No. 1 UND needs late goals to put away pesky Chargers

For a while, the Chargers stayed close with the top-ranked team in the country, at least on the scoreboard.

UAH scored early, and hung within a goal for most of the contest, but North Dakota eventually dispatched the Chargers 5-2 on Friday night in Grand Forks.

UAH (1-15-3) will take another shot against UND on Saturday at 7 p.m. to finish the non-conference schedule.

The Fighting Hawks (15-1-2) outshot the Chargers 36-15, with UAH goaltender Mark Sinclair needing another big night with 31 saves to keep the upset in play.

The Chargers surprised the Ralph Engelstad crowd by scoring just 18 seconds into the contest.

Connor James had a centering pass from the left side found Christian Rajic in the slot, who slipped the puck past UND goaltender Adam Scheel for a 1-0 UAH lead.

It was Rajic’s team-leading fifth goal of the season, assisted by James and Josh Latta.

The Fighting Hawks found some assertiveness thanks to back-to-back UAH penalties, but the Chargers were able to kill them both.

But UND tied the game with 5:56 left in the first when Jordan Kawaguchi parked out in front and deflected a pass by Sinclair.

The Chargers were pinned in their end for most of the second period, and North Dakota took the lead at the 3:42 mark. Grant Mismash took the feed from Scheel and beat Sinclair high while driving from the left circle.

UAH fought back and tied the game after the Hawks had a bad line change. It resulted on a two-on-none with Latta taking the outlet pass from Tanner Hickey and beating Scheel with 13:09 left in the second.

Mismash put the Hawks up again at 3-2 as he skated in front of Sinclair and slipped the puck to his right with 9:26 remaining.

UND outshot the Chargers 16-4 in the middle frame.

The Chargers had chances in the third to tie it up with three power play opportunities, including about half a minute of a 2-man advantage. While Scheel (13 saves) was forced to make big glove saves on Tanner Hickey and Bauer Neudecker, UAH’s power play continues to struggle.

The Chargers having scored a power play goal since November 9, failing to convert on their last 36 opportunities.

UND put the game away after a UAH turnover. Kawaguchi struck again with 2:36 to go to put the Hawks up 4-2.

UND added an empty-net goal by Cole Smith with 1:44 remaining.