UND HOCKEY: Cornell Sweeps North Dakota with 3-1 Saturday Victory

Photo: Jen Conway (@NHLHistoryGirl)

GRAND FORKS, ND– For the first time since 2018, the University of North Dakota was swept in the Ralph Engelstad Arena, as the Cornell Big Red followed up Friday night’s comeback win with a 3-1 victory on Saturday. The last time that the Fighting Hawks were swept at home was in November 2018 against Western Michigan.

North Dakota got off to the start they wanted, buzzing the offensive zone and attacking Ian Shane with shots, even drawing an early penalty. On the ensuing power play, Riese Gaber had time and space to pick his spot; which happened to be over the shoulder of Shane to make it 1-0 exactly two minutes into the game. Moments later, while shorthanded, Mark Senden was hauled down as he made a break to the net. However, Senden’s attempt to go five-hole was thwarted and the game remained 1-0. Just after the penalty expired, Cornell got on the board as Kyler Kovich got behind the coverage and tipped home a rebound in a wide open net for the game-tying goal. Cornell’s pressure was starting to get to UND, as they took some untimely penalties, including one to Tyler Kleven that was reviewed for a major– but was deemed a minor. The Big Red’s attack resulted in Ondrej Psnenicka getting a tip off a Hank Kempf shot to give Cornell the lead.

The second period yield no goals, as Cornell started to clamp down defensively with the lead. Unable to get the puck through the defensive scheme, North Dakota and its fans seemed to feel the pressure and start to get a little anxious about what was to come.

North Dakota made bigger strides in the third period, finally finding ways to get pucks toward Shane, but still unable to find away past him. The Cornell defense played rebounds very well and cleared the puck out of the danger zones quickly. North Dakota wasn’t so fortunate, as Brenden Locke put home his fifth of the season, after being on the door step with no defender on him for a gimme-goal. Even with North Dakota putting up 15 shots– almost half their game total– in the third, they did not have an answer for Shane, as the Big Red take home a big non-conference away sweep; leaving North Dakota wondering what went wrong as they look ahead to NCHC play the rest of the year.

THEY SAID IT

“They’re big and fast, but so are we. We just needed to match that this weekend, but we didn’t. We just have to stick together, stay positive and have a good week at practice.” — Jake Sanderson on what to do moving forward.

“It sucks. This weekend, we didn’t play terrible. I thought we controlled a lot of the weekend. There’s a lot of plays where we need to be a lot stronger. Offensively, we need to generate more. It was a disappointing weekend.” — Riese Gaber on the weekend.

“It was the start we wanted with that one-goal lead. They had a push and scored a couple, then it was kind of back-and-forth. For the most part, we had enough chances to win the game. We didn’t get it done scoring goal wise and I think that’s magnified in the goals you gave up. We gave up a couple of tap-in goals in front. At the end of the day, it’s a situation where I don’t think we did enough to score enough goals to win the game.” — Brad Berry on the effort from Saturday

UND HOCKEY: Three Goals in Under Five Minutes Give Cornell Comeback Win Over UND

GRAND FORKS, ND– For 46 minutes, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks look to be in control of Friday night’s game against Cornell. They were up 3-1, they had plenty of momentum, and had the Big Red on their heels. However, in a span of 4:45, Cornell netted three goals and held off a late flurry by UND; as Game One of the weekend went to Cornell by a score of 4-3.

Wearing their white fauxback jerseys– dubbed the home business suit– UND got off to a quick start with solid shifts in the offensive zone in the first six minutes of the game. While they didn’t score, they set a tone early for the game. However, Cornell did have a pushback for the Hawks offense, at one point outshooting the Hawks and getting some shots on Zach Driscoll. North Dakota would get on the board first, as a turnover in the zone saw Chris Jandric have a clear path to the net, but he saw Mark Senden to his side, slide a pass over and had Senden net his fourth of the season.

Cornell got on the board early in the second thanks to a power play goal by Sam Malinski patiently skating across the blue line and letting a wrist shot go through a screen to beat Driscoll. It was one of the three shots of the period for the Big Red. North Dakota locked things down defensively, but also took the offensive posture again, firing 13 shots in the period at Ian Shane. The long goal to go through, was a wonderful goal by Ashton Calder. On the power play, Jake Sanderson dropped a pass back to Calder on the slingshot scheme, then Calder blew through the Cornell defense and released a quick shot on Shane, beating him five-hole to give UND the lead again.

North Dakota was able to continue form the second period, bringing the offense to Cornell, which concluded in Jake Schmaltz burying a shot past Shane after a wonderful pass from Sanderson to give North Dakota a two-goal lead. That seemed to wake up Cornell, who started to pick up their counterattack and it paid off just before the midway point of the third. A Sebastian Dirven shot form the point went wide of Driscoll, but Jack O’Leary was able to pick up the rebound before Driscoll could and tucked it in to make it a 3-2 score. As North Dakota was on the attack, a pile-up behind the net ended with Gavin Hain down on the ice, unable to put pressure on his right leg. As play went the other way, Max Andreev put home his eighth of the year to tie the game, as Hain was helped off the ice by his teammates. To finish off the comeback, Kyler Kovich netted the game winner, out-muscling Jandric in front of the net to bang home the rebound off a Malinski shot and make it a 4-3 scoreline; which would be the final.

“You need a quicker response, you need a quicker pushback,” head coach Brad Berry said postgame. “When they score to make it 3-2, you still have a goal lead with less than ten minutes left in the game. You need to have some mental toughness as far as the next shift. When a team is down late in a game, there’s a push. We need to meet or exceed that and when you don’t do that you break down in those scenarios.”

“It’s not one person, it’s the five players and goaltender on the ice,” Berry mentioned talking about the second Cornell goal. “It’s not incumbent upon one guy when you give that goal up. When we win as a team, we win as a team. When we lose as a team, we lose as a team.”

The two teams face off Saturday, which will be the last non-conference match-up for UND of the season.

TNT Botches USA Olympic Team Announcement

TOPSHOT – AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

During the second intermission of the Winter Classic, the USA Women’s Olympic Team was announced before the crowd at Target Field. If you were watching on TNT, you saw it…but it was mostly the players waving. No lower third on who was being announced. No dedicated audio from the stadium to broadcast over the air. It was Liam McHugh and Jennifer Botterill talking over the announcement.

While the insight of Botterill on the announcement and the players was nice, it seemed to really dim the light on the players who were being announced and receiving this accolade to play for their country. It’s something that could have been done after the announcement was made, but for some reason; talking over the announcement for no good reason.

I’ll be honest in saying I don’t follow women’s hockey as much as I could. Outside of Stevenson University’s team, Lacey Eden, Julia Blitz, and other Maryland women players– I’m not up on the women’s game. However, when the top women’s team in the country can’t get the respect of being acknowledge on a national broadcast– it’s not a good look. And I mentioned I don’t follow the game that closely because, outside of Hilary Knight, I didn’t know who the player’s were because of the lack of lower-third to show who the player being announced was. If you’re trying to get more eyes on women’s hockey– this wasn’t a good look to have these waving players with no identification.

While I hope it’s not a situation of Turner Sports not caring all that much because they don’t have the Olympic rights; but you’d think you wanted to help beat the drum, as a National Broadcaster, to grow the game. To give these women the chance to shine and keep up with the NHL’s message of hockey being for “everyone.” Just seemed so weird that they could have done the bare minimum and still screwed the whole thing up.

My hope is that USA Hockey or someone will post the announcement in full with graphics in the near future to give the women the respect they deserve for their hard work to make it to the Olympic team. Hell, 15 of these players were part of the Gold Medal team in 2018, still need to claw to get name recognition in a wider audience.

UND HOCKEY: Lackluster Effort By UND Help USA U18 Defeat Hawks in Exhibition

GRAND FORKS, ND– Coming back from semester break, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks started the new year with a matinee exhibition against the USA Under-18 squad. The U18 team has beaten several Division 1 programs like Michigan State, Boston University, Wisconsin and Notre Dame. Saturday Afternoon, the U18 team added North Dakota to the list as they shutout the Hawks 2-0. 

While there was no scoring in the first period, the U18 team showed off their speed and skill, as not only were they faster to loose pucks, but they were able to skate through the North Dakota forecheck and defense to get quality shots on goal. The penalty kill for the U18s also stymied the North Dakota power play, who was without Jake Sanderson, but couldn’t seem to get any time or space to get a quality shot on goal. 

The second period started quickly, as 1:04 into the frame, the U18s created a turnover in the UND zone, allowing Logan Cooley to find Rutger McGroarty in the slot to give the US a 1-0 lead. Throughout the game, the Hawks looked not prepared for this match-up. Whether it be the first game back from break or underestimating this game, the Hawks looked like they were back on their heels for most of the game, not generating many shots against Tyler Muszelik. 

North Dakota tried to get some things going in the third period, trying to press the play with Riese Gaber making a tough drive to the net, but they had nothing to show for it. The U18s struck again, as on a quick transition, Frank Nazar III found Issac Howard streaking down the wing and Howard put it past an outstretched Jacob Hellsten to make it 2-0 US. Even with some power plays later in the frame, the Fighting Hawks could not solved the U18s penalty kill or defense, starting off 2022 with an exhibition loss. 

THEY SAID IT

“It is a mental battle. It was a disappointing effort by our guys, me included. Being kind of mentally weak, not playing our best, and not really being ready for what they have. It is a bit of a mental battle and we just have to do what we need to do.” – Gavin Hain on the mental mindset going into an exhibition game. 

“We know we have better. We know what it takes to bring our “A” game. We’ve done it all first half and we’re confident in our group that we’re gonna have a good week of practice and be ready to go Friday night.” – Riese Gaber on what needed to be done coming out of the game. 

“We didn’t play fast, we weren’t sharp, we didn’t execute the way we wanted to. That team over there played a lot better than we did. It’s not about panic, it’s one game. But it is about making sure that in college hockey, you have to bring it every single night.” – Brad Berry on takeaways from Saturday’s game.

On The Topic Of Olympic Hockey Without the NHL

I am glad the NHL isn’t going to the Olympics. Since 1998, I don’t think I’ve ever bought into the whole “best vs. the best” ideal because if they’re the best and they’re playing in the NHL…aren’t we getting that on a nightly basis?? Can’t they do that at the World Championships??

However, there are some people– maybe rightfully so– annoyed with the NHL not going. Pavel Bure went so far in saying that the NHL doesn’t care about growing the game of hockey, they’re only caring about their league business.

While I can understand what Bure is trying to get at, it’s not just the NHL’s burden to carry in growing the sport. They are the most recognizable league for sure, but in the world we live in today; the interest in hockey can be taken in by anyone with an internet connection and the desire to watch the NHL or any other hockey for that matter. Other than maybe a passing bump post-Olympics, the idea it would create a boom for hockey just because the NHL is there never really jived with me overall. Always seemed like the NHLPA used it as the possibility of a huge ratings bump when it doesn’t seem to happen.

The Olympics have never really benefited the NHL, aside from the players being associated with the league. They don’t have any media rights to the coverage, they can’t use any photos or videos to help promote, and it turns an already long season into even more of a marathon. Luckily, this season; the perfect storm of COVID cases, the Games being in China (which many North American fans wouldn’t tune in live to watch games), and the threat of a five-week quarantine if someone were to test positive gave the NHL and NHLPA the no-brainer decision on skipping out of this one.

And, like I said before– I’m glad they’re not. The 2018 Games were fun with the plucky German crew having a couple big upsets on their way to Silver, the Olympic Athletes from Russia taking home their first goal medal as the OAR and the first for that area of the world since the Unified Team won it in 1992. It showcased players like Kirll Kaprizov before he made it to the NHL, while also bringing older players that many may have forgotten to take part– allowing them to live their dream that they may have thought as being impossible due to the NHLers going out for the Olympics. The Hockey News’ Steven Ellis wrote about it better than I’m putting out there.

One point I will bow to is the one that non-traditional hockey nations can benefit from being on the same ice as NHLers from more developed hockey nations. You could argue that Italy’s entry in 2006 help that country grow a little in terms of having more competitive hockey despite some the team being from Canada. The South Koreans were gearing up as if they were going to face NHLers for 2018 before it didn’t happen. Teams like Germany, Norway, Belarus, Slovenia have been matured on the big stage, as well. Hell, they almost ousted the host nation because they didn’t know if they’d be embarrassed or not against NHLers for this one.

The NHL’s participation is not the end-all, be-all for men’s hockey. Hey, who knows– the Games as a whole could be pushed back a year and then the NHL can get back into it. It has happened before and could happen again for this. Even then, I’ll still stand by my thought that the NHL and the Olympics are better off for not crossing the streams for the near future.

China’s National Men’s Hockey Team Given OK to Compete at Olympics

China’s HC Kunlun Red Star players are seen during the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) match against HC Amur Khabarovsk in Mytishchi, Moscow region, Russia November 15, 2021. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

Many waited with bated breath as the IIHF was pondering what would happen to the host country of China when it came to the men’s Olympic ice hockey portion of the Games. There was doubt that they would be deemed ready to compete, as the team that was designated as the country’s representation– Kunlun Red Star– was getting sick pumped in the KHL with a 9-27 record and a minus-61 goal differential.

In addition to that, the Red Star roster is made up of a majority of North America players– which may not be a red flag to some, but when if they wanted to play in the Olympics; there’d be many hoops to jump through in order to be a nationalized citizen given China not recognizing dual citizen like Italy did in 2006 and South Korea did in 2018.

But worry not, the IIHF said that China is good to go for the Olympics and will have an easy group to play in with Germany, Canada, and the United States. Oops.

Okay, but just assume the NHL isn’t going to go. COVID running rampant through teams and tighter restrictions pending at the Olympic village (not to mention the diplomatic boycotts happening); it could be a photo finish to see if NHL players will actually attend these events or miss it for the second straight Games.

Even if the NHL doesn’t go, you have to wonder about China’s team against those nations with other players in tow. By and large, the non-NHL rosters that would goes against China could easily put a big number against them– Germany showed that in their silver medal result last Olympics. South Korea didn’t have to go against NHLers and they could only muster three goals through their round-robin and playoff matches– and they had a more developed hockey program than what the Chinese appear to have going for them.

Fun fact: In the last five Games, the host nations has made it past the Quarterfinals twice: USA in 2002 and Canada in 2010. Italy didn’t qualify in 2006, Russia lost to Finland in 2014, and South Korea lost in qualifications in 2018. China has a huge hill to climb in that and it may not look promising if they are going against more experienced pros.

That said, there’s always a chance for a Cinderella story. Stranger things have happened in the Olympics, especially in hockey. There’s always one team that comes out of nowhere to make it relatively deep in the playoffs. Belarus in 2002, Slovakia in 2010, Latvia in 2014, and Germany in 2018. On paper– they don’t seem to stand a chance. But to steal from Sportsnet’s Tim Micallef– the game isn’t played on paper, it’s played by little tiny people in our TV sets.

UND HOCKEY: Fighting Hawks Bounce Back For Series Split

Photo via UND Athletics (@undMHockey)

GRAND FORKS, ND– After a lackluster effort Friday night, the University of North Dakota looked to rebound on Saturday against their hated rivals in the University of Minnesota. After a quick start, sustained offensive pressure, and the ability to keep the Gophers out of danger zones, the Fighting Hawks took Saturday’s affair 3-2 to split the weekend. 

Before the game, North Dakota honored former forward Dave Christian in their One More Shift ceremony before the game. Christian played two years at UND before going to the US National Team for the 1980 Olympics and then moved to a 15-year NHL career. 

“When we go out for the tunnel before the anthem and starting line-up, he was with us right there giving everybody a fist bump and being like he was part of the team,” head coach Brad Berry said of Christian before the ceremony. “He was joking with me saying, ‘Hey, if I play a shift, it’s going to be power play and I’m not coming back out of the offensive zone.’ I said, ‘I guarantee, you can play two minutes like (Alex Ovechkin) does in Washington.’”  

Donning their modernized retro home alternate jerseys, North Dakota got off to a better start than Friday, as they potted the first goal only 3:27 into the game as Gavin Hain’s screen in front allowed a Mark Senden’s shot to go off of Hain’s skate and through Jack LaFontaine to make it 1-0 Hawks. Unlike Friday’s game, North Dakota had much more sustained pressure in the first, holding the Gophers to only four shots in the first, most of them after the first part of the frame. 

North Dakota continued to push the offensive envelope, creating plenty of chances in their zone to start the second period; holding the strong Minnesota offense at bay. Mark Senden got UND the 2-0 lead, as he ripped on the breakout of the zone on the power play, receiving a pass from Louis Jamernik, and put it past the blocker of LaFontaine to notch one on the power play. The North Dakota defense was solid throughout the game, as through two periods, the Gophers only had six shots on goal. 

Senden potted his second of the night after a great takeaway by Jake Sanderson at the point, who moved it to Connor Ford, who then slid it across to Senden for the 3-0 goal. After a suspect penalty on Ford, Minnesota got on the board with Ben Myers putting a knuckler of a one-time attempt past Zach Driscoll for the 3-1 score line. Minnesota cut the game to one-goal when, with the goalie pulled, Chaz Lucius found a loose puck in the crease and put it behind Driscoll. Minnesota kept the pressure on, but the North Dakota defense kept the Gophers to the outside with the goalie pulled and made the final 3-2 to split the weekend. 

Photo: Jen Conway (@NHLHistoryGirl)

THEY SAID IT

“We were just a little more physical tonight. We got a little more after them and kind of played our game. Last night, we got away from that and tried to be something we aren’t. But tonight we got back to getting pucks behind them and being heavy on them.” — Cooper Moore on the differences from Friday and Saturday’s games. 

“Especially in a game like yesterday, we were very disappointed in ourselves. There wasn’t much good that came out of that game. So, you come in in the morning and try to forget about yesterday, but look at what we did and try to learn from that.”– Gavin Hain on coming in the building after a loss. 

“I thought we did a good job of tracking and playing as a five-man unit together and not having spaces in our game. For the most part, we skated and we check a lot harder than we did last night: — Brad Berry about the game plan being executed Saturday night.

UND HOCKEY: Gophers Roll Over Hawks 5-1

Photo via UND Hockey Twitter @undMHockey

GRAND FORKS, ND– The rivalry between Minnesota and North Dakota in college hockey runs deep. In their 291st meeting, it was all Golden Gophers, as they took the momentum in the first period and got a couple lucky bounces, while also stymieing the Fighting Hawks offense to take home the 5-1 victory on Friday night. 

The first part of the frame was a feeling out period, but Minnesota would soon take the advantage offensively, mostly due to extended power play time. On one of those power play attempts, Bryce Brodzinski broke the ice for the Gophers, batting in a bouncing puck off a face off in the North Dakota zone. The puck landed around Zach Driscoll’s crease and took a Minnesota bounce and squeaked over the goal line for the opening score. Minnesota kept their pressure on and ended the period with a 14-4 shot advantage. 

A bad break haunted North Dakota, as a Rhett Pitlick dump in was whiffed on by Driscoll, who attempted to play the puck and Jack Perbix put home an easy goal. North Dakota then started to pepper Minnesota on a power play, but a shot ringing off the post and many blocked shots in front kept them off the board. Moments after the shot hitting the post, Ryan Johnson shot one from the point that went off the shin pad of Nick Portz and behind Driscoll for a 3-0 Gophers lead. The Fighting Hawks put pressure on, trying to get back into the game, but Jack LaFontaine was strong in his net and kept the Hawks off the board. 

UND had a big opportunity in the beginning of the third period with a two-man advantage, but the movement around the zone did not warrant many shots, as the Gophers defense got in the shooting lanes. Riese Gaber did get the Hawks on the board after the power plays expired, picking up a Gavin Hain rebound and putting it over the shoulder of LaFontaine to make it a 3-1 game. North Dakota got back in a hole, as Tyler Kleven got a five and game for contact to the head, the second straight weekend a North Dakota player was ejected for that call. While they killed off that penalty, it killed their momentum after the goal. With just under five minutes left, North Dakota pulled Driscoll, but with no sustained control of the puck, Minnesota got it out of the zone and Chaz Lucius made it a 4-1 game. To add insult to injury, Brodzinski got his second of the night on a clearing attempt by Blake McLaughlin and shot it in-stride under Driscoll’s arm for the 5-1 goal, which is how the game ended. 

THEY SAID IT

“I think it’s a mindset of remaining true to what our identity is and making it harder on other teams where we put pucks in the offensive zone and collectively we get two or three guys around the puck. Tonight, I thought we were a lot of one-and-done, battling for a puck with one guy and not a second guy. When we’re a cohesive unit, we’re putting pucks behind d-cores and playing well in the offensive zone. That’s how you generate it. The other part is that I thought we were too cute trying to find seam passes and different plays where you got to get greasy and dirty sometimes, especially on nights when it isn’t going your way.” — Head coach Brad Berry’s assessment of the the UND offensive game

“We were turning pucks over. We weren’t getting pucks behind their defense. Weren’t getting on their defense. Just not doing things to generate offense.” — Gavin Hain on what didn’t go right for UND

“I think we were kind of getting away from who we are. We just got to get pucks deep. We were trying, maybe, to make one too many plays. We’ve got to keep it simple. That’s what’s been working for us.” — Mark Senden on the loss

Graphic by North Dakota Athletic Department @undMHockey

GRAND FORKS, ND– Coming off a loss on Friday night, the North Dakota Fighting Hawks wanted to make sure they didn’t get swept in their own arena; especially not against a heated rival like the Duluth Bulldogs. Even with key players being out, the mindset seemed to change and the Fighting Hawks secured a split on the weekend with a 2-1 victory on Saturday. 

North Dakota could have gotten off to another quick start, as Duluth was faced with a five-minute major to Carter Loney for boarding. However, Duluth’s penalty kill was a big factor in keeping the Fighting Hawks off the board with crucial blocks and the ability to keep North Dakota on the perimeter and not get much inside to challenge Ryan Fanti. The period ended scoreless with North Dakota leading in shots, 11-7. 

“We didn’t score on it,” head coach Brad Berry said post-game, “but I thought the power play gave us momentum for the rest of the period and the rest of the game. That was the message to our guys was the discipline side of it. That’s so key, if you’re on a power play and you get all that momentum. We were killing all day yesterday in that game and gave that team momentum.” 

With shots ringing off the pipe at both ends, Duluth started to gain plenty of momentum throughout the period not only offensively, but holding the UND offense to only two shots through 15 minutes of the second. Duluth was able to break the stalemate with Blake Biondi finding a seam in the defense, receiving a solid dish from Dominic James, with Biondi then beating Zach Driscoll on the blocker side to make it 1-0 Duluth. North Dakota would tie it up late in the second, with Ethan Frisch going five-hole on Fanti with 5.4 seconds left in the period on the power play after Frisch was set up by Chris Jandric. 

North Dakota broke the tie 5:05 into the third after a wonderful pass from Ashton Calder found a streaking Brendan Budy who jammed it under Fanti to make it 2-1 for the Hawks. Duluth had a chance on the power play past the midway point in the frame, but Driscoll was equal to the task, kicking out shot after shot to keep the North Dakota lead. Duluth put the pressure on late, even putting Fanti in the closing minutes, but they could not find the equalizer; leading to a 2-1 UND win and a weekend split.

Brendan Budy/ Photo Jen Conway (@nhlhistorygirl

THEY SAID IT

“I think everyone’s first reaction when key guys are out is, ‘Man, we’re going to miss them.’ The biggest thing is our mentality is the next man up mentality. We’re going to miss them, but there’s other good players around here that can go in. Anytime you can get a win and get some young guys to get reps, like Cooper Moore and Luke Bast, that’s huge and when you get the win, it’s a bonus.” — Berry on the depth of his team after this weekend.

“Obviously the bodies weren’t feeling great, but that’s to be expected anytime you play Duluth in a two-game series. It really comes down to mentality. We were a little too worried about the refs, we were worried about our lineup the first night and the second night it was like– let’s throw that out the window and worry about who we’ve got in this room.” — Frisch on the message going into Satuday’s game. 

“That goal was a pretty big relief. Coming in, kind of got a little dinged up in the summer and took a while to come back. I’ve been kind of chipping away at it, trying to get my confidence back, trying to get back to my old self.” — Budy on his goal and what it does for his progression.

“We got extended on a shift out there. Sometimes you get extended on an icing call or whatever, someone gets extended and then he’s not on with his regular line. I just tried to take the three freshest guys and Ford and Calder were up, but Budy was on the next line. It was a situation where I wanted a fresh body up there.” — Berry on the unintentional mixing of lines that lead to the game winner.

UND HOCKEY: Hawks Drop First NCHC Game of Season to Duluth

Graphic via UND Hockey Twitter @undMhockey

GRAND FORKS, ND– With four players out to non-COVID related illness– Jake Sanderson, Matteo Costantini, Jackson Kunz, and Dane Montgomery– the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks would have to have their “next-man-up” mentality on full display in another NCHC contest; this time, against the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs. Despite getting out to a quick start, discipline caught up to the Hawks and they dropped their first in-conference game 4-1 on Friday night. 

It only took 2:30 into the first before Gavin Hain got the first goal after a wonderful display of stickhandling, patience, and passing from Louis Jamernik for the early UND lead. North Dakota got into some penalty trouble towards the middle part of the frame, with one being washed out due to Mark Senden’s solid shorthanded play. Their second penalty kill wasn’t as lucky, as Casey Gilling tied the game picking up a Koby Bender shot that went off Chris Jandric’s ankle and right to Gilling, who tied the game up. Dominic James got the Bulldogs ahead, taking a Kobe Roth pass and chipping it over the shoulder of Zach Driscoll to give Duluth the 2-1 lead. The hits kept on coming for UND, as Jamernik got a five and game for contact to the head with a cross check to Hunter Lellig, giving Duluth an extended power play heading into the second period. 

Fortunately for North Dakota, they were able to stave off the power play of Duluth, thanks to keeping the puck to the perimeter and getting into shooting and passing lanes. With the play not being a sharp in the second period, penalties kept coming with Tyler Kleven getting an interference call close to midway through the frame, while Blake Biondi and Senden got into it during a scrum in front, with Biondi taking the extra call for slashing, negating another power play for Duluth. However, thanks to a pinballing puck, Gilling was able to notch his second of the game, picking up a loose puck in the slot that hit off multiple UND and Duluth players for the 3-1 scoreline. 

North Dakota tried to get something started in the third, but many of their chances ended up not hitting the net or getting deflected en route to Ryan Fanti. With the goalie pulled with four minutes left, North Dakota tried to pepper Fanti, but could not find a way to hit the back of the end. With the net pulled, Roth was able to get the puck from Quinn Olson to put home the empty-netter and a 4-1 Duluth victory. 

THEY SAID IT

“We try to focus on trying to preserve the lead we had or the time and then you just run out of gas a little bit. Some guys that play key minutes and you can’t have that, especially early in the game. We’ve done a better job at playing with discipline, but those are situations that we have to learn from tonight because against good teams, you can’t do that.” — Head coach Brad Berry on the penalty issues early for North Dakota. 

“We just kind of got back to where we wanted to play coming into the game. We played how we wanted to right away and then we kind of got away from it and gave them chances, gave them momentum. At the end of the game, we started to play like how we needed to play, how we wanted to play.” — Gavin Hain on North Dakota’s third period.

“It’s just any other game. We know, yeah, we’re missing a few guys, but it’s about the 23 guys in that locker room. We’re just a band of brothers mentality. It doesn’t matter who’s in the lineup, we’ve got to stick to our game plan.” — Judd Caulfield on how the scratches affected the team Friday.