Late goals lift UND over Air Force

UND freshman defenseman Tucker Poolman battles an Air Force skater for the puck Saturday evening at Ralph Engelstad Arena. Tucker tallied UND’s first goal in a 3-1 victory over the Falcons. Photo by Jennifer Friese/The Dakota Student.

With less than a minute left on the overtime clock, the UND men’s hockey team skated on its home ice to salvage a tie with Air Force thanks to a late third period goal by Drake Caggiula that kept it in the game.

But Michael Parks knew he had 15 seconds to end it differently.

The senior forward picked up the puck at center ice and rushed toward Air Force’s net in overtime — sending the puck to Bryn Chyzyk for the tip in past Chris Truehl that signaled an eruption of a North Dakota bench with 6.4 seconds left on the clock.

Chyzyk’s goal awarded North Dakota a 3-2 victory over Air Force and extended its unbeaten streak to six games last Saturday in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game in front of 11,895 at Ralph Engelstad Arena.

“We were saying on the bench, ‘block everything, do whatever it takes to get that tie,’” Chyzyk said. “And then when we saw that chance come up, we thought we might as well go for it.”

The Falcons struck first as they registered the only goals in the first two periods of play to drop North Dakota to a 2-0 deficit. But UND played through the third period with resiliency as it tallied two goals from Tucker Poolman and a Drake Caggiula extra attacker goal to equalize the teams as the final frame came to a close.

“Definition of a roller coaster game, I think,” Chyzyk said. “We came out really poor and we left ourselves 20 minutes to earn a ‘W,’ and I thought our team did that.”

North Dakota rode the game for the first two periods but took control in the third and fought off a Brendan O’Donnell checking from behind penalty and game misconduct at 2:17 of the overtime that left it short a skater.

For a team that played a flat 40 minutes, it found a rhythm to reverse a slow start.

“Put everything else aside, I’m proud of the will that the players came out of the locker room with and found a way to dig out of a pretty deep hole and get it done,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said.

In what Chyzyk deemed a “horrible game” for himself, his last-minute point marked UND’s first shorthanded overtime goal since Bob Lilo’s goal against Michigan State in Feb. 1967.

The goal also awarded UND its fifth shorthanded goal this year and contributed to just its seventh win in 46 overtimes in Ralph Engelstad Arena.

“Any time you can erase a two-goal deficit in the first period, you feel pretty good about yourselves,” Caggiula said. “We weren’t happy with the first 35-40 minutes we played. We just kept pushing and pushing and that’s what makes our team so great. We’re just so resilient we just kept pushing and pushing.

Zane McIntyre finished with 18 saves in the net, making key saves at critical moments.

“That’s a tough position,” Hakstol said. “He lets one more in, and its game over. So he did a good job closing the door and giving us a chance, and that’s what his job is once we got to that situation.”

North Dakota found its bearing in due time to notch a win, and its efforts collided against a hard working Air Force team that was less than a minute from defeating the home team in front of a sold out crowd.

“I don’t know what to say,” Parks said. “We didn’t play a complete game, but I guess we’re mature enough to find a way to win that game.”

Elizabeth Erickson is the sports editor of The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected].