GRAND FORKS, ND– With the NCHC regular season title in their sights, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks took one step closer with a win against Western Michigan University Friday night taking the first game of the weekend set 3-1. Adam Scheel made 26 saves in his first win since January 11th and his first start since January 24th.
“It’s always fun to get in the net no matter what,” Scheel said post-game. “I was happy and excited to be back. My team helped me, limited the chances, and played hard defense. Couldn’t have done it without them.”
After a first period that seemed more like a tight checking playoff game, UND started to come into their own during the second period. It took them to about half-way before cracking the scoresheet, with a wonderful goal off a three-on-two. Jacob Bernard-Docker started the rush out the zone with Jackson Keane on one wing, Judd Caulfield on the other; JBD found Keane, who got it back to JBD, who got it to Caulfield, allowing Caulfield to go forehand-backhand on Brandon Bussi and slip it past him for the 1-0 lead. Five minutes later, UND got on the power play, where Jasper Weatherby won a draw back to Ethan Frisch. Frisch sailed it to Matt Kiersted, who let a wrister go that fooled Bussi and made it 2-0 Fighting Hawks.
Western Michigan cut the lead in half at 4:35 of the third, as they got plenty of whacks at the loose puck in front, but Dawson DiPietro got the last whack behind Adam Scheel to make it 2-1 UND. Up until then, Scheel had made several quality saves to start the third, getting his first start in several weekends. UND thought they got the two goal lead back when Jordan Kawaguchi scored, but the goal was called back after Bussi jumped out to make the save and while diving, hit Collin Adams’ thigh as Adams was looking for the rebound outside the crease. The NCHC officials said that it interfered with Bussi making the save and waived it off. Bussi had to leave the game, letting Ben Blacker in the net. A chippy game ensured, with many a missed call until Mattias Samuelsson got an interference call, Westin Michaud to get a tip off a Gabe Bast blast that was set-up by Kiersted to make it 3-1.
The intensity turned dirty, as Ronnie Attard caught Shane Pinto blindsided in the UND defensive zone. The hit jarred Pinto’s head and left him laying on the ice momentarily as the scrums happened around him. Attard got a five and game for direct head contact to Pinto. With only 1:15 remaining, there wasn’t much else to do but run the clock down, as the Fighting Hawks draw closer to the Penrose Cup for best regular season record in the NCHC.
THEY SAID IT
“That’s the last thing I wanted to do. I’m confident in my game and my ability. No need to change or hit the panic button.” — Scheel on if he adjusted his game at all since being out.
“Me and Peter (Thome) are really good friends. No matter who’s in the net, it doesn’t change our relationship. You really come to work every day with a little chip on your shoulder and work hard to be ready for your next opportunity. No matter what, Peter’s a great teammate. So you learn from a guy like that. He’s a great guy in the locker room and he was always supportive of me, so I’ll do the same for him.” — Scheel on his relationship with fellow goalie Peter Thome.
“He had a really good two, three weeks of practice here. We always look at how goalies do against the other teams and he plays outstanding against Western Michigan. And Peter Thome has been playing outstanding as well, but this is the opportunity for someone else to come in. I think it was a combination of a lot of things, but mostly Adam staying sharp and working his tail off in practice.”– Brad Berry on the decision to start Adam Scheel.
“It was kind of a gametime decision that Cole Smith wasn’t in the lineup and it kind of throws you on your heads a little bit about what to do to replace a guy like that. I think what we did was sided on having experience and get Dixon Bowen, a senior; Casey Johnson, a senior; guys a little bit harder, heavier, quicker players to try to take away time and space.” — Berry on his line-up moves ahead of Friday’s game.