals was a result of aggression or luck, Lowery grinned as he threw out some fighting words: "Actually, this week in practice, the D-corps was winning all of the small games, so it carried over into tonight."
Lowery is referring to competitions throughout practice that pit the defensemen against the forwards. And, yes, the defensemen were cleaning up this week.
After a period:
1. Defensemen making the difference. Nate Prosser and Ryan Lowery each had first-period goals. In their defensive zone, the Tigers are forcing St. Cloud State to take outside shots and the defensemen established a physical presence early.
2. So much for least penalized team. St. Cloud State took three first-period penalties. Perhaps coach Bob Motzko thought the Huskies weren't playing aggressive enough during their five-game losing streak.
3. Strong start. Any worries of rust after the bye week looked misplaced during the first-period effort from CC. The Tigers outshot St. Cloud State 13-6, converted on one of their three power plays and generated plenty of short-handed offense out of their penalty kill.
1. Crash the net. Last season, the Huskies had proven goaltender Bobby Goepfert in net. Tonight, St. Cloud State has freshman B.J. O'Brien, who has played in just one game this season. Because St. Cloud State is the least penalized team in the nation, averaging just 9.4 penalty minutes per game, the Tigers can't expect to get many power-play opportunities and will need to do their damage in even-strength situations.
2. Stop the Viennese twins. One is from Vienna, Austria, the other is from Vienna, Va., but sophomore Andreas Nodl and freshman Garrett Roe both have the offensive skill to change a game. Look for the Vlassopoulos line to be given the task of neutralizing Roe's line.
3. Rusty? CC players and coaches alike felt good about their preparation for tonight's game during the past two weeks. Will the Tigers pick up where they left off after Alaska-Anchorage? Or will they take a period or more to get back into the rhythm of WCHA play?
**CC alum and former radio color commentator Jim Paradise will be joining Ken Landau on the call tonight on 103.9 FM.
**Scouts from Calgary Flames, Ottawa Senators, Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs and New Jersey Devils are in attendance.
10 Thauwald--14 Rau--23 Kilpatrick
21 Sweatt--19 Vlassopoulos--5 DeBoer
26 McCulloch--22 Walsky--25 Testwuide
2 Lampl--17 Johnson--28 Schultz
8 Hillen--15 Prosser
7 Fredheim--4 Gannon
11 Connelly--24 Lowery
Healthy scratches: Brett Wysopal and Brian McMillin
Did not travel: Derek Patrosso (ankle), Dan Quilico, Matt Overman, Tyler O'Brien
St. Cloud State
27 Mosey--13 Dey--19 Lasch
12 Nodl--9 Roe--10 Hartman
21 Brocklehurst--17 Marvin--18 Volpei
22 Borgen--8 Olson--15 Oslund
26 Swanson--24 Stephenson
28 Carlisle--7 Raboin
6 Barta--2 Ammerman
Referees: Derek Shepherd and Marco Hunt
Linesmen: Jonathon Morrison, Tony Czech