GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- If close calls could magically be turned into goals, 11,803 fans would have left Ralph Engelstad Arena tonight in slightly better spirits.
North Dakota shooters hit two crossbars and two pipes that could have turned a 2-2 overtime tie with visiting Vermont into a weekend sweep of the non-conference series.
Brendan O'Donnell hit a pair of goal posts and Rocco Grimaldi crossbars twice as Vermont rallied from a 2-0 deficit to salvage the tie.
"At 2-0, I think we hit a couple crossbars -- a couple squarely -- and we had some good opportunities,'' UND coach Dave Hakstol said. "We just couldn't stretch it to that 3-0 lead. Give (Vermont) credit. They made some plays to get back into it.''
Grimaldi and fellow sophomore Drake Caggiula continued their hots starts to the season, each with their second goal in two games.
Grimaldi's one-timer on the power play put UND ahead 1-0 at 10:58 of the first period after some brilliant stickwork by Caggiula near the blue line kept the puck in the zone to set up Grimaldi.
Caggiula stretched the lead to 2-0 at 19:17 of the opening period. When Vermont goalie Mike Santaguida slid slighly to his right in anticipation of a pass by Caggiula, he wristed his backhander high to the short side with freshman linemate Adam Tambellini assisting.
UND dominated the opening period, holding Vermont without a shot on net for the opening 11 minutes, 42 seconds and pouring 14 shots on net to 4 for the Catamounts.
Vermont pressed the attack and tied it in the second period.
Sophomore center Robert Polesallo's wrist shot bounced off the catching glove of UND sophomore goalie Zane Gothberg and rolled into the net at 3:34 to get Vermont on the board.
Senior wing Chris McCarthy scored shorthanded with his 29th career goal on an outmanned rush. McCarthy slid to his right from the left side on a rush and buried his wrist shot at 17:14 of the period.
Neither team could budge the numbers the rest of the way as a scoreless third period and 5-minute sudden death overtime followed.
Teams then went to a shootout, though the game officially goes down as a tie by NCAA rules.
In the shootout, Grimaldi and Michael Parks scored for UND while only Nick Bruneteau scored of Vermont's three shooters. Gothberg stopped Vermont's Robert Polesello and McCarthy to seal the shootout edge for UND.
"I thought we got off to a pretty good start and got a couple quick ones,'' Grimaldi said. "I think we kind of fell apart a little bit for just a small stretch of the second period and kind of gave the game right back to them.''
The clanking of pucks off of crossbars and posts frustrated UND. "I think we hit three or four posts the last half of the game,'' Grimaldi said. "There were so many close opportunties. That's the way the game goes sometimes. We were that close, but not close enough.''
UND killed all six Vermont power plays and 16 of 17 for the weekend. Tonight's penalty kill included skating off a minor to Stephane Pattyn that carried over for almost two minutes of the overtime period.
Vermont came out with a strong second period after UND dominated the opening period. "I think they had a real good push coming out in the second,'' Hakstol said. "I thought that was the best hockey they played throughout the weekend.''
Hakstol, with his first glimpe of his team this season in a two-game series, liked what he saw.
"I liked the overall presence as a team early in the year,'' Hakstol said. "Pretty good cohesion. I like what I see on the bench. We have quite a few guys who are able to recognize situations and have the poise to go out there and play the next shift in that situation.''
Grimaldi, who now has five points in his first two games, led UND with a whopping 10 shots on goal, nearly a third of UND's team total of 33 to 27 for Vermont.
Caggiula, who had a goal and one assist for the second game in a a row, was second in shots on goal with four.
Gothberg finished with 25 saves, 21 of them coming in the second and third periods and OT. Santaguida had 31 stops for the Catamounts.
UND is 1-0-1 overall heading into the opening series next weekend at Miami of Ohio the first season in the new National Collegiate Hockey Conference. Miami was picked to win the league and UND to finish second in the preseason media poll.
The Catamounts, who play in Hockey East, are 0-1-1. They are off for two weeks before playing a non-conference game against Penn State.
UND NOTES: UND was 1-5 on the power play, Vermont 0-6 . . . Three stars of the game as named by the print media were Grimaldi, Caggiula and McCarthy, in that order . . . UND had a 39-31 edge in faceoff wins, paced by Mark MacMillian with 17 wins in 27 draws.
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.