There are several advantages to playing in Ralph Engelstad Arena.
The 18-year-old venue annually brings in the largest crowds in college hockey and provides an environment that can be tough for opponents.
But UND coach Brad Berry has taken advantage of another aspect.
Home teams in college hockey get last line change after whistles -- offering the opportunity to dictate line matchups -- and Berry is continually deploying the Gavin Hain, Mark Senden and Cole Smith unit against opponents' top lines.
Berry did it again in Friday's 4-2 win over St. Cloud State in front of 11,223 fans.
His shutdown trio limited possession time for St. Cloud State’s top line and opened the door for Shane Pinto to score twice, Jordan Kawaguchi and Westin Michaud to tally a pair of assists and Collin Adams to score his fifth goal of the season.
Appropriately, Smith finished it off with an empty-netter.
"Our team, we feel comfortable with all four lines," Berry said. "We're a team that rolls four lines. So, if we get caught in a situation where a top line is out there, we feel comfortable that anybody can play against them. But to have that luxury at home to get a matchup you like and see how it goes, that's a big deal."
UND has now won 10 consecutive games at home dating back to last season -- two short of the record in Ralph Engelstad Arena, which opened in 2001. Eight of the wins have come this season.
The No. 5-ranked Fighting Hawks (9-1-2) will aim to pull off a rare feat during the series finale at 7:07 p.m. Saturday.
With a win, UND would take a perfect home record to Christmas break for the first time since 1964. With a tie, the Fighting Hawks would take an unbeaten record to Christmas break for just the second time since 1968 (the other coming in 2002).
"I can't really describe it, just to play in front of these fans," Pinto said of playing in Ralph Engelstad Arena. "I know that (Saturday) is it until after Christmas break."
UND will play at Minnesota and at Western Michigan after Saturday's series finale against the Huskies.
The Fighting Hawks remained undefeated in National Collegiate Hockey Conference play, moving to 4-0-1-1 (wins, losses, ties, overtime wins). St. Cloud State, the back-to-back defending NCHC regular-season champion, dropped to 2-5-2 overall and 0-3 in league play.
"We played a very good team over there," Berry said. "They came out hard. They pressured. They were an urgent team. I thought they did a good job playing a good road game. We found a way to win, but I think we have got to be a lot sharper with our execution."
UND jumped out to an early lead. It never trailed -- but never pulled away, either.
Pinto scored the first two goals of the game -- Nos. 3 and 4 of the season -- to open a two-goal lead.
He buried a Michaud feed from the slot at 8:43 of the first period and one-timed a Kawaguchi circle-to-circle pass at 5:37 of the second for a power-play goal. It marked the fifth-straight game UND has scored on the man advantage.
Then, the teams traded goals.
Warroad's Luke Jaycox made it a one-goal game at 7:16 of the second period, scoring his first of the season on a goal-mouth scramble. Adams answered at 10:51, burying a Kawaguchi feed from the top of the crease to regain a two-goal lead at 3-1.
Then, St. Cloud State's Nick Poehling became just the third player to score on the power play against UND this season, sending a shot past UND goalie Adam Scheel (17 saves) from a bad angle to make it 3-2 UND at 12:33.
Berry implored UND to play better between the second and third periods, Pinto said, and the Fighting Hawks responded.
They had the first 11 shots on goal of the third period and the Huskies weren't able to put one on net for more than 12 minutes. St. Cloud State never threatened to tie it before Smith iced the game from the neutral zone.
"I thought half of our team tonight wasn't sharp," Berry said. "The other half was. I think when you're playing a team like St. Cloud, everybody's got to be sharp."
On Friday, it was enough to get another home win.
"It was always a dream as a kid sitting up there in the stands," said Grand Forks native Judd Caulfield, who was promoted to the second line Friday. "It's just unreal seeing all the fans we have. It's great support from the community."
UND 4, SCSU 2
First period -- 1. UND, Shane Pinto 3 (Westin Michaud 4) 8:43
Second period -- 2. UND, Pinto 4 (Jordan Kawaguchi 12, Michaud 5) 5:37 (pp); 3. SCSU, Luke Jaycox 1 (Micah Miller 3, Jake Wahlin 3) 7:16; 4. UND, Collin Adams 5 (Kawaguchi 13, Grant Mismash 4) 10:51; 5. SCSU, Nick Poehling 3 (Sam Hentges 11, Jack Ahcan 7) 12:33 (pp)
Third period -- 6. UND, Cole Smith 5 (Mark Senden 3) 18:58 (en)
Penalties -- Bench minor, UND, too many on ice, 19:33 first; Spencer Meier, SCSU, interference, 4:09 second; Bench minor, UND too many on ice, 11:50 second; Chase Brand, SCSU, hooking, 16:12 second; Kevin Fitzgerald, SCSU, cross-checking, 16:12 third; Matt Kiersted, UND, holding, 14:32 third
Goalie saves -- UND: Adam Scheel 6-7-4 -- 17; SCSU: David Hrenak 8-8-14 -- 30
Penalties-minutes -- UND 3-6, SCSU 3-6
Power plays -- UND 1-3, SCSU 1-3
Attendance -- 11,223
Referees -- Cameron Voss and Nathan Wieler
Linesmen -- Justin Hills and Tyler Liffrig