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Huskies rally in 3rd to beat UND

FNS Photo by Eric Hylden University of North Dakota’s Connor Gaarder works for the puck in front of the St. Cloud State net during the teams first-ever NCHC league game on Friday at the Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks.

GRAND FORKS — The University of North Dakota’s first home National Collegiate Hockey Conference game will be one to forget. 

UND blew a third-period lead Friday night, giving up three goals in the final frame in 3-2 loss to St. Cloud State in front of 11,750 in Ralph Engelstad Arena.

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Kevin Gravel, Kalle Kossila and Andrew Prochno all scored in the final frame for the Huskies, erasing a one-goal deficit and quieting the sold-out crowd.

St. Cloud State improved to 4-0-1 overall and 1-0 in NCHC play, while UND dropped to 2-2-1 and 1-2 in league play.

“I thought it was a good hockey game, back-and-forth with a few momentum swings,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said. “I thought we were back on our heels for five minutes. Credit them for that little push, but we look for that push to come out of our locker room at the start of the third period.”

Gravel scored on a point-shot through traffic just 2 minutes, 36 seconds into the final frame to tie the game and Kossila scored on a rebound at 4:32 to give the Huskies the lead for good. Prochno tacked on a late goal as the Huskies extended their unbeaten streak in Grand Forks to three games.

In tonight’s series finale (6:07 p.m.), St. Cloud State will attempt to become the first team to sweep UND at home in four years.

“We’ve just got to have a consistent 60 minutes of hard work,” UND captain Dillon Simpson said. “We laid back a little bit and that’s unacceptable, especially in our own building.”

UND’s power play has become a sore spot. It now has one power-play goal on its last 15 chances. UND had three opportunities against the Huskies and failed to register a shot on goal — including a chance to tie the game late in the third.

“We didn’t get anything going,” Hakstol said. “We couldn’t get the puck up the ice cleanly and into the zone.”

Hakstol said the power play, which is converting at 16.7 percent, needs to improve.

“We’ve got to do a little better job, once we do get set up, getting pucks to the net,” he said. “We didn’t get a puck to the net tonight, so we obviously have to do a better job there.”

Simpson said: “It’s frustrating. We’re trying to stick with it. It’s been a couple rough days. We’ve got to battle more and stick to it.”

UND got off to a good start with Drake Caggiula scoring a highlight-reel goal at 3:10 of the opening period, but couldn’t extend the lead.

“Their first 10 minutes, we got knocked around pretty good, I thought,” St. Cloud State coach Bob Motzko said. “But then we hunkered down. I thought that was the critical thing. They came out with a ton of steam, then we hunkered down.

“I think the long sustained play where we were able to hang in there was critical. Our penalty kill was critical. And then we needed one play.”

Eventually, the Huskies got that play from Gravel. He launched a shot from the high slot through traffic on a rush to tie the game. The second goal came soon after on a rebound by Kossila. Prochno’s goal also went through traffic and past Zane Gothberg (27 saves).

Junior Ryan Faragher started in net for St. Cloud State and stopped 29 shots. Faragher, whose first-career start was a 44-save shutout in The Ralph, is now 3-1-1 in five-career games in the building.

UND says it needs to make things more difficult on Faragher in the series finale — and clean up the mistakes from the third period.

“We knew they were going to throw everything at us, especially in the first five minutes,” Simpson said. “It’s disappointing how we came out. It’s pretty bitter in that locker room.”

Notes: The game featured six former Penticton Vees (British Columbia Hockey League) — UND’s Brendan O’Donnell, MacMillan, Troy Stecher and Wade Murphy and St. Cloud State’s Joey Holka and Joey Benik. Penticton’s coaching staff made the trip to Grand Forks to watch. . . UND’s scratches were Keaton Thompson, Derek Rodwell, Colten St. Clair, Andrew Panzarella, Coltyn Sanderson and Matt Hrynkiw. St. Cloud State scratched Joe Rehkamp and Jarrod Rabey.