GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- That ugly word in University of North Dakota hockey this season -- overtime -- rose up and did major damage to the Fighting Hawks Friday night in a 4-3 OT loss to nation's No. 1 team, St. Cloud State.
Sophomore center Ryan Poehling's second goal of the game, a goal-mouth tip-in, gave the Huskies the victory in the 12th overtime game for UND this season. The Fighting Hawks dropped to 1-2-9 in games decided in overtime or by shootout.
"I think we all agree that was an effort good enough to win a game,'' UND coach Brad Berry said after team outshot the Huskies 32-25 and twice came from behind to tie the game and force overtime.
"But for some way, shape or form,'' Berry continued, "the result wasn't there.''
North Dakota had tied it at 3-3 of the third period when junior Nick Jones knocked in a rebound at 15:42. It was a goal that stood after being reviewed twice, once for player interference with the goalie, the second on a St. Cloud State challenge that the play was offsides.
But in the OT, UND freshman defenseman Gabe Bast drew his third penalty of the game, for highsticking, and Poehling converted a minute later to win it for the iuskoies with his 11th goal of the season. Bast returned to the lineup after missing the previous nine games with injury.
The loss dropped UND to 15th in the Pairwise Rankings, used to select the 16-team NCAA field in several weeks. Of more urgency, it also put UND in jeopardy of finishing in the second division of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference and having to open league playoffs on the road next weekend.
Currently, UND is tied with Colorado College and Omaha for fourth place, the last home-ice playoff position, all with 31 points. Western Michigan is in the mix going into Saturday's last games of the season in the NCHC. That makes for a harrowing final night for those teams scrambling for one last home ice playoff spot.
Berry puts a positive spin on it all. "I want to reiterate that at North Dakota, we keep moving forward and we play to the very end. We're going to keep battling away here,'' he said.
North Dakota nearly won it in regulation, but with half an opening net available to him, Shane Gersich's rebound shot with two seconds left was just barely tipped away by the stick of St. Cloud State player.
This marks the third straight game UND has lost or tied in overtime, after tying once and losing once in OT at Miami last weekend.
"Obviously it is disappointing,'' Jones said. "We felt we played a pretty good game. They're a really good team. We played good enough to win. Obviously we need a little bit more. Good enough to win isn't good enough. We need a little extra.''
UND found it throughout much of the game.
After taking a 1-0 lead on Kawaguchi's rebound goal halfway through the second period, the Huskies tied it on a goal by SCSU's Jon Lizotte, a Grand Forks Red River product.
Jimmy Schuldt's power play goal staked the Huskies to a 2-1 lead at 17:19 of the second period. Junior defenseman Christian Wolanin's power-play goal -- his 11th of the season -- created a 2-2 tie after two periods.
On a 4-on-4 play in the third period, Poehling streaked in alone from neutral zone and deked UND goalie Cam Johnson (21 saves) with a dazzling deke move through his legs to make it 3-2 for the Huskies 8:39 into the third period.
But Jones dove into the crease to tie it, tipping in the rebound of a Kawaguchi shot off the crossbar at 15:42.
Then Poehling converted St. Cloud's second power-play chance in four tries, giving the Huskies the overtime win.
"We're obviously disappointed,'' Jone said, "but we're up for tomorrow. We've got four seniors in that locker room and we want to send their Senior Weekend out on a good note. These guys won a national championship and we've got a team here that wants to play for those guys and everyone else in the locker room.''
Game notes: UND had a goal disallowed late in the first period when officials ruled that they had blow the whistle stopping play before the puck crossed the goal line ... UND won the faceoff battle between the league's top two teams in that category 36-30. Jones led UND, winning 12 of 20 ... UND had nine shots on its four power plays, scoring once. St. Cloud had six shots on its four power plays, scoring twice, including the decisive one in OT ... Kawaguchi led UND in shots on goal with five, followed by Wolanin and Rhett Gardner with four ... Schuldt had five shots and Ryan Poehling four to lead the Huskies, who clinched the league championship last weekend ... Poehling, Wolanin and SCS goalie David Hrenak (29 saves) were named the game's three stars, in that order ... Wolanin became the first UND defenseman to score 11 goals in a season since Andy Schneider in 2002-03.
Virg Foss covered UND for the Grand Forks Herald for 35 seasons, including national championship teams in 1980, 1982, 1987, 1997 and 2000. Since his retirement in 2005, he's covered UND games exclusively for undsports.com for 13 seasons, including a national championship in 2016.