GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Colorado College has only celebrated one victory in the past 18 games.
Tonight wasn’t that night.
In a matter of 46 seconds, North Dakota (10-7-2, 6-5-0 NCHC) crushed a once-tied scoreboard with two consecutive goals en route to a 5-3 victory over the Tigers (2-14-3, 2-6-3 NCHC) in front of 10,387 Friday night at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
“We were able to build the lead,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said. “I thought that was important. We gave the one-goal lead away in the first period, got it back in the second and were able to build that to a three-goal lead — that was important.”
For Bryn Chyzyk, those 46 seconds in the opening minutes of the second period were enough to rally a goal and an assist to erase the 1-1 tie.
With a Mark MacMillan hit on Gustav Olofsson to force a turnover, Chyzyk picked up the puck and found Michael Parks all alone in front of Josh Thorimbert (23 saves) to post an assist and begin North Dakota’s surge.
Chyzyk secured the puck again seconds later and fired it in the net after Wade Murphy’s shot on a rush down the ice yielded a rebound, to force a 3-1 advantage after goals from MacMillan and Olofsson in the first period.
“We came out the way we wanted to,” UND senior captain Dillon Simpson said. “Start of every period, we kind of control the pace. We built a lead, which is something we’ve been struggling with this year. Obviously, they pushed back. They’re a good team, but it’s nice to respond and hang on.”
Though it looked as if the teams would begin the third period with the Tigers trailing 3-1, Simpson found time for one more at 19:54 of the middle frame.
“It’s just part of the deal,” Colorado College coach Scott Owens said. “They got two in a pretty short period and I think we weathered pretty good. We thought we were going to make it through the period, but that shot with six seconds left made it tough.”
The three-goal margin would be erased, though, when Jaccob Slavin tallied a second goal for CC, followed by a second of his own minutes later past Zane Gothberg (20 saves) at 4:52 of the third period to separate the teams by one.
Colorado College persisted in searching for a victory that has become uncommon this season.
Despite their heavy loss column, the Tigers’ attitude remains steady.
“The morale is good, the effort is good,” Owens said. “They love coming to the rink and working. I’m sure, to a certain extent, because we haven’t had success in the win-loss column at all — when things don’t go well — a little doubt sets in. But I was proud of the way our guys came back in the third.”
Sam Rothstein’s checking from behind major penalty and game misconduct at 15:02 of the third period gave North Dakota a man-advantage, which it used to tally a fifth goal from Parks — his second of the night — with minutes remaining in the final frame.
For the Tigers, the energy in the third period wasn’t enough.
“We didn’t play well enough to win a road game – there were too many holes,” Owens said. “You give up three goals in a period like that, you give up a goal with six seconds to go in a period, you take a five-minute major — it’s tough to win against a good team like North Dakota.”
With the win, UND is riding a six-game winning streak — its best since March of 2012 — a rhythm Hakstol sees as a stepping-stone for what’s next.
“It’s one win,” Hakstol said. “Obviously, you look back to before Christmas, and we had a good finish to the first half, but this is one win. I think that’s the mentality that our team needs to carry forward.
“It’s one night at a time. We had a good positive win tonight — now we turn the page. This one’s done. We have to turn to tomorrow. These home games are so critical for us.”