PITTSBURGH, PA -- St. Cloud State's season came to a close on Thursday night as they were defeated 4-1 by the Quinnipiac Bobcats in their Frozen Four semi-final game.
The Bobcats scored three times in the opening 12 minutes and the Huskies were unable dig themselves out of that hole.
"I think we'd do anything to replay the first 10 minutes of the hockey game," St. Cloud head coach Bob Motzko said afterwards. "Give Quinnipiac credit - Jordan Samuels-Thomas made two great plays to get them the lead. They score three on their first four shots, we hunkered back down but we just couldn't overcome it."
Huskies winger Joey Benik got his team on the board in the second period and the momentum shifted in St. Cloud's favour in the middle frame but Quinnipiac netminder Eric Hartzell weathered the storm to keep his team in the lead.
"He was outstanding," Calgary Flames prospect Ben Hanowski said. "Over 30 shots and he only gives up one ... he played great tonight. We didn't do a great job of capitalizing on our chances early and he got into a good groove. He was in it all night."
Hartzell, who is one of the 2013 Hat Trick Hobey Baker finalists, made 33 saves in the semi-final match-up.
One of the Huskies strengths this season was sound defensive play. The majority of their 25 wins came when they held their opposition to two or less goals so to have three scored upon them in such a short amount of time was a shock to their systems.
"It hit us upside the head quickly in the game," Motzko sighed. "We put ourselves in a tremendous bind when we needed to come from behind. They're a great defensive team. That was the bad thing about the hockey game after 11 minutes.
"The next 15 minutes, it was us trying to hammer it through and we're going to have to make mistakes. I didn't like how we didn't get the puck deep so many times when we tried to get a little cute and that's what happens when you start to play from behind."
Despite the disappointing ending, the Huskies put together a very strong 2012-13 campaign. They claimed their first-ever MacNaughton Cup title and NCAA Regional title, pushing them into the Final Four for the first time in the school's history.
"In a couple of days when everything kind of sets in and I think we have an awful lot to be proud of. Hopefully we put St. Cloud State hockey on the map and laid the foundation and ground work now for things to come," Drew LeBlanc noted.
Hanowski's collegiate career also comes to a close with the loss. In his four years with the Huskies, the Little Falls, MN product recorded 62 and 113 points in 155 games. Drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the third round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, Hanowski was part of the Jarome Iginla trade last month.
Hanowski was a co-captain of the Huskies, sharing leadership duties with LeBlanc.