Grand Forks, ND – Coming into tonight’s game, the Colorado College Tigers were an offensively challenged hockey team, averaging 1.94 goals per game. The Tigers would get a quick start, scoring two goals before the game was eight minutes old.
It was not the start that the University of North Dakota hockey team wanted.
“Giving up a two goal lead at very start of the game is always tough, especially at home,” sophomore forward Drake Caggiula said. “I thought we did a good job battling back in the last six, seven, eight minutes of the first period. Kind of set us up for the second period, there. I think that was mostly just nerves. We have a lot of young guys on the team, first playoff series and stuff like that. We will definitely be better tomorrow night.”
UND came out flat in the first period, and things weren’t clicking for the the Green and White. The momentum started to swing in the middle part of the first period. Sophomore defenseman Jordan Schmaltz made a great play on Tigers forward Jeff Collett to stop a breakaway, keeping the score at 2-0.
That play was a defining moment in the game.
“We dug ourselves a hole, the most important part was we found a way to dig ourselves out of that hole,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “It’s a credit to our guys. We weren’t ready to play at the drop of the puck, but we fought our way back to get it within one goal, even though nothing was coming easy. We build from there in the second period.”
UND didn’t panic and they started chipping away at the Tigers lead. They would get one goal back in the first with a beautiful goal by sophomore forward Drake Caggiula and head into the first intermission, down 2-1.
“The crowd got into it. Every time the crowd gets into we start to get a little more amped up,” Caggiula said. “It would have been terrible to go into the first intermission down 2-0.”
UND’s fortunes would change in the second period. Forwards Michael Parks and Bryn Chyzyk would add two more goals and UND would head to the second intermission with a 3-2 lead.
“It was good to get a puck in the slot and luckily it went in,” Chyzyk said. “I kind of saw the play developing. I knew it was going to the guys skate. I thought he was going to kick it, but he kind of slid through there. It was a gift – kind of – so I took it. It was a nice to see. It was a nice pass from them.”
Brendan O’Donnell pushed the lead to 4-2 with a goal at the 08:08 mark of the third period. UND would hold on and get the win. The Tigers would outshoot UND 6-5 in the third period, but UND was never really in any danger.
When UND has a lead entering the third period, they usually win. Entering tonight’s game, UND had an impressive 16-1-1 (.917) record when leading after two periods. You can make that 17-1-1 (.921) with the 4-2 win.
Tomorrow night, the same two teams’ meet again in game two of the best-of-three series. North Dakota (21-11-3) will try and close out Colorado College (6-23-6) and move on to the Frozen Faceoff. Game time is 07:08 p.m. Central.
UND is 10-0-1 all-time when forward Brendan O’Donnell scores a goal for UND. O’Donnell has scored (13g-17a—30pts) during his career at UND.
Four of UND’s top-ten scorers on the team are defensemen.
UND was the only home team in the NCHC that won tonight.