The series sweep remains elusive for North Dakota early in the 2012-13 season.
St. Cloud State captain Drew LeBlanc had two goals and an assist in a 5-2 Huskies victory that enabled No. 15 SCSU to salvage a Western Hockey Collegiate Association (WCHA) split. It also snapped UND's 10-game winning streak on Saturdays at the National Hockey & Event Center.
After the two teams battled through a closely contested 1-1 tie in the first period, the game changed late in the frame when UND freshman defenseman Jordan Schmaltz (Verona, Wis.) was given a 5-minute major and game misconduct for checking from behind. UND was able to successfully kill the major, 4:48 of which occurred during the second period, but just seconds after the penalty expired, LeBlanc scored his first of two goals to put the Huskies up 2-1. UND goalie Clarke Saunders (Jr., Brockville, Ontario) made two saves on a goalmouth scramble, but the puck squirted across the crease to LeBlanc for the easy rebound tally.
It was all Huskies for the rest of the period, as they outshot UND 16-5 in the middle frame. LeBlanc extended the lead to 3-1 with a power-play goal, receiving a cross-ice feed at the faceoff dot and beating Saunders before he could get across the goalmouth.
UND's Dillon Simpson (Jr., Edmonton, Alberta) cut the deficit to 3-2 with a power-play goal of his own with 2:27 left in the period, streaking to the net and converting a centering feed from Corban Knight (Sr., High River, Alberta) for his first of the season. But that's as close as sixth-ranked UND would get as SCSU freshmen Garrett Milan and Jimmy Murray put the game out of the reach in the third when each scored his first career goal.
"We just kind of got away from our game plan in the second half of the game and that's what hurt us," said sophomore forward Stephane Pattyn (Ste. Anne, Manitoba). "In the first half (of the game), we were playing hard, playing solid. Then we just started trying to make too long of plays, stretch passes...we just know we have to stay with the simple stuff. We have to play our game, chipping pucks deep and grinding it down low. We got away from that."
UND head coach Dave Hakstol concurred with Pattyn's assessment.
"We played a solid first period. I thought after the five-minute major kill, we just got away from our game," Hakstol said. "Instead of supporting the puck, and a short pass game, we got stretched out. We turned a lot of pucks over at the offensive blue line. We were one-and-done in a lot of different situations. That's not the way we're going to be successful."
Hakstol also conceded that the major and game misconduct to Schmaltz had an effect on his defense corps, as the Huskies outshot UND 26-13 over the final two periods.
"I think you saw heavy legs," said Hakstol. "I don't think we moved the puck out of our zone very well and that was part of it. But that's not something we make an excuse for. We've played through those situations before and we've done a good job of it. We just couldn't get ourselves back on track tonight."
Ryan Faragher earned the win for SCSU with a 22-save effort. His best came in the first period when he dove across the goal line and got the paddle of his stick on Pattyn's bid for an empty net.
Saunders made 32 saves for the second straight night and was tagged with the loss. Freshman Drake Caggiula (Pickering, Ontario) scored UND's other goal.
SCSU went 1-for-3 on the power play while UND scored on its lone opportunity.
UND, now 2-1-1 in the WCHA and 4-3-1 overall, returns home to host Minnesota Duluth next weekend.
Notes: Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke and Chicago Blackhawks director of player development Barry Smith were among the NHL personnel in attendance ... LeBlanc, Nic Dowd and Joe Rehkamp were named the game's three stars ... UND is now 0-3-1 on Saturdays this season.