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UND’s lead holds up this time in 5-1 win over Colorado College

GRAND FORKS -- For the second night in a row, North Dakota built a 4-0 lead. This one didn't go anywhere. Mike Gornall scored his first-career goal to kick off Saturday night's contest, then Rhett Gardner followed with a pair, Bryn Chyzyk with on...

GRAND FORKS -- For the second night in a row, North Dakota built a 4-0 lead.

This one didn't go anywhere.

Mike Gornall scored his first-career goal to kick off Saturday night's contest, then Rhett Gardner followed with a pair, Bryn Chyzyk with one and Austin Poganski with one as UND beat Colorado College 5-1 in front of 11,908 in Ralph Engelstad Arena.

One night after squandering a 4-0 lead and tying Colorado College, North Dakota left no doubt with a much better defensive performance, while continuing to pile up the goals without injured Hobey Baker Award candidates Nick Schmaltz and Drake Caggiula.

Several items were addressed after Friday night's tie, including the team's consistency level, its defensive awareness and even its demeanor during intermissions.

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"The captains spoke about how we're acting during intermissions and how the young guys are acting," Chyzyk said."We clamped down a little bit -- just being a little more serious and not getting loosed up no matter what the score is. I thought we did that today."

UND (20-3-3, 11-2-1-1 NCHC) reached the 20-win mark for the 14th consecutive season, matching Denver for the longest active streak in the nation. The Fighting Hawks also improved to 10-1-1 in the last 12 games, finding ways to manage injuries to key players.

The CBS line of Caggiula, Brock Boeser and Schmaltz has carried much of the offense for the team this season, but with Caggiula (shoulder) and Schmaltz (lower body) out, North Dakota still lit up the scoreboard for 10 goals.

Gardner continued his development by scoring four goals on the weekend. He had a dramatic, game-tying goal with 31.9 seconds left during Friday's 5-5 tie and tacked on two more in the third period Saturday. He has nine goals in the season, which trails only Boeser (15) among NCHC rookies.

Luke Johnson has suddenly come alive for UND, too.

After going through a stretch with one goal in 11 games -- an empty-netter in Duluth -- he has five points in the last three games, including an assist on Saturday night. Johnson also played a key role in shutting down Colorado College's top line of Hunter Fejes, Sam Rothstein and Luc Gerdes, who combined for eight points on Friday. That trio was held without a point for the first time since they were put together 10 games ago.

"I think it's his time of year," UND coach Brad Berry said about Johnson. "I think he sees the picture of what we're trying to get to at the end of the year. He has a rejuvenated spark. He's playing with a lot of jump. He plays in every situation. He's a young man who knows what's in front of him. He wants to be a leader on this team and lead us to where we want to go."

Chyzyk, who went without a point in nine games to end the first half, has regained his scoring touch in the second half, too. Since the calendar turned to January, Chyzyk has seven points in six games. He had his first-career three-point game on Saturday with a goal and two assists.

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"I think my game has a long ways to go," Chyzyk said. "I'm not happy yet with how I'm playing. I think I can contribute more to my teammates. Today was a positive step. Hopefully, I can keep it going."

Starting goalie Cam Johnson, who was pulled for the first time this season Friday, responded by stopping 18 of 19 shots, while North Dakota's defensive corps clamped down on the Tigers (5-18-1, 3-10-1).

"I thought we simplified things a lot," Chyzyk said. "I thought when they had a lot of success yesterday, they chipped pucks and kept it simple against us. We kind of brought that to them tonight. We kept it simple and made life hard on their 'D' -- that was our goal tonight and we accomplished that."

UND sits just three points back of St. Cloud State in the NCHC standings with two games in hand. But after playing the entire month of January in Ralph Engelstad Arena, the Fighting Hawks will hit the road next weekend at Western Michigan. UND then has a week off before going to Denver. It won't return home until Feb. 19 against Minnesota Duluth.

"Our homestand was pretty productive other than a couple hiccups," said Berry, whose team is 10-2-1 at home and 9-1-1 on the road this season. "I thought we did a pretty good job at home. Now, we go on the road. We like the road. We went on the road earlier this year and had a little success. We're a close team and we'll like to try to get after it again."

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