COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Head coach Dave Hakstol called it North Dakota's best performance in three weeks. His team held a decisive 47-26 edge over host Colorado College in both shots on goal and in faceoffs. UND also carried a whopping 84-47 edge in shot attempts and held the WCHA's top-ranked power play scoreless.
Yet the result was a mystifying 5-3 loss to the 18th-ranked Tigers that left North Dakota (6-5-2, 3-2-2 WCHA) tied for sixth place in the WCHA heading into tomorrow's series finale.
CC senior goaltender Joe Howe turned aside 44 shots while the Tigers' second line of Scott Winkler (2 goals, 2 assists), Alexander Krushelnyski (1 goal, 3 assists) and Charlie Taft (3 assists) combined for 11 points.
UND held a decisive territorial edge for much of the game, but was forced to play catch-up all night thanks to Howe at one end and an opportunistic CC attack at the other end.
"It's a hard one to take after you look at the scoreboard and it says 5-3, but you look around the locker room and you feel like you did enough and worked hard enough to win a hockey game," said senior defenseman Joe Gleason (Edina, Minn.), who scored his first goal of the season in the second period to tie the game at 1-1. "Our work ethic was there, our drive was there for 60 minutes. (It was) probably one of the best games we've played in terms of all three periods, but CC capitalized on more opportunities than we did tonight and I think that ended up being the difference."
UND appeared to have momentum in its favor after Gleason's rocket from the point beat Howe at 6:11 of the middle frame. UND had outshot the Tigers 16-8 in the first period and was in the midst of arguably the team's best period of the season during the second. But Krushelnyski regained the Tigers' lead less than three minutes later to send UND into the second intermission trailing despite a 30-15 edge in shots on goal.
William Rapuzzi made it 3-1 just 1:03 into the third period and Winkler scored his first of two at 11:45 to make it a 4-1 game. UND freshman forward Drake Caggiula (Pickering, Ontario) brought UND back within a pair a minute later, but Winkler replied 20 seconds after that to effectively seal the game.
"When we scored a goal, it seemed they'd score one right away," said Gleason. "We'd kind of kill ourselves momentum-wise. We've got to take the few mistakes we made out of them game and I think we'll have a better outcome."
Caggiula, who rounded out the scoring with a power-play tally with 1:05 remaining for his first 2-goal game, said it was a performance UND can build on.
"It's a big building block for us. We played a pretty good game from start to finish, probably one of our best games all year for 60 minutes. We made a few mental lapses in the defensive zone which cost us," said Caggiula. "It's frustrating, but that's hockey. You've just got to come back to the rink and battle up, and make sure we win tomorrow."
UND broke its streak of seven straight games in which it was outshot, and fired at least 14 shots at Howe in each of the three periods en route to a season-high 47 shots.
"We played a good hockey game. We did a lot of good things from start to finish, most of the things you want to do on the road," saod Hakstol. "Unfortunately we gave up two or three team-type defensive goals that came back to haunt us. We have to come back tomorrow night and do a lot of the same exact things that we did tonight and do whatever it takes to tighten up and make sure we get a win.
"There's not a lot of nights when you get 84 shot attempts and 47 shots on goal that you're going to lose hockey games," added Hakstol. "It stings a little bit that tonight was one of those nights. Now it's a mental toughness test coming back to tomorrow night's game. We believe in what we're doing."
Saturday night's game begins at 8:07 p.m. Central.
Notes: Howe, Winkler and Caggiula were named the game's three stars ... Knight assisted on Gleason's goal to extend his career-best point streak to eight games. Knight has 10 points, all assists, during the streak ... Knight also won 22 of 30 faceoffs as UND's top three centers (Knight, Carter Rowney and Colten St. Clair) combined to win 43 of 58 ... Danny Kristo (Sr., Eden Prairie, Minn.) saw his 5-game point streak come to an end ... CC has not swept UND since the 2004-05 season, Hakstol's first year as head coach ... Gleason has scored two career goals, with both coming at the Colorado Springs World Arena.