Bryn Chyzyk had a declaration to make after Saturday night’s game.
“I thought I had a horrible game,” he said.
He found a way to forget about that part.
Chyzyk scored a shorthanded, game-winning goal with 6.4 seconds left in overtime, lifting UND to a thrilling 3-2 victory over the Air Force Academy in front of 11,895 fans in Ralph Engelstad Arena during the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame game.
Chyzyk finished off a feed by Michael Parks to help UND cap a huge comeback and extend its unbeaten streak to six games.
UND (5-1-1) trailed 2-0 heading into the third period but forced overtime thanks to a goal by Tucker Poolman and a dramatic, extra-attacker tally by Drake Caggiula with just 28.4 seconds left in regulation.
In overtime, Brendan O’Donnell was assessed a checking from behind major to give the Falcons a power play for the final 2:43 of the game. But in the final seconds, Parks made a strong play in the neutral zone to steal a puck from Scott Holm, turn it the other way and start a two-on-one rush.
Parks waited until he got down low, then slid a pass over to Chyzyk, who tapped it in, sending the sold-out crowd into a frenzy.
“I saw Mike with a heck of a backcheck,” Chyzyk said. “He turned the puck up ice and I knew we had numbers. It was just my job to keep my stick on the ice. He made a fantastic pass. Somehow, it got to the back of the net so we were really excited.”
UND coach Dave Hakstol said: “Put everything else aside, I’m proud of the will our players came out of the locker room with and found a way to dig out of a pretty deep hole and get it done.”
It marked the first time that UND scored an extra-attacker goal in the final minute and went on to win a game since Dec. 1, 2012, at Colorado College. In that game, Dillon Simpson tied it and Caggiula won it in overtime.
On Saturday, the crowd gave a huge ovation during pregame introductions to Air Force senior Chad Demers, who played prep hockey at Grafton-Park River. Then, Demers and the Falcons settled in.
Erik Baskin intercepted a clearing attempt and one-timed it past UND goalie Zane McIntyre just 2:56 into the game. Early in the second period, Air Force’s prolific top line finished off a tic-tac-toe passing play – Demers to Cole Gunner to Holm – to go up 2-0.
In the third period, UND went to work.
UND outshot the Falcons 12-3 in the third and had 27 shot attempts to the Falcons’ 10. Eventually, the team broke through.
Poolman got UND on the board first, entering the zone, changing the angle of his shot to use a defenseman as a screen and beating Air Force goalie Chris Truehl with 13:07 left.
Although UND poured on the pressure for the final 13 minutes, it didn’t get the tying goal until Hakstol pulled McIntyre for the extra attacker.
After a late timeout, Parks took the puck strong to the net, where Luke Johnson jumped on a loose puck and attempted a quick shot. The puck fluttered off of Johnson’s stick and went straight to Caggiula on the other side. Caggiula buried it and leaped into the boards in front of the students to celebrate.
“Any time you can erase a two-goal deficit in the first period, you feel pretty good about yourselves,” Caggiula said. “We werne’t happy with the first 35-40 minutes we played. We just kept pushing and pushing and that’s what makes our team so great. We’re just so resilient and we just kept pushing and pushing.”
Air Force coach Frank Serratore said he was happy with his team’s effort, despite the loss.
“We put our best foot forward,” Serratore said. “It was by far our best game of the season. I truly don’t have any regrets. I give credit to North Dakota. We didn’t go into a defensive shell. We did not fold. They executed.”
Notes: Former UND stars Brock Nelson, Jonathan Toews and Zach Parise filmed messages thanking military members for their service. . . The game was attended by North Dakota Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley, U.S. Senators John Hoeven and Heidi Heitkamp and U.S. Rep. .Kevin Cramer. . . The ceremonial first puck was dropped by Col. Robert Cook, the vice commander of the 319th Air Base Wing and Col. Lawrence Spinetta, the commander of the 69th Reconnaissance Group. . . UND’s scratches were Mark MacMillan (wrist), Keaton Thompson, Colten St. Clair, Andrew Panzarella and Coltyn Sanderson.