GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- It's difficult to win a game when one player on the other team has as many shots on goal as your entire team of 18 skaters.
And it's difficult to win when you muster one single goal in two games.
That's why it was Mission Impossible for Caisius College this weekend as defending NCAA champion North Dakota opened its season successfully at Ralph Engelstad Arena with a sweep of the Golden Griffins by 6-0 and 4-1 margins.
Junior wing Austin Poganski scored UND's final goal on breakaway late in the third period, one of his 11 shots on net, matching the entire team total of the Golden Griffins. He became UND's first player with 11 shots in a game since Zach Parise in Jan. 2004.
North Dakota trailed 1-0 after period, but rallied with two power-play goals in the second period by rookie Ludvig Hoff and junior defenseman Tucker Poolman. Then sophomore Shane Gersich and Poganski put the game on ice with third-period goals.
After Friday's blowout win, the fact that the Fighting Hawks had to come back to win Saturday was a good step in the learning curve, coach Brad Berry said.
"Tonight's game is a learning lesson for us as far as how tough it is to win two games,'' Berry said. "We talked about it all day today, about winning the first one, and again how tough it is with a team that's hungry to try get into the win column. In the first period, we were not sharp in all different areas. In the second period, we gained some traction with a couple of power plays. I think the power play got us going.''
Indeed it did.
Hoff converted on a 2-on-1 feed down low for the tying goal at 16:53 of the second period on a power play, the first college goal for Oslo, Norway, product.
Just over a couple minutes later, Poolman one-timed a slap shot past Canisius goalie Charles Williams (41 saves) on a power play at 19:18 to send the Fighting Hawks into the third period with a 2-1 lead.
Gerisich converted a feed from freshman Tyson Jost at 11:46 and Poganski buried his breakaway with a deke to his forehand at 15:45 to close out the scoring and complete the sweep in front of 11,119 fans.
Canisius had taken a 1-0 lead when Matt Stief rifled a bullet pass out of the corner to Nick Hutchison to the right of UND goalie Cam Johnson (10 saves) for a goal-mouth tap-in on a power play at 15:14.
But UND, which outshot Canisius 45-11 for the game, outshot the Griffs 37-8 over the final two periods and eventually pulled away. It was the fewest shots allowed in a game by UND since holding Michigan Tech to 11 in the 2008 WCHA Playoffs.
"I thought the last 30 minutes were obviously a lot better than the first 30 minutes,'' Berry said. Said Poolman: "They played with a lot of spark. Coming into the locker room after the first, everyone wasn't very happy. It was every guy's job to get himself going. That's what we wanted to do, coming out in the second.''
Sophomore All-America wing Brock Boeser, who had a 4-point game Friday, assisted on the goals by Hoff and Poolman to run his college total to 66 points in 44 games, an averge of 1.5 points per game. Since 1990, the only UND player to average more points per game was Zach Parise, who averaged 1.53 points per game in his two seasons from 2002-04.
Boeser seemed to play with extra intensity after he and Mike Sabatini of Canisius drew roughing penalties midway through the third period.
"The guy just took a run at me when I was just standing in front of the net,'' Boeser said. "That kind of got me pretty mad...I've got to not retaliate there.''
He had to be pulled away from Sabatini by teammate Poolman as both penalized players headed to the penalty box.
"He (Poolman) just told me to tone down and stop going after him because they needed me the rest of the game,'' Boeser said.
After his 60-point rookie season, including a 4-point night in the national championship game, Boeser knows he'll command extra attention this season.
"Our coaches told me I can expect people to be coming after me,'' Boeser said."I've just got to keep my calm, play my game, and not retaliate.''
UND fans calmed down a lot, too, after the Fighting Hawks overcame a sluggish first period to overpower the Golden Griffins and run their all-time record against them to 7-0.
The Fighting Hawks continue their homestand next Saturday against RPI in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game.
UND notes: Boeser and freshman Zach Yon each had five shots on goal to follow the 11 by Poganski ... Sophomore defenseman Hayden Shaw led UND in blocked shots with four with Poolman and Gage Ausmus blocking three each ... UND was 2-7 on the power play with 11 shots on goal, Canisius 1-5 with four shots ... Boeser was named the game's first star by the media for the second game in a row, with Poolman earning second star and Poganksi third star ... Both goalies are Michigan products, Johnson from Troy, Williams from Canton.
Virg Foss covered UND hockey for 35 seasons and five NCAA championships for the Grand Forks Herald until his retirement. He's now in his 12th season of reporting on UND home games exclusively for UNDsports.com.