That certainly played out tonight as Colorado College snapped a 7-game winless streak (0-6-1) and ended North Dakota's 7-game unbeaten streak (6-0-1) with a 4-3 Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) victory.
The loss, just North Dakota's second in 11 games at Ralph Engelstad Arena this season. deprived North Dakota of a chance to move into a tie for first place in the WCHA, with league-leading Nebraska Omaha losing to Denver tonight.
Instead, Colorado College won it on a goal-mouth deflection by junior wing Jeff Collett at 12:56 of the third period, snapping a 3-3 tie. It was just his second goal of the season.
North Dakota had tied it at 2:44 of the final period on a dazzling dash down the right wing by sophomore center Mark MacMillan (Penticton, British Columbia).
MacMillan used his great speed to go around CC defensemen Aaron Harstad and Eamon McDermott, then cut across the crease and slid his shot past the stick of sprawling CC goalie Joe Howe.
It was one of the few highlights of the evening for North Dakota, which never led and gave an announced crowd of 11,571 that braved a blizzard to turn out little to cheer about.
"We didn't do a good job building a lead whenever we had momentum,'' said junior defenseman Dillon Simpson (Edmonton, Alberta), who led the team in points with two assists.
"There was always a little something that killed it,'' Simpson said.
North Dakota lost two players during the game and played the last portion of it with 10 forwards. Freshman Drake Cagggiula (Pickering, Ontario) left the game with an injury after he was checked from behind in the boards late in the first period.
CC defenseman Mike Boivin drew 5-minute major and game DQ for the hit on Caggiula, who didn't return to action. There was no immediate word on his status right after the game, UND coach Dave Hakstol said.
UND also lost standout sophomore wing Michael Parks (St. Louis, Mo.) early in the second when he drew a major penalty and game disqualification for facemasking.
Colorado College saw UND battle back from one-goal deficits three times, but UND had no answer for Collett's goal.
"We just didn't have it tonight,'' Simpson said.
UND had a chance to grab command early after Boivin's penalty gave UND a 5-minute power play. But UND managed just one shot on goal in five minutes and failed to score.
Senior wing Danny Kristo (Eden Prairie, Minn.) scored his 11th goal of the season on a power-play wrist shot to tie the game at 1-1 at 8:35 of the first period.
After Archie Skalbeck's 4-on-3 goal gave CC a 2-1 lead after one, North Dakota sophomore defenseman Nick Mattson (Chanhassen, Minn.) alertly poked in a rebound lying in the crease behind Howe to make it 2-2 with his 4-on-4 goal midway through the second period.
But CC's William Rapuzzi scored on a 4-on-3 power play with 38 seconds left in the second period as the Tigers restored their one-goal lead. The goal was reviewed by officials for possible man in the crease infraction, but the goal stood.
MacMillan brought UND even again, but CC had the final answer.
"Obviously the game's a lot easier when you're playing with the lead,'' said MacMillan. "We just weren't good enough all night tonight. Every time we'd seem to get a little momentum, we'd make a stupid mistake or something and they'd capitalize on it.''
North Dakota seemed to get a short lift from MacMillan's brilliant goal, but that didn't last. "We got back to it for a bit, but that's not good enough. We've got to play a full 60 minutes if we want to win a game.''
The Tigers, who hadn't won since beating North Dakota 5-3 on Nov. 30 in Colorado Springs, used good balance to win. The Tigers outshot North Dakota 35-31, scored in every period and got goals from players on all four lines.
Sophomore Jordan DiGiando's first goal in 20 career games staked the Tigers to a 1-0 lead just 2:44 into the game and set the tone for the contest.
"We created a hole for ourselves and we didn't play well enough to get ourselves out of the hole,'' Hakstol said.
UND NOTES: Senior center Corban Knight (High River, Alberta) assisted on Kristo's goal. It extended Knight's scoring streak to 16 games . . . Kristo has scored a goal in six straight games, the longest such streak of his career...CC had a 35-28 edge in faceoff wins. Knight, UND's top faceoff artitst, lost 17 of the 29 draws he took, He's won 59 percent of his draws this season . . . Freshman Rocco Grimaldi (Rossmoor, Calif.), just back from his game-winning goal as the United States won the World Junior Championship in Russia, led UND in shots on goal with 6, followed by Kristo and defenseman Joe Gleason (Edina, Minn.) with 4. . . . UND junior goalie Clarke Saunders (Brockville, Ontario) finished with 31 saves to 28 for Howe.
Virg Foss covered UND hockey for 35 seasons for the Grand Forks Herald until his retirement in 2005. He now reports on UND home games exclusively for UNDSports.com.