OMAHA, Neb. — Overtime did not last long.
Jordan Kawaguchi, a top-three finalist for the Hobey Baker Award last season, scored eight seconds into 3-on-3 overtime to give fourth-ranked North Dakota a 4-3 win over St. Cloud State in an NCHC Pod game Wednesday at Baxter Arena. The Huskies (4-3) have lost three of their last four games, though they did pick up one point in the conference standings by pushing the game to overtime.
NCHC-leading MInnesota Duluth (5-1-2) blew a two-goal lead in the third period and lost the shootout to Nebraska Omaha (4-3-1) earlier on Wednesday. The Bulldogs lead the conference race with 18 points, North Dakota moved into sole possession of second with 14 and the Huskies and UNO are tied for third with 13.
The Fighting Hawks led 3-1 in the second period and then had to get more heroics from Kawaguchi to pick up two points. Shane Pinto won the opening faceoff, got it to Kawaguchi and he skated into the Huskies zone on the right side, he cut to the middle and beat goalie David Hrenak with a shot over his glove and into the upper corner of the net for the game-winner.
"That's what leaders do," North Dakota coach Brad Berry said of Kawaguchi, the team's captain who has two game-winning goals this season and seven in the last two seasons. "I go back to last year when he was a Hobey Baker finalist and that's what he was last year, he won games for us.
"He loves having the puck on his tape in those situations. He's an unbelievable person and a hard worker and you like to see him have some individual success, which gives us team success. Through and through, he's been an ultimate leader for us."
Kawaguchi picked up his 100th career point on an assist on North Dakota's second goal of the game. There was a scramble to get the puck after Shane Pinto scored on the power play at 7:54 of the second period to give the Fighting Hawks a 2-1 lead.
"The boys were joking that (backup goalie) Peter (Thome) was almost having a heart attack when the refs kept skating back to the faceoff with the puck," Kawaguchi said with a smile. "He was screaming at them. I'm pretty humbled by my teammates and excited for what there is to come."
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Power play lacks punch
The Huskies trailed 3-1 after Collin Adams scored with 2:36 left in the second period. But defenseman Nick Perbix scored a goal from in close with 58.2 seconds left in the period to bring the Huskies within 3-2.
At 5:28 of the third period, North Dakota defenseman Josh Rieger took a five-minute major penalty for boarding. The Huskies had five shots on the power play, but were not able to score.
"That was a turning point in the game and we didn't get it done on the power play," St. Cloud State head coach Brett Larson said. "It's been a little bit of a struggle for us this year. I thought we had it going again a little bit, but we're obviously going to have to look to improve there and make some changes. That's a big moment in the game and we've got to find a way to get it done."
St. Cloud State was 0-for-3 and had seven shots in nine power-play minutes on Wednesday. The Huskies are 2-for-20 on the power play this season and both power-play goals came in the 5-3 win over North Dakota last week.
"We had our chances and their goalie (Adam Scheel) played well tonight," Huskies senior wing Easton Brodzinski said. "I think we've just got to play a little quicker on the power play. The first one, we had a lot of opportunities and we were just rolling.
"I think I played every single spot on the power play. We've got to keep working on it and we'll get back to it."
St. Cloud State lost the special teams battle this time around. After going 5-for-5 on the penalty kill in their win over the Fighting Hawks, this time North Dakota was 1-for-4, getting a power-play goal by Pinto. The Huskies' penalty kill is 26-for-29 (89.7%) and leads the conference.
Even with losing the special teams battle, the Huskies were able to tie the game (3-3) when Veeti Miettinen scored his second goal of the season at 4:43 of the third period.
No. 4 UND 4, No. 9 SCSU 3, OT
First period scoring — 1. UND, Mark Senden 1 (Gavin Hain 1) 2:15;2. SCSU -- Easton Brodzinski (Chase Brand 1, Brendan Bushy 2) 16:08. Penalties — UND, Matt Kiersted (cross-checking) 4:54; SCSU, Seamus Donohue (cross-checking) 16:23; UND, Kiersted (elbowing) 20:00.
Second period scoring — 3. UND, Shane Pinto 4 (Jordan Kawguchi 8, Matt Kiersted 6) 7:54 (pp); 4. UND, Collin Adams 2 (Gabe Bast 1, Adam Scheel 1) 17:34; 5. SCSU, Nick Perbix 3 (Zach Okabe 3) 19:01.. Penalties — SCSU, Bench (too many men) 2:14; SCSU, Sam Hentges (interference) 6:22..
Third period scoring — 6. SCSU, Veeti Miettinen 2 (Jami Krannila 3) 5:28.. Penalties — UND, Josh Rieger (boarding, major) 5:28; SCSU, Brodzinski (interference) 10:42.
Overtime scoring — 7. UND, Kawaguchi 3 (Pinto 8) :08.
Goalie saves — UND, Adam Scheel 5-11-8-0—24 (3 GA). SCSU, David Hrenak 4-7-6-0—17 (4 GA).
Penalties-minutes — UND 3-9; SCSU 4-8.
Power plays (shots) — UND 1-4 (11 shots); SCSU 0-3 (7 shots).
Faceoffs — UND 31-26.
Referees — Ryan Hersey and Andy Thackaberry.
Linesemen — Andy Dokken and Luke Bisbee.
Three stars of the game — 1. Pinto (UND), 2. Kawaguchi (UND), 3. Perbix (SCSU).