UND HOCKEY: Hawks Survive Second Period, Win 2-1

Photo Jen Conway/@NHLHistorygirl

GRAND FORKS, ND– At the start of the last home regular season weekend, the North Dakota Fighting Hawks were riding high with two straight sweeps, while also getting back some keep elements to their roster. While they were without Riese Gaber and Jake Sanderson, the Hawks were about to withstand a 2nd period on-slaught from the Western Michigan Broncos to win Friday night 2-1. 

North Dakota’s start was quick, they were able to get some zone time against Brandon Bussi in net for Western; but some of North Dakota’s passes were just a bit off the mark to really create some solid scoring opportunities. One that wasn’t off the mark was the pass from Jake Schmaltz streaking down the right side and centering a pass to Ashton Calder, who one-hand deflected the pass into the back of the net for the icebreaking goal. Following that, the Broncos picked up a little steam, including a late power play– but didn’t have any goals to show for it. 

The second period however was mostly Western, They were able to get their jump back and really put plenty of pressure onto Zach Driscoll. However, riding a four-game win streak coming in, Driscoll was more than dialed-in for this affair. There was one hiccup in that second for Driscoll as Jacob Bauer notched his first NCAA goal on a centering pass that seemed to catch Bauer off guard as the pass almost handcuffed him, but he was able to get enough on it to put it over the shoulder of Driscoll. While they were outshot 17-5 in the middle frame, UND was able to get the go-ahead goal thanks to the work of Judd Caulfield and Matteo Costantini, with the latter finding open space off the pass from Caulfield, moving Bussi around enough to sneak it through is legs for the 2-1 goal. 

More of the Broncos’ pressure continued in the third period, doubling up on the Hawks in shots. Despite buzzing around, Driscoll and the defense stood strong with key blocks and stellar saves to keep the Broncos off the board. It wasn’t until the last face-off when Western had a late-second chance on Driscoll that UND was able to secure the victory and retain the lead in the NCHC standings. 

THEY SAID IT

“He’s tracking pucks, he’s finding pucks, he’s battling on loose pucks in front of the net. It’s experience. He’s got a lot of experience behind him and he’s hungry to compete. It’s his 25th birthday today. What a birthday present that was.” –Head Coach Brad Berry on Driscoll’s performance down the stretch. 

“The guys stepped up at the end there in the last two minutes, and we’re going to need that for the rest of the year. We just got to sharpen up a couple things that we’ll look over tomorrow morning and stick to the game plan. Probably won’t change up too much tomorrow.” –Costantini about the game and what needs to change from the second period. 

“I saw him play in the past, gave me glimpses of him from the past. I definitely saw some of what he could do at Lake State and definitely knew it was coming.” –Calder on the performance of Driscoll.

UND HOCKEY: Hawks Offense Erupts for Seven in Friday Victory

Photo: Jen Conway/ @NHLHistoryGirl

GRAND FORKS, ND– After only scoring one goal all of last weekend and five goals in their last four games, the University of North Dakota exploded with seven goals on Friday night in a rout of St. Cloud State 7-1. Contributions from all parts of the line-up helped carry the Fighting Hawks for their first win of 2022. It flipped the script of the series in St. Cloud dominated the Friday game with a win 8-1 on December 3rd, but UND answered with a 5-3 win on the 4th to split the series. 

North Dakota got started early, as Matteo Costantini was able to streak down the left side and feed a streaking Connor Ford, who beat St. Cloud’s David Hranek on the near-side to make it 1-0. After some solid chances following the goal, St. Cloud was able to counter-attack and get some chances on their own. Rookie goalie Jakob Hellsten stood tall in net, however, stopping all eight shots thrown at him in the first. UND was able to net a power play goal with Ethan Frisch hammering a one-timer over the right shoulder of Hranek to make it 2-0 Hawks. Right before the end of the frame, Riese Gaber put home his 10th of the season after a patient Costantini was able to force a St. Cloud defender to slide and moved the puck around him to find Gaber into the wide-open net. 

Peppering Hranek with plenty of shots to start the second, North Dakota didn’t break through until 9:27 in when a solid forecheck created a turnover and started a tic-tac-toe passing play; leading to Griffin Ness’s first NCAA goal and Carson Albrecht’s first NCAA point on the primary assist. That would end Hranek’s night for Jaxon Castor, which seemed to spark St. Cloud, as they put plenty of pressure on Hellsten, who was stellar in a sequence of saves that kept the Huskies off the board. It wasn’t until 2:27 left when St. Cloud broke through with Jami Krannilla hammering home a one-timer on the power play to make it a 4-1 game going into the second intermission. 

Even more offense from the Fighting Hawks had the Huskies on their heels. So much so that Ashton Calder was able to draw a penalty shot after getting past the defense. On his shot, Calder juked Castor out of his crease to make it 5-1 for the Hawks. Not two minutes later, Calder struck again on four-on-four play, as Jake Schmaltz recoiled out of the zone to find Calder at full speed, blowing by the defense and beating Castor five-hole. Things got a little chippy at the end, as they are wont to do during a blowout, but UND make it 7-1 after their aggressive forecheck led to a turnover in front of Castor as Gaber netted his second goal on a Costantini rebound to make it 7-1 and give Costantini his fourth assist of the night and the first star honors. 

THEY SAID IT

“I think we had a lot of fire underneath us coming into this weekend after what happened in Western Michigan. Everyone took the right approach during the week. We kept a positive attitude and got the result we wanted, so we’ll stick to that and keep this going into tomorrow night.” – Costantini on the outburst of scoring and mentality going into this weekend.

“It’s always fun to play games, but confidence is something you build in practice every day. I’ve just been doing the same thing the whole season. I feel like I’ve always been ready and now that I’ve gotten a few nods, it’s just a lot of fun. I think I can just step in and play my game.” – Hellsten on his confidence after getting some starts this year. 

“Absolutely something we’re aware of. We’re not satisfied with one win. Obviously, it’s been a tough stretch for us, but tonight felt real good. It’s about us and what we do and we’re excited to get back here tomorrow.” – Frisch about their previous series in St. Cloud.

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: UND Force Overtime, Split Series with Bemidji

GRAND FORKS, ND– After winning at Bemidji State last night, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks came back home to complete the home-and-home against the Beavers. A slow start doomed the Hawks from the start, but thanks to late pressure– they were able to get the game into overtime, but could not complete the comeback, losing 4-3 to Bemidji in extra time. 

“One of the main points for today was to have a better start,” said UND coach Brad Berry after the game. “I thought a couple plays led to their goals, and they were nice goals, but a couple of mistakes– not handling the puck in the neutral zone and errand passes in our zone. You can’t put yourself down 2-0 against a good team like that.”

Bemidji struck first, as Kyle Looft wristed on through a mass of humanity and put it past Zach Driscoll to make it 1-0 Beavers 47 seconds into the game. Less than a minute after that, Tyler Kirkup picked up an errand pass in the defensive zone to make it 2-0 within the first 1:28 of the game. After their timeout was called, UND got on the board with a great transition and tic-tac passing from Connor Ford and Chris Jandric allowed Ashton Calder to put home his third of the year. While the Fighting Hawks got most of the chances through the period, including two solid chances from Gavin Hain, Kirkup got on the board again, after a pass from Alex Adams hit off his stick and trickled past Driscoll to make it 3-1 Bemidji.

North Dakota, knowing they couldn’t give the next goal, kept pushing offensively with a decent amount of chances– including Hain skying a puck on the breakaway. They finally got within one as Riese Gaber picked up a Louis Jamernik wrap-around rebound to close the gap to 3-2.  Even with the power plays that UND were given towards the end of the frame, they couldn’t convert and had only a few quality chances at Michael Carr. UND outshot Bemidji 11-4, but the score remained 3-2 after 40. 

Try as they might, UND couldn’t get shots past Carr. Bemidji got their bodies, sticks, and everything else in the way of any potential Fighting Hawks shots. While some passes didn’t connect, the Hawks made sure that they did support Driscoll when Bemidji tried to press the play. It wasn’t until there was 48 seconds left in the game, when– with the extra attacker– Ashton Calder fired it on net and Carr, who was half in the net, let it slip by him to tie the game, sending it to overtime. 

“(Sanderson) made a great play off the wall, caught them sleeping a little bit,” said Calder of the game-tying goal. “(Schmaltz) made a great pass and I was there to pump it into the back of the net.” 

It took only 53 seconds in OT to end it, as Ross Armour got behind the UND defense to put it over the shoulder of Driscoll to give Bemidji the split on the weekend with a 4-3 victory of their own. 

THEY SAID IT

“You gotta reset. That was a critical time to reset your team and get back into sorts again. When you give up two goals, you get kind of shaken a little bit; I wanted to make sure our guys get back on the horse again. You can’t control what’s in the past, but you can control the future. I want to make sure the future of our game was good.”– Berry on using his time-out 1:28 into regulation. 

“We showed we can play really well, especially those last two periods, we just have to start better. You can’t spot teams, especially like that, two goals, three goals right away in the first period, so I think if we clean that up, we’ll be really good after that.”– Calder on the takeaways on the weekend.

“At the end of the day, it’s huge to have that tied up and go into your pairwise ranking against a good team. The biggest point is we like our team, but we got to play more like a team in the early part of the game. Second and third, we had great push-back, I don’t think we spent a whole lot of time in the second and third at our end of the rink. We just have to have a more effort not playing in our zone in the first.”– Berry on getting into overtime.