GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Words from UND coaches and players were short and to the point tonight after visiting St. Lawrence hung a 5-2 defeat on UND in the opening game of the Subway Holiday Classic in front of 10,681 fans at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
The Saints, fourth in the nation in converting on the power play at 27.9 percent entering tonight's game, found a power surge to up those numbers against UND.
St. Lawrence converted three of six on the power play and added a shorthanded goal into an empty net with UND's goalie pulled for an extra attacker in the closing seconds to seal the victory.
UND players met as a group in the dressing room after the loss, and what was discussed for the most part will stay in there, UND captain Dillon Simpson said.
"We'll keep everything in the room,'' Simpson said, "but the guys were upset in there. They are obviously disappointed in the effort we had tonight.''
UND, six days after mustering 58 shots in a 3-3 tie at Boston University, managed just 23 shots and two goals against the Saints, who ranked 52nd nationally in goals allowed (3.64) per game.
Why is UND struggling?
"Consistency,'' Simpson said. "Effort more than anything.''
His solution suggestion?
"Short shifts, guys putting it all on the line. Play with pride and play with a little more passion.''
St. Lawrence senior wing Greg Carey, a Hobey Baker finalist last year and second in the nation in scoring this year, upped his total to 10 goals and 18 assists in 15 games with his four-point game. Carey, named No. 1 star by the media, had a goal and three assists.
"He earned it. He's a good player. He did a good job,'' UND coach Dave Hakstol said of Carey.
UND's only goals came on a redirection off the skate of UND junior center Connor Gaarder's skate on a power play 55 seconds into the second period to tie the game at 1-1 and on the first career goal by rookie defenseman Keaton Thompson on a wrister at 4:36 of the third period to bring UND to within 3-2.
Other than that, UND managed just 13 shots through two periods and went 1-for-9 on the power play with 5 shots on goal.
"Not a very good performance by our team,'' Hakstol said.
UND had a chance to get even with the Saints when UND had a 5-on-3 power play for 44 seconds early in the third period after Thompson's goal brought them to within 3-2. But UND lost an offensive faceoff and shot a dump-in effort into the netting behind the net, resulting in a faceoff outside the zone, killing valuable time.
UND had just one shot shot on the 2-man advantage. Just over two minutes after that opportunity vanished, Carey scored on a centering pass to increase the St. Lawrence lead to 4-2 with his 10th goal of the season.
When asked about the specialty team play, Hakstol said: "That's part of the game. Not a very good performance overall by our team. So, you can lump it all together.''
Gaarder's goal was his first in the last 28 games for UND. Of his nine goals at UND in two-plus seasons, seven of them have come in nonconference games.
Senior wing Jeremy Wick scored twice for St. Lawrence, his second the empty netter. Matt Carey and Justin Baker had the other goals for the Saints from Canton, N.Y. It was just the second win for St. Lawrence in 13 meetings all-time with UND.
Senior Clarke Saunders finished with 20 saves for UND, allowing four goals, while Matt Weninger had 21 stops for St. Lawrence.
UND fell to 4-7-2 overall and St. Lawrence improved to 8-5-2 heading into Saturday's 7:05 rematch.
NOTES: Defenseman Jordan Schmaltz led UND in shots on goal with four ... Rocco Grimaldi, UND's smallest player at 5-6, 172 pounds, was easily their most physical player tonight, throwing his body in numerous checks ... There was disappointment that none of the constant offensive pressure UND showed at Boston University last Saturday was evident at REA tonight. "The fact is that we did not carry any of that momentum forward into tonight into our own building. That's the black-and-white fact," said Hasktol ... Opponents have gone 11-for-36 on the power play over UND's last six games, a conversion rate of 30.6 percent.
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.