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UND's penalty kill continues struggles in Duluth

012018.S.DNT.UMDMPUXc -- Goal is blocked by Cam Johnson. Bob King / rking@duluthnews.com1 / 4
012018.S.DNT.UMDMPUXc -- Cam Johnson makes a save. Bob King / rking@duluthnews.com2 / 4
012018.S.DNT.UMDPUXc5 -- Trevor Olson of North Dakota scores. Bob King / rking@duluthnews.com3 / 4
012018.S.DNT.UMDmpuxc6 -- Save by ND goaltender Cam Johnson. Bob King / rking@duluthnews.com4 / 4

DULUTH -- On Nov. 12, UND had one of the best penalty kills in the country.

It had successfully killed off 95.8 percent of opponent chances (46 of 48) -- the second-best rate in the nation.

But since then, that unit has been one of the worst in the country.

UND has ranked 58th nationally out of 60 teams in penalty killing since mid-November, and it cost the Fighting Hawks once again Friday night.

UND gave up three more power-play goals -- and a fourth goal was scored just moments after a power-play expired -- in a 5-3 loss to Minnesota Duluth in AmsOil Arena.

Joey Anderson scored a power-play goal in the first period, Parker Mackay scored a power-play goal in the second and Riley Tufte iced it with a power-play, empty-net goal in the third. Peter Krieger’s second-period tally counts as five-on-five, but was scored before UND’s penalized player, defenseman Gabe Bast, could skate back into the play.

UND received goals from Duluth native Trevor Olson, rookie Grant Mismash and defenseman Colton Poolman, but it wasn’t enough.

UND fell to 12-7-6 overall and 6-5-2 in National Collegiate Hockey Conference play -- and the Fighting Hawks could point to special teams for the loss once again.

In UND’s last three losses, its opponents have gone a combined 6-for-11 (54.5 percent) on the power play. In the last five losses, UND’s opponents are 10-for-23 (43.5 percent). on the power play.

“There are breakdowns, little breakdowns, and it seems like the middle of the ice is where it’s coming from,” UND coach Brad Berry said. “They made a couple of cross-seam passes for goals and then they made a tip play in the middle of the rink. We have to tighten up there. We got spread out a little. We have to stay a little tighter in our coverage.”

Poolman added: “We were a little sloppy early on. Some stuff got through that shouldn’t have got through. Give them credit. They are quick on the power play. But it starts off with us not taking as many penalties. That’s something we have to address tomorrow.”

The loss also added to UND’s misery against Minnesota Duluth (12-9-3, 6-7 NCHC).

It marked a seventh-straight loss to the Bulldogs dating back to the 2016 National Collegiate Hockey Conference playoffs. It’s UND’s longest losing streak against any single team since it lost nine in a row to Wisconsin in the late 1980s.

“Obviously, we know they’re a good team and we’re going to get their best every single game,” Olson said. “With that start tonight. . we can’t be giving up that kind of lead to that kind of team. They are fast and skilled and hard to play against.”

The Fighting Hawks will try to break that spell and avoid getting swept in AmsOil Arena for a second-straight season.

UND trailed most of Friday’s game. It gave up the first goal in the first period and back-to-back tallies in the second.

Despite a strong third period -- UND outshot the Bulldogs 17-8 and came within a crossbar of tying it late -- it wasn’t enough.

“More of the same,” Olson said. “Get behind early on. Chase a lead. Then, we laid an egg in the second and had to push in the third. More of the same. We have to be better tomorrow.”

Anderson gave the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead at 13:47 of the opening period, sniping a shot from the left circle past the blocker of UND goalie Cam Johnson (21 saves).

Olson tied it, sliding a backhand underneath Minnesota Duluth goalie Hunter Shepard (33 saves) at 17:38 for a power-play goal.

It was Olson’s first goal in AmsOil Arena since Feb. 25, 2012, when he was a high school player for the Duluth East Greyhounds. The goal came in the Section 7AA semifinals against Elk River.

But the Bulldogs tacked on two more in the second period.

Krieger, an Alaska Fairbanks transfer, scored on a blast from the right circle just after a power play expired at 8:50 to make it 2-1. And Mackay, who had three points through two periods, re-directed an Anderson pass on the power play at 11:23.

The Fighting Hawks got it within a goal when Austin Poganski set up Mismash just 40 seconds into the third period, but Minnesota Duluth had a quick answer when Karson Kuhlman turned around UND defenseman Andrew Peski and scored just 1:16 later.

“Every time we got momentum in the game tonight,” Berry said, “it got away from us.”

UND made it a one-goal game again at 3:52, when Poolman’s point blast deflected off of Bulldog forward Blake Young and high over Shepard.

The Fighting Hawks had several chances to tie it -- including a shot that grazed the crossbar -- but got caught with too many men on the ice while trying to pull Johnson for an extra attacker.

The Bulldogs iced it with a power-play goal into the empty net.

“I thought we had lapses in the game where it got away from us,” Berry said. “For some, it was undisciplined penalties. I don’t think our start was where it has been the last few games. It took us the first 10 minutes to get into it and then we took a few too many penalties that took us out of it.”

Notes: UND played its second-straight game without top-line center Rhett Gardner, who was injured blocking a shot at Bemidji State last weekend. Backup goalie Peter Thome also was out with an injury. Ryan Anderson served as Johnson’s backup. . . Minnesota Duluth played without injured winger Nick Swaney.

Brad Elliott Schlossman

Schlossman is in his 13th year covering college hockey for the Herald. In 2016 and 2018, he was named the top beat writer in the country by the Associated Press Sports Editors. He also was the NCHC's inaugural Media Excellence Award winner in 2018. Schlossman has voted in the national college hockey poll since 2007 and has served as a member of the Hobey Baker and Patty Kazmaier Award committees.

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