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.

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