UND unravels in final 30 minutes in loss at St. Cloud State
The Huskies scored on the power play, penalty kill, on a delayed penalty and on even strength in a decisive second period.
ST. CLOUD, Minn. — For a while Friday night, UND looked like a team that figured it out.
It hemmed St. Cloud State in its own end for stretches of the first and second periods. It outshot No. 3 St. Cloud State by an 11-1 margin for a 10-minute timeframe in the second as it pushed for a go-ahead goal.
But then, it all quickly unraveled.
St. Cloud State scored three goals on five shots in the back half of the period, then tacked on two more in the third to pull away with a 7-2 victory over UND in the series opener at Herb Brooks National Hockey Center.
St. Cloud State forward Jami Krannila scored twice and had an assist. His linemate, Veeti Miettinen, had a goal and two assists. Defenseman Jack Peart had a goal and two assists. Grant Cruikshank, Aidan Spellacy and Kyler Kupka also scored as the Fighting Hawks continued to be porous defensively.
UND dropped to 6-7-3 with just three games left before Christmas break.
"This isn't the first time it's happened this year," UND forward Riese Gaber said. "We keep finding ways to lose. It's tough. We've got to figure out a way. We're almost at Christmas here. Nothing that's happened so far is acceptable. We've had good flashes, but we need to consistently do it."
UND entered the weekend with top-10 rankings in offense, power play and penalty kill, but was hampered by its inability to keep pucks out of the back of its own net.
That was the case again Friday.
Starting goalie Jakob Hellsten was lifted after two periods. He allowed five goals on 24 shots. Drew DeRidder finished the game in the third, giving up two goals on nine shots.
UND's team save percentage dropped to .870, which ranks 59th in the nation. Only two teams are worse — Holy Cross and Yale are just one point back at .869.
"Look at the goals tonight," UND coach Brad Berry said. "One was a shorty. We didn't go back hard on a puck. Jakob Hellsten had to play the puck. We didn't execute a play and it's in the back of our net, so there's a shorty. They had a couple of power-play goals they scored on our penalty kill. Then, I think at the end of the day, our goaltenders want one or two of those back. I think there's a little bit of everything going on."
St. Cloud State (12-3) scored goals in just about every way possible. It scored on the power play (twice), it scored shorthanded (once), it scored at even strength (three times) and it even had an extra-attacker, delayed-penalty goal.
The turning point happened midway through the second period. With the game tied 2-2, UND went on the power play and threw an avalanche of shots at St. Cloud State netminder Jaxon Castor. With only a few seconds left on the advantage, Husky forward Micah Miller poked the puck from UND defenseman Cooper Moore and started a rush the other way. It eventually ended in a Cruikshank goal.
"We can't keep shooting ourselves in the foot here," Berry said. "That's a really good team. They made some good plays. They deserved some of the offensive goals they scored. But I do believe that we gave up on some of the plays that led to their goals. We've got to be cleaner and not be sloppy on some of the habits and details in our game."
UND hadn't given up six-plus goals three times in a season since 2013-14. This season, it has done that before Christmas.
"It's frustrating," UND captain Mark Senden said. "It's us shooting ourselves in the foot. For me, personally, as the captain, it comes on me. I have to make sure our guys are ready to stay mentally tough, mentally engaged and focused all the time. Can't let guys slip. That's on me. Whatever it is, we just have to figure out a way to keep being urgent for a full 60 minutes and stick to our game plan."
UND has had nights like this before in the National Hockey Center.
In fact, almost a year to the date, the Fighting Hawks lost a game 8-1 to St. Cloud State in the building. The next night, UND came back to earn a series split.
That will be UND's goal during the series finale at 6:07 p.m. Saturday.
St. Cloud State, on the other hand, will be looking for its first sweep of UND in the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center in 21 years.
"We have to come out like we did tonight and do the things we were successful with and we have to do it for a full 60," Gaber said.