GRAND FORKS, ND– After a disappointing first week of the season, the University of North Dakota looked to shake off their offensive woes to make the second week far better than the first. From the quick start, it looked like the offense finally was back. However, two goals in 29 seconds to start the second for Minnesota State-Mankato put UND in a hole they couldn’t come out of, with the final being Mankato winning 7-4.
UND got off to a quick start, as they go a power play nine seconds in and Collin Adams waited until the last part, as he had a puck dribble in on Mankato’s Dryden McKay after McKay seemed to misjudge where he post was and slid into his own net, allowing the puck to go in. Seconds later, Mankato tied it up after Marc Michaelis found fellow German Parker Tuomie at the side of the net to sneak it past Peter Thome near-side glove to tie the game. It wasn’t a minute later when UND took the lead back, as Zach Yon held the puck just enough to open up McKay on the glove side and make it 2-1 Fighting Hawks. Two goals in 2:44 for the Hawks matched their output from last weekend over 125 minutes.
It seemed like the tide was going to turn back Mankato’s way, as Rhett Gardner got a five minute major and game misconduct on a hit from behind. However, the UND penalty killers were solid, though they did allow a goal in the last minute of the power play to Max Coatta. Jared Spooner tapped a deflected shot to Coatta, who put it past Thome to tie the game, which is where the period would end.
“I thought we had a good start, but then we took a five minute major which took us out of the game and took one of our better players out of the game” lamented head coach Brad Berry. “That put us on our heels a little. It’s the start we wanted, but it’s not the finish we wanted.”
Mankato came out firing in the second, as first Coatta let a shot fly from the top of the circle that fooled Peter Thome and went over his shoulder to make it 3-2. Seconds later, Tuomie added his second of the night with an off-wing shot that went over Thome’s left shoulder. Thome was pulled for Adam Scheel after letting in four goals on 10 shots. Though they let up some Mankato chances, UND kept Mankato off the board and got one of their own seven minutes into the frame, as Matt Kiersted got his first off the year with a wrister from the point that went over the shoulder of McKay. About a minute later, Mankato regained the two-goal lead, as Nick Rivera got a lovely cross-ice pass from Spooner and went five-hole on Scheel to make it 5-3. Mankato kept it going in the closing seconds of a UND PK, as Coatta struck again to finish the hat trick with a tip over the shoulder of Scheel from a hard-pass from Jaremko to make it 6-3. With 90 seconds left in the second, Ludvig Hoff got the Hawks to within two as he was left an open net after a Kiersted shot rang off the post, came to Hoff’s stick and put it in the yawning cage. UND outshot Mankato in the 2nd 17-7.
The third period was by the numbers. Mankato played very defensive, while North Dakota tried to push. However, despite traffic in front; UND couldn’t find that next goal. Even with an open net, McKay shut the door on the Fighting Hawks. In the end, Michaelis got an empty-netter with 1:06 remaining to seal the Game One win for Mankato.
“We’ve been working all week on offense and it worked,” said forward Jordan Kawaguchi. “It’s the d-zone odd-man rushes, that kind of killed up. We have to clean that up before we go on offense tomorrow night. Maybe we weren’t talking when we should have, so we have to clean that up tomorrow night.”
“I thought we took care of stuff offensively, but we have to bear down on the d-zone and work on the d-zone out,” said defenseman Matt Kiersted. “We pressed offense hard this week and I think a couple guys tried to create offense. But there were a couple pinches where they got around us. In the d-zone we’ve got to lock out the front of our net.”
“We haven’t won in three games now and I think it’s gut-check time,” mentioned Kawaguchi. “We’re four games in and we need to figure this out.”
North Dakota has the chance at the split Saturday night at The Ralph, where they hope both facets of their games come together to change the script a little bit.