Give round one to the UND Fighting Hawks. In the battle of NCHC unbeatens, #4 North Dakota edged SCSU 4-3 to gain sole possession of first-place in the NCHC standings. In a typical wide open game between these two teams, the game wasn’t decided until the final horn as SCSU had several point blank opportunities in the waning seconds with the goaltender pulled. When the dust settled, SCSU outshot UND 38 to 26 but it didn’t matter as UND did a better job capitalizing on opportunities in this key league win.
SCSU jumped out to an early lead in the contest on Judd Peterson’s 7th goal of the season at 2:20 of period one. Patrick Newell gained possession of the puck along the sidewall and sent a cross-ice pass to a wide open Peterson who one-timed the puck past UND’s Hrynkiw. Exactly four minutes later, UND tied the game on Drake Caggiula’s first of three goals of the game. A shot from the blueline bounced off SCSU’s Lindgren and Caggiula was there to deposit it for a 1-1 tie. Caggiula added another on the power play at 13:37 for a 2-1 UND lead. 23 seconds into the power play Rhett Gardner slid a goalmouth pass to Caggiula who had a wide open net for his second goal of the game.
North Dakota extended it’s lead to 3-1 on a power play goal by Rhett Gardner at 5:48 of period two. Gardner redirected a low shot from the point past Lindgren for a two-goal lead. The Huskies finally got a power play of their own at 16:29 on a one-timer from Jimmy Murray for his fourth goal of the season. David Morley retrieved a puck in the corner and made a cross-ice pass to Murray whose quick shot beat Hrynkiw to draw to within a goal at 3-2.
North Dakota scored another key goal just 28 seconds into period three as Caggiula completed his hat trick by wristing a puck that deflected off the back wall past Lindgren for a 4-2 UND advantage. But, the Huskies made things interesting on a goal by David Morley at 14:52 of the period. Niklas Nevalainen returned a cross ice pass to Jimmy Murray who placed a shot on net and Morley was at the doorstep to sweep in the rebound to once again close the lead to one goal. However, despite several point blank opportunities in the closing seconds with Lindgren pulled and an extra attacker UND held on for the 4-3 win.
SCSU outshot UND 38-26 for the game and Charlie Lindgren stopped 22 of 26 UND shots on goal. UND’s Matt Hrynkiw had a solid night in goal turning aside 36 of 38 shots on goal to earn his 9th win of the season. Special teams made a difference as North Dakota converted 2 of 3 power play opportunities while SCSU was 1 for 5 on the man-advantage.