UND goalie Zach Driscoll tracks the puck. (Photo Credit: Eric J. Burton, Inside Hockey)

Cornell Drops UND, 4-3

Grand Forks, ND — On Friday night, UND’s long-awaited game Cornell finally became a reality. The two teams were supposed to play against each other last season, but we know how that went.

UND came out and played really well. For roughly fifty minutes, UND looked as if it was headed to an important non-conference victory. The Hawks scored once in the first, once in the second, and once in the third period (UND’s goal scorers: Mark Senden, Ashton Calder, and Jake Schmaltz). The Fighting Hawks looked like they had the game all but wrapped up.

On to the third period. I don’t think anyone doubted that UND was ready to put the finishing touches on a nice non-conference win. The Fighting Hawks took a 3-1 lead with a goal from Schmaltz on a delayed penalty. Then there was a swing in momentum. On the ensuing power play, UND failed to put a single shot on the Cornell net.

Following UND’s unsuccessful power play, the Hawks suffered an ill-advised meltdown down. In a little under five minutes, UND found themselves on the wrong side of a 4-3 deficit. Scoring for the Big Red: Justin Ertel, Jack O’Leary, Max Andreev, and Kyler Kovich.

UND head coach Brad Berry broke it down.

“We call that a pushback, Berry said. “They scored. We were up in the game. They scored a power play goal to tie it. It took us a couple of shifts to get back. Finally, we got the lead again, but you need a quicker response. You need a quicker pushback, and I thought even though they scored to make it 3-2, you still have a one-goal lead with less than 10 minutes left in the game.

“You need to have some mental toughness, the next shift has to be a strong shift. When a team is down late in the game, there’s a push. There’s an urgency and there’s a push and we need to match and exceed that and I don’t think we did that.”

Defensively, UND played really well until the halfway point of the third period.

“When you keep them to single-digit shots going into the third period you’re doing the right thing,” Berry said. “They scored a power play goal and they didn’t have much five on five. I thought even strength we did a really good job, and it’s like that situation where they do score a goal, the mental toughness has to kick in. To have a response. I thought we didn’t have that for that five-minute interval and it’s a situation we got to learn from it.

“Going down the stretch, when we play tomorrow, there has to be a response and there will, and then you get back into the NCHC it’s the same thing. It’s a grind and you have to have that.”

It’s a team effort and the blame doesn’t lie with any single player.

“It’s not one person,” Berry said. “It’s the five players and the goaltender on the ice when you give up something. It’s not incumbent upon one guy when he gives that goal up. Usually, it’s more than that, and when we win as a team, we win as a team. When we lose as a team, we lose as a team.  It was a situation where we lost it as far as a five-man unit on the ice with our goaltender.”

The game plan for tomorrow is pretty simple.

“I think we’ll play a full 60 tomorrow, come out strong again,” Chris Jandrik said. “It should be good.”

Entering Friday’s game, UND had won 47 games in a row when leading after two periods. The streak came to an end on Friday night.