UND HOCKEY: Little Things Stifle Fighting Hawks in Loss to Colorado College

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Photo from @UNDmhockey

GRAND FORKS, ND– After a week off, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks were a bit more rested and did get the services of Rhett Gardner back, though Nick Jones is still on the shelf and Ludvig Hoff is off at the Olympics in South Korea. However, coming back to The Ralph in front of 11,517 wasn’t as great as UND had hoped, as they dropped the opening game of the weekend series against the Colorado College Tigers 4-2.

While North Dakota controlled the play for the first half of the first, Colorado College struck first after Cam Johnson and his defensemen had a miscommunication, leading to Christiano Versich passing out to Trevor Gooch, who slid it over to Troy Conzo to bury it into a yawning cage. The goal was only the second shot of the period for Colorado College. Shots ended up 9-8 for UND, but the Tigers got rejuvenated after the goal to spark six more shots in the last part of the frame.

While the Tigers were attacking for the first part of the second, UND finally got their legs about thanks to some help. During a power play, Christian Wolanin wheeled down low and tried to sneak the puck past Alex Leclerc, but just created a mad scramble in front. During that scramble, a Colorado College player closed his hand on the puck in the crease, creating a penalty shot for UND. Wolanin was allowed to finish what he started and went blocker side on Leclerc to make tie the game.

The tie didn’t last long as Troy Conzo got his second of the game shorthanded, as he lasered a shot past Johnson to make it 2-1. Brad Berry gave a quick hook, putting Peter Thome in net after Johnson let in two goals on 12 shots.

“This is the time of year, you’re not worried about feelings. It’s a team-first mentality, said Berry post-game. “I think it’s a situation where not very many shots on the scoreclock and they already have a couple goals, some you like to have back. Whether you get a bump for the team or giving Peter a chance, it’s about the team first.”

UND got a little more jump in their game and with 6:23 left, UND got the equalizer, this time from the other scoring defenseman in Colton Poolman, who got a short pass from Rhett Gardner before going wide and cutting in front to put on behind Leclerc. Seconds later, Alex Pernitsky– who was a last second addition to the line-up with Max St. Pierre being scratched– scored from the top of the circle near-side on Thome to make it 3-2 Tigers. Not long after that, Versich drew a penalty shot after a slash, but was denied after trying to slowly throw off Thome’s timing, but getting nowhere. The crazy second ended with UND outshooting CC in the frame 13-11, but down 3-2 in the goals column.

“They were more mature than us,” mentioned Colton Poolman. “They were more of a team after we scored and after they scored, we just shook our heads. We’ve dug ourselves a whole, but we’re in full confidence in that locker room.”

The third started with UND on their heels, as Rhett Gardner got his third minor of the night and the Tigers put some pucks on Thome, but the freshman netminder was equal to the task. UND got a power play shortly after killing the Gardner minor, but the Tigers– as they had been all night– kept the Fighting Hawks to the perimeter, not allow a prime scoring chance on their extra-man advantage. A see-saw battle to the end, UND had more than enough chances, but Leclerc was solid and even when out of position, his defensemen were able to clamp down and keep the puck out. UND did have shots to take the slot area, but seemed to veer off to set something up from the perimeter. Colorado College got their final goal thanks to a Westin Michaud empty-net tally to make it 4-2 as the end result.

“Just gotta find a to do something to get out of this rut we’re in,” said Christian Wolanin. “We’re in a deep hole right now and we’re going to have to do some hard work to dig us out.”

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Photo by @NHLHistorygirl

“Every time we score, they came back and put one in right away,” said Berry. “Times in games when you have momentum, you can’t give momentum away. I think we played the right way, but we let the game get away from us for those things. The frustration showed a little. When the game isn’t going the right way, we let it get to us. When you keep their top line off the score sheet, you give yourself a chance to win. It’s just the other phases of the game that we weren’t good enough in.”

UND will try to find the little things to get back in the win column for the first time since January 12th (5-1 win at Bemidji) on Saturday night.

“We need this one to say the least,” said Poolman. “Every game from here on out is a must-win, but especially tomorrow night. We can’t afford to give that up.”

UND HOCKEY: Fighting Hawks Salvage Tie After Shaky Third Period Start

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Photo from @UNDMhockey

GRAND FORKS, ND– Despite a shaky 22-seconds in the third, the University of North Dakota was able to salvage a tie against Union College in the second game of the 2017 Subway Holiday Classic with a final of 2-2.

UND tried to get a little boost from former UND player Zach Parise, who visited the area as he recovers from back surgery for the ceremonial face-off. After the regular face-off, UND got off to a quick start, which was quite the difference from the Friday night’s game. The Hawks struck first, as defenseman Colton Poolman came on for a line-change and received a feed from Ludvig Hoff, danced around a Union defender and roofed it over Jake Kupsky’s glove to make it 1-0. Union tried to get the equalizer, but Peter Thome stopped all of the Dutchmen’s nine shots in the period to keep it 1-0 UND after 20.

“Lot better than last night’s game,” UND head coach Brad Berry stated post-game. “We had emotion, we had energy, we started the game the right way. That’s a great team over there– they were hard and heavy and didn’t give a lot of space.”

“We came out like we should have Friday night,” said Poolman. “Give them credit, they came back with another hard heavy game. That’s that way we got to play.”

Not much to write home about in the second period. Both UND and Union traded power plays that yielded nothing, though the line of Cole Smith, Johnny Simonson, and defense-turned-forward Josh Rieger gave a bit of a boost with some solid forechecking creating some chances for the Fighting Hawks.

Union got off to a quick start less with two goals 22 seconds apart to open the third frame. First, Brett Supinski crossed-up Peter Thome off a feed from Sebastian Vidmar. Then, Cole Maier got his shot blocked twice with the third trickling through to the stick of Ryan Scarfo to make it 2-1 Union less than three minutes into the third. While Union kept getting chances, Thome was equal to the task. After a Cole Smith penalty, UND had a three-on-two rush started by Poolman with pass across to Rhett Gardner who put a shot on Kupsky, who let up a big rebound right to Shane Gersich’s stick to tie it for UND with 3:18 left in the third. The final 3:18 solved nothing, which pushed it to overtime.

Decent chances for UND and Union in overtime with the most interesting being Anthony Rinaldi getting a bit of a breakaway, then checked down by Gabe Bast, running into Thome– which led to Thome losing his skate blade on the post when colliding with it. The game ended in a 2-2 tie, putting UND at 8-4-4 on the season.

“Obviously, you want to win for a lot of different reasons– Pairwise and all of that,” said Berry, “But I think we learned a lot. We don’t hang our hat on who’s in the line-up and who’s out of the line-up or hang an excuse on that. We did a job tonight. We will move forward and learn from it.”

“Yesterday was a bad start and signaled the whole game,” mentioned Gersich. “Tonight, Colton (Poolman) scored right away to set the tone for us. We’ve got to come out mentally ready at the start of every game and that sets out the rest of the game for us.”

UND will close out the first half of their home schedule next weekend against Western Michigan at the Ralph Engelstad Arena before going on the road to St. Cloud to end the first half.

UND HOCKEY: Fighting Hawks Gain Extra Point in Shootout After Up and Down Game

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Photo via @UNDMHockey

GRAND FORKS, ND– It wasn’t the prettiest game, but the University of North Dakota will come out of this weekend much like they did last weekend– a win and a tie. UND and Miami tied Saturday 3-3, though UND took the extra NCHC point in the shootout.

“We’ll take it,” mentioned head coach Brad Berry. “To come back from 2-0, it shows a response from our guys. It’s a learning lesson as far as going down two goals, but the biggest thing is to come back from it.”

The first period was, by and large, a neutral zone affair, but Gordie Green broke the ice for Miami after a Jordan Kawaguchi turnover allowed Josh Melnick to pick it up and pass to Green, who put it high glove on Peter Thome for the lone goal of the frame.

Miami got out to a quick start in the second with Grant Frederic shooting the puck wide, but with the carom off the end-boards, it landed on Ryan Siroky’s stick with a wide-open net to give Miami a 2-0 lead. A minute later, UND cut the lead in half with a Colton Poolman one-timer off a set-up from Christian Wolanin to make it 2-1 and spark the crowd of 11,795 at The Ralph.

“(Wolanin) takes so much attention out there being such a creative player,” Poolman said of his goal. “He opened some space up for me and had a good screen and got it to go.”

“We just stepped up and stuck with it,” said forward Shane Gersich about the second period. “We weren’t hard on each other and we keep building. It’s something we got to keep in mind as we go forward.”

However, UND wasted no time in the third period, as Dixon Bowen went high-glove on Ryan Larkin just 33 seconds into the third period with assists going to Austin Poganski and Poolman. The game went back and forth for the majority of the third period before Shane Gersich potted his fourth goal of the year from an almost impossible angle from a lovely pass from across the back of the net from Grant Mismash to put UND ahead 3-2. However, with 1:24 left, Miami captain Louie Belpedio found Melnick backdoor with the extra attacker to tie the game at three.

With the game moving to overtime, both sides had decent chances to end the game, the closest happening when Johnny Simonson was whacking at a rebound in front of the net, but the puck stayed on Larkin’s pad and was determined to be no-goal, despite a camera angle making it appear to have the puck cross the line. The game officially ended in a tie game, but in NCHC play– a 3-on-3 period for five minutes was used to determine the extra point which solved nothing. The shootout then happened for the extra NCHC point, where Christian Wolanin slapped home the fourth round attempt to give UND the extra point.

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Christian Wolanin/Photo by @NHLHistorygirl

“Coach (Dane) Jackson looks at the guys after those three missed dekes and was like, ‘How about somebody try shooting it’,” mentioned Wolanin of his shootout slapper. “I said, ‘I’ll take a slapshot’ and saw he was backing up a little as I was coming in with speed so I change the speed and just ripped it.”

Despite the extra points, the main message for the weekend– as it is with every weekend– is to sweep the series. It’s something that UND has only done once this season when they played St. Lawrence in the home opening weekend.

“Obviously, we’re not excited over it,” Poolman mentioned about not being able to sweep the weekend, “But to go unbeaten is not a bad thing either. We’re trending in the right way and I like where we’re going.”

“We’re happy,” offered Wolanin of the weekend. “Five out of six points is as good as you can get without the sweep. We would have liked to get the sixth point, but we showed a lot of adversity out there. We didn’t have any panic in our game, no bad energy on the bench, and we just picked right up.”

UND will be put to the test next weekend, as they will face the reigning National Champions in Denver University at Magness Arena. Denver swept #1 St. Cloud State over the weekend and could very well regain their #1 seeding to take on the current #2 UND.

UND HOCKEY: Thome, Jones Lead UND Past Miami

GRAND FORKS, ND– In front of 11,389 of his newest friends, Peter Thome got his first home win of his college career, while helping the UND Fighting Hawks overcome a slow first period to beat Miami University (of Ohio) 4-1 in game one of their weekend set.

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Peter Thome/Photo by @NHLHistorygirl

“It was awesome,” Thome said of playing in his first game at The Ralph. “I couldn’t sleep during my pre-game nap. I was bouncing off the walls of my dorm I was so excited. And it was a great atmosphere and it was great to get the win.”

The first period was a sloppy one for the Fighting Hawks, as they were only able to muster four shots on Miami’s Ryan Larkin and eight chances overall. Miami, however, has 21 chances at goal with nine hitting Thome. UND was lucky not to get burned on the ice, especially after an overt amount of turnovers in their own end and not being able to wrangle in passes from out of the zone. The one big chance for UND came with a slight 5-on-3 advantage when Shane Gersich was at the side of the post and almost buried a cross-ice pass, but was stoned by Larkin– even with the goal horn and fireworks going off from the arena staff.

“They came out really hard right off the hop, you have to give credit to them,” Thome said. “It’s not that we were slow, but they had an extra jump. The guys keep a lot of the shots to outside and they were making sure that there were no second chances.”

In the second frame got off to a rocky start, as Nick Jones got a hooking penalty early in the period, but redeemed himself when he stepped out of the penalty box to pick up a Colton Poolman outlet pass, outwait Larkin and bury his fourth goal of the season.

“It was just a fortunate bounce,” Jones mentioned of his first goal. “(Poolman) was just trying to get it down the ice and didn’t go as fast down the ice. He didn’t really see me.”

Late in the second, UND went up 2-0 after Rhett Gardner picked up a failed wrap-around attempt by Shane Gersich, which ended up more of a pass than a shot. The power play goal was his third of the season and first since October 20th in the first game against Minnesota. Even later, Nick Jones got his second of the game after he picked up a loose puck that rattled around Jordan Kawaguchi’s skates to put UND up 3-0. That was Jones’ ninth point in the last six games.

“When (Jones) was in the BCHL, he was used in a lot of scoring situations, head coach Brad Berry said after the game. “He was a vital force in the BCHL, but we also knew he’s an unbelievable two-way player. When you have someone new coming to your organization, sometimes it’s surprising, but he’s an experienced guy. He invests in his game– whether it’s the weight room or in practice– so there’s no surprise”

The third was a safe period for UND, which saw them give a goal to Karch Bachman of Miami– getting his second of the year. After that, UND fought back and Grant Mismash got UND’s tallied the 4-1 goal after an odd happening where the officials didn’t know if a whistle went or not. After audio review, the goal counted and gave Mismash his fourth goal of the season.
With Thome’s second win in three games, the loss of Cam Johnson doesn’t seem as bad. Of course, Johnson has been a vital part to UND over his four seasons, but with Thome blooming as he has been, the injury to Johnson is something that the team isn’t too concerned with thanks to Thome’s play.

“It’s allowing our team to grow under another goaltender,” mentioned coach Berry. “It also gives him experience. It’s a good situation for him to be in and helps build a team, as well.”

Thome and the Fighting Hawks will look to sweep Miami on Saturday night.

UND HOCKEY: Johnson’s Shutout, Wolanin’s Pair Help Hawks Over Gophers

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Photo by @UNDMHockey

GRAND FORKS, ND– For the first time since 2012, the UND Fighting Hawks defeated the Minnesota Golden Gophers, this time by the score of 4-0. After having a little momentum from last night’s game, the Hawks were able to get on the board early and keep things going from there.

The first five minutes are usually the most crucial to a game and UND wanted to make sure they had the racuous crowd of 11,890 behind them for all 60 minutes. Nick Jones got things rolling with his first as a Fighting Hawks off a one-timer set-up by Grant Mismash. Jones had a lot of chances in the first five games of the season, but said he was feeling frustrated not having buried one.

The game went back and forth before Jack Glover of Minnesota checked Collin Adams from behind, which resulted in a five minute major and game misconduct. In those five minutes, UND got three more goals– two from Christian Wolanin and one from Colton Poolman in that five minute span.

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Christian Wolanin/Photo by @NHLHistorygirl

“We finally shot,” quipped Wolanin post game about the power play. “We know he (Eric Schierhorn) is a good goalie and we wanted to get one in quick to break him down bit by bit.”

One of the big things that broke the spirit of the Minnesota team was the suffocating penalty kill, which held the Gophers off the scoresheet for seven chances, bumping up UND’s PK percentage to 96.3% on the season so far.

“Our penalty kill is all coach (Dane) Jackson,” said Wolanin. “Not just on the PK, but the tenacity and passion in which he coaches, we’d run through a brick wall for him. We just go out and work. It comes down to heart and…..you know……don’t know if I can say that on camera.”

Despite only have 22 shots thrown at him, Cam Johnson stopped them all and became the first goalie to shutout Minnesota in 48 games.

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Cam Johnson/Photo by @NHLHistorygirl

That one feels better than any other one I’ve had,” Johnson said post-game. “My job wasn’t too hard for me tonight. Good all around effort. We got the best fans on earth and I got goosebumps every time we walked on the ice. I was more engaged because I got more work, which is what I like.” 

On the final stats, Mismash had two assists on the night, as did sophomore defenseman Hayden Shaw. Collin Adams had a lone assist, along with Nick Jones, Ludvig Hoff, and Gabe Bast.

Head coach Brad Berry lauded his team after the game in dealing with the rivalry.

I thought they did a good job and there’s a lot of things that go into it. For a group that doesn’t know a lot about the tradition and history, they did a good job. I’m sure both sides would admit we have to keep doing it. It’s good for the schools, it’s good for college hockey.”

North Dakota heads on the road for two straight weekends, heading to Colorado College next weekend and then onto Wisconsin to start off November.

UND HOCKEY: Three in First, Big Penalty Kill Leads UND to Weekend Sweep

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Photo from @UNDMHockey

GRAND FORKS, ND– What the University of North Dakota has been lack in the early part of this season has been scoring. Saturday, however, they turned that around with six goals from six different goal scorers to cruise to a 6-1 victory to conclude the series sweep of St. Lawrence.

After needing 19 minutes to get one goal last night, the Fighting Hawks were able to get three in that time-span in Saturday. Christian Wolanin, Shane Gersich, and Grant Mismash all got their first goals of the season in the first, with Gersich getting his on the power play. Colton Poolman had two assists on the Wolanin and Gersich goals, while Mismash’s goal came off a turnover on a St. Lawrence breakout.

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Shane Gersich/ Photo by @NHLHistorygirl

“We were using our strength and our speed and really overwhelming them,” said Gersich. “We were causing turnovers and that’s what creates offense. We were playing great off the puck, too,”

As good as Arthur Brey was on Friday, he didn’t have the stuff on Saturday. Coach Mark Morris swapped out Brey for sophomore Daniel Mannella, who was tested early, but only let in one second period goal by Jordan Kawaguchi, another power play tally.

Things almost took a turn after the Kawaguchi goal, as Mismash got a five minute major and game misconduct for contact to the head of Philip Alftberg. While Ben Finkelstein of St. Lawrence got a penalty, UND got back-to-back calls against them to make it an extended 5-on-3 for St. Lawrence. Cam Johnson and the defense was equal to the task, stopping everything thrown at them as St. Lawrence was held scoreless on the power play.

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Cam Johnson/ Photo by @NHLHistorygirl

“It was tiring, but it was nice to get some action there,” said Johnson of the 5-on-3. “Had a couple choice words when it happened, but I thought our penalty kill did unbelievable not giving them too many quality chances. It was a huge momentum builder for us”

“The could have gone either way, but he was our best penalty killer,” Poolman mentioned of his goaltender. “He comes up big in big moments and his rebound control is unbelievable. He’s a steady influence back there.”

Eventually, St. Lawrence was able to break the ice in the third with a goal from Jacob Pritchard almost four minutes into the frame. UND answered back towards the end as Cole Smith and Rhett Gardner got their first goals of the season sending the 11,599 at The Ralph home happy off a successful weekend.

“The biggest thing is I think guys knew we could play better tonight,” commented head coach Brad Berry. “Last night, we were grateful for the win, but we talked about it and knew we could be better.”

One down note was the loss of Johnny Simonson, who got hit awkwardly in the second period, not to return for the game. Coach Berry said he was be evaluated and they’ll see how it goes throughout the week leading into next week’s rival series against Minnesota.

UND HOCKEY: Late PPG Helps UND Squeak By St. Lawrence 2-1

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Photo from @UNDMHockey

GRAND FORKS, ND– For Collin Adams and the University of North Dakota team, it was better late than never on Friday as the Fighting Hawks got a late goal from the freshman to propel them by St. Lawrence University 2-1 in front of 11,221. The goal, on the power play, was Adams’ second of the season and the second power play goal by UND this season in 16 attempts.

“Bottom line, we found a way to win,” said head coach Brad Berry after the game. “It wasn’t pretty, we have a lot of things to work on. I don’t think we didn’t sustain enough offensive zone pressure. We have to play simpler, make quick passes, and get shots on net.”

St. Lawrence, led by the play of junior goalie Arthur Brey, gave UND fits during the game, with the Mark Morris-led team clogged up the middle, forcing UND to the outside and not giving them any good lanes to shoot. When UND did get opportunities to shoot, Brey had a clear vision of it thanks to his defense clearing out the middle.

“Give them credit, St. Lawrence did an excellent job of getting in front of shots,” defenseman Colton Poolman said post-game. “They’re a good and hard heavy team and they battled back. We have to find a way to limit turnovers, but in the end– we found a way to win.”

UND struck first with a goal by Ludvig Hoff, who tucked in a rebound after Grant Mismash tried to break SLU’s defense by streaking across the crease for a chance. While SLU’s defense got a stick on Mismash chance, Hoff was able to get Brey out of position for an easy goal late in the first.

The only SLU goal of the night was from Joe Sullivan, who gathered up a deflected shot from Nolan Gluchowski that went of Christian Wolanin and right only Sullivan’s stick. From that point on, it was tight hockey until the end of the game.

UND wasn’t without chances, as they had seven power plays overall in the game, but Adams’ game-winner with 3:49 left was the only one they needed. With a great keep by Colton Poolman who got it over to Christian Wolanin, he passed it down low to Joel Janatuinen, who found a streaking Adams for a tic-tac-toe goal for the eventual winner.

Not without his glory, Cam Johnson stepped up big when he needed with 20 saves on the night, including a 2-on-0 stop after UND squandered a two-man advantage.

“Cam played a great game for us,” Berry said. “He made some tough saves and he held us in there. He’s a reason we got the win tonight.”

Before the game, UND announced that Mike Gornall will be leaving the team to pursue other options. While nothing more has come out from this, speculation is that he was looking for more playing time and thanks to depth of North Dakota, he didn’t feel like he was going to get that opportunity in Grand Forks.