UND HOCKEY: Late Goal Ties It, Then Loses It For Fighting Hawks

GRAND FORKS, ND– In the last game before the winter break, the University of North Dakota looked to close out a sweep of the Denver Pioneers. However, either scoring early and then scoring at the latest point of the game– the Pioneers were able to split the series with a 2-1 overtime victory against the Fighting Hawks.

Denver got on the board just 1:10 into the game, with Jaakko Heikkinen getting his third of the year off a pass from behind the goal-line from Colin Staub and just a quick snap for the Finn to put Denver up. The period was a neutral zone battle, a continuation of last night, leaving the shots at 6-5 to end the frame for UND. Denver was held without a shot for close to 15 minutes for the period.

The Fighting Hawks played a spirited second frame, with many chances coming from the point. However, Detroit draft pick, Filip Larsson, was equal to the task. Larsson even looked dead to rights on a shot that deflected in front and went right to Mark Senden, but Larsson got his side in front of the shot to preserve the 1-0 lead.

While the Fighting Hawks were pressing, they couldn’t get anything passed Larsson, who played lights out. That was until late, when with 2:35 left, Jacob Bernard-Docker broke Larsson after a Colton Poolman take away found JBD streaking and he went top shelf for the tying goal.

A frantic overtime saw UND with plenty of chances. Cole Smith had a puck squeak just wide of the post after it went through Larsson, while Gavin Hain redirected a shot that went right into the blocker of Larsson. The game ended with Jarid Lukosevicius tipping a Slava Demin shot that went right under Adam Scheel to end the game and split the weekend.

Brad Berry/Photo by Jen Conway

“We battled until we could score a goal,” head coach Brad Berry said post game. “Took until our 30th shot to get a goal and we found a way to get the tie. It’s one of those things where we left points on the table and it’s disappointing.”

“I think we’re not happy, but I think we learned a lot about our team,” Cole Smith remarked about the first-half of the season. “We learned we can play against top teams in the nation, it’s comes down to executing on it.”

It’s not all dire to end the first half, as Bernard-Docker will now go to Canadian National Junior camp in preparation for the World Junior tryouts. He said that he looks forward to the chance, even if it’s just a tryout.

“Any time you get a chance to represent your country, it’s an honor. I think that just going over there and playing with skilled players and learning from them will help. For the second half, we believe in ourselves and we’re going to make a huge push,” said JBD before he headed out.

Berry added, “Once we gets back and in position and get good line combination, then we’ll be able to have the depth on a nightly basis. Depth is a big thing and we’ll get it back in the second half.”

It’s a long break for the Fighting Hawks, as they’ll head to winter break and comeback for an exhibition on December 30th against the US Under-18 team.

UND HOCKEY: Fighting Hawks Get First Win, Just In Time For Gopher Weekend

University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks' logo

GRAND FORKS, ND– After a disappointing showing on Friday, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks looked to come out of the weekend with a split against Minnesota State-Mankato on Saturday. With some line-up shake-up that saw junior defenseman Andrew Peski become a scratch, Jackson Keane get the 19th skater role and Adam Scheel starting his second game of the season, which ended up being his first NCAA win, as the Fighting Hawks avenged Friday’s loss with a 4-3 win on Saturday.

It took to the middle of the first frame for UND to get on the board, with Grant Mismash getting his second of the season on the power play after Gabe Bast set him up for a one-timer off a crucial Nick Jones face-off win. Cole Smith got into the act 38 seconds later, ripping a wrister from the top of the circle, getting a tip from Mankato’s Riese Zmolek, and potting it over the shoulder of Dryden McKay to make it a quick 2-0 lead for the Hawks. After a Joel Janatuinen cross-checking call, Mankato struck on their own power play as Julian Napravnik got open down the far side, Max Coatta led a pass to him, and Napravnik put it glove side past Scheel to cut the UND lead to 2-1. After a Nick Jones slashing call, Max Coatta made short work of the power play, putting up his four goal of the weekend after getting a pass from Jared Spooner to tie the game up.

It was just under two minutes into the second when, on a delayed boarding call to Coatta; Smith drove to the net to create havoc on McKay and with Mark Senden hacking at it, Gabe Bast got a stick on it to put UND up 3-2. A minute after that, Ludvig Hoff got a breakaway and was hauled down to create a penalty shot, but was unable to convert on the one-on-one with the goalie. While Coatta got a tripping call late in the second frame, Mankato took advantage of a UND power play mishandle, as Marc Michaelis got a semi-breakaway and put it past Scheel with 00.4 left on the clock to end the period tied.

It took midway through the methodical third for UND to get the next goal, as Smith hustled on a dump-in, which Dryden McKay bobbled the puck behind the net and Smith got his second of the night to put UND up 4-3. Makato kept pressing, as they made some shifts late in the third look like they were on the power play.

“I tried to fake like I was going to his backhand side and went to his forehand side,” Cole Smith described of his winning goal after the game. “He’s had some iffy plays under pressure this whole weekend and he happened to just leave one there for me. It’s something we picked up on the whole weekend and I almost picked one off Friday. We knew we had to put pressure on the goalie.”

Try as they might, Mankato couldn’t get the equalizer, even with get some extra time on the clock at the end due to a quick whistle by the referees.

“Big relief. It’s one of those things where you try to do all the things and you finally get rewarded for it,” said Brad Berry postgame. “I thought our guys had a lot of resolve, especially after giving up the shorty at the end of the second and coming out in the third and checked tightly. It’s one step and we gotta keep moving.”

“That one was special,” defenseman Gabe Bast mentioned. “The past two weeks we’ve been working hard and the result haven’t gone our way. Tonight we stuck to the process and we got our bounces.”

“That was our demise last year, we couldn’t finish out games,” Bast continued. “This year we’ve been playing the right way and finishing that game was huge heading into Gopher weekend.”

And that’s where UND heads next, as the Fighting Hawks take on their blood rivals in the Minnesota Golden Gophers for the one-off US Hockey Hall of Fame game in Las Vegas on Saturday night. Minnesota played two exhibition games this past weekend, winning 7-1 in each, while they are 1-0-1 on the year after their first week’s set against Minnesota-Duluth.

UND HOCKEY: Quick Start, Sloppy Second, Tense Third Have UND Salvage Tie Versus Denver

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Photo from @UNDmhockey

GRAND FORKS, ND– Coming off of getting swept last weekend, the University of North Dakota came back to Grand Forks in front of 11,845 at the Ralph to take on long-time rival Denver University for a weekend set. Friday, North Dakota would have to do without their top two centers in Rhett Gardner and Nick Jones, both out with injuries. After a quick start, but then sloppy second and half of the third, UND was able to salvage a 3-3 tie.

With the intensity level up, Cole Smith got UND out to the lead just 1:02 into the game, as he banked it off Denver’s Tariq Hammond’s torso to get the big start that the Fighting Hawks have been wanting so badly this entire season. After a Jake Durflinger hooking call, UND went on the power play, something they worked on all week. It seemed to pay off as Shane Gersich took a Grant Mismash rebound and buried it to make it 2-0. UND did get into some penalty trouble late, but were able to kill them both off– something coach Brad Berry had been working on all week, as well.

It was pretty even up for the first part of the second, but Dylan Gambrell got Denver on the board after he rifled a lovely set-up pass from Henrik Borgstrom over the blocker shoulder of Cam Johnson to cut UND’s lead to 2-1. Denver had possession for a good part of the second frame, mostly due to UND’s sloppy play in their own end with bad breakout passes and inability to clear the zone, thus allowing the Pioneers to get some chances. However, Johnson was equal to the task each time outside of that Gambrell goal.

Denver didn’t waste much time, as Tariq Hammond’s shot got redirected by Rudy Junda to tie the game up for the Pioneers 2:11 into the third frame. The tide turned away from UND further, with Cole Smith getting a five-minute major and a game misconduct after an elbow to the head of Denver’s Adam Plant, which saw Plant on the ice for several minutes before skating off with the aide of Denver’s trainer. It looked like Denver may have gotten a goal from Gambrell again, but due to goaltender interference, the goal was waved off. However, Denver didn’t let that faze them, as Troy Terry got a pass from Gambrell, made a little curl at the top of the circle and put it high glove on Johnson to give Denver their first lead of the game, which was their only PP goal of the extended time. While Denver held possession for the majority of the third, UND kept pressing. With 1:32 left, Hayden Shaw floated a shot towards Tanner Jaillet that had eyes and went over Jaillet’s shoulder to tie the game and force overtime.

The five-minute overtime yielded nothing, so it all ended in a tie in the record books, but there was still the need to see who was gets the NCHC extra point. Denver got the extra NCHC point with a Troy Terry goal on the three-on-three goal, giving Denver the extra conference point.

(Due to a late game and real work happening, I didn’t get quotes post-game, so please to be reading Brad Schlossman and Tom Miller of the Grand Forks Herald for quotes and more analysis of the game.)

UND HOCKEY: Fighting Hawks Get Back Into Form With Exhibition Victory

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Photo from @UNDmhockey

GRAND FORKS, ND– With wind chills hitting -30 to -50 Fahrenheit; 10,113 came out to the Ralph Engelstad Arena to see the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks take on the US National Team Development Program Under-18 team. While many didn’t know what to expect, UND got out to an early lead and didn’t look back winning 5-2. There were some scares for UND during the game, but they got the job done in their first game back after the semester break.

The first period saw UND score early with Cole Smith deflecting a Colton Poolman shot past Michigan State commit Drew Deridder just two and a half minutes into the game. However, the US was able to get some sustained offense with Boston University commit Jake Wise ringing one off the post past Cam Johnson’s blocker. It would take until the half-way point of the 1st for UND to score again, with Austin Poganski picking up the puck in the neutral zone and going in alone to put one past Deridder and make it 2-0. Five minutes later, Matt Kiersted fired a laser of a shot high blocker after Grant Mismash set him up on a silver platter to make it 3-0. Team USA would get one back late in the first with Ryan Savage (Miami-Ohio) gathering up a rebound off a Patrick Giles (Boston College) shot.

UND didn’t wait in the second period, as they were put on the power play and make short work of it with Jordan Kawaguchi going high blocker on Deridder to make it 4-1. USA’s first chance of the period came when Erik Middendorf (Denver) streaked away short-handed, but couldn’t get a handle on the puck, making it a routine pad save for Johnson. However, at the middle of the segment, Oliver Wahlstrom (Harvard) cut down the slot and went backhand farside on Johnson to make it 4-2.

Peter Thome came on in relief of Cam Johnson in the third. Johnson’s night ended with the two goals against and 16 saves. USA tried to sustain some pressure in the offensive zone, with Jack Hughes impressing with his stickhandling through the neutral zone, but yielded nothing. Third-string goalie Ryan Anderson got into the game in the last 2:44 to keep warm during the exhibition game. Shane Gersich sealed the deal into the empty net to make it 5-2 UND.

While the game and stats don’t count for anything, it was something that many on the Fighting Hawks roster thought was a good idea.

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Cole Smith/Photo by @NHLHistorygirl

“It was a good exhibition,” said forward Cole Smith. “Something to knock the rust off and not get out huge. Just to get guys back into the flow of things.”

Christian Wolanin echoed, “The exhibitions work well. I think it was my freshman year, we played Huntsville, which was tough to get up for because you’re a little heavy and need to work the kinks out. These exhibition games work out well and we take advantage it of it.”

Even with the win, there’s always room to improve. With an almost 100% healthy roster, coach Brad Berry still says there are some things to iron out as UND gets into a bulk of their conference play in the final half of the season.

“When you have a nine, ten game break, coming off a break, there’s a little rust– as you could tell,” mentioned Berry. “I think we competed hard and execution was a little off. Defensive zone, we have to tighten up on a few things. We played against a skilled team, they played fast and we have to make things better for next week.”

UND resumes conference play as Nebraska-Omaha comes into the Ralph for next weekend’s set.