- Associated Press - Friday, February 3, 2017

GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) - You tooDefending NCAA national hockey champion North Dakota is in a slump of epic proportions.

St. Cloud State goalie Jeff Smith made 28 saves on Friday to lead the Huskies past struggling North Dakota 3-1 in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference.

Smith allowed just a power-play goal to Tucker Poolman midway through the third period.

North Dakota (14-11-3, 7-9-1-1 NCHC) came within 11:44 of being shut out in two straight games for the first time in program history, dating back to the 1946-47 season.

Poolman’s power-play goal at 8:16 of the third period ended the Hawks’ scoreless streak at 108 minutes, 49 seconds.



“We’re going through a tough time right now,” UND coach Brad Berry said. “We’ve got to rely on our character and what we do here. It’s not going right. We have to make sure we do the right things to make it go right.”

Thirteenth-ranked UND dropped to 2-7-2 in its last 11 games at home. The Hawks have lost three straight home games.

Hrynkiw had 16 saves in his second career start in place of injured Cam Johnson, who had shut out the Huskies (13-13-1, 7-9-1-0) 4-0 and 3-0 earlier this season at SCSU.

St. Cloud State got two fluke goals and another that struck a North Dakota player. Jacob Benson’s goal from below the goal line hit the back of the blocker of UND goalie Matt Hrynkiw and went in. Ryan Poehling’s goal, 28 seconds after Poolman‘s, was a deflection off Poehling’s facemask.

Jimmy Schuldt added a goal in the second period for St. Cloud State.

Hrynkiw’s first career start last week ended in a 3-0 loss at Colorado College. But the only goal he gave up was a deflection off his own player. The Tigers added two empty-net goals.

Hrynkiw got off to another tough start on Friday when Grand Forks native Benson scored from behind the goal line. The puck hit the inside of Hrynkiw’s blocker and went in at 11:25 of the first period.

The Huskies made it 2-0 on Schuldt’s goal at 6:05 of the second. The shot appeared to hit a North Dakota defender in front of the net and change direction.

“We did that (fall behind 2-0) in Colorado and came back to win a game,” Berry said. “You can’t do that every night chasing it that way.”

UND, which outshot the Huskies 29-20, finally got on the board with Poolman’s power-play goal. Smith made the initial save but didn’t cover up the rebound. Poolman reversed direction in the crease, reached back and scooped the puck in.

St. Cloud State came right back on its next shift with another fluke goal. Robby Jackson’s shot from the point hit teammate Poehling in the facemask and went into the goal over Hrynkiw’s shoulder just 28 seconds after UND scored to get within one point.

“When you score in bunches, you can absorb that,” Berry said of mistakes. “But when you’re going through a tough time when you can’t get the puck in the net, everything magnifies in your end of the rink and it seems right now things are going off bodies and faces and into the net.”

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