- Associated Press - Saturday, March 5, 2016

GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) - North Dakota spotted Western Michigan a 3-1 lead before rallying to beat the Broncos 5-4 Saturday in its final regular season game of the season.

One night after clinching the National Collegiate Hockey Conference regular season title, the Fighting Hawks fell behind 3-1 early before rallying to end the season on a six-game winning streak.

“I’m so glad it’s over,” UND coach Brad Berry said. “Usually three or four goals is enough to win but tonight it wasn’t.”

Senior Drake Caggiula scored the game-winner early in the third period for the second-ranked Fighting Hawks (28-5-3, 19-4-1-1).

“I don’t think you could write a better ending,” Berry said. “You talk about compete . It starts with him.”

Caggiula said it was an emotional ending.

“It was certainly more than I could ever imagine,” Caggiula said of the atmosphere on Saturday. “Scoring that game-winner was a pretty special moment to me.”

Caggiula, Troy Stecher and Brock Boeser had a goal and assist each for UND.

Hawks’ goalie Cam Johnson made just one save on four shots and was pulled trailing 3-1 in the first period. Matt Hrynkiw made 16 saves.

“It wasn’t the start we wanted. The guys knew that. But our leaders took over in the locker room and said the right thing,” Berry said.

Nolan Laporte, Griffen Molino, Michael Rebry and Colt Conrad scored for the Broncos (8-23-3, 5-18-1-1).

Shane Gersich and Bryn Chyzyk also scored for the Hawks.

Conrad intercepted a cross-ice pass and scored at 4:30 of the first period to give the Broncos a 1-0 lead.

But that lead lasted just 1:20 before tied it with a wrister in traffic. Boeser stickhandled from right boards through traffic and down the slot where he beat Lukas Hafner for his 25th goal of the season. Hafner had 22 stops.

Rebry scored his eighth goal of the season on a wrister from just inside the blue line at 10:04.

Molino added a third goal at 12:50 prompting UND to pull goalie Johnson and replace him with Hrynkiw.

Skating a man short on a WMU power play, UND closed the gap on Chyzyk’s shorthanded goal just 3:16 into the second period.

At 8:14, Boeser drove to the net and took the defense with him before dropping a pass back to Troy Stecher for the game-tying goal.

Minutes later, Gersich gave UND a 4-3 lead with a shot from the right point but WMU refused to go away as Laporte scored through traffic from the slot at 15:28 to tie it 4-4.

Caggiula got the last goal on the power play at 5:44 of the third period. Hafner was screened by one of his own defenders and never got a look at the shot from the left point.

UND was 1-for-8 on the power play.

The Hawks will play host to Colorado College in the first round of the NCHC playoffs for the third straight year.

“Every year we have a checklist and the end of that list is a national championship,” Caggiula said. “Along the way, we have small goals. Winning the conference regular season is one of those. We checked off that first box now it’s on to the next one.”

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