Huskies, Gophers Advance in West Regional

FARGO, ND– Day one of the NCAA West Regional began on Thursday in a very Minnesota-centric regional. St. Cloud State, Minnesota State, and Minnesota all took to the ice, with Canisius being the only outlier of the Land of Ten Thousand Lakes. A thrilling first forty minutes of both games led to an all-Minnesota final with St. Cloud State and University of Minnesota heading to the West Regional Final on Saturday. 

ST. CLOUD STATE (4) vs. MINNESOTA STATE (0): The weekend started with the Minnesota State Mavericks and the St. Cloud State Huskies. Off the start, Minnesota State was pressuring the cage of St. Cloud, but Jaxon Castor stood strong and was able to see through the traffic in front in order to keep his sheet clean through the first 20 minutes. On the other side, the Huskies didn’t get a shot until the middle of the frame was relatively quiet with their offense, only tallying four shots in the first 20 minutes. 

“Their forcheck is the biggest part of the game and we felt that in the first,” Huskies forward Jack Peart mentioned. “Our breakouts got better as the game went on and that was a key to our success.”

Minnesota State continued to put the pressure on Castor, but he was locked into the moment. With a power play in the middle part of the frame, the Huskies finally came alive and opened the scoring from a Veeti Miettinen laser from the top of the right circle to open the scoring. While Ondrej Pavel and David Silye tried to get the offense going for the Mavericks, they couldn’t get anything behind Castor. Late in the frame, the Huskies would add to their lead with Jack Peart wiring a shot off the crossbar and in to give St. Cloud a two-goal lead after two periods of play. 

In the third, it was a game of bad bounces against the Mavericks turning into a reversal of fortune for the Huskies. It started with a flurry from Minnesota State that had a puck approach the goal line, but never make it cross thanks to a clear off the line by the St. Cloud defense. That transitioned into a rush for the Huskies and ended with a Zach Okabe puck that looped over Keenan Rancier’s shoulder to make it 3-0. Moments later, Minnesota State pulled Rancier and tried to get some momentum going, but after a shot hitting both posts, St. Cloud iced the game with an empty netter from Grant Cruikshank to seal it 4-0. Castor made 34 saves in the shutout. 

“We played Duluth, North Dakota, CC was playing for their lives,” Huskies head coach Brett Larson remarked post-game. “And there were two thoughts in my head. First, I hope this has battle tested us and sharpened us for a game we have to play. My worry was had we expended a lot of energy to do that. In that first period, Mankato took it to us. I was a little worried we had expended too much energy. But I think it went the other way, having to play for every inch on the ice helped us stick with it and not get frustrated.”

“We had momentum, but there’s a reason they keep score and it’s not by shots on goal,” Mavericks head coach Mike Hastings said post-game. “I thought we did a good job at staying after it without creating St. Cloud’s offense. Then they score a power play goal and I think they took momentum from there.”

MINNESOTA (9) VS. CANISIUS (2): History hasn’t been on the side of the #1 overall seed in recent trips to Fargo or North Dakota for that matter, with St. Cloud State being downed to AIC in 2019, as well as Minnesota losing to Holy Cross in Grand Forks in 2006. Hoping to remove those memories, the Gophers were able to get out to a quick start and were able to bring the pressure to Canisius. It paid off with Luke Mittelstadt putting the Gophers up first with a shot from the goal line that hit off the inside thigh of goalie Jacob Barczewski to make it 1-0. However, a power play for Canisius later would allow the Griffins to control the puck in their offensive zone and tie the game off a Daniel DiGrande one-timer just seconds after their power play expired to tie the game. Canisius showed little fear against the #1 team and were daring in their offensive zone entries. The game was tied at the first intermission. 

Working off of their goal, Canisius looked to add to their total and would get the lead in the second frame. Nick Bowman’s skill and patience paid off with a deke between his defender’s legs and then placing the perfect shot off the inside post to beat Justen Close to make it 2-1 Griffins. The Gophers were looking for some answers and tried to press, but Barczewski was coming through clutch when facing the barrage of Gopher shots. Minnesota would break through with an Aaron Huglen wrist shot that beat Barczewski to the blocker side and tied the game. That goal energized the Gophers, as they continued to put the pressure on Canisius. With under two minutes left in the second, Minnesota would regain the lead when Connor Kurth outpowered his defender and fired a centering shot home to make it 3-2 Minnesota going into the second intermission. 

To start the third, Stefano Bottini of Canisius received a five-and-game for contact to the head, giving the Gophers the opening to put it away. It started less than a minute into the major power play with Jimmy Snuggerud slapping home his 21st of the year for the 4-2 lead. Moments later, Brody Lamb ripped a shot under the arm of Barczewski to make it 5-2 with still half the power play to go. While Canisius killed off the rest of the power play, the damage was done.

“It was sort of just maintaining pressure,” mentioned Gophers forward Bryce Brodzinski of the extended power play. “With a five-minute major it’s a good point for us to get their defense tired. As long as we’re in the o-zone and not giving them a chance to change, it kind of got them tired for the rest of the game.”

After a disallowed goal when the puck didn’t cross the line, Minnesota was able to get it back and make it 6-2 with Brodzinski notching his 16th goal of the year at the halfway mark of the period. Gophers continued to pile it on with back-to-back goals from Mason Nevers on the power play and Brodzinski 22 seconds apart to make it 8-2. With under a minute remaining, Brodzinski finished his hat trick to make the final 9-2 for the Gophers.

“It was the closest 9-2 game I’ve ever seen,” said Gophers head coach Bob Motzko. “They had a 2-1 lead in the second and they were playing to their game plan. What I liked about us is that we stuck to our game plan and got pucks deep. And we had to grind tonight with how they were going to play. The only way we we going to do it was to grind. Then the power play got going, but it was a lot closer game than the score.”

Mental Toughness in Question After UND Swept by Western Michigan

Photo: Eric Burton/Inside Hockey

Things are not well in Grand Forks.

After a Friday shutout by former UND verbal commit Cam Rowe and a blown three-goal lead defeat on Saturday, the Fighting Hawks are looking for answers as they fight for their tournament lives. Friday night was a game where North Dakota had all the chances in the world, but couldn’t find a way to bury them. Saturday night, the Hawks got on the board quickly and looked to have broken the defensive spell of Western Michigan– until their own defensive faults lead to a 7-6 loss and getting swept at home for the first time in the new calendar year. 

One story on Friday was Cam Rowe’s play in net, as he looked solid between the pipes, stopping all UND threw at him and captured his second shutout of the season. Another story was Tyler Kleven taking a major penalty and game misconduct at the end of the second period, which resulted in a Jason Polin insurance goal for Western Michigan to secure the first win of the weekend. The Kleven penalty resulted in a suspension for himself and diminished an already depleted UND roster in the blue line. 

Saturday started as a feel-good story with Grand Forks native and redshirt freshman Kaleb Johnson getting his first start for the Hawks. Johnson played well to start the game, while the Hawks were able to support him with a 5-2 lead through 43:15 of play. Then Luke Grainger came into the fold and took over, starting with his goal with 5:28 remaining in the second. Then Grainger had a hand in four of the last five Broncos goals, as they came all the way back to take the lead before an Ethan Frisch power play game-tying goal. Then Carter Berger scored with under three minutes left and UND snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. 

Not only was this a blow to the Pairwise ranking for UND, but in the NCHC standings, as well. North Dakota is looking at a playoff series on the road if they can’t run the table in the remaining conference games. With how inconsistent the Hawks have been this season on both sides of the puck, it’s a big question mark to see whether or not this team can flip the switch as the stretch run goes onward. 

“We know what we need to do,” UND captain Mark Senden said. “We talk about all the right things. We just have to go out there and execute.”

“We know our structure,” Frisch said. “We play it well most the game. Once we get on our heels, we don’t have confidence in ourselves. It creeps back in our game where we’re not being responsible. We’re not being mentally tough enough. It’s mental toughness and overall mentality of our group.” 

So with a team that has a bit of mental toughness questions– how does this team not go into full panic mode??

“We got to keep guys positive, keep guys up on the bench,” mentioned Senden. “Whether some guy makes a blocked shot or makes a nice play; we got to cheer for those little things and make sure guys know those small details matter. We just have to believe in ourselves, have trust in ourselves that we’re all good hockey players here. We just got to go out and play to our abilities.”

“It all starts with leadership,” Frisch added. “We can be better. Everyone on the bench. Just positive talk and making sure we’re addressing the things we need to be addressed and not getting down on each other.” 

Now, as the season winds down and their hope to get into the NCAA tournament starts to fade; it almost seems like it’s too late to go back to the drawing board. With Duluth coming into The Ralph this coming weekend; the mental toughness will be at the forefront and the panic button may be hovered over.


Semi-Annual ASG Tirade and Some Fan Vote Picks

Leaked Poster via Icethetics

It’s the NHL All-Star Game season and the NHL is…something else. While the Miami Vice style that will go down in South Florida is sure to bring in merch sales, the selection of the all-stars is definitely a choice that’s been made.

Before going any further, this is my yearly reminder that the All-Star Game in any sport is an antiquated idea. In the age of cable/streaming/internet– the ASG is not needed for people to see the top players in the leagues. This weekend is one that many players would want to skip, which is why the NHL gives suspensions out to players who don’t go and are not proven to be injured at the time. I get that this is a key to the NHL marketing, but at the same time– you could hold a Comic-Con-esque event where the players just have to show up and sign autographs and flip the format to a Young Stars game so people can see a game and interact more with their favorite players– without the older star players making up an injury not to go and putting the younger generation on display. 

Back to the matters at hand then– the NHL has selected 32 all-stars already, one from each team and now leave it up to the fans to vote-in the rest of the players. This is a format that is tried and true and has not backfired twice on the NHL which almost saw Rory Fitzpatrick get into the 2007 All Star Game and saw John Scott win All-Star MVP in 2016 in a feel-great moment for the league…that the league tried so hard to sabotage. Let’s not forget host fans stuffing the ballot boxes, too. Those instances, meme oriented or otherwise, shows that fans want a reason to watch the game that otherwise may not be given to them. There’s no incentive to the games, aside from giving millionaires more money and a vehicle to the MVP. Plus, as stated earlier– if the NHL has to strong-arm the players into going to the event; almost makes you think the players aren’t jazzed about playing shiny hockey when they could be at home resting with family. 

Regardless of all that– who’s going to be the random folk-hero the internet gets behind to take the crown of “meh” All-Star. Looking at the rosters, the chosen players in the Atlantic and Metro divisions are all forwards– less the one goalie already picked; so defense is on the menu there. The Central has all three of their defense already picked out, with the Pacific only having one defenseman. Then, of course, you have four goalie roles to fill out. So, let’s go down the list of who I think should get in, fan vote or otherwise:

ATLANTIC: Filip Hronek, Detroit: The rebound Hronek has made defensively on the Red Wings is stellar. He’s on the path to a career year, he’s been stellar on the power play, and he’s a key part in this Detroit rebuild. Give him some open ice and he’ll shine out there for the winged wheel group. 

METRO: Vitek Vanecek, New Jersey: The Seattle Kraken legend has gotten a boost in New Jersey this year. With 15 wins already, he’s helped the Devils go from lottery picks to playoff possibilities. It would only make sense to give the Devil his due as the back-up and create a Hudson River tandem in net. 

CENTRAL: Jordan Kyrou, St. Louis: Leading the Blues in goals and points, it’s wild that he didn’t get the nod outright. He used last year’s postseason as a jumping off point and hasn’t slowed much since. Adding him to the other young stars on that Central squad and it’ll be a skills showcase in this one for them. 

PACIFIC: Tyler Myers, Vancouver: A former Calder Trophy winner, Myers is still logging over 20 minutes a game for a Canucks team who has a major identity crisis going on. Not bad for a guy in his 14th season in the league. Only Quinn Hughes is logging more ice time on the blue line. Plus/minus is a meaningless stat, but only he and Luke Schenn are pluses on the Canucks defense. Let the big man eat in South Florida. 

Exhibition Eases UND Into Second-Half of Season

There are some people out there who don’t understand the need for an exhibition game in the middle of the season. For the University of North Dakota, it could have been the best for them to end the 2022 portion of their season with an exhibition game against the United States U18 team. Not only did it end the 2022 portion of the season, but kicked off the second semester for the Fighting Hawks, who had a less than stellar first part of their season. Sitting at 7-8-4 and seventh in the eight-team NCHC, the Hawks are looking for a big push to be able to host their playoff series at home. 

Enter the yearly event against the U18 team, who has brought plenty of pressure to past UND squads, including the U18s getting their first win against UND last season– a loss that sent UND on a four-game losing skid after. With almost a month off, this was a solid test for this team to shake some of the rust off and use it to maybe get some players going to start the second half of the season. 

“It’s something when we build our schedule that we like to have,” associate head coach Dane Jackson mentioned post game. “The first half has been a grind. It’s nice to have them come back and try to find their way a little bit in this game. It’s important to build and get ready for Lindenwood.” 

Jackson was filling in the head coaching spot, as Brad Berry was tending to a family matter. Jackson got plenty of help right out of the gate with Jake Schmaltz and Riese Gaber scoring 2:38 apart in the first part of the first period to get North Dakota out in front. The U18s scored late in the frame less than two minutes apart from Gabe Perreault and Will Smith to have the game tied at two. 

In a game like this, the players seemed to enjoy the ability to take some risks or do things they may not try in regular season games while not taking a harsh penalty in the standings due to it. 

“I like it. I thought personally, it was good for me,” said Louis Jamernik V after the game. “We’re kind of glad to have a game where if you make a mistake, it’s not going to cost us too much. Obviously, we want to do our best and try our hardest. But to have a game to play fast and knock the rust off is good.”

“It’s huge for us,” defenseman Cooper Moore remarked after the game. “They’re a really fast, really skilled team. They’re good on the rush and our tracks have been some of the best tracks we’ve had all year. I think we looked really good and fast and I think it’ll give us a little more confidence going into Lindenwood.” 

Moore got UND the lead back in the second frame, taking a pass from Owen McLaughlin and snapping it over the shoulder of Michael Chambre. Late in the second period, the U18s tied it back up with Perreault’s second of the game with under two minutes in the second period. The third period saw each side get their chances in, but neither was able to hit the back of the net; although it looked as if the U18s had gotten the go-ahead goal late, but it was called back due to goaltender interference. In the overtime frame; Matteo Costantini got the winner after a Jamernik V pass to his wing, snapping it past Chambre’s glove to send the UND faithful home happy. 

“Great play by Jammer to get the puck over to me,” Costantini said, “I just happened to have a lot of speed and caught their defenseman flat-footed. We’re going to take this as momentum going into next weekend.”

It’ll be a task for UND, as Lindenwood has pushed some of the upper echelon teams to the brink of a loss this season. Coupled with a former UND alum behind the bench in Rick Zombo, you have to think the Lions will be hungry for this match-up. Luckily for the Hawks, they won’t be caught getting back into it all thanks to this mid-season exhibition against the USA U18 squad. 


North Dakota Finish First Half at Home with Victory Over Beavers

Photo: Eric Burton/ Inside Hockey

GRAND FORKS, ND– Coming back on the tail-end of a home-and-home, the North Dakota Fighting Hawks looked to gather up a win after tying the Bemidji State Beavers in Bemidji the night before. With a battered and bruised roster, the Hawks brought any healthy body they could to the roster and found an extra gear and were able to pull out a 4-2 win in their last home game of the semester. 

North Dakota was able to get pressure early and get pucks to the net, but Gavin Enright was able to hold the Hawks, even with pucks coming through traffic. Bemidji was able to counter with some odd-man rushes the other way, but Jakob Hellsten, in his second straight start, was able to hold off the attacks and keep the sheet clean. With plenty of zone time, North Dakota struck first with Tyler Kleven taking a skate around the zone before driving to the net. While Kleven’s attempt was stopped, Dylan James came in to clean up the garbage and put home his second of the year. A late power play from the Beavers had some chances created, but Hellsten shut them down to keep it 1-0 after 20 minutes. 

Starting early in the second, the Hawks were bringing plenty of energy and having some solid looks at the net. It wasn’t until five minutes in when Riese Gaber found the puck at the side of the net and buried his 10th of the year and gave North Dakota the 2-0 lead. Moments later, coming down the wing, Louis Jamernik V let one rip from the dot under the arm of Enright to make it 3-0 and tally his first of the year, something he was struggling to find all season. 

“The first guy I want to mention is Riese Gaber. Not only is he an unreal teammate, but a real good friend,” Jamernik V said post-game. “We had a good chat (Friday) night in Bemidji. I was getting down on myself. But he said it was all mindset. He gave me a lot of pointers on just reminding yourself ‘I’m gonna score, I’m gonna score’ and he was telling me all through the 1st and 2nd period. And as soon as it went in, I pointed right at him.”

It wasn’t all grand for North Dakota, as they did have a let down towards the mid-part of the third period, first with Kaden Pickering wiring home a shorthanded goal to the top corner, then Carter Jones being left alone in the slot to pick up the loose puck and make it a 3-2 game with two goals in 1:02. 

“There were a couple of shifts that got away from us, but I thought for the most part our guys got close to a sixty minute game,” Brad Berry said post game.  “The perfect game would have been in the third to roll through the lines and doing all the right things to preserve a 3-0 lead. Obviously, a little adversity, getting hit with a shorty and right after, another one. Had to call a timeout, the guys had to take a breath. I thought the guys did a good job of getting back to where we gave up those two goals.” 

Judd Caulfield was able to chip one into the open net to make the final score 4-2, as the Hawks finished out their first half at home with a 4-4-1 record. They’ll be on the road the next two weekends with NCHC contests in St. Cloud and Western Michigan. 


Wright Loaned to Coachella Valley for “Conditioning”

Photo: Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times via AP

After playing seven games and being healthy scratched for 11 games– including the last five straight games, Shane Wright has been moved to the AHL for a conditioning stint with the Coachella Valley Setlist– errr– Firebirds. For me, this is reminding me of something that happened back in 2008. 

Back when Steven Stamkos entered the league, then Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Barry Melrose didn’t play the former 1st overall pick because he felt Stamkos wasn’t ready for the NHL yet. This is after the Lightning had a “Seen Stamkos” campaign hyping up their young star in the making. In Melrose’s disastrous 16 games (5-7-4) in Tampa, he played Stamkos in all those games with Stamkos playing under 10 minutes five times in that stretch and with two goals and two assists. 

It seems like Hakstol is feeling the same way about Wright that Melrose felt about Stamkos. The difference is that the Kraken have a decidedly better record (10-5-3) than what the Lightning did at the time, so not playing Wright seems like the correct decision since his absence isn’t something that has seemed to be a big factor. NHL Insider Elliotte Friedman said on the Jeff Marek Show that “Unless Hakstol was forced to play Wright more, he isn’t going to play very much in Seattle” and a move to the OHL could be looming. 

Granted, this decision probably won’t sit well with Kraken fans, as they feel Wright is a big part of the team going forward. Hard to argue when you use the fifth overall pick to snag what many people believed would be the player going first overall in the draft. But, again, the record indicates he’s not needed as much because he’s direct involvement isn’t affecting too much of the result. 

My biggest issue is what’s going to happen if he’s sent to the OHL and loses interest in that because he feels he’s outgrown it?? He was brought into the league with exceptional status granted. Even missing a year for COVID, he racked up 94 points in 63 games last season and his rookie OHL year he had 66 points in 58 games. There’s not much more for him to accomplish out there in major junior; unless it’s winning an OHL title and Memorial Cup. It’s hard to think that he needs to be there for improvement and he could even get disenchanted with the notion and regress a bit while then feeling vindictive against the Kraken for sending him down there. 

Some people claim he might have an attitude problem due to him excelling at every level and thinking he’s owed things. Some people claim he’s just not NHL ready with his play and he needs to get stronger and have more ice time elsewhere before making the jump. It’s kind of a shame that the CHL has a deal with the NHL for players with junior eligibility, because Wright could very well excel in that climate against other prospects while also not taking two steps backwards by going back to juniors. 

At the end of the day, Kraken fans are left wondering if they’ll ever see Shane at all the rest of the season.

Fighting Hawks Topple RedHawks with an Eagle Looking On

Graphic via Univeristy of North Dakota Twitter

GRAND FORKS, ND– After a tough weekend against Denver the previous week, the University of North Dakota used the energy from another bird of prey to help boost them for Friday’s game. Eddie “the Eagle” Belfour was in town for his “One Last Shift” at the Ralph Engelstad Arena and his energy for his skate around helped the Fighting Hawks handily defeat the Miami RedHawks by a count of 7-1. 

It started 3:31 in with a solid tic-tac-toe play between Mark Senden, Louis Jamernik V, and the goal scorer Gavin Hain– a line reunited after some jockeying around the last few weeks. Hain potted his six to get the scoring going for the Hawks. At the end of the frame the Hawks again struck with Ben Strinden getting the puck out of the corner and drove to the net for his first NCAA goal to make it 2-0. What was apparent was the tenacity North Dakota showed that they may have not had the week prior. They were crisp in their own zone, they make big pushes in the offensive zone, and were buzzing around Miami goalie Ludvig Persson and putting the pressure on Miami, as a whole. 

“Right from the puck drop, I thought we had a jump,” captain Mark Senden said post game. “I thought we played really well as a five-man unit up and down the ice. That was the main point in practice this week. Being sharp in those plays, supporting each other up and down the ice, working as a five-man unit up and down the ice. I thought we executed that very well.”

“You know, what really got me going on the bench tonight was the guys started to talk on the bench,” noted head coach Brad Berry. “When guys made a good play, there was positivity there, there was encouragement, there was reaffirmation. When guys didn’t make the right play, it was the accountability side, for me, that when they came back it was, ‘You know what, you got to get that puck in. You know what, you’ve got to take a shorter shift.’ It was standing up and telling someone. And we got better.”

Things definitely got better in the second period, with four goals in the frame– two coming from a major power play and one from the shorthanded side. Jackson Blake and Griffin Ness used redirections off Miami defenders to post the power play goals for UND, while Mark Senden finished off a 2-on-1 shorthanded rush for North Dakota’s first shorthanded goal of the season. Though Miami’s Blake Mesenburg scoring late in the fame, UND battled back 18 seconds later with Judd Caulfield restoring the five-goal lead to end the second frame. 

Persson was given the rest of the night off, with Logan Neaton getting third period duties. Blake added his second goal of the game 4:43 into the frame to give North Dakota the 7-1 lead and victory. Jakob Hellsten got his second straight start and was solid when called upon, making 18 saves in the victory. 


North Dakota Drops Series Opener to Denver 3-2

Graphic via North Dakota Hockey Twitter

GRAND FORKS, ND– Almost there. 

That seemed to be the theme from the North Dakota Fighting Hawks following a 3-2 defeat against Denver on Friday night. With bits and pieces of their game coming together, the whole package hasn’t seemed to be completed for this squad, as the Hawks drop to 4-4-1 on the season. 

“Just buying into the little things here and there,” mentioned Chris Jandric post game. “We kept them to 19 shots, stopped their top line; but it comes down to the little things and have to have a more business-like mentality. Just have to gain some more speed and clean up our defensive zone, too. It’s just buying in, whether it’s blocking shots or chipping the puck out; but it’s unacceptable to be losing these games.” 

After a messed up travel schedule coming into this weekend, the Pioneers were the first on the board when Kyle Mayhew beat Ty Farmer to a loose puck in the corner and found Carter King in the slot, who whipped one over Drew DeRidder’s shoulder for the early 1-0 lead. North Dakota picked up the pressure after that, taking control offensively, but couldn’t solve Magnus Chrona for much of the first frame. It wasn’t until under three minutes left did UND get on the board with Ryan Sidorski jumping into the rush and centering a pass in front that initially got deflected by Chrona, but laid in the crease for Griffin Ness to pick up and put home to tie the game going into the intermission. 

Denver got going early in the second with Aidan Thompson creating a takeaway in the slot and using a couple of screens in front from North Dakota skaters to beat DeRidder and make it a 2-1 Denver lead only 2:17 into the second frame. The score could have gotten a lot worse, as North Dakota was getting the brunt of the penalty calls against them; but DeRidder made some fine saves during those PKs and kept the deficit at only a goal heading into the second intermission. 

To start the third, UND was able to get it going early on a carry-over penalty with Jandric getting the puck at the blue line, taking his time for a screen to form, and wristing one through everyone to tie the game only 33 seconds into the last regulation period. With each team pressing to break the tie, the Pioneers would be the team to do it, with Jared Wright picking up a rebound and getting just enough on it to have it squeak through DeRidder’s pads to make it a 3-2 score. North Dakota would hold Denver to only two shots in the last 13:27 of the game, but could not find an equalizer themselves, even with the extra attacks for almost three minutes at the end of the game. Denver wins only their second games in 20 trips to The Ralph by a score of 3-2. 

“Just having more consistent habits to details,” said head coach Brad Berry when asked what more is needed from the Hawks. “I do think we’re close. I give Denver credit, they won the game. But sometimes we beat ourselves a little bit. In situations where games in the third period when the game is up for grabs and sometimes we give up a goal at inopportune times by beating ourselves and not by playing the percentages and not having a chance playing in the offensive zone.” 


The Mullett Arena Student Section Will Be the Best Thing Other NHL Teams Will Never Incorporate

Photo via

Everyone is going to dunk on the Arizona Coyotes. Rightfully so, as this team has been a disaster since 2009 when Jerry Moyes first sold the team. Even more now playing in a college hockey arena with an unfinished visiting locker room for the opening weekend and no concrete plans for their own arena coming up. 

But could this turn the corner for them?? Could playing in a sub-5,000 capacity building be the turning point for the Coyotes to get people to love them and not wish them to move elsewhere. 

Short answer, no. 

Long answer, no– but they’re going to give people and the league an experience that won’t soon be forgotten. 

The one thing out of this whole situation is going to be what becomes of the “Student Section” portion of Mullett Arena. With the cost-effective student tickets in that section, it could very well create something akin to what European fans experience every game. It’s something that would be strictly unique to the Coyotes and Mullett Arena…but when it’s gone once the Coyotes leave, will that concept stay??

A part of me would like to think that if the Student Section is a success, especially being so close to the ice, would more teams think about doing the same kind of thing in their arenas to build a younger fan base and create a more jovial atmosphere for their rink??

Short answer, no.

Longer answer, no– but because they don’t want to give up those high-dollar seats for $25 tickets for a rowdy crowd because sports is corporate and the belief is that you can’t have a good fan experience when the rowdies are near the ice and not in the nosebleed– where some think they belong. 

It all comes down to dollars. Regardless of if the Student Section at Mullett becomes one of the bigger stories out of this season. Regardless of if you can build a new, younger fan base from lowering ticket prices for a section to accommodate college students to build their own culture. Regardless of if it will make the sport grow because of how insane the crowds will become– owners don’t want to give up $100 a seat to make a better atmosphere. 

Because sports aren’t about fun. Sports are a business. And businesses need money– not fun. My hope is that through this whole situation the Coyotes find themselves in (yet again), that the Student Section can bring some fun to the hockey-going experience and to the TV experience, as well. My hope is that enough Arizona State students show up to not only support the Coyotes, but to make their mark on hockey to let other colleges know that they are a hockey school now, too. Make the experience big, make it project through the TV broadcasts, and make it so that people actually start thinking of Arizona as a hockey destination.

Fighting Hawks Comeback To Tie in First Test of the Season

Graphic via University of North Dakota Athletics

GRAND FORKS, ND– In their first big test of the season, the University of North Dakota came out of it with a mixed review. Despite the 5-5 tie against eighth-ranked Quinnipiac, the Fighting Hawks have plenty to improve on when it comes to their own game should they want to play against the heavy hitters in the NCAA. 

While they outchanced Quinnipiac offensively, North Dakota didn’t have the best of times in their own zone, with the Bobcats picking apart the defensive scheme from North Dakota. It started past the midway point, with Jacob Quillan picking off a bad breakout attempt from UND and found Joey Cipollone streaking unmarked down the slot, who put it over Drew DeRidder’s shoulder for the 1-0 Quinnipiac lead. North Dakota would try to push back, but the Bobcats would strike again with Christophe Fillion taking a shot that was blocked off Ethan Frisch’s ankle and the puck finding Christophe Tellier, who deked DeRidder– who overshot his post in his reset– and Tellier made it 2-0 putting passed the outstretched pad of DeRidder. With under a minute remaining, the Bobcats ended the period on a high as Cipollone beat out Tyler Kleven for a loose puck, pushed it to TJ Friedmann, who found Quillan in front for a one-timer to make it 3-0 at the end of the first and the end of the night for DeRidder. 

“It was pretty firm and direct,” head coach Brad Berry said post game of his talk in the first intermission. “We pulled our goaltender to maybe get a push from our team, and I thought we did that. But I wanted Drew DeRidder to know that when we’re not playing our best, it’s not just one guy. It’s everyone in that locker room who didn’t play up to the standard that we needed to do.” 

The response from UND was solid, as within the first three minutes they were on the board, as Dylan James made a great stick check in at the point to spring himself and Nick Portz on a 2-on-1 with Portz’s shot going off the post, but James following up on the play and notching his first NCAA goal. It was nearly 3-2 for UND, with Mark Senden poking in a puck in front, but a Quinnipiac challenge for offside was upheld and the goal was called back. The Bobcats took that high and got their three-goal lead back with Friedmann being able to skate around the zone and create his own space before wiring one home behind Jakob Hellsten to make it 4-1. The Hawks were pumping in the shots in the second, totaling 21 in the middle frame alone. Those chances helped with Riese Gaber getting onto the board, putting him a one-timer off a slick pass from Owen McLaughlin behind the net and the Hawks cut the lead in half 4-2 going into the second intermission. 

North Dakota benefited from a couple power play in the early part of the third, with Jackson Blake bringing North Dakota to within one with a great spin-move off the half-wall and cutting to the net to put it through Yaniv Perets and make it a 4-3 game. Less than two minutes later on a two-man advantage, Chris Jandric picked up a loose puck in the slot and wired it home to even the game. Thirty-four seconds after that goal, Gavin Hain took a loose puck in the circle and ripped on that trickled behind Perets and made it 5-4 North Dakota as the roof was close to coming off The Ralph with the hypeness from the UND faithful. The Bobcats would get it back to even as Jayden Lee skated the length of the blue line, drawing two defenders, opening up CJ McGee for a one-timer to put this game at 5s with half a period to go.

Neither team was able to get the go-ahead goal, nor the winner in overtime; thus the game would be officially a draw. However, in the shootout– North Dakota got goals from Blake and Gaber with Hellsten stopping two of three Bobcats to give the Hawks the emotional victory on Friday night.