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Brad E. Schlossman / Forum News Service, Published January 26 2013

UND skates to a draw against St. Cloud State

GRAND FORKS – It took a few moments for University of North Dakota coach Dave Hakstol to find words to describe how he felt on Saturday night.

“Several different feelings,” he said after his team tied St. Cloud State 2-2 in Ralph Engelstad Arena. “Very disappointed to come out of the weekend with one point. In terms of our team and our team play, the performance and effort we put out there tonight, I think we feel good about that. But to come away with one point, it’s hard to feel good about anything.”

The fact that UND doubled the first-place Huskies in shots (36-18) and outchanced them in every period was a secondary thought after UND finished its second straight weekend without a win in a Western Collegiate Hockey Association series.

UND moved to 13-8-5 overall and 8-5-5 in league play after the tie against the Huskies, who are alone atop the standings with a 12-5-1 WCHA mark.

Danny Kristo and Corban Knight each had a goal and an assist one night after they were both held off the scoresheet in the same game for the first time all season.

St. Cloud State captain Ben Hanowski had a power-play goal and a delayed-penalty, extra-attacker goal to answer for the Huskies. The game-tying goal came early in the second period.

“We’re pleased,” said St. Cloud State coach Bob Motzko, whose team became the first to sweep Denver since 2008 a week ago. “(UND) came out real hard tonight and fought like mad. We made some critical mistakes early and they capitalized on them. But then there’s Ben Hanowski, one of our captains, taking over a game.

“It was one of those classic WCHA battles.”

After a flat effort on Friday night – one in which UND mustered just 16 shots on goal and three in the opening period – UND made several big lineup changes.

Bryn Chyzyk, who hadn’t played since Thanksgiving weekend, went back in the lineup. So did Connor Gaarder, Nick Mattson and goalie Clarke Saunders. The revamped lineup put 15 shots on goal in the first period alone and nearly doubled the Huskies in shots every frame.

“The biggest change was our intensity and effort for the entire 65 minutes,” Hakstol said. “If you play the game that hard, regardless of what line combinations or D-pairings are, if you play the game that hard night in and night out, you’re going to win the majority of hockey games you play.”

That didn’t make the tie any easier to take for UND’s players.

“It definitely stings,” Kristo said. “I thought we deserved a better outcome. I thought we outplayed them all three periods. That’s the way the game goes sometimes, though. This one definitely hurts.”

Knight said: “Right now, it’s still pretty fresh. We left a point out there on a Saturday night at home. I don’t think anyone’s satisfied in that room right now, so it’s definitely something that’s pretty frustrating right now.”

After a strong start to the season, UND is just 1-3-2 in the last six games and sits in a three-way tie for fourth place in the WCHA standings.

St. Cloud State, meanwhile, is unbeaten in its last seven WCHA games (6-0-1).

“We’re trending well right now,” Motzko said. “But in this league, you have to stay on top of it, because they’ll come back. If you take your foot off the pedal for a second, you’ll go backwards.”

That’s a lesson UND learned Friday night. “It was pretty embarrassing the effort we had (Friday) night,” Kristo said. “I think if you look at our game (Friday) night, we couldn’t break a puck out, we couldn’t establish a forecheck, catch a pass, make a pass. . . we were on our heels all night. Tonight was kind of the opposite. I thought we were taking it to them. We outshot them all three periods and played our game.”

But in the end, it wasn’t enough to make UND feel very good.

“(Friday) night, it was obviously not good,” Knight said. “We’ll leave it at that. Tonight we played a lot better. Guys stepped up their games. Anything would have been better than (Friday) night.”

FIRST PERIOD: 1, STC, Hanowski (Morley, Kossila), 3:08, (pp). 2, UND, Kristo (Knight), 5:02, (sh). 3, UND, Knight (Kristo, Parks), 15:45.

SECOND PERIOD: 4, STC, Hanowski (LeBlanc, Brodzinski), 1:59.

THIRD PERIOD: No scoring

OVERTIME: No scoring

SAVES: STC, Faragher 13-9-9-3–34. UND, Saunders 7-3-5-1–16.

Schlossman writes for the Grand Forks Herald