DULUTH, Minn. (csssaints.com) - The St. Scholastica men's hockey team earned a 3-1 victory over Northland College on Wednesday night in the quarterfinals of the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association (NCHA) Harris Cup, advancing the Saints to the semifinals this weekend.
The game began in high speed and never lost momentum over the course of the night, despite the relatively low number of goals. Only 14 seconds of the game passed before the Saints had a man in the box, putting Northland on the power play and setting the pace for what would be a scrappy game through all three periods. The Saints successfully killed off the penalty and almost the entire period passed before any tallies would be put on the board.
The first goal came on a power play for the Saints - their only man advantage of the period - when Derek Sutliffe (Las Vegas, Nev./Odyssey Charter School (Langley Rivermen-BCHL) ) netted the puck, assisted by Brandon Millin (Port Moody, British Columbia/Heritage Woods HS (Notre Dame Hounds-SJHL) ). That goal came with just over three minutes left in the first period. Northland was not to be outdone, however, and with less than a minute before the first intermission, Michael Berens found the net for the LumberJacks, tying the score at 1-1.
The second period didn't see a score change, though CSS had two power play opportunities. The LumberJacks managed 18 shots on goal, but could not slip any past the Saints goaltender. CSS had eight shots on goal and was also shut down between the pipes.
The third period began, and the tied score had everyone in the arena on edge. The Saints went on the power play after a 'Jacks tripping penalty less than two minutes into the period, but were unable to capitalize, though they managed two good shots on goal. Not long after both teams were back to full strength, Brett Radford (Campbell River, British Columbia/Athol Murray College of Notre Dame (Canmore-AJHL)) and Cole Golka (Ardrossan, Alberta/Athol Murray College of Notre Dame (Dryden Ice Dogs-SIJHL)) set up a beautiful opportunity for Sutliffe to net his second goal of the game, putting the Saints in the 2-1 lead. Almost all of the remaining time in the third period expired with no scoring by either team, though it was not for lack of trying. Both sides got good looks of the net, and Northland had a power play opportunity, but no shots got through. With 34 seconds left in the game, the LumberJacks pulled the goalie in favor of the extra man. Sutliffe, assisted by Connor Faupel (Rochester, Minn./Rochester Century HS (UW-Superior)), hit the empty net for his hat trick goal with 10 seconds left in the game. The time expired and the Saints took the 3-1 well-earned victory.
Zane Steeves (Red Deer, Alberta/Athol Murray College of Notre Dame (100 Mile Wranglers-KIJHL)) was in front of the net for the Saints, saving a season high of 36 shots. Taking the loss for the LumberJacks (11-13-2) was AJ Smith, who saved 25 of the 27 shots put on goal by the Saints.
The victory against Northland advances the Saints (13-12-1) to the next round of the Harris Cup playoffs. They will head to Wisconsin this weekend to take on No. 4 St. Norbert College (Wis.) on Saturday in the semifinals. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.