GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- If any dastardly soul is looking for a recipie for failure for a particular sports team, the University of North Dakota put a full meal of it on display Friday night in a 4-2 National Collegiate Hockey Conference loss at home against last-place Colorado College.
- UND, despite 15 shots on net, went 0-for-6 on the power play against a team that ranked 59th out of 60 teams in the country killing penalties.
- Twice UND battled back from one-goal deficits to tie the game. But the Tigers scored their first shorthanded goal of the season (freshman Troy Conzo) 29 seconds after defenseman Christian Wolanin had scored on a penalty shot to tie the game at 1-1.
- And after defenseman Colton Poolman scored his ninth goal on a brilliant solo rush down right wing to tie it at 2-2, the Tigers took the lead for good 43 seconds later on Alex Pernitsky's first goal in 33 career game. Pernitzky wasn't even in the regular lineup until Max St. Pierre was scratched after warmups.
- UND held CC's powerful line of Mason Bergh, Nick Halloran and Trey Bradley wilthout a single point -- and still lost. Halloran, who leads the NCHC in scoring and is second nationally, had three shots on goal.
- The Fighting Hawks outshot the Tiger 36-29, won the faceoff battle 44-32 and saw backup goalie Peter Thome stop Christiano Versich on a penalty shot to keep the deficit at 3-2 late in the second period.
- UND is now winless in its last six games (0-3-3) and dropped from 8th to 13th in the Pairwise Rankings used to select the 16-team NCAA field next month.
"We need this one (Saturday), to say the least,'' Poolman said. "Every game from here on out is a must win, but tomorrow night IS a must win.''
UND starting senior goalie Cam Johnson was pulled after giving up Conzo's second goal of the game, a shorthanded tally (CC's first of the year) at 8:12 of the second period. It came 29 seconds after Wolanin's ninth goal of the year tied it on a penalty shot after CC's Jack Gates covered a loose puck in the crease.
Thome, a freshman, came on to stop 14 of the 15 shots he faced. CC's last goal came into an empty net by Westin Michaud from the Tiger defensive zone with 59 seconds left with Thome lifted for a sixth attacker.
Of the goalie change, UND coach Brad Berry said. "It's a situation where not very many shots on the scoreclock, and they already have a couple of goals. I think they're goals that maybe we'd like to have back.''
So Berry replaced his senior starter with the rookie, Thome.
"This is the time of year where you're not worried about feelings,'' Berry said. "It's about team-first mentality. Whether you give a bump to the team, or give Peter (Thome) an opportunity, it's about the team-first mentality in trying to find a way to win a game.''
Johnson got caught out of position with his stick off to his right side on the first goal, and was beaten high to the far side on the shorty by Conzo, who had the first multiple-goal game of his young career.
"You know what, you keep the best line (the Bergh, Halloran, Bradley combo) off the scoresheet tonight,'' Berry said. "You're doing your job. That's the game plan. It's just that the other things have to fall in place.''
And as documented above, they did not.
"Little things cost us a big game,'' said Wolanin, who leads the team in scoring and could become the first UND defenseman to do that for a full season since James Patrick in 1982-83.
Game notes: Rhett Garder returned to the UND lineup after missing the previous five games with injury. He assisted on Poolman's goal, but also took three minor penalties ... Wolanin and Shane Gersich led UND in shots on goal with five each ... CC's line of Bergh, Halloran and Bradley had 10 of CC's 29 shots on goal ... The two penalty shots awarded in one period -- let alone in a game -- might be school records. UND's records do not reflect that statistic, sports information director Jayson Hajdu said ... CC goalie Alec Leclerc stopped 34 of 36 UND shots to be named No. 3 star. . . Conzo and Wolanin were 1-2 stars respectively ... The game at Ralph Engelstad Arena drew an announced sellout of 11,517.
Virg Foss is in his 13th season of reporting on UND home games exclusively for UNDsports.com. He covered UND hockey for 35 seasons for the Grand Forks Herald until his retirement from newspapers.