GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- North Dakota men's hockey coach Brad Berry had a simple explanation why his team was markedly better in tonight's 5-1 win over Colorado College than in Friday's 5-5 tie in which UND blew a 4-0 lead.
"Played 60 minutes,'' Berry said in his answer to the question of the difference from one night to the next. "When we did get the lead tonight, that was a concern about making sure we played the right way, and I thought we did.''
In joining National Collegiate Hockey Conference rival St. Cloud State as the first teams nationally to 20 wins this season, UND (20-3-3 overall, 11-2-1 NCHC) offset the absence of Hobey Baker Award candidates Drake Caggiula and Nick Schmaltz with injuries with roster-wide contributions.
Players on all four UND lines chipped in wth scoring points, highlighted by a career high 3-point game by senior wing Bryn Chyzyk and the second consecutive two-goal game by freshman center Rhett Gardner.
UND put the clamps on defensively as well. Sophomore goalie Cam Johson stopped 18 of 19 CC shots, losing his bid for his fifth shutout of the season on defenseman Andrew Farny's right point shot at 12:37 of the final period. UND allowed the Tigers just nine shots on goal over the first two periods and outshot them 32-19 overall.
"Other than a couple penalties at the end, I thought we played a 60-minute game, and that's what it's going to take from now on,'' Berry said.
With Caggiula, Schmaltz, Joel Janatuinen and Chris Wilkie all sidelined with injuries or illness, it was an opportunity for others to step forward. One who did was walk-on freshman wing Mike Gornall, who scored his first college goal in just his second game this season. Gornall tipped in Christian Wolanin's right point shot at 10:12 of the second period to break a scoreless tie and get his team rolling.
Austin Poganski broke hard to the net and beat CC goalie Tyler Marble to the short side 68 seconds after Gornall's goal to make it 2-0 after two.
Chyzyk scored once and Gardner twice (one a shorthander into an empty net) to close out UND's offense.
"That's kind of our mentality,'' Berry said. "When guys are out, guys will have to have their back.''
Gardner, from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, the home town of former UND great Doug Smail, ran his goal total to nine in his impressive rookie season.
"He's gifted offensively, very good defensively,'' Berry said. "He's got a great mind for the game. He's a big body and a young man who is getting better and better. I'm sure glad he's on our team.''
Gornall not only got his first goal, but generated three shots on goal and was named the game's No. 3 star.
"Right away, I didn't really realize what exactly happened,'' Gornall said of his breakthrough goal. "First one, you always kind of black out for a second.''
Chyzyk, who scored his ninth goal, said UND succeeded by simplifying its game.
"When they (CC) had success against us yesterday, they chipped a lot of pucks and kept it simple and chased us,'' Chyzyk said. "So we kind of brought that to them tonight. We kept it simple and made life hard on their 'D'. That was kind of our goal and I think we accomplished that.''
UND took five of six possible points from the Tigers after getting two points in league standings on Friday by winning the shootout after the regulation tie on Brock Boeser's goal.
UND, which plays at Western Michigan next weekend, sits in second place in the NCHC, three points behind St. Cloud with two games in hand. UND ranks third in the Pairwise rankings now, and came into the weekend ranked No. 2 nationally in a pair of weekly polls.
Notes: Both teams were 0-5 on the power play ... Defenseman Tucker Poolman led UND in shots on goal with five followed by Boeser with four ... Boeser was held without a point, ending his streak of games with at least a point at 13, six games shy of the school record for consecutive games with points of 19, set by Kevin Maxwell in 1978-79 on his way to an 82-point season ... CC's potent top line of Luc Gerdes, Sam Rothstein and Hunter Fejes was held without a point and just three combined shots onl goal ... Berry mainly used the line of Luke Johnson, Poganski and Chyzyk to check CC's top trio. They not only did that very well but contributed two goals and four assists to UND's offense to lead all lines in scoring ... The game drew a sellout of 11,908 at Ralph Engelstad Arena. UND leads the nation in attendance.
Virg Foss covered UND hockey for 35 seasons for the Grand Forks Herald from 1969-2005 before his retirement. He's now in his 11th season of reporting on UND games exclusively for UNDsports.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.