Keith Kinkaid had a solid debut between the pipes, but it wasn’t enough as Union lost its first game of the year, 3-1, at 19th-ranked St. Cloud State Saturday.
Brock Matheson scored for the Dutchmen (2-1-1), who gave up three power-play goals, and had little jump.
Kinkaid came highly regarded to Union after being named most valuable player with the St. Louis Bandits of the North American Hockey League last season; going 30-5 with a 1.78 goals-against average and seven shutouts in 40 games.
“I felt good out there,” he said. “It was a great experience. I was eager to start the season and get out there.”
In stopping 30 shots, the freshman showed why his numbers were so good last year: squaring up shooters and staying poised under pressure to make a sprawling pad save here and a quick glove save there. Of the 33 shots on goal by the Huskies (1-2-1), 16 were low in the slot or below the face-off dot in the circles. Union had 25 shots, seven of which were from a similar scoring range.
“We brought our ‘B’ game, or maybe even our ‘C’ game,” said John Simpson, who had an assist. “We couldn’t get the puck down low and work it like we did in the last two periods yesterday.”
The Dutchmen scored twice in the final four minutes to earn a 3-3 tie Friday.
But the penalty kill hurt the Dutchmen all series. Four of the Huskies’ six goals were with an extra skater.
“We were just never comfortable on the penalty on the big sheet,” said coach Nate Leaman. “Every time we got a little bit of momentum going, we somehow ended up killing a penalty, and it took a lot of momentum away.”
For the second straight night, the Huskies held a two-goal lead after one period.
A long wrist shot from Craig Gaudet beat Kinkaid on the stick side at 3:36, and Travis Novak split Mike Schreiber and Shawn Stuart before going forehand-backhand to score at 14:18.
Without Kinkaid, it could have been worse. He stopped two shots on a two-on-one midway through the period, and stretched across the crease to get a left pad on a shot a minute later.
“I thought he was our best player,” Leaman said. “I think it’s really good for our hockey team the way he played tonight. Corey [Milan] played really well last night, and he played well tonight. We need healthy competition at this position.”
Matheson halved the deficit midway through the second when, after a flurry near the net, Brian Yanovitch fed him alone at the top of the right circle. His wrist shot was just inside the far post.
Alone in the slot, Garrett Roe took a feed from below the goal line and slapped a one-timer past Kinkaid midway through the third period.
The Dutchmen return home Friday, when they host American International at 7 p.m.
Union 0 1 0 — 1
St. Cloud State 2 0 1 — 3
First Period — 1, St. Cloud State, Gaudet 1 (Hanowski, Festler), 3:36 (pp). 2, St. Cloud State, Novak 1 (Lauridsen), 14:18 (pp). Penalties — Matheson, Uni (interference), 2:10; Mosey, SCS (holding stick), 5:27; Wakita, Uni (charging), 13:03; Roe, SCS (cross-checking), 15:52; Schreiber, Uni (hooking), 17:41.
Second Period — 3, Union, Matheson 2 (Yanovitch, J. Simpson), 8:38. Penalties — Stuart, Uni (holding), 3:41; Yanovitch, Uni (clipping), 15:40.
Third Period — 4, St. Cloud State, Roe 1 (Lasch, Mosey), 10:19 (pp). Penalties — Cain, Uni (boarding), 1:42; Matheson, Uni (interference), 9:58.
Shots on Goal — Union 9-8-8 — 25. St. Cloud State 13-10-10 — 33.
Power-play opportunities — Union 0 of 2; St. Cloud State 3 of 7.
Goalies — Union, Kinkaid 0-1-0 (33 shots-30 saves). St. Cloud State, Lee 1-1-1 (25-24).
A — 5,933. T — 2:09.
Referees — Brian Thul, Jon Campion. Linesmen — Jared Moen, Chris Perrault.