ST. CLOUD — Only 20 seconds into overtime, St. Cloud State defenseman Nick Perbix was brought down from behind.
Play seemed likely to stop as a clear penalty would be called – until, it wasn't.
The University of Minnesota took advantage, getting a goal from Sammy Walker to win 4-3 in the 3-on-3 overtime to spoil St. Cloud State's homecoming Saturday.
Cans and bottles rained down from the sellout crowd of 5,530 fans at Herb Brooks National Hockey Center as the No. 4-ranked Gophers soaked in the victory after No. 2 St. Cloud State was able to win 2-1 in Minneapolis on Friday night.
"I'm embarrassed that it happened ... That a (no) call really ruined a great hockey game," St. Cloud State head coach Brett Larson said. "We just watched it on video; you can't explain it. That's why there was no explanation (from the officials)."
Perbix said he felt a tug from behind, and he also thought the call was pretty evident.
"I had about 10 guys through the line tell me it was a BS call," Perbix said.
Despite a disappointing result, the Huskies have another Big Ten opponent in Wisconsin coming to St. Cloud next weekend for a two-game series.
"We're a tight family; we use (this) to fuel us for the rest of the season," senior Nolan Walker said. "Obviously, we wanted a different outcome, but we use it as fuel to take the next step (in) the next game."
Before the controversial finish, Saturday night was a back-and-forth affair of two top-five ranked teams. And in the end, Minnesota head coach Bob Motzko was able to get a win against his former team in his first game back as an opposing coach in St. Cloud.
After a relatively even opening 10 minutes, senior Sam Hentges got the Huskies on the board first at 9:51 in the first period. Walker created the opportunity after getting a stick on a Gophers' pass deep in their own zone, and a centered pass eventually found the end of Hentges' stick after a scrum in front of net.
Early energy boiled over when Easton Brodzinski was one of four players sent to the box after a whistle at 12:04. His brother Bryce Brodzinski was called for slashing, while Minnesota's Matt Staudacher and SCSU's Nick Perbix and Brodzinski all went to the box for roughing. Brodzinski got the better of the battle with a wrestling takedown that drew big cheers from the home crowd.
St. Cloud State controlled the pace in the first period, but the second period belonged to the Gophers, outshooting SCSU 15-5 and netting two goals.
SCSU goalie David Hrenak made an incredible flip save to preserve the lead only three minutes into the period, but Minnesota quickly answered on the rush with a first collegiate goal from freshman Aaron Huglen that snuck past Hrenak at 3:20 in the second period.
St. Cloud State had a two-on-one opportunity near the end of the period, but it was the Gophers that took the lead into the second intermission. Bryce Brodzinksi stole the puck behind SCSU's net and slid a shot past Hrenak to put the Gophers up with 2:57 remaining in the period.
SCSU freshman Jack Peart answered back to even the game only 19 seconds into the third period on his first career goal, aided by a great screen from forward Kevin Fitzgerald.
The Gophers took the lead back less than a minute later on Sammy Walker's first of two goals, but then the Huskies went on the offensive.
"There's a certain aspect to playing down; we were fearless," Perbix said. "You have to to get goals. Sometimes that can work to your advantage."
The second power play of the period brought them back even, with Nolan Walker cutting to the net and scoring on a set play as the advantage began with just over four minutes remaining in the third period.
Most of those highs were quickly forgotten after the stunning ending. However, there's little time to reflect as the difficult non-conference schedule for SCSU continues.
"I learned that we can play toe-to-toe with arguably one of the best teams in the country," Larson said. "We just got some more motivation (for next week). There's a lot of pain in the locker room right now ... I have a feeling we're gonna have a pretty ticked-off group in practice all week. And that can be a good thing."
Support local journalism. Subscribe to sctimes.com today.
This article originally appeared on St. Cloud Times: Controversial no-call in overtime hands Minnesota 4-3 win over SCSU