UND captain Colton Poolman entered the media room in the basement of Ralph Engelstad Arena late Friday night with an anguished look on his face.
The junior defenseman then started to diagnose UND’s 3-1 loss to top-ranked St. Cloud State in their series opener.
He saved his most critical words for himself.
St. Cloud State scored the game-winning goal with just 6 minutes, 27 seconds left in the third period when Husky freshman Nolan Walker took the puck away from Poolman behind the net and centered it to leading-scorer Patrick Newell on the back door to break a 1-1 tie.
The goal stood as the winner after the Huskies iced it with an empty-netter.
“I accept responsibility for that second goal,” Poolman said in his opening remarks. “That’s on me. I owe my teammates better than that to be more focused at a critical juncture in the game. That’s when it got sideways, so I accept responsibility for that.
“That’s a tough, tough play to give up when your guys battle so hard like that for so long. To give up a cheap one like that sucks, but you know, you have to digest it tonight and come back tomorrow and forget about it. It’s a new day. Like we say around here, you start back at zero.”
UND dropped to 12-11-1 and 6-7 in National Collegiate Hockey Conference play, while falling to No. 23 in the Pairwise Rankings.
St. Cloud State (18-3-2, 10-1-2) maintained its stranglehold on the nation’s No. 1 ranking, while playing its seventh-consecutive one-goal game (excluding empty-net goals) against UND. The Huskies have won four of them and tied two.
The Fighting Hawks were hoping to knock off a No. 1-ranked team for the fourth year in a row and held a lead for roughly half the game (29:25), but the Huskies got stronger as the game progressed.
St. Cloud State outshot UND 8-5 in the first period, 12-6 in the second and 16-4 in the third. The 36 total shots piled up by the Huskies were the most allowed by the Fighting Hawks this season. The previous high mark was 29.
Senior Nick Jones managed the lone goal for UND, which was outshot 36-15.
UND will try to grab a series split at 7:07 p.m., but may have additional issues doing that.
Sophomore forward Grant Mismash, who is tied for third on the team in goals, sustained a left knee injury in a collision with St. Cloud State captain Jimmy Schuldt with just 2:08 remaining in the third period.
No penalty was called on the play. Berry was steamed that officials Todd Anderson and Nick Krebsbach didn’t review the play to see if a major penalty should be called, which is allowable under NCAA rules.
“I’m not going to get in any trouble here by making a comment,” Berry said. “But that was a knee-on-knee play that should have been reviewed. We have a protocol in place and it wasn’t reviewed and I’m very disappointed in that.
“It’s not the result of the game that I’m alluding to. It’s one of those things where anything that’s 50-50 at that time of the game, it needs to be reviewed. We have that in our protocol.”
After the hit, Mismash took a swing with his stick at Schuldt and was called for slashing. Trainer Mark Poolman helped him off the ice and St. Cloud State iced the game with a power-play, empty-net goal.
“I thought the effort was there,” Berry said. “I thought we played hard. Obviously, execution was a little off tonight. We missed a few nets tonight when we did have the opportunities that we had that we could have buried. I thought they gained momentum in the second period. They got a couple of power plays. Our penalty kill was good, but they got a little momentum off of that.
“We have to make sure we turn the page and idal in the morning here now.”
UND jumped out to the early lead, taking advantage of a St. Cloud State turnover at 11:21 of the first.
Husky defenseman Nick Perbix had the puck along the end wall in his own end and tried a backhand pass up the middle of the ice. Mismash intercepted it and fired it on net. Newell tried to clear the rebound out, but Jordan Kawaguchi intercepted his clear and fired again, but his shot went just wide.
Jones picked up the rebound of Kawaguchi’s shot off the end wall and banked it off of goaltender David Hrenak (14 saves) for his fifth goal of the season.
UND held the lead until there were just 13.8 seconds left in the second period. After killing off a Husky power play, St. Cloud State entered the zone and got the puck to Micah Miller in the high slot. Miller got Jones to drop to open up space and he fired a shot that snuck five-hole on UND goalie Adam Scheel (career-high 33 saves).
The Huskies took their first lead of the night at 13:33 on the Walker-to-Newell play.
Excluding empty-netters, UND has now played in eight-consecutive one-goal games dating back to a 4-1 win over Denver in early December.
“Two pretty good teams going at it,” Poolman said. “Obviously, they probably carried the play. That’s pretty honest. Id’ say they were pretty good. They possess the puck pretty well, they manage it well, they make plays when they can.
“I thought we had a pretty good game plan for most of the game. We kind of sheltered in there for a bit and they kind of got on us and got some momentum. We didn’t quite recover the way we wanted to. But a 1-1 game going into the third, I like that against the No. 1-rated team in the NCAA.”
Notes: Freshman defenseman Jonny Tychonick, a second-round pick of the Ottawa Senators, returned to the lineup for UND after missing the last eight games with a lower-body injury. It marked his first game since Dec. 1 at Minnesota Duluth. . . UND’s last win over a No. 1-ranked team was Nov. 17 of last season at Denver. UND rallied from down 3-0 to win 5-4. . . Grand Forks Red River grad Jacob Benson, a St. Cloud State senior, returned to the lineup after missing the last three games with a lower-body injury.