WINONA, Minn. Heading into Friday's Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference showdown with league-leading St. Thomas, Saint Mary's University men's hockey coach Don Olson knew he needed a near-perfect performance from his Cardinals if they were going to come out on top.
He didn't get it.
The Cardinals struggled to generate any offense managing just 18 shots, including only two in the third period were whistled for nine penalties, and gave up their fifth shorthanded goal in the last three games.
The end result a 3-1 setback at the hands of the Tommies at the SMU Ice Arena.
Not quite the new-perfect performance Olson was hoping for.
"It wasn't a very pretty game," said Olson, whose team fell behind 3-0 before Jesse Polk (Hastings, Minn.) scored a powerplay goal late in the second period. "We need to find a way to generate a little more offense than we did tonight and when we do create scoring chances, we need to capitalize on them."
Which is exactly what the Tommies did.
St. Thomas jumped out to a 1-0 first period lead on the first of two goals by Nick Harris at the 14:24 mark of the first period. Harris made it 2-0 four minutes into the second period, and Anthony Blumer broke in alone on SMU goalie Ryne Ess (Eden Prairie, Minn.) and stuffed a shorthanded shot between his pads.
The Cardinals cut the gap to 3-1 before the second period ended, but their hopes for a third-period comeback went up in smoke when they were whistled for five minor penalties over the game's final 20 minutes.
"You can't spend half the period in the box and expect to be able to come back especially against a team like St. Thomas," said Olson. "You have to give (St. Thomas) credit they took advantage of the opportunities they had, and we didn't.
"That was the difference."