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: Fighting Hawks Capture Back-to-Back Penrose Cups

Photo via University of North Dakota Twitter

GRAND FORKS, ND– With the Penrose Cup for best regular season record in the NCHC in the building, the North Dakota Fighting Hawks came into the day looking to take care of some business on home ice. They did just that with a big 7-1 win against the Omaha Mavericks, capturing their second straight Penrose Cup and fourth in the program’s history. 

“I’m extremely proud of this team,” head coach Brad Berry stated, “I’ve been here a lot of years. This ranks up there as one of the highest in trying to capture it. Players who come here, they have to be team first, but at the same time there’s chances to go to the next level. There are guys who could have went elsewhere after last season, but chose to come back. This has to rank as one of the toughest to win because of pod at the beginning of the season, because you grind away and  then have to come back and wait for the weekend game and try to stay focused. This one is at the top with all that adversity they went through.” 

It took less than 90 seconds for UND to get on the board, as Shane Pinto made a backhanded pass from behind the net out in front to Brenden Budy, who put it past Isaiah Saville to make it 1-0 Fighting Hawks. While UND tried to control the pace, Omaha wouldn’t go away. Their consistency paid off as Kevin Conley redirected a Kirby Proctor shot and made it 1-1. The Fighting Hawks answered with under 90 seconds left in the period, as Tyler Kleven picked up a Jasper Weatherby pass and wired it past Isaiah Saville to make it 2-1. 

The second had Omaha get plenty of control in the offensive zone, but couldn’t cash in thanks to Adam Scheel. Just after a flurry by the Mavericks, a turnover in the neutral zone after a Mavericks’ defenseman lost an edge allowed Jordan Kawaguchi to break in alone and beat Saville blocker side to make it 3-1. Penalty trouble plagued the Mavericks, as back-to-back calls against Omaha allowed for North Dakota’s power play to be out there and after one unsuccessful round, Jasper Weatherby wired home his 10th of the season after great work from Jake Sanderson and Jacob Bernard-Docker to move the puck around the perimeter to start the power play. After trading penalties, Collin Adams notched another power play goal off a rebound from a Riese Gaber shot, which ended the night of Saville. 

Penalties were on the mind of Omaha in the third, after a quick start for the Mavericks to get some shots on Scheel. However, after Shane Pinto got denied by Austin Roden, Pinto made good for it with a rocket on the power play to extend UND’s lead to 6-1. As North Dakota was playing somewhat conservative, another Collin Adams goal happened off the face-off thanks to a solid pass by Judd Caulfield, who had an Omaha defender draped all over him. 

With under a minute left, many emotions boiled over as Louis Jamernik cross checked an Omaha player off the face-off and all hell broke loose. The result was Gabe Bast, Louis Jamernik, Jackson Keane, Griffin Ness, and Tyler Kleven from UND and Jonny Tychonick, Brandon Scanlin, Noah Prokop, Joey Abate getting ejected from the last minute. 

When all was said and done, the North Dakota Fighting Hawks came out a 7-1 winner and lifted their second straight Penrose Cup for best team in the NCHC’s regular season. However, there’s still two games left for UND over the next two weekends– both against Omaha. Berry, who started to rest some of the top players at the end of this game, said they’ll start to focus on how to go about the rosters on Monday.

“It’s a good thing we clinched,” said Berry. “It’ll allow us as a coaching staff on Monday to look at what we’ve got and make sure we’ve got everyone at the top of their game going into the playoffs.” 

THEY SAID IT

“You could feel it in the morning skate and  going into the meetings. There wasn’t a lot of laughing and guys being loose, it was a business attitude. You kind of knew we were going to get our best tonight. Everyone was focused and I  gotta hand it to them– they dug in and focused and tried to hang another banner.” — Berry on the mentality of the team going into Saturday’s game.

“They’re a team on the rise and we both play hard. We’re all trying to get top four, when you get two top teams in the conference, that’s what happens. The NCHC gets you ready for the postseason by grinding it out during the season. The NCHC has success because of the gauntlet going on in the regular season.” Berry on the budding UND/Omaha rivalry

“It was a lot of unexpected turns of events. The first half in the pod, nothing like that has happened. Then you have to go back and deal with the rescheduling and all that. You have to roll with the punches and overcome the adversity.” — Scheel on the craziness of the season

“It’s the friendship in the room. We’re best friends off the ice and that’s why we play so well on the ice because we all play for each other.” — Scheel on the comradery of this year’s Fighting Hawks team.