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UND hammers St. Cloud State in series opener

The Fighting Hawks handed the Huskies their most lopsided defeat in more than 10 years with a 7-1 victory Friday night.

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Fighting Hawks forward Griffin Ness (11) celebrates his second period goal with teammates and UND hockey fans during a home matchup against St. Cloud State at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks on Friday, January 28, 2022.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald
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GRAND FORKS — UND's 100-plus minute scoring drought ended in less than three minutes Friday night.

The Fighting Hawks had no intentions of stopping there.

They opened a three-goal lead after one period, added to it in the second, then handed No. 6 St. Cloud State its most lopsided defeat in more than a decade with a 7-1 victory in the series opener in Ralph Engelstad Arena.

Riese Gaber scored twice and added two assists. Freshman forward Matteo Costantini had four assists. Griffin Ness scored his first-career goal. Ethan Frisch added one on the power play. And Ashton Calder scored twice — pulling off the Jocelyne Lamoureux Olympic-winning move on a penalty shot — as the Fighting Hawks ended a four-game losing streak in an emphatic way.

"When knew it would come," Frisch said. "We believed in this group. We believe in our systems and the guys on this team. We knew it would happen for us if we kept plugging away. I'm really proud of the way our group fought tonight."

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UND had scored just two goals in the last three games entering the weekend and hadn't put one in the net in 100 minutes, 22 seconds after a pair of losses at Western Michigan last weekend.

But everything started falling against a Huskies team that had allowed the fewest goals in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference this season.

"I think we got some bounces," UND coach Brad Berry said. "I think we played pretty much the same as we did in Western Michigan. I think we connected on some plays. I think our puck possession was maybe a little bit better than when we were in Western, but for the most part, I thought the lines that were together tonight had some consistency and played hard. We got a couple early goals and that's a big difference when you can get a couple goals in the first period."

The last time St. Cloud State lost a game by six goals was Feb. 13, 2010, when UND beat the Huskies 8-1 in St. Cloud. That game kicked off an eight-game winning streak for a UND that had previously struggled.

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The Fighting Hawks' Ashton Calder (16) sneaks the puck past St. Cloud State goaltender Jaxon Castor on a penalty shot in the third period of a men's hockey game at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks on Friday, January 28, 2022.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

The Fighting Hawks (14-10, 9-4 NCHC) hope they can build momentum during the series finale at 6:07 p.m. Saturday.

"We're not satisfied with one win," Frisch said. "Obviously, it's been a tough stretch for us. But tonight felt really good. We're not satisfied with that, though. It's about us and what we do and we're excited to get back here tomorrow."

UND started freshman goalie Jakob Hellsten, who received just one goal of goal support in his last two starts.

Hellsten stopped 19 of 20 shots to get the win. The only goal he allowed was a one-timer by Jami Krannila on the power play.

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"When you get the win, it's a lot of fun," Hellsten said. "I think it was huge for our team to get a lot of goals. We've got to keep working and keep scoring goals."

It was a complete opposite of Hellsten's first-career appearance. He entered a game in which UND lost 8-1 at St. Cloud State in December.

"We played a lot better, so it was a bit different" Hellsten said. "But that's a skilled team, so we have to play the same game tomorrow, because they're going to come out hard."

Berry said earlier this week that UND remained upbeat and positive at practice this week, despite losing four straight.

"This is the time of year that the locker room takes ownership of it," Berry said. "The leadership comes out. I thought our leaders did a really, really good job of having a good week and then getting into a game tonight and going from start to finish with no lulls in our game."

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St. Cloud State goaltender Jaxon Castor stops a shot from UND's Connor Ford (21) late in the second period of a men's hockey game at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks on Friday, January 28, 2022.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at bschlossman@gfherald.com.
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