GRAND FORKS, ND– It was another long off-season for the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks hockey team, as they are coming off a second straight season of missing the NCAA tournament. They looked to put that all behind them, as they started off with an exhibition against the University of Manitoba. The Fighting Hawks sent the sell-out crowd of 11,760 home with a big 5-1 win in the tune-up for the regular season.
While they did dictate the offensive game in the start, Manitoba struck first after a broken passing play, as Colton Veloso picked up the puck in the slot off a deflected pass attempt by Sean Christensen and put it past Adam Scheel to make it 1-0 Bisons. Right after the goal, Mantioba went on to commit two penalties, putting the Fighting Hawks on the two-man-advantage.
Despite several chances and Gabe Bast ringing a shot off the crossbar, Jacob Bernard-Docker was able to beat Riley Lamb just as the first penalty was about to expire. A pass across from Grant Mismash in JBD’s wheelhouse allowed the sophomore d-man to get a nice wrister near-side on Lamb. UND didn’t let up in the first, as Gavin Hain tallied after a pass in traffic from Mismash and had it pinball all over past Lamb. UND was on the power play after that goal and Collin Adams found a rebound on the top of the crease and buried it past Lamb to make it 3-1 and giving Mismash his third assist of the night, only in the first period.
As the second period started, redshirt freshman Harrison Feeney got some time in the net. After coming up midseason from the NAHL as an emergency back-up, Feeney could be seen as a competitor with Peter Thome for the back-up slot to Scheel. It took 14 minutes of game play for the Hawks to notch their fourth goal, as Hain tipped a shot from Mismash past Lamb. Jonny Tychonick made the play happen with a skate around the perimeter before dishing it off to Mismash. Feeney wasn’t all that tested, but was able to get out on a couple shots, while also stopping a penalty shot by Jonah Wasylak late in the frame.
Thome got into play in the third, but unlike his predecessors; saw a little bit more action from the Bisons, but held the fort down for the Hawks. Shane Pinto got on the board five minutes into the third on the power play after a tip of a Matt Kierstad shot from the point, with Bernard-Docker getting a secondary assist on the play.
“Obviously it was a good win and confidence boost for the whole team,” Mismash said after the game. Good start to the season, but it’s just exhibition and we got a lot of work and we’re looking forward to that Canisius series next weekend. It’s still pretty bitter from last season, but we got to play our game and see what happens.”
“(The power play) was good. Both units were going well and our puck movement was good. We were making plays, making passes, the fundamentals were pretty good,” mentioned Mismash.
Obviously, Mismash will be part of the power play being successful, but Hain played an equal role in that this game with two goals and getting to the open space.
“I’m excited to make that jump into a bigger role on the team,” Hain commented about his role on the power play. “I want to be able to make a bigger impact on the team and help us win games. I’m looking forward to keep doing it.”
With Mismash, he’s now a junior and will be looked at as one of the leaders of the team going forward, something that the coaching staff talked to him about in the off-season.
“One of the things we talk about with Grant and Collin Adams is that you’re upperclassmen this year,” mentioned head coach Brad Berry. “You’ve been here a couple years and you know how we do things here and lead by example on the ice.”
Despite all three goalies playing, coach did not tip his hand how the order would be going forward.
“You know what, don’t read anything into the order in which they played,” cautioned Berry. “We wanted to give everybody equal opportunity in net and I thought all three did a very good job with that. They didn’t have a lot of action, but they had a couple tough saves to make. It’s always tough to go in for one period and focusing for 20 minutes instead of 60.”
UND starts it for real next Friday, as they play Canisius, the team that swept them in Buffalo last year and was a main reason for the Hawks to not get an at-large bid into the NCAA tournament.