GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Six days ago, UND sophomore Drake Caggiula was taken off the ice at Ralph Engelstad Arena on a stretcher and transported by ambulance to a local hospital with potentially a serious injury after a hard fall.
It took just 190 seconds into tonight's game for Caggiula to make return to the lineup very noticeable. He scored the game's goal for a quick 1-0 UND lead in what turned out to be a 3-2 National Collegiate Hockey Conference loss to St. Cloud State.
Caggiula used his great speed to bust down right wing, slip the puck past SCSU defenseman Kevin Gravel and flip his forehander high on the short side to beat Huskies' goaltender Ryan Faragher for his third goal of the season.
But the Huskies rallied for three straight goals in the third period -- two by defensemen -- to take the series opener and ruin a Cinderella return for Caggiula.
"It felt good to get out there,'' Caggiula said. "I was pretty scared last week.''
What he wasn't excited about was the three goals the Huskies scored in the third period to erase UND's precarious one-goal lead.
"We just had a mental lapse for the first five, six, seven minutes,'' Caggiula said. "Every line was guilty of it. I don't know if it was effort, but it was a lot of mental errors on our part.''
The lead evaporated at 2:36 of the third period when Gravel -- walked by Caggiula for UND's first goal -- beat UND goalie Zane Gothberg high to the glove side on a shot on which Gothberg appeared to be screened.
Kalle Kossila pounded in a rebound to put SCS ahead 2-1 at 4:32 and defenseman Ethan Prochno scored on a wrister from left point at 12:36 as the Huskies raced to a 3-1 lead.
Junior center Mark MacMillan pounded in a rebound on the initial shot by UND rookie defenseman Tony Stecher at 15:39 to pull UND within one goal, but that's where the scoring ended.
Stecher assisted on both UND goals.
"It's inexcusable to come out in the third period with a one-goal lead in our own barn and piss it away like that,'' Caggiula said.
UND's struggles on the power play contributed to the loss. UND was 0-for-3 in six minutes of power play time, and didn't have one shot on goal. Conversely, UND killed all three St. Cloud power plays and has now killed 26 in a row over the last five-plus games.
"I thought that was a good hockey game, back and forth,'' UND coach Dave Hakstol said. "I just thought we were back on our heels for five minutes. That's credit for them for a little push, but we look for that push coming out of our locker room with a one-goal lead going into the third (period).''
St. Cloud's defense played an active part in the victory. Prochno and Gravel scored two of the three SCSU goals, while defenseman Ethan Prow, Ben Strom and Niklas Nevalainen had an assist each. Five of the nine scoring points for the Huskies went to defensemen.
UND had a chance to tie it on a late power play, but failed to generate any scoring chances.
"We just couldn't get the puck up ice cleanly and into the zone, and we didn't get a whole lot going on,''' Hakstol said.
UND had a slim 31-30 edge in shots on goal. Gothberg finished with 27 saves to 29 for Faragher. St. Cloud won its NCHC opener to move to 1-0 in league play and remain unbeaten at 4-0-1 overall. UND dropped to 1-2 in league play and 2-2-1 overall.
The teams meet again at 7:05 Saturday at REA.
UND NOTES: UND won the faceoff battle 44-28 led by Stephane Pattyn (13-4) with Luke Johnson and Mark MacMillan finishing 10-8 . . . Sophomores Rocco Grimaldi and Bryn Chyzyk led UND with shots on goal with four shots on goal each followed by Caggiula, Johnson and Connor Gaarder with three ... Joey Benik had five shots to pace St. Cloud ... Stecher led UND in plus/minus with a plus-2 ... The game drew a sellout of 11,750.
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.