Clutch N’ Crab Hockey Weekend Preview 009: Women’s Edition

STEVENSON UNIVERSITY MUSTANGS (1-2-1) vs. LEBANON VALLEY COLLEGE, CHATHAM UNIVERSITY

A tough road weekend for the Mustang Women, as they dropped both their games in tough fashion. And upside is how well Annie Smyth-Hammond has looked early, helping the Mustangs to stay in the game for the most part. While this team doesn’t seem to have a big offensive punch yet, the fact that Smyth-Hammond has stood tall in net is a big confidence boost for the team moving forward.

NAVAL ACADEMY MIDSHIPMEN (7-4-1) vs. UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE

A streaky team, the Lady Mids impressed in Mercyhurst last week, taking two of three in their showcase. Rose Gasper, Quin Ramos, and Devin Marshall helped out Maggie Madigan in scoring, while Shannon Hart held down the fort in net. Their offense will be challenged by the defense of Delaware, who have allow just over three goals a game with two shutouts on the season thus far.

UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND TERRAPINS (7-3-0) at TOWSON UNIVERSITY TIGERS (1-6-0)

After tough loss for the Terps and Tigers last weekend, they’re back for an in-state battle; which will be the second meeting between the two squads. In the first match-up, the Terps dominated in a 12-0 victory– which was the start of the Terps offensive climb and a strong winning streak. All the while, Towson still struggles with scoring and stopping the scoring– but for a team that’s still trying to find an identity– that could take a while to develop and patience needs to be preached.

LOYOLA UNIVERSITY GREYHOUNDS (3-2-0) at UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA

A week off hopefully did the Greyhounds good, as they travel to play a Quakers team that has struggled a bit in the North Division. However, the Greyhounds will finally be leaving the state for a road game for once this year, which may give a little bit of a bonding boost to the team, as they get to the mid-part of their schedule with increasingly harder competition coming through.

Clutch N’ Crab Hockey Weekend Preview 009: Men’s Edition

MARYLAND BLACK BEARS (8-9-2) at NEW JERSEY TITANS

After three hard fought games last weekend, the Black Bears are on the road to New Jersey to take on the league-leading New Jersey Titans. Not only will offense be key for the Black Bears, but keeping the puck out of the net will be critical, as well. That aspect has gotten better as the season has gone on; but it will need to be on full display against an offensive powerhouse like the Titans. Another big thing will be the transition game and how they’ll be able to find a weakness in the armor of the Titans.

TEAM MARYLAND (10-9-2) at CONNECTICUT ROUGHRIDERS

The EHL Showcase this past weekend didn’t bode well results-wise, but Team Maryland is back to divisional play this weekend in Connecticut. These two met opening weekend and split a series in which Jay de Ruiter broke out in a big way. We’ll see how Team Maryland can reset after last weekend, as they start on a road trip that won’t see them play at home again until January 10th.

STEVENSON UNIVERSITY MUSTANGS D3 (2-0-0) vs. WILKES UNIVERSITY, at SUNY-MORRISVILLE

So far, so good for the D3 Stangs, as they now face their first weekend of two games. Nick Gray, Ryan Patrick, and Austin Master played great last weekend against Chatham and look like they will be the catalyst for offensive output. Dylan Schoen has been solid in net, but with plenty of help in front him to help limit the shots and rebounds in the zone.

NAVAL ACADEMY MIDSHIPMEN D1 (7-5-1-2) vs. DREXEL UNIVERSITY, VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY

Following a tough road loss, the Middies will be back home to hopefully gain a bit of moxie back. One of the big things for the Middies will be holding onto a lead, something they couldn’t do last weekend when up by two and allowed six unanswered goals. Trying to keep the puck away from their own net seems to be another cause of concern, though it is often cancelled out by their own goal-scoring prowess. They, however, can’t keep getting into track meets with teams week in and week out; as that will definitely wear them out more than necessary.

TOWSON UNIVERSITY TIGERS (2-13-1) vs. VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY, PENN STATE UNIVERSITY-BERKS

Another tough weekend for Towson, as they went on the road and dropped two games. It doesn’t help that they’re giving up 50 shots a game or that scoring outside of Ryan Dieter seems to have dried up. The past few seasons have been rough ones in rebuilding a one solid club team, but once they can find a way to right the ship– it shan’t be all doom and gloom in Towson.

STEVENSON UNIVERSITY MUSTANGS CLUB (7-6-0) at PENN STATE UNIVERSITY, vs. DELAWARE

After a very hot start, the Club Stangs have seemed to have cooled a bit. As they face tougher teams, the team will adapt and learn how to play against them and respect them, but not fear them. With scoring coming from various sources, they just need to maybe sure up the defense a bit; as well as get some support to the netminders and they should be ready to take on the big gun– which are two teams they’ll see this weekend.

UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND TERRAPINS D2 (2-6-2) vs. JAMES MADISON UNIVERSITY, at GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY

The Terps face a fate much like the Towson Tigers, where scoring comes from some usual suspects and not much elsewhere from that. If teams shut down Christopher Bouchard and Liam Eden, the Terps seem to be a little shallow in scoring. They seem to get saves here and there, but saves at key times doesn’t seem to be happen as frequently now as it did early in the year.

Kovalchuk’s NHL Return Finally Halted

For Ilya Kovalchuk, his return to the NHL from the KHL was less like Jaromir Jagr and more like Nikolai Zherdev. This is due to the report out that the LA Kings will bench Kovalchuk indefinitely, as the 36-year-old winger is working on yet another underwhelming season after returning from the KHL.

Shockingly enough, the Kings sit last in the League in points with the fewest wins.

I think there were a lot of people who were treading lightly when it came to Kovalchuk’s intentions of coming back to the NHL after five-and-a-half season in the KHL with SKA St. Petersburg. However, his output in the KHL with 138 goals and 327 points in 298 games in the KHL made people think that he could come back to the NHL guns ablazing– especially after having two 30-goal seasons prior to signing the three-year deal with the Kings.

Shockingly enough, the oldest team in the league couldn’t get the success that Kovalchuk had in Russia to translate to their roster in a year…and now into year two, the same old stuff. Hell, after Kovalchuk got snippy when his lack of production of himself and the team made him a healthy scratch late last year.

God only know what he’ll say after this one.

The Kings, in and of themselves, are a mess. They only bright light may be seeing Drew Doughty body people and his little petty feud with the Tkachuks– mainly Matthew in Calgary. All around, they are a mess– 28th in goals-per-game, worst in goals-allowed, 29th on the power play, 30th on the PK; but at least they have the most shots on goal in the league…so that’s something. That said, they’ll make any back-up look like Martin Brodeur on any given night.

The Kovalchuk signing was an ill-advised one, especially since Kovalchuk had never played in the Western Conference, which many would agree is a much different animal than the East in terms of style of play and travel. But when a shiny toy with potential becomes available, you can’t blame them for trying. You can blame them for the three-year contract with a no-movement clause, which is also a 35+ contract…but we shouldn’t point the finger at anyone directly whatsoever, right??

UND HOCKEY: Fighting Hawks Stave Off Counterattack to Sweep Weekend

GRAND FORKS, ND— After a blowout win Friday, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks knew they wouldn’t have as easy of a task on Saturday. The Miami Red Hawks came out prepared and had an answer for seemingly every UND attack. At the end, however, UND had the last laugh as they swept the Red Hawks with a 5-4 win on Saturday. 

It took only four minutes for the Fighting Hawks to get on the board, as Collin Adams put on past Collin Adams after a lovely pass from Jordan Kawaguchi and made it a quick 1-0 lead for UND. Miami didn’t sit back as they may have on Friday night, as Ryan Savage put one high over the glove of Adam Scheel to even the game less than two minutes after UND took the lead. The North Dakota power play kept clicking, as Jasper Weatherby buried his second goal in as many nights after a great backpass from Westin Michaud to give UND the lead back. Miami continued to score right after UND, as Phil Nies got a great feed from John Sladic with Nies tucking it over the right shoulder of Scheel to tie the game. Then things got frantic— Jordan Kawaguchi scored his 3rd on the season with a laser over the shoulder of Ryan Larkin to make it 3-2, then 11 seconds later— Westin Michaud scored off a lovely feed by Harrison Blasidell to make it 4-2. 

“It seemed like tonight we scored a goal, they scored a goal. They had an answer,” mentioned Brad Berry after the game. “It was so huge for us to have an answer when they scored.” 

It took a bit longer for UND to get on the board in the second, but it was a Adams again, putting a tap-in home after Kawaguchi took the puck off the boards, wrapped it around the net, and found the tape of Adams’ stick to make it a 5-2 game for UND. Miami responded moments later, with Chaz Switzer getting a cross ice pass from Monte Graham and put it past Scheel to make it 5-3. UND did have plenty of chances towards the end of the frame, but Larkin was solid in net to fend off the attacks by the Fighting Hawks. 

North Dakota were back on their heels a bit, as Gavin Hain took a five-minute major for boarding halfway through the third, coupled with a tripping call to Cole Smith towards the end of the major, which eventually led to a Derek Daschke goal, just as Hain’s major had expired to make it 5-4. Miami kept firing late into the game, even with the goalie pulled, but Adam Scheel kept the puck out and the Fighting Hawks swept the Red Hawks with a 5-4 victory, their ninth straight win on home ice dating back to last season and sixth straight this season. 

THEY SAID IT

“When you blow a team out on Friday like we did, you know they’re going to have a day to watch film and fix their mistakes. We know it was going to be a tough one, so we expected them to come out hard and they gave us a little pushback.”– Adams on the expectation from Miami Saturday night. 

“Those guys are finding a little chemistry together and they enjoy playing together. The challenge becomes consistency trying to do that night in and night out because what happens out there is other teams will figure it out.” — Berry on the line of Kawaguchi, Adams, and Grant Mismash. 

“I think last year, guys were holding their stick a little too tight. This year, we’re just playing our hockey. We’ve got a lot of good guys on the roster and we have the belief that pucks can go in the net and if we work hard, good things happen.”– Weatherby on the change in mentality for the team offensively this year.

“Jordan made a couple good passes out there and I’m thankful for him, but it definitely helped my confidence level. I haven’t been out in the last minute in the past few years, but when he (Berry) trusts me like that and put me out there; he has faith in me and that’s just really good as a player.”– Adams on scoring and being put out on the ice at crucial times of the game.

UND HOCKEY: Fighting Hawks Stomps Miami 7-1

GRAND FORKS, ND— In trying to keep their home winning streak alive, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks made sure they left no doubt against the Miami University Red Hawks, scoring three times in 2:02 and twice again in 33 seconds to upend Miami 7-1 on Friday night.

The game started quick for UND, as they had four solid scoring chances against Ryan Larkin, but couldn’t get through the senior goalie for Miami. Thanks to some penalty issues from the Red Hawks, Jacob Bernard-Docker was able to open the scoring, as he rocketed home a wrister with UND up two-men, to break a 16 power play try drought for the Fighting Hawks. At the tail-end of that same advantage, Jasper Weatherby tipped home a Jordan Kawaguchi slap-pass to make it 2-0. Not to be overlooked, Collin Adams ripped home a shot from the face-off dot to make it 3-0 and giving Kawaguchi his third assist of the night, all in the first period. 

It took less than three minutes for North Dakota to strike in the second, as a stretch pass by Matt Kiersted to Dixon Bowen made it 4-0 after Bowen snapped a shot high glove over Larkin. The Hawks had been experimenting with the stretch pass in the first, coming close to connecting at times, but never getting the great chance generated like in the Bowen goal. Jonny Tychonick got into the act with a bomb from the top of the circle that was laid out perfectly by Harrison Blaisdell to make it 5-0, with Tychonick adding his second goal 33 seconds later pass new Miami goalie Grant Valentine to make it 6-0. 

“I want to play my game— playing with energy, playing with pace, moving the puck, and moving my feet,” Tychonick said after the game. “The big thing for me is jumping up in the play. I’m really focusing on my game right now and not getting ahead of myself and doing the little things right.” 

It only took 2:20 of the third for UND to make it 7-0, as Westin Michaud joined the party a perfectly placed wrister over the glove of Valentine, a goal that was assisted by Tychonick and Blaisdell. Miami answered back with a Noah Jordan redirect that went through the five-hole of Adam Scheel to make it 7-1, which would eventually be the final of the game. 

THEY SAID IT

“That’s a big thing. Miami has a lot of pride in that dressing room, so we know they were going to have a little bit of a push. We kind of had a lull in the d-zone there in the second period in the last ten minutes. That’s stuff we got to clean up and we really wanna focus on the details because that’ll go into tomorrow’s game. Friday night is over and done with. Now it’s time to move onto Saturday, watch some video and work on some things that need to improve on.”–Tychonick on not getting complacent after a big win. 

“Very important to score on the 5-on-3, I thought that was a key time of the game to get that first one and it seemed like they got a little more confidence on the second power play. You can take a breath a little bit and know that, yeah, we can score on the power play and keep working on it.”–Head Coach Brad Berry on getting the power play to break an 0-for-16 slump.

“We’re a really mobile corp. Unbelievable feet, unbelievable puck poise and puck management. We’re up in the play creating offense. Hockey these days can’t just be generated through the forwards, it comes from the D as well. Good D leads to good offense.” –Tychonick on the offense the defense is providing for UND. 

“They keep doing the right things time and time again. Part of that is that they’re good checkers and good defenders, but they’re also good with the puck. When you have the puck, that means the other team doesn’t. And that’s a big part of having match-ups, too. Now, tomorrow’s going to be another challenge. I thought they (Miami) played well in the second half and we got to make sure we answer the bell tomorrow.”– Berry on the Mark Senden/Cole Smith/Gavin Hain line. 

“We’re getting better opportunities on the ice, we’re getting inside to the middle and that’s a big thing for us and it’s paying off. I think the more we can from floating them from the outside and getting them to the middle of the ice, the better it’ll work for us.” Matt Kiersted on the offensive game on Friday night.

Clutch N’ Crab Hockey Weekend Preview 008: Women’s Edition

STEVENSON UNIVERSITY MUSTANGS (1-0-1) at NEUMANN UNIVERSITY and MANHATTANVILLE COLLEGE

After a solid first weekend for new head coach Tori Emoff, the Mustangs go on the road and hope to keep their shutout streak alive and well against two conference rivals. While the goaltending was sharp, the offense did have some chances despite the scoreboard telling different. Once this team rounds into shape with the game play, they could make some noise in the conference moving forward.

UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND TERRAPINS (7-2-0) at VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY

A split weekend should slow the Lady Terps down much, as their offense is still probably one of the most feared in the Delaware Valley Conference. Angeline King and Alix McKillop have 14 goals a piece in nine games, while Eleanor VanVranken joins King and McKillop in the 20-point club already this season, which is top in the conference. Though Villanova has only played two games, the Terps shouldn’t take them lightly, as they trounced Towson last weekend.

NAVAL ACADEMY MIDSHIPMEN (6-3-1) at UNIVERSITY AT BUFFALO, MERCYHURST UNIVERSITY, and ROCHESTER INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY

After a one-game weekend, the Middies will go on a showcase weekend a Mercyhurst playing three games in three days at very odd times. After a big win last weekend to break a three-game skid, the Mids will look to get back to form that had them dominant in the beginning of the season with scoring that was second to none in the league, with Maggie Madigan leading the way with 21 points so far this season. The Mids haven’t given up many shots either, only giving up 21.8 shots per game to their opponents.

TOWSON UNIVERSITY TIGERS (1-4-0) at ROWAN UNIVERSITY and WEST CHESTER UNIVERSITY

After a tough 9-1 loss last weekend, the Tigers will face another tough task against Rowan– who has only let up two goals in their six games– and West Chester; as both teams are undefeated this season. There’s always a fighter’s chance for a win, but for a team not average that many goals on the year and only one goal in their last three– it’ll be an uphill climb. Emily Sellers will need to hype the team up offensively and hope they follow her in the scoring department.

Clutch N’ Crab Hockey Weekend Preview 008: Men’s Edition

MARYLAND BLACK BEARS (6-7-1) at NORTHEAST GENERALS

After a spirited weekend split against blood rivals Johnstown, the Black Bears take on another challenge in the form of three games in three days, including a Sunday afternoon tilt against the Generals. It’ll be the first meeting of the teams this season, who will be battling for the last playoff spot throughout the season. Kyle Oleksiuk continued his hot streak this past week, while the goaltending of Andrew Takacs was solid and hopefully will translate into the big weekend coming up.

TEAM MARYLAND (10-7-2) at SEAHAWKS HC and WALPOLE EXPRESS

After a Wednesday victory, Team Maryland travels for another Showcase event– this time in Haverhill, Massachusetts. They’ll be taking on two top teams from the New England Conference, while trying to keep their three-game winning streak alive. Jackson Dobek, Jeff Rebmann, Denys Arkhypenko, and Tristan Mock remain hot and will be key in helping Team Maryland have a good showing in another Showcase event.

STEVENSON UNIVERSITY MUSTANGS D3 (1-0-0) at CHATHAM UNIVERSITY

After a solid first weekend back, the D3 Mustangs make their first road trip, a one-off, to Chatham. It’ll probably be a tougher test for the ‘Stangs, as they only allowed 11 shots on goal last weekend, whereas they did create a lot of chances with eight different players getting points in their victory. However, Luke Benitez will be a big part of the team, not only in the face-off dot– where he won 12 of 16 last week– but also creating offense as the season keeps going.

NAVAL ACADEMY MIDSHIPMEN D1 (7-6-1) at UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE

After a split of the weekend against William Paterson and Towson, the Middies will go on the road to Delaware– who are undefeated at home this season. Joe Kelly, Conner, and Nate Hyden have been great offensively, while John Scaccia has provided big numbers from the blue line. They’ll need to be extra solid in order to try and beat the Blue Hens in their own Coop.

TOWSON UNIVERSITY TIGERS (2-11-1) at WEST CHESTER UNIVERSITY and LEHIGH UNIVERSITY

It has not been a kind season for the Tigers. Back-to-back 6-0 losses last week showed that. Offensively, Ryan Dieter has been leading the pack with 16 points in 14 games, while Jacob Snyder is facing an average of 48.9 shots a game and has 440 saves in nine games of play. We’ll see what they can do on the road against two more tough opponents.

STEVENSON UNIVERSITY MUSTANGS CLUB (7-4-0) vs. RIDER UNIVERSITY and ROWAN UNIVERSITY

While the hype train may have left the station a bit prematurely, the Club-Stangs got a big win in Vermont last week to end three-game skid. A key to the success is better team play and much more spread out scoring for their team. Six players already have five goals on the season, matching last year’s team for a full-season. It’ll be the second meeting with Rider this season, while Rowan is one of the dominant teams– which means it’s another test weekend at home for the Green Horses.

NAVAL ACADEMY MIDSHIPMEN D2 (1-7-1) at UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA and DUKE UNIVERSITY

The D2 Middies will go to Tobacco Road…kind of…to take on UNC and Duke. It’ll be the first two-game weekend in almost a month for the Mids, which will either help them because they’re rested or hinder them for lack of playing back-to-backs. Duke and UNC, however, haven’t had many games themselves, so it could be very equal footing for the squads. Kevin Harris has been a bright spot for the Mids, though, leading offensively for the squad.

UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND TERRAPINS (2-7-0) vs. RIDER UNIVERSITY

Coming off of three rough weekends, a promising start for the Terps hasn’t been as much in the middle of the year. While Chris Bouchard and Liam Eden have been a driving force for this team, the rest of the team (Griffin Connolly the exception) has been mired in a bit of an offensive slump. They face another tough task in a one-off against Rider, as the Terps have only four more games until their long winter break.

Lazy Toronto Sports Media’s New Leafs Narrative

On a cold November night, a lone person is seen walking into a graveyard in Southern Ontario. Under one arm, Geiger counter; under the other, a Ouija board. They stop at a grave site and lay the board down, setting the Geiger on the headstone. When they get a reading from the counter, they ask; “As a former champion, what do you think the Maple Leafs need to win the Stanley Cup??”

I would not be surprised if one of the Toronto media scribes goes this route on their parade of asking that question to former Cup champions. It happened with Alex Ovechkin, it happened with Drew Doughty, it’s happened with Eddie Shack and odds are it’ll happen to anyone who’s name has been etched on the silver trophy. My biggest surprise is that Doughty didn’t rebuke what he said despite the fact there was a recording of him– but that’s another piece for another time.

The fact that the narrative now when it comes to the Leafs is asking former champions what needs to be done and mimic them rather than actually addressing the problems on their own is a bit odd. As my co-host Jonny P said this week, at this point just plan the parade now and maybe they’ll luck out and win the thing. What works for one team or one player doesn’t necessarily work for the rest of the NHL, especially not the Leafs who have plenty of dynamic players who may or may not be gelling as much as people had hoped or thought.

Let’s not forget the idea of people already are calling for a “Come to Jesus” kind of talk to happen with Auston Matthews. There’s always a constant panic in Leafs land when this team who was supposed to be destined for greatness (in their minds) isn’t taking the league by storm and steamrolling over everyone. They see the shiny things that are up front, but completely disregard their lack of defense– even with Tyson Barrie back there– and then have to wonder what the problem is when they haven’t won the Presidents Trophy by late-January.

But if you fire Mike Babcock, that’ll fix everything and make things better…except it won’t. Would it help a little?? Perhaps, but what’s the replacement for him and will they be any better with their scheme in order to make the defense better??

I digress– the point is that the new narrative set out that scribes are talking to other players about what needs to be fixed with the team they cover is not only lazy, but unnecessary for the task at hand. You get into a player scrum or request to talk to a player for purpose, more often than not, when you’re writing about a topic. Sometimes you’re in a scrum for a tidbit that drops and make a story out of that– sure– but to ask them about the team their facing and what they need to do to win a championship like that player gives a good goddamn about any other team winning a championship.

However, it’s instant click-bait material and something that the rest of the Toronto media will eat up like Tiny Tim with the gruel because they need the hot takes to fill the hours of radio and TV they use to cover the Leafs to appease that fan-base.

Hell, maybe it’s time to talk about how the Bruins are being so dominant that the Leafs could actually make it past the first round because they won’t be in a position to face Boston right off the bat. Maybe actually press GM Kyle Dubas about Babcock’s future and what’s needed on the blue line to make the team more viable as a contender when push comes to shove. Maybe actually go against the MLSE overloads and have an opinion that doesn’t go with the grain and actually has some kind of meaning to it.

…nah, that’s too much work and would take too much character from Toronto writers to do. Yeah, just ask other– more successful– players about how to fix the Leafs and see how that works out in the long-run.

When There’s No Fan Advantage on Home Ice

Student sections in college hockey are a treat. Plenty of passion from the student-body, representing their school and doing all they can to hype them up for the game going on below them. On Saturday at The Ralph, that was very much on display…by the visiting fan base’s student section. And the picture from the Michigan Tech Twitter tells it all. Tech fans up and yelling, while University of North Dakota fans were sitting there taking it.

Even when the North Dakota student body and other fans in the building tried to drown them out, it was only for a fleeting moment before they got worn out and the Michigan Tech’s Mitch’s Misfits took over the building with their chanting and support. Big props to them for not only travelling all that way to come into North Dakota, but for also supporting as loudly as they did and for as long as they did. That’s dedication.

But it also shows a big problem I’ve seen with The Ralph when it comes to crowd noise– which is that there’s very little of it for very long periods of time. Aside from the Minnesota game a few years ago, the atmosphere hasn’t been anything too special for home game at The Ralph, there’s nothing that makes it special for North Dakota. Sure, the arena is one of the biggest, sure it sells a lot of tickets and gets the attendance numbers, but there’s times that a library would be considered louder than during game play at a Fighting Hawks game. It’s even more noticeable when the students are on a semester or holiday break and they aren’t at the games– things are even more sterile in terms of cheering outside of momentary occurrences of goals, hits, or saves.

It didn’t used to be that way, as the old Winter Sports Center was a rucousy place for UND fans. Like many old college arenas, it had it’s own special feel to it with the fans right on top of the action…hanging over the boards, even. That seemed to change with the more corporate feel that The Ralph has. Not to say it isn’t a lovely building and all that, but it seems like it’s too clean for college sports. The student-athletes get plenty out of it with the facilities being akin (or in some cases better) to professional venues, but the other atmosphere seems to be lacking with this arena despite the North Dakota paraphernalia around the concourse and up in the rafters.

Now, this isn’t a knock on the student section per se– they can only do so much with what they’re allowed to do in the environment and according to NCAA bylaws and such; but it seems they don’t carry on as much as they could or should be able to. There are some outside of the student section that tries to get some people going, but it’s few and far between. People are content on just watching the game rather than trying to feel like they’re a part of it. The games seem more like a place to be seen than a place to be hear among the masses. It’s a shame, especially in a building as big as The Ralph, you’d think that the sound would be even bigger; really making it hard for opposing schools who may already be caught off-guard by the size of the arena to begin with. Without a distinct noise-level or other distractions– once they get over the size of the arena, they settle in and don’t get as rattled as they could get.

One of the biggest thing is the fact that while The Ralph has a big attendance number for tickets sold, there’s noticeable empty seats through the arena as of late. While the team has had a few off years and many in the area can’t deal with not being one of the top-dogs every year (which is noble, but also a bit headstrong), that’s no reason to not show up after you’ve bought the tickets for the game. It’s bad optics for an event and bad for an atmosphere that’s already lacking in vocal support for the team.

Maybe these heel tactics– while true in some cases– will actually get people’s attention to the lack of home-ice advantage in the stands in Grand Forks. It really showed this weekend when Mitch’s Misfits were far-and-away the loudest bunch in the rink and the North Dakota faithful couldn’t drown them out or even keep up with them.

Prove me wrong, UND faithful– prove me wrong.

UND HOCKEY: Hawks Take Out Huskies 3-1

GRAND FORKS, ND–  In a one-off US Hockey Hall of Fame game, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks took on the Michigan Tech Huskies. The Hawks would be without captain Colton Poolman who was out for precautionary reasons, which was another hit to the defensive corps; who was already without Gabe Bast. In what was another tight checking match-up, the Hawks took out the Huskies in the end, winning by a count of 3-1. 

“We talk about it all the time, it’s the next-man up mentality,” defenseman Matt Kiersted mentioned after the game. “We’ve got a really deep d-corp, so one guys goes out– next guy goes in and performs.”

The game started out quick and fast, as almost six minutes of action happened before the first stoppage, when Justin Misiak gathered up a pucking slot area and slid a backhand through a mess of bodies and under Adam Scheel to make it 1-0 for the Huskies. It took five minutes of pressure for the Hawks to get it back, as Kiersted wristed one from the point that beat Robbie Beydoun to tie the game. 

“I was just following it up,” Kiersted said of his goal. “We had a good forecheck in and it made its way up to the point and I just tried to get it on net. There was a lot of traffic in front and found a way through.” 

In terms of scoring, the second period yielded none, as both teams were playing very tight hockey. Michigan Tech only had one shot on net for the second frame, while UND only had one big chance on a power play the slide past Beydoun and out the other side. Tech was able to keep the Hawks to the outside and limit the scoring chances in high threat areas. 

More of the same in the third until 7:31 when Tech had a costly turnover that was picked up by Collin Adams and fed it to Jordan Kawaguci, who ripped one from the slot past Beydoun to make it 2-1 UND. Gavin Hain would seal the deal with the empty-netter for the 3-1 victory. 

THEY SAID IT

Matt Kiersted/ Jen Conway, @NHLHistorygirl

“It’s more than just the defense. The forwards are coming back on the backcheck. The harder they backcheck, the easier it is for us to stay up on our gaps. So it’s a whole team thing.” — Kiersted on UND having another home game holding the opponent to less than 20 shots. 

“We were a bit methodical, a bit predictable as far as moving around and getting shots blocked. They block a lot of shots and they’re a good defensive team. There’s a reason why they’re seventh in the country on defense. For us, we have to have more emotion and more playmaking to get those lanes open.” — Coach Brad Berry on the Hawks power-play woes

“Any time you’re not scoring goals, you want to shorten your bench, you want to try and get guys out there more often than not. But in this league, in college hockey, it’s a hard, heavy league and you got to have four lines that can go. I think the strength of our team in trying to get offense is having for lines that can bring the energy all the time.” — Berry on playing opposition playing a stingy defensive game.

“We’re tired of tying or losing games by one goal. Scoring goals is about confidence. We go out there and we want to win a hockey game. Doesn’t matter when it is, we just want to win a hockey game.” — Jordan Kawaguchi on the team scoring later into games this year that they didn’t last year. 

UND is back at home on November 9th with a weekend set against Miami.