GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Those one-goal leads aren't working for the University of North Dakota men's hockey team these days. They're disappearing, and leaving hurt behind.
Visiting St. Cloud State, for the second game in a row, erased a 1-0 UND lead, coming back from the early deficit to win 3-1 tonight and sweep the National Collegiate Hockey Conference weekend series.
UND, suffering its first home sweep in three years, saw a 1-0 lead in the third period disappear Friday night and turn into a 3-2 loss. UND mustered just 17 shots on goal tonight, 10 less than any other game this season.
With a sellout of 11,882 looking on, UND dropped to 1-3 in the NCHC and 2-3-1 overall. Unbeaten St. Cloud moved to 2-0 in league play and 5-0-1 overall.
UND never had more than eight shots on goal in any period. The low water mark came in the third period when the Huskies held UND to three shots and clinched the sweep on Kalle Kossila's third goal of the season at 9:35 to wrap up the win.
UND's lone goal came on a scoring power play at 18:40 of the first period by freshman defenseman Troy Stecher. His first college goal came when Stecher, sliding to his left at center point, blasted a one-timer on a pass from fellow defenseman Nick Mattson through the legs of SCSU goalie Ryan Faragher.
The goal came on UND's first shot on its first power play after going 0-for-3 without a shot on goal the night before.
UND was 1-3 on the power play tonight, but with just two shots on goal. Other than that, UND had great trouble generating any offense. Mark MacMillan had four shots on goal and Rocco Grimaldi three to account for seven of UND's 17 shots.
"We didn't generate enough.'' UND coach Dave Hakstol said. "That starts in coming up ice. We didn't make enough of the plays coming out of our zone to the neutral zone to give ourselves that speed to have some opportunities off the rush.''
Then there was Faragher, tough on UND again with a 16-save performance and allowing UND just three goals total for the weekend. His counterpart, UND sophomore Zane Gothberg, misplayed the puck to get the Huskies started on the comeback trail. After heavy pressure in the attack zone by the Huskies, Gothberg dropped to his knees and attempted to pull a loose puck back to his glove hand with his stick. Instead, the puck slide by him and right to St. Cloud defenseman Tim Daly, who had open net behind Gothberg to slide in his first goal of the seson at 6:59 of the second period to tie it at 1-1.
"It (the puck) popped out on him, and hey, that's the bounce of the game,'' Hakstol said. "Zane played very well tonight.''
The tie was broken quickly. St. Cloud captain Nic Dowd snapped a wrist shot by Gothberg to the glove side from in close, giving the Huskies two goals in 12 seconds. St. Cloud State outshot UND 21-11 over the last two periods in shutting down any rally possibilities by UND.
"In the third period, we spent a fair amount of time in the offensive zone, but we didn't get enough to the net,'' Hakstol said. "We had 15 shots attempts and 3-4 pucks to the net -- and that's not enough.''
The loss took away some of the thrill from the first college goal for Stecher, the Interior Conference Defenseman of the Year last with Penticton in the British Columbia Hockey League.
"We just didn't take care of little details,'' Stecher said. "They did a good job of shutting us down at their defensive blue line, and we couldn't enter the zone properly and get set up. Give them props for doing that.''
Yet, he said UND needs to play better.
"We had opportunites to make the game closer, and we don't do that. We have work to do,'' Stecher said.
He called being swept by St. Cloud a "learning tool'' for UND.
"People like to label us as a young team,'' Stecher said, "but that's not our excuse now, We've been here two months.''
UND travels to Nebraska Omaha next weekend to face the Mavericks, coached by former UND head coach Dean Blais.
UND notes: UND sophomore wing Colten St. Clair was helped off the ice eight minutes into the third period with an apparent lower body injury. He did not return to the game and will be evaluated by the school medical staff . . . UND killed both St. Cloud power plays and has now killed 28 in a row since giving up one to Vermont on the first chance of the season.
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.