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FNS Photo by John Stennes Colorado College goalie Josh Thoribert makes a stick save on a point blank shot by University of North Dakota’s Connor Gaarder in a NCHC playoff game on Saturday in Grand Forks. The Tigers defeated UND 3-2 in overtime to force a Game 3 at 6 p.m. today.

Tigers defeat UND in OT to force Game 3

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GRAND FORKS — The University of North Dakota’s season is likely on the line tonight.

So is the well-being of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference’s inaugural Frozen Faceoff.

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After Colorado College’s 3-2 overtime victory over UND on Saturday night in Ralph Engelstad Arena, the first-year league faces the possibility of all four top seeds — and all four teams within driving distance of Minneapolis’ Target Center — not being for the tournament.

Top-seeded St. Cloud State, third-seeded Nebraska Omaha and fourth-seeded Minnesota Duluth all were ousted from the playoffs on Saturday night, leaving UND as the lone higher seed and home team with the possibility of advancing.

And after Alex Roos scored at the 7:00 mark of overtime, the league faces the possibility of losing its biggest fan base for the Frozen Faceoff, too.

Game 3 will be held at 6:08 p.m. tonight in Ralph Engelstad Arena.

For UND, the stakes are high.

Sitting at No. 15 in the Pairwise Rankings, UND would likely need a miracle to earn a 12th consecutive NCAA tournament bid if it loses Sunday night against the Tigers.

“It’s do-or-die,” UND defenseman Jordan Schmaltz said. “If we win, we put ourselves in a good chance to get in the national tournament. If we don’t, we could see our season ending early. It’s do-or-die time.”

Alternate captain Stephane Pattyn said: “I think that should be our mentality. That’s the way they played tonight. I think we’re going to have to match that and maybe play harder.”

UND has won 11 consecutive first-round series — the longest stretch of any team in the West. Five of those series went to Game 3, and UND came out on top in all of them, including a 6-0 beating of Michigan Tech in a decisive game a year ago.

This time, it will face a Colorado College team that snapped a five-game losing streak on Saturday and won its first overtime game of the season (1-4-6).

The Tigers, who had just one win in 17 road games coming into Saturday, used an outstanding goaltending performance by Josh Thorimbert, who stopped 44 of 46 shots, to keep UND at bay and force a Game 3.

“You’re going to face that every once in a while,” Pattyn said. “A goalie is going to have a good game. He’s a good goalie. A couple times, we could have got a little more traffic in front of him. We missed the net a few too many times. If we hit the net, maybe they would have gone in. It was a couple things on our part. But their goalie played well.”

For the second straight night, UND fell behind 2-0.

This time, Peter Stoykewych launched a point shot that went off of the stick of Michael Parks and through the pads of UND goalie Zane Gothberg (26 saves) late in the first period for a 1-0 lead. Early in the second, Scott Wamsganz added to the lead with a wrist shot from the top of the right circle.

Drake Caggiula cut the lead to 2-1 with a rebound goal at 3:45 of the second and Schmaltz forced overtime when he flipped a backhand past Thorimbert’s stick with just 3:56 left in regulation.

UND dominated most of overtime, but Roos jumped on a rebound of a Sam Rothstein shot to stun the crowd of 10,738.

“I thought we built our game throughout the 60 minutes,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said. “We didn’t give up a whole lot. But we didn’t generate a whole lot in the first 10 minutes of the hockey game.

“We’ve got to get ourselves ready and prepared to play a real good hockey game tomorrow night. That’s our mindset coming in is that we have to win going forward. We want to win a series tomorrow.”

Notes: UND made one change to its lineup Saturday, playing Keaton Thompson for Gage Ausmus on defense. UND also switched Brendan O’Donnell and Mitch MacMillan to different lines on the left wing. Colorado College’s lone change was putting Michael Morin in the lineup for Zach Aman on right wing of the fourth line. . . The last time UND lost in the first round of the conference playoffs was 2001-02, when it lost a first-round series at Minnesota. . . UND attempted 90 shots during Saturday’s game to Colorado College’s 55. . . Caggiula had a game-high nine shots.

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