GRAND FORKS, ND– This past week, the University of North Dakota had to deal with an illness going through the program, so much so that they had to go into the exhibition game with the University of Manitoba with 13 forwards, five defensemen, and two goalies, a far cry from the abundance of players who suit up for usual exhibition games. Despite the lack of usual skaters and needing to drop captain Mark Senden back on defense in the third period, the Fighting Hawks were able to get the victory in their tune-up for the 2022-23 season.
It wasn’t the start that the Hawks were looking for, as on the first shot from Manitoba; Mitch Dyck ripped one through a big screen in front of Drew DeRidder to put the Bison up 1-0. North Dakota didn’t have the puck luck early on, as pucks were hopping off of sticks, too many passes being made, or holding the puck just a bit too long when lining up for a shot. The Hawks got onto the board with 7:01 to go in the first with Griffin Ness taking a rebound and putting it behind Brett Murphy to tie the game up at one. North Dakota kept the offense going until the end of the frame, but could only muster one goal through the first 20.
“It was a good play by Jandric,” said Ness, “when you get to the heavy area in front of the net, sometimes you get rewarded. I just happened to be there. Feels good, but I look forward to next weekend.
The second period showed what the UND squad was capable of, with Jake Schmaltz scoring 21 seconds into the frame after Matteo Costantini had his shot blocked by a Manitoba defender in front. North Dakota kept the pressure up through the second, but it wasn’t until after halfway where they got their paydirt. It started with Red Wings’ pick Dylan James rifling a shot home after Ben Strinden won the offensive zone face off to make it 3-1 Hawks. Less than a minute later, Tyler Kleven showed off his offensive upside, coming down from the point and putting it over the shoulder of Murphy, near side, to make it 4-1 Hawks. Finally, after the Hawks killed off a penalty, Chris Jandric poked the puck ahead to Gavin Hain, who found Jandric to finish off a four-goal period and take North Dakota to the 5-1 lead.
While there was no scoring in the third, local product Kaleb Johnson was able to get into net for the first time in his college career, taking the third period and stopping all five shots he faced. Giving credit to the team in front of him, Johnson basked in the moment he was afforded on Saturday.
“All the memories from my childhood kind of came over me,” Johnson said after the game. “It’s always been my dream. To get that win, it’s so special. I’m glad I got to share it with this group of guys. They’re great people, hard workers, and they made it even more special for me.”