Minor League Weekly: Utica Heating Up, Joe Cox Making His Mark, Final SPHL Spot Shuffling

AHL

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Photo by Lindsay A. Mogle / Utica Comets Facebook

-Heading into hosting the All-Star Game, the Utica Comets are amongst one of the hottest teams in the league with points in nine of their last 10 games (7-1-1-1) and four-straight wins. Even with leading scorer Reid Boucher (20g, 17a) on the shuttle from Utica to Vancouver, the Comets are still fighting in the playoff hunt. Thatcher Demko has continued to improve in the system with the Comets (16-7-5, 2.28 GAA, .929Sv%), but will need a lot of goal support to help. Despite Boucher’s 20, no other comment is in double-digits for goals. To keep their hot streak alive and hope to get a playoff berth, something will need to be done offensively to help Utica out.

-While things aren’t going great in Glendale, the Tucson Roadrunners are giving Coyotes’ fans some hope of what’s to come, mostly due to rookies Dylan Strome and Nick Merkley, who have commanded the offense for the Roadrunners in the first half of the season. While veterans Michael Bunting and Mike Sislo have helped out, the youth is being quite served– especially with Hunter Miska leading the team in wins (12-3-0), but his GAA (2.98) and save percentage (.898) leave much to be desired.

ECHL

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Photo by Florida Everblades Facebook

-One player that could be lost in the Florida Everblades season could be the second-half play, thus far, of rookie Joe Cox. The Michigan State product is on a seven-game point streak (3g, 10a) and has provided a much needed punch for the secondary scoring for the Everblades already dynamic offense. It just goes to show the time it takes players to develop, as Cox’s best season before this was in the USHL when he had 20 goals and 20 assists for the Muskegon Lumberjacks, while his junior year at MSU was his most productive with 11 goals and 23 points in 35 games. Around an All-Star line-up as he is, the protection could allow Cox to flourish throughout the rest of the season and into the playoffs.

-At the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference, the Wheeling Nailers have gotten a lot of their offensive from their first-year players. While Cody Wydo continues to be a constant, the emergence of Reid Gardner has been a welcome for the Nailers. Gardner leads the teams in goals with 21 and power-play goals with six. Couple that with another rookie in Cam Brown leading the team with 39 points (12g, 27a), the Nailers continue to churn out talent for the Penguins organization. The offensive will need to be strong, as the by-committee goaltending has a combined 3.14 GAA on the year.

SPHL

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-The race for the eighth-seed is still hot and heavy between a second-year Roanoke team who changed coaches to change fortune, the rebranded Fayetteville Marksman with one of the top players in the league in Jake Hauswirth on the team, while the expansion Birmingham Bulls are only three points out and have Mavric Parks being second in the league in minutes played and 7th in the league in save percentage (.911) despite a 3.32 GAA. When it comes to this playoff format, too, it should be interesting to see if the traditional 1st vs. 8th seed get picked because who knows how the top seed will look at these teams, who are already in playoff mode as it is.

Will Avalanche of Wins Make Colorado a Contender??

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Am I to trust the Colorado Avalanche?? Is this ten-game winning streak (as of this writing) something I should be excited for?? With all the promise this team had in the past, it’s hard to get excited when they had 52 wins one season and then haven’t made the playoffs since. For a team that holds their alumni in as high regard as the Edmonton Oilers did throughout the 2000s and early 2010s, there was plenty of dysfunction to go around.

However, it seems that whatever Jared Bednar has been preaching to the team has finally stuck with them. Nathan MacKinnon has been a stud this season while ranking up with the NHL’s top scorers thus far. Not to mention how well Jonathan Bernier has been playing since taking over for the injured Semyon Varlamov (9-0-0 since December 31st), the Avalanche may be onto something good for once.

They’re holding onto the last Wild Card spot in a very hectic Western Conference and it almost seems like getting rid of Matt Duchene is what turned this team around for the better, at least according to MacKinnon. The Avs have have gone 19-10-3 in the subsequent 33 games since the trade, while MacKinnon has 47 points in those 33 games. More over, Mikko Rantanen is better than point-per-game thus far, while Alex Kerfoot has been a welcome surprise to the defensive corps, while adding plenty on the offensive side.

For all the guff that Joe Sakic has gotten– and maybe most of it warranted– the Duchene deal could be the thing that turned the attitude around for the Avalanche; though he could have gotten a little better in return during the summer, though hindsight is always 20/20. It’s a bit of a redemption for Sakic considering how many people have ripped him for what happened with the Duchene thing early in the season and his overall takeover of the GM from the cardboard cut-out that was purportedly Greg Sherman for those last few years Sherman had that title.

Of course, you can’t always take long winning-streaks as a hard-and-fast rule of teams coming out of a funk. Hell, last year’s Flyers had one and then missed the playoffs entirely. But maybe, just for this short time, the Avalanche can have a little bit of relieve considering the turmoil they had to deal with this off-season and into the early part of this season.

Does Domingue Desertion Signal Some Worse Happening in Arizona Personnel Wise??

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Louis Domingue/Photo via Syracuse.com

The on-ice product for the Arizona Coyotes isn’t the best. We all know that and the numbers can attest to that. However, with the story the Louis Domingue shared with the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Power Play Podcast shows that maybe they’re failing more off-the-ice than people want to admit– not just in community relations and all of that, but with the handling of players overall.

Raw Charge on SBNation did a great job of recapping the episode hosted by Matt Sammon with clips from Brian Engeblom interviewing Domingue. It was a great tale of his time in the QMJHL with Patrick Roy, to him in constant Coyotes’ limbo, to him almost quitting hockey at 25. Yet, one thing stood out amongst the horrors of the Arizona experience for the young netminder:

For a good week and a half, I was left without ice or a gym or any support from the team. I was just home waiting for a call. They told me to rent my own ice [chuckles]. I was there – I gave call to my old friend Shane Doan. He came out with me on the ice in the afternoon with his son.

I rented the ice at midnight just to shoot pucks and skate around because I was tired of being at home.

Listen– it’s one thing to hang a guy in limbo by not sending him down to the minors right off the waiver wire, but to not even give him access to the team facilities when he’s STILL UNDER CONTRACT TO THE TEAM seems a little bit insane to me. Sure, I get it if you don’t want to send him to Tucson and throw a wrench in the solid season they’ve been having thus far with Hunter Miska in net and Adin Hill coming back around again. But why not loan him out somewhere. Obviously, he wasn’t in the plans, so do something like what Buffalo did with Matt Moulson and send him somewhere that needs/wants him.

Goaltending is a fickle thing made up of “What have you done for me lately??” around every turn, especially when it comes to teams that don’t have a proven starter who deserves the tenured leeway in order to succeed as a whole. Domingue had a rough go and with rough goes in Arizona overall– the goaltending will be the focus. Looking at his stats since getting into the Tampa Bay organization (11-4-0, 2.07GAA, .921Sv% in Syracuse), it just takes actual guidance and solid coaching in order to make a goalie who’s on the edge of oblivion to become an above-average goalie.

On the flip side– what the hell Coyotes’ organization?? There are problems all over the place with this team as a whole, then you hear this stuff and wonder if they do this with everyone. You look at how this situation and how the situation with Anthony Duclair went down and you wonder how there’s not more of an exodus or even worse stories coming from this team….and I’m sure there’s going to be more horror coming out as people start to set sail from there.

Now, I don’t know what the NHL can do with team business, but it seems insane to me that a CONTRACTED PLAYER is locked out of his team’s rink or gym because he was put on waivers and they didn’t want to send him to the NHL. Yes, they didn’t want him to get hurt because he’d be untradeable, but at the same time– how do you expect him to be desireable to other teams when he’s not playing ANYWHERE– AHL, ECHL, SPHL– to be displayed for anyone.

There seems to be something just not right with the Coyotes’ front office when it comes to dealing with their players. The way they set it up has been dragged every which way, especially with the analytics vs. non-analytics debate and the youth/inexperience of John Chayka when it comes to building said team. Whether it was Domingue and Duclair being ruined by a system that didn’t care to help make them better or if they just didn’t fit into the team’s plans– these stories and the hearsay coming from it makes you wonder what’s left to come out of the desert when it comes to player personnel.

ECHL Reveal 2019 All-Star Classic Format and It’s….Something

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A day after they held their 2018 All-Star Classic, the ECHL went ahead and revamped their All-Star Classic for 2019, showing that they’re wasting not time whatsoever to get the hype train going for Toledo next year, despite other markets not being keen on hosting an All-Star Classic due to the painstaking hours off-ice that need to be done in order to put one of those things on.

In any case, the ECHL has revealed that the All-Star Classic will continue to be 3-on-3, but instead of having all four divisions represented– the Eastern and Western conference will have a team of All-Stars, while the Toledo Walleye will have two teams in the All-Star Classic competing against each other. It’s basically the dream that a lot of Canadian hockey fans have when it comes to having two Canadian National teams in the Olympics or World Juniors.

Firstly, to announce this more than 365 days before the event happens seems a little….odd?? You’re just coming off an All-Star Classic and you’re already forgetting about that event and just pushing forward with the plans for next year?? You’d think that they’d want to announce it during the off-season when there is no news and actually have people talk a little bit about this during the dog days of the off-season.

Secondly, what sense does it make to make to kill more roster spots for All-Stars by taking away two whole division spots?? Is it because of the call-ups?? Is it because some guys didn’t want to go?? It just seems silly for a situation like this to happen when you’re trying to display the entire league’s stars– but you end up showing off one team and a select amount of stars on the world stage. It was one thing when the ECHL had the host team play against the full amount of All-Stars, but this seems very odd to split one of those teams up and then have them play against each other.

More over, you just had a game where because of call-ups and some oversight, a lot of the top scorers in the league weren’t in attendance. Call-ups are the nature of the business, but from the on-set– when seven of the top-10 scorers are missing from the game; that’s problematic for an All-Star Classic.

Yes, I’m a curmudgeon when it comes to this because it’s not geared towards me, it’s geared toward the appeal of the community. That said, I would want this to be more entertaining than it is. The ideal of the All-Star Game is really a passe thing because we have an overabundance of access to leagues and games and everything these days– it’s not that big a necessity to have All-Star Games in any sport. I’ve always heldfast in the belief that you do a Comic-Con type of event with players available for signings and a lot more interactive festivities for the fans rather than just a game.

However, I’m just one voice in a crowd of differing opinion. And the opinion seems to be the same old song keeps works, so play on.

Minor League Weekly: Ontario Reigning Point-Streaks, Dupont Guiding Norfolk, Parks is Peoria New Hope

AHL

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-While all the Pacific teams are over .500, the Ontario Reign will need to keep digging deeper in order to keep up with the rest of the division. Lucky for them, however, they have two of the hottest scorers in the league right now. Both Mike Amadio and Jonny Brodzinski are on big points streak that rank in the top-10 for the season, with Amadio’s 16-game point streak (8g, 19a) being the longest in the AHL so far. Brodzinski isn’t a slouch, however, with a nine-game streak (6g, 8a) which is tied for 7th longest this season going into Monday’s games.

-If they’re not careful, the Springfield Thunderbirds could be a dark horse to climb up the standings and snag one of the final playoff spot in the Atlantic. The Thunderbirds are winners of seven of their last 11, including three straight heading into the new week. With their goaltending being somewhat shaky on the year, they’ll need to get a lot more support for Samuel Montembeault. While Curtis Valk is ahead in the team points, the real test will be to see how the likes of Dryden Hunt and Anthony Greco respond to a possible late-season push for the team to help support Valk and Alexandre Grenier.

ECHL

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-Despite being on a bad team, Brodie Dupont is making the most of his time in Norfolk. With 39 points in 37 games, the former New York Rangers’ prospect leads the team in points and is quietly 8th in the league. While the Admirals could make a late-season push for the playoffs, you have to wonder if someone like Dupont will be dangled out there at the trade deadline to get some prospects back and build into the future with that team. Dupont was traded last year to Greenville, only to return in the off-season.

-Since returning to Reading on December 28th, John Muse has continued his solid play for the Royals. Muse is 7-1-0 since returning, pushing his record to 13-4-1 on the season, while also ranking second amongst goalies in GAA and save percentage. The 2012 Kelly Cup Playoff MVP is coming back to the ECHL full-time for the first time since the 2012-13 campaign in Florida.

SPHL

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-It was a helluva holiday season for the Peoria Rivermen, who lost both goalies– Eric Levine and Storm Phaneuf to season-ending injuries over the holidays. Because of that, Tyler Parks has been thrown into the starting role, which has led him to an 8-2-0 record on the season and winning six of his last seven. Luckily, the Rivermen do have a solid goalie pipeline at their fingertips, which has come in handy in a situation like this. They continue to be four points behind Pensacola for top spot in the league with two games in hand.

REPORT: ECHL Tabs St. John’s as Latest Market

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According to David Salter, the former Director of Communications for the St. John’s IceCaps of the AHL, there’s going to be an ECHL team coming to St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador in the near future. Salter said that a source from outside the area was the one who told him that it will be happening. Salter also stated that the franchise will be affiliated with the Montreal Canadiens, while trying to use the IceCaps name.

Of course, this brings up a host of other questions. With the Canadiens going to this new St. John’s team, who would the Brampton Beast turn to in order to be an affiliate?? There are two options– one of which being the Toronto Maple Leafs– who have the Marlies feet away from their doorstep, why not have their ECHL team there rather than in Orlando?? Of course, Orlando runs a nice little ship there and the Leafs may like that a little better. The other option is the Ottawa Senators, who moved their AHL team to Belleville, which is two hours west of Brampton. Currently, the Senators are without an ECHL affiliate and it would make sense to keep the teams in Ontario if you’re going to go that route.

Another question is what to do with travel. Even with the Northeast expansion, St. John’s would be 1,200 miles away from their nearest rival in Portland, which is something I wrote about a month ago when this idea first started to get legs. According to Salter, Dean MacDonald is in fact the man who will own the team, so you can bet that he or his group will have to find a way to off-set costs for teams to travel there. It would most likey follow the Alaska Aces method of having three-game weekend sets up there and then they tour around the Northeast and what-have-you.

While nothing has been set in stone, the fact that sources outside of the local area are reporting it should give it plenty of legs to make it happen. The domino effect could be something that could become very interesting down the line, especially for teams who are already involved with ECHL franchises and the possibility for flipping affiliations.

UND HOCKEY: Fighting Hawks Tie Bemidji State to End Non-Conference Schedule

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Photo via @UNDMhockey

GRAND FORKS, ND– After going to Bemidji State and winning 5-1, the University of North Dakota traveled the 120-some odd miles back to the Ralph Engelstad Arena to face the Beavers in front of 11,868 on Saturday. Tired legs and long nights lead to a 2-2 tie between the two and brought a bit of an anti-climatic end to UND’s non-conference season.

The Fighting Hawks weren’t without their issues, as Rhett Gardner and Trevor Olson were both out due to injuries on Friday, but the team soldiered on as they often do. North Dakota didn’t let the odd travel schedule lag them down, as they were on Bemidji from the drop of the puck. Putting plenty of rubber towards Michael Bitzer, but yielding no results. Bemidji did a solid job keeping UND to the outside and with the Fighting Hawks not able to crack the middle, any threat of a rebound to the slot was directed away by the Beavers’ defense. Shots ended up 12-3 on the side of UND.

UND kept cracking at it to start the second, only to break the ice 3:28 into the frame as Nick Jones came in from the slot after Austin Poganski took a skate around the net and found a streaking Jones, who netted his third goal of the weekend. While shots were traded by and forth, it wasn’t until 13:15 in the middle frame where Leo Fitzgerald got a stick on a Brendan Harris shot on the power play to tie the game at one. Right after the goal, however, Bemidji’s Jordan Heller got a five minute major and a game misconduct for checking from behind. The extended power play was needed, which got the first goal as Christian Wolanin took a skate around the zone, saw the puck passed around until it found his tape again from a pass by Collin Adams to make it a 2-1 UND lead. Despite having control of the power play for a majority of the five minutes, they could only find the net once.

The Beavers pushed hard in the third, but didn’t have many shots to show for it. However, Bemidji knotted the game up after an odd bounce off of Dillon Eichstadt and Colton Poolman’s skate before going into the net past Cam Johnson. Eichstadt got credit for the goal with Kyle Bauman getting the assist. The play stayed at neutral most of the time, with Bemidji getting a little more pressure on Johnson than UND did with Bitzer, which caused free hockey for everyone at The Ralph.

The overtime period had plenty of chances for both sides, Bemidji’s Leo Fitzgerald getting three good looks, while UND had Austin Poganski and Shane Gersich getting back-to-back chances, but yielding nothing at the end. The game ended with a tie and having UND go 6-2-4 in their non-conference schedule.

“I thought we played well those non-conference games,” said head coach Brad Berry. “Overall, it was respectable. We gotta make sure we play a consistent brand of hockey in the NCHC and get in the National Tournament.”

“We take non-conference games very seriously,” mentioned Christian Wolanin. “We know how important they are at the end of the season. But we geared up and gave it our all for every season and I hope that it helps us in the pairwise.”

With the line-up card tonight, it was UND’s 24th game with a different line-up. Players like Wolanin and Jones had never seen something like this in their playing career before, but Jones was able to put it in perspective post-game:

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Nick Jones/Photo by @NHLHistorygirl

“I don’t think they’re challenges, I think they’re positives. At the end of the year, you’re not going to have everyone you’re able to have. To have the opportunity to get everyone in the line-up and ready for the end of the year. Our ultimate goal is to win a National Championship and we’ll use it as an experience. In the end, it’s rewarding for every player and a fight to get into the line-up every night. It’s something we can use to our advantage.”

The Fighting Hawks go to Minnesota-Duluth to play the Bulldogs next weekend and are back home on the 26th for a weekend set with Denver.

TEPID TAKE: Olympic Rosters What They Should Be

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You can bitch and moan about the Olympic rosters not giving you what you want out of a hockey tournament– but to be honest, it’s exactly what it should be, if not a little too pro for the “amateur” Games. In fact, the stories of redemption in these rosters are exactly what the Olympics and Olympic hockey needs.

This is coming from the whole host of “Who’s this guy??” and “There’s where he went??” sentiments when Canada unveiled their Olympic roster on Thursday. There was a bit of that coming from the US roster reveal earlier in the month, but Canada has a better ratio of those questions per hockey capita.

But people became spoiled with the NHL. It came at a very formidable time for fans in the late ’90s when the NHL was becoming a hotter property than it had been in the past. People had grown accustomed to having their favorite team go on hiatus and cheering for a rival player because they played for the same country you lived in. Those people are also the ones who loved “Miracle” and don’t realize that they’re kind of seeing that some thing play out here in a more “Bull Durham” aspect.

For me, these rosters and the stories that can be made from them are what will actually make me keep track of Olympic hockey. Not the NHLers, these guys who had tasted from the NHL fountain only to be told their not good enough and had to make their own path elsewhere. A good redemption story is one not to be overlooked. For guys who haven’t had things go their way– this is the perfect situation for them to actually go their way. These guys will take even more pride in wearing their countries colors because of the fact they won’t get to wear them otherwise due to the NHL players taking those spots most likely in the World Championships. Why are people worried about other guys not having a moment when they want to selfishly give it to an NHL who will have plenty of moments domestically and internationally.

Listen– the NHL will be back to the Olympics in 2022. The IIHF wants it, the NHL wants it, begrudgingly– the IOC wants it. It’ll happen because that’s how sports work now– it’s a business rather than a game. To have NHL players play in an untapped market of China would do gangbusters for everyone….should everyone want to play nicely and give-and-take as needed.

That said– let these guys have the moment. Watch, either live or on tape-delay, go in with an open mind, and appreciate the stories these guys are creating and what they’ll be able to tell their friends and family of the experience. While they are still pros, this is the true Olympic story of underdogs, redemption, pure love of the sport– which means playing wherever you get the chance to play.

UND HOCKEY: Fighting Hawks Shake-Up, Make Up For Friday Loss

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Photo from @UNDMhockey

GRAND FORKS, ND– After a dismal showing for North Dakota Friday night, head coach Brad Berry decided to shake up the line-up. Peter Thome started the game, while Berry also sat freshmen Collin Adams and Grant Mismash for Zach Yon and Dixon Bowen. The changes seemed to work, with UND sending home the 10.816 at The Ralph home happy with a 7-0 victory against Omaha.

“I wanna start by saying that the reason we lost last night was not because of Cam Johnson,” stressed Berry post-game. “We didn’t play well in front of him. That being said, he’s part of the group and we wanted to make changes tonight to give guys opportunities and hold guys accountable and the guys responded.”

“It gave us a shot in the arm,” said forward Rhett Gardner. “That’s the thing with North Dakota, there’s some healthy internal competition. Some good players are going to be out of the line-up because of it.”

The team responded in the first minute of the game, getting two solid chances in front of Kris Oldham, but nothing to show for it. Shots were at a premium in the first, but UND’s Rhett Gardner got the Hawks on the board first after getting his own blocked shot off of Joel Messner to rip home his fifth of the season. Omaha led in shots 6-5 after the first frame.

“It starts with our urgency,” said Gardner. “We were first to loose pucks and went from there. Last night, I thought our line had created some good chances, but they didn’t fall.

Three minutes in, on their first power play of the game, Colton Poolman hammered home his fifth of the season after a great face-off win by Rhett Gardner and pass by Gabe Bast. UND kept it going two minutes later, as Jordan Kawaguchi banked a pass off the boards to Joel Janatuinen as JJ went near-side glove on Oldham for a 3-0 UND lead. Though they had chances, the Fighting Hawks potted another one before the end of the frame as Janatuinen had a lovely dish over to Christian Wolanin to make it 4-0 UND. Omaha only had one shot in the period, which came with two seconds left.

“It was boring,” said Thome. “I had to do a lot of hot laps to keep moving. I was thinking about juggling in between the periods, but never got around to it.”

It took until midway through the third frame for UND to get on the board as Austin Poganski put away a Shane Gersich feed to make it 5-0. Gardner got his second assist of the night and third point of the game on that goal. Minutes later, Andrew Peski got his first career NCAA goal that redirected off of Omaha’s Lawson McDonald, which came off a lovely feed from Jordan Kawaguchi. UND closed the scoring on the power play as Austin Poganski cut through the Omaha defense and scored while falling down to make it 7-0 UND.

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Peter Thome/Photo by @NHLHistorygirl

The shutout was the first of Thome’s college career and he did it on a bit of a short notice.

“I found out during morning skate,” Thome said. “I was excited. It’s been a while since my last start and I wanted to get back in there.”

Another first was for Andrew Peski, who’s first goal comes after a 48-game drought with North Dakota and his first since playing at Tri-City of the USHL during the 2015-16 season.

“I played it out in my head about how I would get it,” confessed Peski. “I’ve been waiting a long time for that one. It was good to see the boys were happy for it. I was thinking about giving it (the puck) to my mom, she’s probably back home crying and excited for me. She’d love to have it.”

UND is back next weekend with a home-and-home with Bemidji State– Friday in Bemidji and Saturday in Grand Forks.

UND Hockey: Mavericks Ground Fighting Hawks 4-1

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GRAND FORKS, ND– The start of the second half and back into conference play was a rocky one for the University of North Dakota, who lost to the University of Nebraska-Omaha 4-1. A crowd of 10,133– the smallest regular season in-conference game crowd at the Ralph Engelstad Arena since January 2004– saw the Fighting Hawks come out a bit slow and get out worked by the Mavericks.

While Omaha was last in the NCHC coming in, they got off to a jump early with solid chances, two ringing off the post. The speed of UND was able to crack the defense of Omaha, but couldn’t get much on Evan Weninger. A turning point of the period was a holding call against Christian Wolanin of UND, but added to it was jawing to the ref, which resulted in a 10-minute misconduct. During that PK, UND had two good chances, but couldn’t connect. Omaha’s solid first culminated with Fredrik Olofsson using two UND defenders as a screen to put home his fifth of the season. Late in the first frame, Shane Gersich broke away, which led to Grant Gallo pick-axing Gersich in the shoulder to warrant a penalty shot. Gersich made the most of it to pot his sixth of the season and tie the game.

“First period, we didn’t have the quality chances we could get,” said coach Brad Berry post-game. “One of your most offensive guys is in the penalty box and you’re down to five D, it starts there. Then you get down to a little frustration and getting down and trying to come back again.”

North Dakota took it to Omaha to start the second, but thanks to a power play in the middle of the frame, Omaha took advantage as Luke Nogard poked in a Zach Jordan centering attempt to sneak by Cam Johnson and give Omaha the lead. The goal was the first shot that Omaha registered in the period, which took them 8:20 to get. Omaha took a 3-1 lead after David Pope hammered home a Ryan Jones set-up pass, which went through a mass of humanity in front to beat Johnson.

The third saw UND not give as much jump as they needed, with their best chance coming from a Matt Kierstad breakaway that Weninger stopped blocker side. In the middle of the frame, Kierstand overskated a pass, which allowed Zach Jordan to break-in and go high-glove on Johnson to make it 4-1 Omaha, which was the final score. Weninger finished with a season-high 34 saves in the win.

“We will change the line-up, we will make changes in our lines,” mentioned Berry. “It’s one of those things where at this time of year, you’re hoping you can solidify some things, but I guess we have to keep moving forward and get some information on some things to see what will work.”

“We have to play more simple,” said defensemen Colton Poolman. We weren’t playing good defense. They outworked us. We had a couple good days of practice, felt like we were ready in the locker room, but it didn’t show up on the ice.”

UND will look for a split on Saturday, hoping to contain the fifth highest scoring team in the NCAA.