UND HOCKEY: Three Goals in Under Five Minutes Give Cornell Comeback Win Over UND

GRAND FORKS, ND– For 46 minutes, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks look to be in control of Friday night’s game against Cornell. They were up 3-1, they had plenty of momentum, and had the Big Red on their heels. However, in a span of 4:45, Cornell netted three goals and held off a late flurry by UND; as Game One of the weekend went to Cornell by a score of 4-3.

Wearing their white fauxback jerseys– dubbed the home business suit– UND got off to a quick start with solid shifts in the offensive zone in the first six minutes of the game. While they didn’t score, they set a tone early for the game. However, Cornell did have a pushback for the Hawks offense, at one point outshooting the Hawks and getting some shots on Zach Driscoll. North Dakota would get on the board first, as a turnover in the zone saw Chris Jandric have a clear path to the net, but he saw Mark Senden to his side, slide a pass over and had Senden net his fourth of the season.

Cornell got on the board early in the second thanks to a power play goal by Sam Malinski patiently skating across the blue line and letting a wrist shot go through a screen to beat Driscoll. It was one of the three shots of the period for the Big Red. North Dakota locked things down defensively, but also took the offensive posture again, firing 13 shots in the period at Ian Shane. The long goal to go through, was a wonderful goal by Ashton Calder. On the power play, Jake Sanderson dropped a pass back to Calder on the slingshot scheme, then Calder blew through the Cornell defense and released a quick shot on Shane, beating him five-hole to give UND the lead again.

North Dakota was able to continue form the second period, bringing the offense to Cornell, which concluded in Jake Schmaltz burying a shot past Shane after a wonderful pass from Sanderson to give North Dakota a two-goal lead. That seemed to wake up Cornell, who started to pick up their counterattack and it paid off just before the midway point of the third. A Sebastian Dirven shot form the point went wide of Driscoll, but Jack O’Leary was able to pick up the rebound before Driscoll could and tucked it in to make it a 3-2 score. As North Dakota was on the attack, a pile-up behind the net ended with Gavin Hain down on the ice, unable to put pressure on his right leg. As play went the other way, Max Andreev put home his eighth of the year to tie the game, as Hain was helped off the ice by his teammates. To finish off the comeback, Kyler Kovich netted the game winner, out-muscling Jandric in front of the net to bang home the rebound off a Malinski shot and make it a 4-3 scoreline; which would be the final.

“You need a quicker response, you need a quicker pushback,” head coach Brad Berry said postgame. “When they score to make it 3-2, you still have a goal lead with less than ten minutes left in the game. You need to have some mental toughness as far as the next shift. When a team is down late in a game, there’s a push. We need to meet or exceed that and when you don’t do that you break down in those scenarios.”

“It’s not one person, it’s the five players and goaltender on the ice,” Berry mentioned talking about the second Cornell goal. “It’s not incumbent upon one guy when you give that goal up. When we win as a team, we win as a team. When we lose as a team, we lose as a team.”

The two teams face off Saturday, which will be the last non-conference match-up for UND of the season.

TNT Botches USA Olympic Team Announcement

TOPSHOT – AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

During the second intermission of the Winter Classic, the USA Women’s Olympic Team was announced before the crowd at Target Field. If you were watching on TNT, you saw it…but it was mostly the players waving. No lower third on who was being announced. No dedicated audio from the stadium to broadcast over the air. It was Liam McHugh and Jennifer Botterill talking over the announcement.

While the insight of Botterill on the announcement and the players was nice, it seemed to really dim the light on the players who were being announced and receiving this accolade to play for their country. It’s something that could have been done after the announcement was made, but for some reason; talking over the announcement for no good reason.

I’ll be honest in saying I don’t follow women’s hockey as much as I could. Outside of Stevenson University’s team, Lacey Eden, Julia Blitz, and other Maryland women players– I’m not up on the women’s game. However, when the top women’s team in the country can’t get the respect of being acknowledge on a national broadcast– it’s not a good look. And I mentioned I don’t follow the game that closely because, outside of Hilary Knight, I didn’t know who the player’s were because of the lack of lower-third to show who the player being announced was. If you’re trying to get more eyes on women’s hockey– this wasn’t a good look to have these waving players with no identification.

While I hope it’s not a situation of Turner Sports not caring all that much because they don’t have the Olympic rights; but you’d think you wanted to help beat the drum, as a National Broadcaster, to grow the game. To give these women the chance to shine and keep up with the NHL’s message of hockey being for “everyone.” Just seemed so weird that they could have done the bare minimum and still screwed the whole thing up.

My hope is that USA Hockey or someone will post the announcement in full with graphics in the near future to give the women the respect they deserve for their hard work to make it to the Olympic team. Hell, 15 of these players were part of the Gold Medal team in 2018, still need to claw to get name recognition in a wider audience.

China’s National Men’s Hockey Team Given OK to Compete at Olympics

China’s HC Kunlun Red Star players are seen during the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) match against HC Amur Khabarovsk in Mytishchi, Moscow region, Russia November 15, 2021. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

Many waited with bated breath as the IIHF was pondering what would happen to the host country of China when it came to the men’s Olympic ice hockey portion of the Games. There was doubt that they would be deemed ready to compete, as the team that was designated as the country’s representation– Kunlun Red Star– was getting sick pumped in the KHL with a 9-27 record and a minus-61 goal differential.

In addition to that, the Red Star roster is made up of a majority of North America players– which may not be a red flag to some, but when if they wanted to play in the Olympics; there’d be many hoops to jump through in order to be a nationalized citizen given China not recognizing dual citizen like Italy did in 2006 and South Korea did in 2018.

But worry not, the IIHF said that China is good to go for the Olympics and will have an easy group to play in with Germany, Canada, and the United States. Oops.

Okay, but just assume the NHL isn’t going to go. COVID running rampant through teams and tighter restrictions pending at the Olympic village (not to mention the diplomatic boycotts happening); it could be a photo finish to see if NHL players will actually attend these events or miss it for the second straight Games.

Even if the NHL doesn’t go, you have to wonder about China’s team against those nations with other players in tow. By and large, the non-NHL rosters that would goes against China could easily put a big number against them– Germany showed that in their silver medal result last Olympics. South Korea didn’t have to go against NHLers and they could only muster three goals through their round-robin and playoff matches– and they had a more developed hockey program than what the Chinese appear to have going for them.

Fun fact: In the last five Games, the host nations has made it past the Quarterfinals twice: USA in 2002 and Canada in 2010. Italy didn’t qualify in 2006, Russia lost to Finland in 2014, and South Korea lost in qualifications in 2018. China has a huge hill to climb in that and it may not look promising if they are going against more experienced pros.

That said, there’s always a chance for a Cinderella story. Stranger things have happened in the Olympics, especially in hockey. There’s always one team that comes out of nowhere to make it relatively deep in the playoffs. Belarus in 2002, Slovakia in 2010, Latvia in 2014, and Germany in 2018. On paper– they don’t seem to stand a chance. But to steal from Sportsnet’s Tim Micallef– the game isn’t played on paper, it’s played by little tiny people in our TV sets.

Graphic by North Dakota Athletic Department @undMHockey

GRAND FORKS, ND– Coming off a loss on Friday night, the North Dakota Fighting Hawks wanted to make sure they didn’t get swept in their own arena; especially not against a heated rival like the Duluth Bulldogs. Even with key players being out, the mindset seemed to change and the Fighting Hawks secured a split on the weekend with a 2-1 victory on Saturday. 

North Dakota could have gotten off to another quick start, as Duluth was faced with a five-minute major to Carter Loney for boarding. However, Duluth’s penalty kill was a big factor in keeping the Fighting Hawks off the board with crucial blocks and the ability to keep North Dakota on the perimeter and not get much inside to challenge Ryan Fanti. The period ended scoreless with North Dakota leading in shots, 11-7. 

“We didn’t score on it,” head coach Brad Berry said post-game, “but I thought the power play gave us momentum for the rest of the period and the rest of the game. That was the message to our guys was the discipline side of it. That’s so key, if you’re on a power play and you get all that momentum. We were killing all day yesterday in that game and gave that team momentum.” 

With shots ringing off the pipe at both ends, Duluth started to gain plenty of momentum throughout the period not only offensively, but holding the UND offense to only two shots through 15 minutes of the second. Duluth was able to break the stalemate with Blake Biondi finding a seam in the defense, receiving a solid dish from Dominic James, with Biondi then beating Zach Driscoll on the blocker side to make it 1-0 Duluth. North Dakota would tie it up late in the second, with Ethan Frisch going five-hole on Fanti with 5.4 seconds left in the period on the power play after Frisch was set up by Chris Jandric. 

North Dakota broke the tie 5:05 into the third after a wonderful pass from Ashton Calder found a streaking Brendan Budy who jammed it under Fanti to make it 2-1 for the Hawks. Duluth had a chance on the power play past the midway point in the frame, but Driscoll was equal to the task, kicking out shot after shot to keep the North Dakota lead. Duluth put the pressure on late, even putting Fanti in the closing minutes, but they could not find the equalizer; leading to a 2-1 UND win and a weekend split.

Brendan Budy/ Photo Jen Conway (@nhlhistorygirl

THEY SAID IT

“I think everyone’s first reaction when key guys are out is, ‘Man, we’re going to miss them.’ The biggest thing is our mentality is the next man up mentality. We’re going to miss them, but there’s other good players around here that can go in. Anytime you can get a win and get some young guys to get reps, like Cooper Moore and Luke Bast, that’s huge and when you get the win, it’s a bonus.” — Berry on the depth of his team after this weekend.

“Obviously the bodies weren’t feeling great, but that’s to be expected anytime you play Duluth in a two-game series. It really comes down to mentality. We were a little too worried about the refs, we were worried about our lineup the first night and the second night it was like– let’s throw that out the window and worry about who we’ve got in this room.” — Frisch on the message going into Satuday’s game. 

“That goal was a pretty big relief. Coming in, kind of got a little dinged up in the summer and took a while to come back. I’ve been kind of chipping away at it, trying to get my confidence back, trying to get back to my old self.” — Budy on his goal and what it does for his progression.

“We got extended on a shift out there. Sometimes you get extended on an icing call or whatever, someone gets extended and then he’s not on with his regular line. I just tried to take the three freshest guys and Ford and Calder were up, but Budy was on the next line. It was a situation where I wanted a fresh body up there.” — Berry on the unintentional mixing of lines that lead to the game winner.

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.

UND HOCKEY: Fighting Hawks Complete Sweep of Denver in First NCHC Weekend

GRAND FORKS, ND– Following up on Friday’s victory, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks were able to give an encore performance of their all-around performance with a 4-1 victory over Denver Saturday night, sweeping the first weekend of conference play. Things, however, took a turn late in the game, as the rivalry boiled over on many fronts.

North Dakota got off to a quick start with plenty of offense from the start. The persistence paid off as 4:59 in, Ashton Calder’s pressure on the Denver point created a turnover, which lead to Matteo Costantini breaking away from the pack and putting home his third of the year past Magnus Chrona to make it 1-0 UND. The pressure continued, as the zone time for UND was big in the first frame, leading to 12 shot on goal in the first period. Just after the midway mark, Judd Caulfield spun out of the corner and drove to the net, creating a rebound for Tyler Kleven to make it 2-0. It was the first of three four-on-four goals for the Hawks on the evening.

The second period had Denver coming back a little more, putting pressure on Zach Driscoll a little more, but Driscoll was equal to most task. The only hiccup on the record was an attack 6:24 into the second, when Ryan Barrow was the recipent of a great passing play between himself, Jack Devine, and Brett Stapley to cut the UND lead in half after Barrow put it over the glove of Driscoll. The Hawks didn’t pressure Chrona as much as they did in the first, but the chances they did have were quality and created by an aggressive forecheck on the Denver defense.

Four-on-four play struck again for North Dakota, as Riese Gaber took a Jake Sanderson breakout pass the length of the ice, making a power move cutting in from the far boards, and tucked it under Chrona for the 3-1 marker. North Dakota kept the pressure on, hitting a few posts behind Chrona but not finding the back of the net. The transition and pressure of North Dakota halted many chances for Denver to get back into the game.

Things then took a turn, as with the Denver net empty, Mark Senden looked to seal the game, but Carter Savoie came across the ice, leapt towards Senden who was trying to gather the puck up, and Savoie’s forearm hit Senden in the head, knocking the UND captain to the heap on the ice and creating a stir after the fact. Senden went off with assistance from the trainer and Savoie got a five and game for his troubles. Things continued to get feisty, as Tyler Kleven’s big hit upon Denver’s zone entry was a bit too high for the liking of the officials and he got a five and game, as well.

At the end, Calder got the open net goal and UND secured the sweep of the weekend. It puts the Hawks at 2-0-0 in NCHC play as they head to Miami next weekend.

THEY SAID IT

“This was a character-builder and for sure a team-builder for our team for the year, the way they battled up. I think that was learning lesson last night, kind of sit back in the third period with a one-goal lead. We said you know what, we’re not sitting back, playing not to lose, we’re playing to win.”– Head coach Brad Berry on his team’s performance Saturday.

“That was huge for us confidence-wise. I think not a lot of people expected that. I know we have a lot of belief within our team here. We definitely showed that tonight.”– Riese Gaber on the meaning of this sweep.

UND HOCKEY: Mr. Johnson Goes to Washington in Third Round

Photo via Sioux Falls Stampede

GRAND FORKS, ND– As a wedding was set-up for Saturday afternoon on the floor of the Ralph Engelstad Arena, another marriage took place hours before, as incoming University of North Dakota defenseman Brent Johnson was selected by the Washington Capitals in the third round of the 2021 NHL Draft. Sitting in a suite with his family, Johnson actually didn’t initially notice his name on the board.

“Actually, I wasn’t even looking,” said Johnson. “I was looking at my phone and then I looked up and it was pretty exciting. My heart kind of dropped for a second. Just a lot of emotions all at once. Unreal experience. I’ve been working on this for a long time now– especially with my family here with me. It’s something that’ll never forget. They’ve all been pulling the same rope that I have, so they know hard I’ve worked and it was special to have them here.”

Coming from Frisco, Texas, Johnson will be the first player to wear a North Dakota uniform from the Lone Star state and should be play for the Capitals, he’ll be the second player of record to hail from Texas, the first being Chris Brown from 2013 until 2016. Developing in the Dallas Stars Elite youth program, Johnson sees a lot of talent coming from the area from his experiences.

“It’s been a lot better and it’s growing fast,” Johnson mentioned of hockey in Texas. The guys are growing up and becoming hockey players and there’s some guys ahead of me that have come up. I think it’s a developing market and I’m really excited to see what the future holds for Dallas hockey.”

With the Draft being virtual again this year, the pomp and circumstance wasn’t at an NHL arena. Luckily for Johnson, North Dakota and The Ralph pulled out all the accommodations as they did last year for the 2020 Draft class that were slated to play for UND.

“It was amazing. Thanks to the staff for helping me put this together and allowing me to have such a special day. It was an unreal experience to see the building I’ll be playing at for the next four years. I can’t wait to get started.”

Johnson looked to be very dedicated to staying at North Dakota for the long haul, saying he had no changes in plans after getting drafted and was focused on a National Championship in the next four years. When talking about his incoming defender, North Dakota head coach Brad Berry was very eager to have him in the line-up.

“Just getting to know Brent over the last few months, it was something he was very excited for an when he name was called, him and his family were very excited. And we’re excited, too. It’s a point in time where he’ll never forget this moment, but not the work begins for him to have a productive season for us at North Dakota,” Berry said.

Berry continued, “He’s a very, very smart player. When you talk about smart players, you always wants those players who anticipate the next play. Even before the puck is on his tape, he knows where it’s going. And to add, he’s also ultra-competitive. He’s a very competitive player with a lot of offensive ability. We have a great, great player; but an even better person in our group.”

Johnson is coming off a solid season on the blueline in the USHL with 21 assists and 32 points in 47 games in his first full year. His offensive side is matched by his ability to keep the play in front of him defensively and protect his blindside well. One thing some scouting reports looked at was his skating style leading needing some work, which should come with time. While Johnson will be in the line-up this season, there is still things that are needed to work on, which Berry honed in on.

“He has very good offensive ability and he defends real well, but you can tell he’s a person who needs to grow his body a little bit,” mentioned Berry. “Him coming from Sioux Falls and coming here to train, which has already with the group; you can tell he’s going to get bigger and stronger with our group. We’re going to let time take place and we know he has the work ethic to do it.”

Fare Thee Well, NHL on NBC

With the Lightning’s 2nd straight Stanley Cup win on Wednesday, the NBC era of NHL TV history has paused with ESPN and Turner Sports coming into the fold next season. What start as an exclusive three-year, $200 Million TV deal with the Outdoor Life Network turned into a deal that will net the NHL over $4 Billion in their incoming deal with the new networks.

It was a joke to start, many fans in the US– already reeling from a season that was cancelled– now had their sport in one of the least attractive channels they could have thought about and one many didn’t know if they had or not on their cable provider. Don’t even get started on hotels having it for people on the road– even to the end of days with NBCSN.

But it progressed for the better. While the production was one that was nothing too different from other productions, the deal with NBC spawned many things like the outdoor games people can’t get enough of and more dedicated coverage to the game, as it was the first major sports property for OLN. Of course, it also gave people the horrid Tuesday All-Star Game and the beta-version of a rail cam for that event. Then it turned to Versus, a little more interesting of a name for a sports network, but it’s something that didn’t make people think it was just hockey, hunting, and (according to my friend and mentor Sean O’Connor) fish racing.

Versus allowed the NHL to have multiple games per week on the network, plenty of coverage around the game times, and possibly a new voice for things to come. NBC Universal saw the potential and bought up the Versus property, turning it to NBC Sports Network while signing the NHL to a 10-year, $2 Billion exclusive deal. Not without its hiccups, the NBCSN was still something the normal layperson had trouble finding, playoff coverage got bumped for horse racing on the main NBC network, and while some new personalities were able to shine– familiar voices, both good and bad, were around for the duration of it. Not to mention, more features happening like more mic’d up players and commentators between the benches. NBC did all they could to make some more entertainment for folks watching the games.

If nothing else, the NBC/NHL partnership allowed the league to have a dedicated spot for a long amount of time. Sure, there are plenty of reasons to dislike NBC and what fans wanted out of it– but when a media company as big as NBC Universal invests that much into the league, in the grand scheme; it helped with revenues for the league and was a hub for hockey in its tenure.

Fans are a fickle bunch when it comes to the presentation they want to have on their screens. Everyone is sick of the same teams over and over– but in the TV business, that’s the way to get ratings and advertising dollars. Will we see a change for ESPN and Turner?? Maybe not at the start of things. But that’s why ESPN+ exists for whatever their Center Ice parallel will be on that platform; all the games will exist from the local markets doing them.

The NHL on NBC didn’t need to reinvent the wheel, they just had to keep the vehicle of the NHL going. It put trust in the league with their long-term deal and in-turn, the league didn’t need to worry every other year where their national games were being held. People shouldn’t expect the wheel to be reinvented with ESPN or Turner either. Just keep the vehicle moving, be entertaining, and be informative– people are going to shout their hate for something into the social media void regardless of what’s put out there. Just keep things rolling and see what happens in seven years’ time.

Ottawa Senators Mirroring Their ’92-93 Pace

When the Ottawa Senators changed their jersey and logo to their (kind of) original one with the motto, “Back to Our Roots,” I don’t think they envisioned going THAT far back.

The 1992-93 Ottawa Senators won their first game 5-3 and then dropped their next nine games, including one in overtime. The 2020-21 Ottawa Senators won their first game 5-3 and have dropped their last seven, including one in overtime. The goal differential in the first nine games for the ’92-93 Sens was minus-22. For the ’20-21 Sens, minus-22.

I’m not saying…I’m just saying.

Coming into the season, the bar was quite low for the Ottawa Senators. Obviously in the midst of a rebuild, the team probably wasn’t going to see much of the top of the standings. However, the bar probably wasn’t as low as being better than their first year in the league, but the trends have them going in that direction. Even acquiring Matt Murray, Evgenii Dadonov, and Derek Stepan didn’t tip the needle of this team not being as horrendous as we’re seeing right now.

There’s always the thought of this being part of whatever “process” that the Senators are trying to build. There’s a good pipeline of prospects starting from Thomas Chabot, Brady Tkachuk, and Tim Stuetzle (can’t find the umlaut on this keyboard), who are already on the team, to plenty of drafted talent on the University of North Dakota roster– like Shane Pinto, Jacob Bernard-Docker, Jake Sanderson, and Tyler Kleven, as well as former North Dakota defenseman Jonny Tychonick, who has found some solid footing since transferring to Nebraska-Omaha.

Yet, you have to wonder– will they be able to turn it around on their own as a rag-tag bunch of prospects taking the world by storm. It’s almost setting themselves up to be that way, as Ottawa seems to be quite the undesirable spot for free agents and trade candidates, alike. While it’s one thing to grow the team from the studs up and find success in lower leagues, it’s a whole other thing to do it on the pro level. It’s not impossible, just look at what the Chicago Blackhawks and Washington Capitals have done with their prospects; but they also had some helping veterans come along the way to guide those young teams to success. Can Ottawa get that same luck??

Pierre Dorian is doing what he can with what he’s given. Eugene Melnyk has been known to put his hand in the pot a little too much when it comes to decision making, but if you’re writing the checks; my guess is that they can get away with that– even if it can be detrimental to the team in the long-run.

However, I don’t know if it’s a good look for a team trying to get back on the upswing when they’re trending to be as bad as they were as an expansion team. As broadcasters like to remind fans, this team was one goal away from the 2017 Stanley Cup Final…and within 18 months, totally dismantled that team to make it almost recognizable.

Will the fans put up with much more before going completely apathetic?? Personally, my money is that they’re already at that apathetic stage and they’ll sit there catatonic on their TVs watching this team struggle and then have to fend off any rumors– fabricated or otherwise– about their longevity in the area, as Melnyk plays cat-and-mouse with moving the team closer to where people live in the downtown area…but those seems to be dashed.

At the end of the day, you have to do the cliche thing and take it game-by-game. Also, hope that your don’t do as bad as the first ever team. For reference, the ’92-93 Sens didn’t get their second win until game 23. Something for this team to shoot for…and maybe even get before that mark.

Is North Dakota Betting on Black a Little Too Much??

They say clothes make the man. If that’s the case, the University of North Dakota may want to invest in more black uniform sets because they have relied heavy on their “business” attire the past two weekends to help pull them through games. Whether it’s a mentality or some sorcery, the Fighting Hawks seem to play a bit different coming out in that all-black everything uniform set.

Yet, when does it become a crutch?? When does that mantra slowly fade and the ideal of a uniform changing everything not work anymore??

Maybe this is the season that gets put to the test, as UND does sport a solid 10-3-1 record to lead the NCHC standings, but still– the performances have left a bit to be desired after their exit from the bubble in Omaha. Granted, Adam Scheel’s nine wins and Jordan Kawaguchi’s 16 points lead the conference; something doesn’t seem quite right since the bubble and maybe clothing isn’t the best way to mask it.

Or maybe it is, as UND has worn the black uniform twice in the 2021 calendar year and won both games. In the bubble, they had a win and a tie in the all-black– putting their record this season to 3-0-1. Last season, they went 5-1-0 in the business attire, There is a method to the madness, but at the same time– there has to be something more there for the Hawks to get them motivated outside of a jersey color, right?? Why not just wear the black uniform the rest of the season and go on a run if the success is proven and there.

Personally, it does seem a bit alarming that it takes a jersey change as the carrot on a stick to get these players going. Especially after the solid bubble performance, especially since a lot of these players had last season taken away from them due to the pandemic. You’d think that there would been a little more hunger with the lack of games this season and they wouldn’t need a jersey gimmick to wake them up after a subpar performance.

I understand, this is a helluva thing to throw out there for a top-five ranked school, but it’s also something that shouldn’t be ignored. Though Scheel has nine wins, there has been holes to his game and he hasn’t really gotten the clean-up around his net from the team in front of him, leaving him out in the open after making the first save, while a tailing player comes to pick up the garbage in a wide open net. While it is a small sample size outside to bubble, going from 4.0 goals-per-game in the bubble to 2.75 outside of it is quite the drop and a little bit of an eyebrow raising circumstance when you see that the five-goal output month accounted for almost half of the goals combined in the last four games.

As I stated, if the black jerseys work as a carrot on the stick to get the guys hungry, wear them until they’re tattered if it gets results. However, there’s times it’s not always going to work and the underlying issue will need to be addressed when it comes to how a team adapts and how they persevere from that adaptation.