GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Cam Johnson's remarkable streak of shutout goaltending had to end at some point.
It did Saturday night, when a puck went off the stick of teammate Keaton Thompson and slid past Johson at 19:47 of the second period, snapping his scoreless run at 298 minutes, 25 seconds, second-longest in the history of college hockey.
Still, Johnson registered 14 saves in North Dakota's 4-1 victory over Alabama Huntsville to give the Fighting Hawks a sweep of the non-conference series. It also boosted the overall record to a gaudy 18-2-2, the most wins among the 60 NCAA Division I hockey-playing schools.
His run of four straight shutouts ties the school record set by Spike Schultz in 1954 and his total shutout minutes is the best in school history. Johnson remains unbeaten in goal for UND at 9-0-1. He lowered his goals-against average to 1.07 and raised his save percentage to .957, both numbers best in the nation.
The goal Johnson gave up was credited to Charger 6-foot-5 sophomore defenseman Richard Buri, from Nitra, Slovakia. He carried the puck deep into the attracking zone and shoveled it at Johnson from a sharp angle to Johnson's left. The puck went off Johnson's pads and Thompson's stick before settling just over the goal line to end the streak.
"I guess Keaton wanted to end it, he was sick of hearing about it,'' joked UND defenseman Paul LaDue, who scored just 25 seconds into the game, UND's fastest first goal of the season. "He (Johnson) still played great.''
UND coach Brad Berry agreed. He said he wasn't disappointed when Johnson gave up a goal.
"Not at all,'' Berry said. "The goal that was scored -- that's hockey. He did a tremendous job during the streak and he won us a ton of games and the guys playing in front of him, too. I'm sure he'll have focus trying to set another one (streak).''
Johnson took the end of his streak well.
"I was disappointed,'' he admitted, "but all good things got to come to an end. I just hate the way it ended, kind of a flukey one there. At least I can try to chase my own record now.''
For the second straight night, the Chargers, ranked No. 59 out of 60 teams in the PairWise rankings, battled hard. They lost 2-1 to UND Friday and leave Grand Forks with a 4-14-2 overall record. UND, ranked 2/3 in national polls and No 6 in the PairWise, had some tough puck luck, keeping the game as close as it was. The Fighting Hawks hit four posts in the second period, with Bryn Chyzyk, Drake Caggiula, Troy Stecher and LaDue all finding iron rather than net.
UND didn't break it open until the closing minutes. UAH pulled goalie Carmine Guerriero (34 saves) for a sixth attracker at 17:58 of the third period. Chyzyk took a pass off the wall from Caggiula to score into an empty net 10 seconds later, making it 3-1. It was eighth goal of the season for Chyzk and second in two nights after he had gone 10 games without a goal.
Defenseman Tucker Poolman closed the scoring on a 2-on-1 rush at 19:11 with his rising wrist shot for his third goal of the season.
Other than Johnson's goaltending streak, what had a crowd of 11,094 buzzing at Ralph Engelstad Arena was a highlight-reel goal by Caggiula. With the game tied 1-1 in the second period, Caggiula set sail on a solo shorthanded rush against UAH defenseman Cody Champage. Caggiula first slipped the puck through the skates of Champagne, wheeled around him and picked up the puck between Champage and the goal. From in close, Caggiula displayed his magical hands to slide the puck 5-hole on Guerriero at 8:16 for a 2-1 UND lead.
The goal was the 14th of the season for Caggiula, third most in the nation, and served as the game-winner. It was his second shorty of the season and the sixth for UND.
While the move dazzled the fans, it brought some ribbing from Johnson.
"That (move) was a new one, but I think if he had tried that out in practice, the result would have been a little different,'' Johnson said, to laughter from the media.
Berry was impressed by Caggiula's goal.
"Oh man,'' he said. "He keeps one-upping himself all the time as far as those type of goals. He's a dynamic player. You can call that a game-breaking play.''
Caggiula said he didn't plan such a fancy move.
"I was originally planning on just pulling in, changing the angle and taking a wrist shot,'' he said. "I saw the D-man plant his feet, and I thought maybe I could get around him, get closer to the net. Fortunately for me, it worked out. Those don't happen too often. It's once-in-a-blue moon kind of thing.''
Berry said UND played better overall than they did in Friday's win and loved the way UND closed the game, holding the Chargers to just two shots in the last period while outshooting UAH 38-15 for the game.
Game notes: UND next plays next Saturday REA against the USA Under-18 team in an exhibition ... Berry said that Nick Schmaltz and Brock Boeser, UND players competing currently for USA in the World Junior Championship in Helsinki, Finland, will be held out of that game to give them some rest before UND resumes league play Jan. 15-16 at home against Omaha ... UND freshmen center Rhett Gardner, who suffered a hand injury in Friday's game, didn't dress tonight. Freshman walk-on Mike Gornall played in his first college game as a wing on the fourth line and acquitted himself well, Berry said ... Freshman Chris Wilkie led UND in shots on goal with 5 ... UND captain Gage Ausmus led UND with 5 blocked shots ... Caggiula led UND with a 2-point game with a goal and an assist ... UAH won the faceoff battle 37-26 led by Max McHugh, who was 16-3 ... Coltyn Sanderson, at 3-3, was the only UND player at .500 or better ... Both teams were 0-3 on the power play with 5 shots on goal ... Caggiula's 13th career game-winning goal ties him with Danny Kristo, Lee Goren and Cary Eades for sixth all-time at UND.
Virg Foss covered UND hockey for 35 seasons for the Grand Forks Herald until his retirement. He now reports on UND games exclusively for UNDsports.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.