COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- The parking lot at World Arena was still covered in snow Sunday night. It had not been plowed or shoveled.
The gate that leads to the players' usual game day entrance was closed and locked. The parking attendant's booth was empty and the lot was pitch black.
There were few signs that a college hockey game was being played in World Arena, but UND goalie Adam Scheel showed up.
UND was outshot by its widest margin in three seasons, 27-18, but managed to beat Colorado College 3-0 thanks to a star performance by its junior netminder.
Scheel stopped all 27 shots from a Tiger team that was missing its leading goal scorer and captain, Grant Cruikshank, due to appendicitis. It was Scheel's second shutout of the season as he raised his save percentage to .923 and dropped his goals-against average to 1.90.
"Adam had an 'A' game and I think everybody can probably look themselves in the faces and say, 'You know what? We probably didn't have our 'A' game collectively,'" UND coach Brad Berry said.
It was the largest shot deficit for UND since Feb. 15, 2019, when Western Michigan held a 33-20 advantage. UND also won that game thanks to a 32-save performance by Scheel, then a freshman.
On Sunday, Scheel's most spectacular save came in the first period when Colorado College's leading point scorer, Josiah Slavin, had a backdoor chance on the power play. Scheel slid from right to left to rob the Chicago Blackhawks draft pick.
"Save of the game," Berry said. "That's a guaranteed goal in any league, usually, when a guy on the backdoor has a free shot at the net like that. That was a momentum-builder for us knowing that Adam was on his game."
Scheel even pitched in offensively.
UND's second goal of the game was a rush that he started with a stretch pass, catching Colorado College in a line change.
Scheel saw the play develop, skated all the way out to the top of the circle along the boards -- 30 feet from his net on the large Olympic-sized ice sheet -- to pick up the puck and quickly send it back down to captain Jordan Kawaguchi, who started a three-on-one rush that ended with a Grant Mismash goal.
"Unfortunately, he didn't get the assist there," Mismash said. "But I think everyone will notice (what he did). He's playing great hockey. Obviously, we need him to stay in the net and keep playing well."
After his performance, Scheel was doing a lot of talking in the locker room. . . not about the hockey game. The Lakewood, Ohio, product was excited about the Cleveland Browns winning their first playoff game since 1995, more than four years before his birth.
"He's got a loud mouth about the Browns right now, for sure," Mismash said.
Scheel's performance helped UND win its fifth-straight -- it has not trailed at any point in those five games -- in its first contest since leaving the National Collegiate Hockey Conference Pod on Dec. 20.
Tyler Kleven, playing in his first game since returning from the World Junior Championship with a gold medal, scored a goal. Collin Adams had a goal and an assist, while Mismash tallied one goal in an empty building -- sans 32 cardboard cutouts and essential personnel -- due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Kawaguchi added an assist to extend his point streak to 11 games. He has at least one in every game this season.
"We got the win, but I thought we could have played better," Mismash said. "Execution could have been a little bit better. Obviously, we're a little rusty. We're coming off the Christmas break. That really shouldn't be any excuse. We should be sharp. I think we'll be a lot better tomorrow.
"But we got the dub. We scored goals when we needed to. We closed it out when we needed to. We'll take it."
The Fighting Hawks (8-2-1) will aim for a series sweep at 8 p.m. Monday in what could be their final game in World Arena. Colorado College is expected to move into the new Ed Robson Arena on campus next season.
"There's always room to improve," Scheel said. "But the biggest thing is we came out with a win. I thought the guys played well in front of me. They limited their chances. I think we'll be better tomorrow night, but it was a good start to the second half."
UND will hit the midway point in its schedule after Monday night's game.
It will have 12 games remaining -- six against Omaha, four against Denver and two against Colorado College as it tries to win its second-straight Penrose Cup and its fourth in the league's eighth year of existence.
'What else do you expect from those three?'
UND played with a full lineup Sunday for the first time since Game 3 against Western Michigan on Dec. 6. That's when Kleven and Jake Sanderson left for the World Juniors.
It didn't take long for them to make an impact Sunday night.
Kleven scored the game's first goal at 9:43 of the opening frame.
Grand Forks native Judd Caulfield started the play by carrying the puck out of the defensive zone, flipping it around a defender in the neutral zone and chasing it down. He ran out of room to attempt a shot, so he tried a wraparound. That didn't go, but Caulfield picked up the puck again and gave it to Kleven at the point. Kleven launched a shot through a screen by Louis Jamernik, the forward UND added to the roster over Christmas break.
The Fighting Hawks added to the lead with a pair of goals in the second.
The first was a tic-tac-toe goal between three UND senior forwards at 5:52. That play was started by Scheel, who made a stretch pass to Kawaguchi to start the rush. Then, the trio took over.
Kawaguchi made a touch pass for Mismash, who gave it back to Kawaguchi at the top of the right circle. Kawaguchi then dished it to Adams, who was camped out on the left side of the crease. Adams touched it back across the crease to Mismash, who put it away.
"What else do you expect from those three?" Scheel said. "Those three are three of the best players in college hockey."
Mismash said: "I thought (Adams) was going to shoot it, but I'll take a backdoor tap-in."
UND made it a three-goal game at 13:20 of the second, converting one of its three power-play chances on the night. Defenseman Matt Kiersted hammered a shot from the top that hit freshman Riese Gaber, then was tipped by Adams. After Adams' deflection, the puck shot high into the air, landed behind Colorado College goalie Matt Vernon and trickled across the goal line.
Scheel did the rest.
Although UND only allowed 18, 22 and 19 shots on goal in its previous three games with Sanderson and Kleven in the lineup, it gave up 27 on Sunday night. Scheel stopped nine in the first, eight in the second and 10 in the third.
Not even the Browns playoff game could distract Scheel.
"Our games come first, before anything else," Scheel said.