UND HOCKEY: Scheel Solid in UND Victory

Photo: Kelsey Lee/ Violet Turtle Photography

GRAND FORKS, ND– On a night that honored the Teddy Roosevelt Medora Foundation– with a Teddy Roosevelt cosplayer to boot– the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks gave Bemidji State a rough-ride as they went on to sweep the weekend with a 4-1 victory. It marked the four-straight regular season win for the Hawks, marking the first time since the 2016-17 that the team started out undefeated at home to start the season. 

“This is our home, this is our house,” said head coach Brad Berry. “We have pride in that. I know a lot of teams come in here and see the amenities we have at The Ralph. We’re very lucky to have the Ralph Engelstad Arena and they like to have motivation to bring it down a little bit. But this is a place where we wanted to establish consistency and play a heavy game with a lot of patient pressure and establish our identity at home.” 

“We have a very resilient group,” mentioned goalie Adam Scheel. “No matter what the score is, we believe in each other in the room and know we’re just gonna get it done.There’s nothing like it in the world, a home game at The Ralph.”

It only took 36 seconds for the Fighting Hawks to strike, as Jordan Kawaguchi causes a turnover behind the net and passed it out to Grant Mismash, who had a wide open net to tap it in to opening the scoring. UND kept Bemidji to the perimeter, but one big chance happened when Ethan Somoza put a shot on a seemingly open cage, but Adam Scheel slide across to get his right pad on it to keep it out. With just over three minutes remaining in the first, Cole Smith drove through the zone hard, tried a wraparound, but Mark Senden was there to bang home the rebound for his second of the season. 

The Hawks did have some chances in the second, but it wasn’t until 13 minutes in when they struck again, with Jonny Tychonick having his first career goal come off a tasty pass from Mismash to make it 3-0. UND controlled the pace of play throughout the period and seemed to hold all the cards against the very defensive Beavers’ team. 

The action was pretty stagnant in the third, not many chances on either side until 1:17 remaining when Aaron Miller batted home a Tyler Kirkup rebound to break the shutout for Scheel on the Beavers’ 18th shot of the game. Nineteen seconds later, however, Colton Poolman put it in the empty net to make it 4-1. 

THEY SAID IT

“On the first shift, you always want to do something impactful to get yourself and your team into the game. It was kind of a broken play and Gooch (Kawaguchi) was on the forecheck there and he made a good pass and I just had to tap it in. It was a good first shift to get our line going, as well as the rest of the team.” — Grant Mismash on his goal in the opening minute. 

Adam Scheel/ Photo: Jen Conway @NHLHistoryGirl

“No matter who you’re playing, Saturday night– especially after a win– is a tough one. They came out hard. Sometimes the shots on the scoreboard don’t really reflect it.” — Adam Scheel

“A couple of guys last night struggled a little bit and that was an opportunity for other guys to come in. They do all the right things on and off the ice– they work hard in practice, in workouts, in the classroom– and they’re older and experience guys. The second game is the toughest to win. You want to have guys who have been in those battles before.” — Brad Berry on line-up changes made for Saturday night. 

UND is back home for a one-off against Michigan Tech in the US Hockey Hall of Fame Game at The Ralph next Saturday.

UND HOCKEY: Fighting Hawks Atone for Last Year, Beat Canisius 5-0

GRAND FORKS, ND– Even with Winter Storm Aubrey in the path, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks knew they had unsettled business from last season. That’s why, on Friday night, they donned their “business suits”– all black everything– to take on Canisius College, the team that helped keep UND out of the NCAA Tournament. Those feelings carried over from last season and helped the Hawks win their first game of the regular season in a convincing fashion, 5-0. 

“A couple weeks ago we talked about it, but the thing is they’re new jerseys,” said coach Brad Berry about the decision to wear the all-black. “They’re Adidas, a new brand. We always wear white at home, so early in the season we’d like to let the fans see the green or the black. Plus, you know, it’s a business mentality. We call them our business suits and we needed a business-like mentality tonight.”

“It was eye-opening,” mentioned Grant Mismash when he saw the black jerseys in the locker room pre-game. “Everyone had the same reaction and it sent a message to their team and our fans that we’re ready to go and we mean business.” 

The Fighting Hawks got out to a quick start, dictating the speed of the play. However, Canisius’ Matt Ladd was equal to the chances. It wasn’t until Jonny Tychonick’s point shot bounced around in front with Harrison Blaisdell getting a chance, but was left in the crease for Shane Pinto to bang home his first collegiate goal. UND kept the pressure on, but Ladd made some solid glove and toe saves to keep it at 1-0 after the first, despite UND leading in shots 14-3. 

Early in the second, UND got an extended power play after Canisius captain Matt Hoover got a five-minute major and game misconduct for contact to the head. However, even with sustained pressure for most of the power play, they came up empty thanks to the blocks in front and Ladd coming up with some timely saves. It wasn’t until under five minutes left in the second when a very broken play which saw Jackson Keane throw a shot at net, Jasper Weatherby taking a hack at it, until Dixon Bowen found the back of the net on a wide-open net to make it 2-0. 

It took less than five minutes in the third for UND to add more insurance, as Gabe Bast banked a shot off of Canisius’ Blake Wareham’s skate and made it 3-0. Grant Mismash, who was in a scary crash into the boards earlier in the game, picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone and ripped one far-side on Ladd to make it 4-0. Only 53 seconds later, Bowen got his second of the night, as a shot from Jasper Weatherby pinballed to Bowen and squeaked under Ladd’s pads for a 5-0 lead. Ladd gave up the net for Jacob Barczewski. 

THEY SAID IT

“Huge. They’re a team that gets up and go. They stretch the zone and they play extremely hard and are up in your face all the time. You always wonder about the new guys in the line-up and see that level of play and I thought they did a good job. I thought our veterans did a good job of settling in and executing on what we needed to do.” — Brad Berry about the the need for a quick start against Canisius

“I think everyone in the room that we have a job to do in North Dakota. You come here and play in an institution like this, it’s the best one in the country. Guys come in here and say there’s more work to be done and this year everyone’s pulling the rope to get the job done.” — Jasper Weatherby on a more business mentality for the season. 

Dixon Bowen/Photo: Jen Conway

“It’s nice to get rewarded like that. I think our line did a good job battling puck and working low in the zone and getting pucks to the net. There’s a big emphasis to getting the puck to the house– the middle area. This year we’re trying to get everything into the house and we’ll get some luck with that.” — Dixon Bowen on his two-goal night and what UND needs to do offensively this year.

UND Hockey: Trying to Find the Way Again

University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks’ logo

After putting up 74 shots in their two playoff games with Denver and only registering two goals, the University of North Dakota will go a second straight season without making it to the NCAA tournament following getting swept in Denver this past weekend. It will be the first time since 1994-95 and 1995-96 in which North Dakota has missed the NCAA tournament in consecutive seasons. In fact, North Dakota missed six NCAA tournaments in a row from 1991 until 1996.

Of course, with all the success in the recent past– the questions are coming about what’s wrong with the team following a National Championship in 2016 and limited success since then. Obviously, heavy hitters offensively left the team early like Brock Boeser (who would have been a senior this year), Shane Gersich (senior), Christian Wolanin (senior) and Tyson Jost (junior); but the promise of the players who were coming in had the pedigree of being top scorers to replace those who left. With only 93 goals scored this season (tied for 36 in the nation) and only one player in double-digits for goals, a decent amount is left to be desired from this team. The 93 goals is the lowest since the 1963-64 team that only produced 79 goals in their season.

But what is to be done with this team?? It’s not like UND couldn’t get pucks on net, because they were able to put an average of 32 shots per game this season (1187 shots for, 13th in the nation), but only had 2.51 goals per game this year. They consistently outshot opponents, but whether it’s not getting bounces or poor shot selection or making every goalie look like a Richter Award nominee– the goals just didn’t come.

Jordan Kawaguchi, who was the only double-digit goal-scorer, came out of Junior A with two 30-goal seasons before coming into UND last year and has 15 goals over his two seasons as a Hawk. Though injuries hampered him this season, Grant Mismash hasn’t been as electric for goal-scoring as many thought coming out of the US Development Program. There’s plenty of role players on the team who have the ability to score, but there isn’t that one player who stands out as leader for the offensive. With three defensemen in the top-five in team scoring– people have to scratch their heads when it comes to how the offense is progressing.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom, to be honest, as UND did seem to find themselves a solid line in Mark Senden, Gavin Hain, and Cole Smith as they year went on. They progressed as the energy line that UND needed and sparked plenty of offense in the latter half of the season through their fierce forechecking and solid board-play. Though Smith will be a senior next season, if this line can keep the same chemistry next season, they’ll be a tough line to play against moving forward.

Defense was obviously the top priority for the Fighting Hawks and the play of Adam Scheel and Peter Thome were solid– though there were an odd game where it went sideways. UND gave up 90 goals this year, which ranked 19th in the nation, while giving up the third least amount of shots in the nation with 858. Of course, giving up so few shots and that amount of goals gives Scheel and Thome a bit of an off-kilter save percentage (.894, tied for 48th in nation), but those two played stellar when they needed to, but couldn’t get the goal support necessary.

Special teams left plenty to be desired for UND, with the Fighting Hawks finishing 52nd in the nation on the power play working at a 14.2% efficiency on the year. The PK wasn’t great either, finishing tied for 36th in the nation and working at a 79.9% kill rate.

So how can you balance a solid defensive showing while also give goal support for that defense so it’s not as white-knuckled every game as it has been?? Maybe it’s as simple as letting the scorers be scorers, taking some of the defensive responsibilities off of the likes of Kawaguchi and Mismash and let them start to control the game on the opposite end. Two commits coming in next season in Carson Albrecht and Carter Randklev could also provide some punch offensively– though it’s hard to put that pressure on freshman, coupled with Randklev coming off an ACL tear this past season. However, something needs to click so that North Dakota doesn’t become the New Jersey Devils of the mid-90s and hope suffocating defense is the road to success.

That’s also depending on whether or not Colton Poolman returns to UND or not. His brother, Tucker, left after his junior year to play in the Winnipeg Jets organization and now a decision is to be made for Colton– who ESPN ranked in their top-15 of NCAA free agents. Poolman said he will try to make his decision quick to not drag on the process for himself or the team. We’ll see how it all shakes down, as Poolman will probably be the only non-senior to league this year if he does.

The past two seasons, players were talking about playing the “North Dakota way”– especially when the team was going through some kind of slump. The question is now what the North Dakota way actually is and how this team is going to find it. There’s going to be plenty of time for soul-searching on this team and it’ll start with how the coaching staff wants to approach next season. Though I doubt a firing will be in the cards for Brad Berry or his staff, you’d have to think that they’ll be looked at under a bigger microscope than before with this team missing out on two straight tournaments and lacking scoring, as they have been. With this year’s team not even making it to the Frozen Faceoff (NCHC’s championship weekend), it could be the harsh wake-up call needed to really put a fire under the players and staff.

UND HOCKEY: Fighting Hawks Dropped Spirited Affair Against #1 Ranked Huskies

GRAND FORKS, ND– After a split of a weekend in Omaha, the University of North Dakota came home on Friday for their last season in a month at The Ralph and it would be no easy task for the Fighting Hawks, as they took on the top-ranked St. Cloud St. Huskies for the weekend. There was a buzz in the arena that I personally haven’t felt since Minnesota came to town last year, which was a welcome change for a game of this profile. However, most of the 11,608 were sent home disappointed, as St. Cloud beat UND 3-1 on Friday night.

While the first part of the opening frame was a feeling out process, North Dakota had a slight advantage in their offensive zone in the first half of the period. Nick Jones opened up the scoring for UND with a rebound from a Jordan Kawaguchi shot that hit off the backboards, flicking a backhand off SCSU’s David Hranek and into the net for the 1-0 lead. The best chance for SCSU came when UND’s Hayden Shaw turned the puck over in his own zone to give Patrick Newell a mini-break on Adam Scheel. Scheel– however, was equal to the task, flashing the glove to preserve the 1-0 lead at the end of the period.

Another back and forth period, but business picked up when St. Cloud appeared to tie up the game, as the puck bounced and appeared to bounce over the goal line, but after review– the evidence was inconclusive, which kept the game tied up at one. However, St. Cloud atoned for that when after a power play, Micah Miller got a cross-ice pass from Nolan Walker  and put it five-hole on Scheel to tie the game with 13.7 left in the frame.

St. Cloud showed off why they were the top-ranked team in the nation in the third, controlling the play in the neutral and offensive zone, moving the puck around to create several chances for themselves to break the tie. Luckily for UND, Scheel and the shot-blockers got in the way of many pucks to hold the tie. After UND killed another crucial penalty, Nolan Walker picked Colton Poolman’s pocket behind the net, slid a pass across to Patrick Newell, who beat a sprawling Scheel to make it a 2-1 Huskies lead.

Colton Poolman/Photo by Jen Conway

“I accept responsibility for that second goal,” an emotional Poolman said after the game. “I owe my teammates better to be more focused at a critical juncture in the game like that. That’s where it went sideways, so I accept responsibility for that.”

Later in the period, Grant Mismash took a hit by Jimmy Schuldt and was down on the ice in pain, but got a penalty for slashing the stick out of Schuldt’s hand. No penalty was given to Schuldt, as the refs told UND coach Brad Berry that they deemed the hit to be clean. A hit like that is reviewable by the referees, but neither decided to go to the scorer’s table to review it.

“I am very, very disappointed,” said Berry. “I’m not going to get in any trouble by making a comment, but that was a knee-on-knee play that should have been reviewed. We have a protocol in place and it was reviewed and I’m very disappointed. It’s not the result of the game I’m alluding to, it’s one of those things where you know when anything is 50/50 in a game like that, it’s got to get reviewed. We have that in our protocol.”

When asked about Mismash’s status for tomorrow, Berry simply said, “He’ll be out.”

As UND pulled the goalie, Blake Lizotte fired it into the open net to give SCSU the 3-1 win. Though, after the hit– you could see the emotion rising, plenty of activity after the whistle and in the penalty boxes, as well with both SCSU and UND players yelling at each other between the boxes. This should be a great precursor for the game on Saturday night.

UND HOCKEY: Fighting Hawks Shake Off Rust in Exhibition Win

GRAND FORKS, ND– After three weeks off, the University of North Dakota came back to shake off the rust of the holiday season with an exhibition game against the US National Under-18 Team. It was a bit of a look into the future with UND, as two prospects for the Fighting Hawks were in the U-18 line-up in forward Judd Caulfield and goalie Cameron Rowe. Though coming into the game, the U-18s were 6-6 against NCAA Division teams, they were downed by the Fighting Hawks 6-2 in the exhibition.

It was a special game, as UND busted out a Fighting Sioux jerseys to honor the 1958-59 team, the first ever National Champion for UND. It’s the first time the team has wore a jersey with “Sioux” on it since 2012 after the nickname was dropped by the school due to NCAA rules.

After a flurry of offense from Team USA to start the first period, UND was the first to strike on the power play, after Jacob Bernard-Docker (JBD) set-up Rhett Gardner on a one-timer to put it past Rowe and give UND the early lead. The Hawks got up two when Grant Mismash crashed the net off a USA turnover and a Nick Jones cycle, put a shot on net, with Ludvig Hoff finding the rebound and putting it through Rowe’s five-hole to make it 2-0.

Just 90 seconds into the second, Matthew Boldy put the U18s on the board after pickpocketing Mismash in the UND zone, poked just barely off Patrick Moynihan’s shinpad, went in on a mini-breakaway before going forehand-backhand to go five-hole Adam Scheel. UND got the two-goal lead back midway through the period, after Jackson Keane drove into the zone, missed the net, but picked up the loose puck to find Casey Johnson; who then went near-side high-glove on Rowe to make it 3-1 UND. The Fighting Hawks made it 4-1 on the power play after some fancy passing in the zone, including a deflected pass, led to a Mismash goal with Jones and JBD getting assists on the goal.

The Hawks swapped out goalies, as Peter Thome came into the game to start the third, while Ryan Anderson finished. In only 16 minutes, Thome faced 18 shots and only gave up one goal.

Peter Thome/ Photo by Jen Conway

“It’s always interesting when you get thrown in there and kind of under siege right away,” Thome said. “I was able to get the first one and then the second on and kept trying to go from there. I just tried to stay in the moment and not get too far ahead.”

Collin Adams made it 5-1 halfway through the third from a great set-up from beside the net from Joel Janatuinen, putting it past Rowe’s glove. Alex Turcotte cut the deficit to 5-2 after tipping home a Boldy shot from the top of the circle, after Gabe Bast took a holding penalty. Gavin Hain made it 6-2 with an empty net goal from an alley-oop pass by Matt Kiersted with Thome getting a secondary assist on the goal.

For Thome, who hasn’t had the best season thus far, going 1-3-0 with a 3.75 GAA and .838 save percentage. His last action was during UND’s 5-0 loss a month ago against Duluth. For him, it was a time to get a confidence boost.

“First half, personally, hasn’t gone the way I wanted it to,” Thome says. “Now, having a good first outing is definitely a step forward and hopefully there’s more to come. It’s such a mental position. If you don’t really have confidence, it seems everything can go wrong, but if you have confidence; you can do no wrong. I’m just trying to get back to that state that I’m playing my best.”

With almost a month off, the game was a little rough at times. With a long break and some holiday treats, it took some time to get things going.

“Some parts were a little slow and a little sloppy, but it’s kind of expected,” mentioned Mismash about the first game after the break. “We had a couple good practices kind of getting back in shape. It wasn’t a terrible game. We’ll ramp it up going back into the regular season.”

When asked about the exhibition games themselves, Mismash said; “I don’t want to say I feel bad for teams who hop right back into the season rather than have exhibitions, but it’s nice to get these games. Just to get a feel for it again and get your legs under you before you get going again.”

“This is one of the most skilled and fast and offensive teams that we’ve ever played against the 18s,” said UND head coach Brad Berry. “They’re record is 20-7-2 and they knocked off the #1 team in the nation the other night, so it’s one of those things we’ll take it as far as trying to get better. We have to make sure our last two non-conference games against Canisius count.”

Which is where UND heads next, as they’ll head to Buffalo, New York to take on Canisius to officially kick off their second-half of the year.

UND HOCKEY: JBD’s OT Dramatics Helps North Dakota Sweep Wisconsin

University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks' logo

University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks’ logo

GRAND FORKS, ND– For the first time since December 1st and 2nd of last year (against Western Michigan, the University of North Dakota was able to get a regular season home sweep, as they defeated the University of Wisconsin Badgers 3-2 in overtime on Saturday night. The win boosted the Fighting Hawks record to 4-2-1 as the bulk of their non-conference schedule is finished. Adam Scheel 21 saves with Jacob Bernard-Docker playing the role of hero for the Hawks.

Penalties troubled Wisconsin to start the game, as they had back-to-back penalty kills due to two cross-checking calls against them, but they killed them both off. After those kills, Will Johnson got the first goal of the series for the Badgers, redirecting a pass from Seamus Malone that got past Adam Scheel to give Wisconsin their first goal of the series. Despite have four power plays, UND couldn’t connect on any and the period ended with a Badgers lead.

Grant Mismash started the scoring in the second, as he picked up a redirected puck on a clearing attempt and put it past Daniel Lebedeff to tie the game at ones. UND had some chances late into the period, but nothing was getting past Lebedeff, though Mismash seemed to have a magnet to his stick, as he got a majority of the chances late, as did Collin Adams.

Under three minutes into the third, Tarek Baker tipped a K’Andre Miller shot from the top of the circle in past Scheel to put Wisconsin up 2-1. Almost 30 seconds later, Nick Jones got a small break away and went five-hole on Lebedeff to tie the game back up.

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Nick Jones/ Photo by @NHLHistorygirl

“As soon as I saw clear ice, I knew I had a guy on my hip,” mentioned Jones of his goal, “I was just going to bring the goalie across and see what happen. I didn’t plan to go five-hole. If I tried to put it anywhere else, I don’t think I would have scored.”

While the game went back and forth, the wheels almost fell off a bit for Wisconin, as they got two penalties with 15 seconds with Josh Ess going for cross-checking Mismash into the post and Tyler Inamoto getting an elbowing for going upside the head of Rhett Gardner. The Badgers were able to stave off the onslaught in the third, pushing it into the overtime period.

Only 21 seconds into the OT, the calls befell the Badgers and Jacob Bernard-Docker waited out the defense to rip a wrister from the top of the circle to win the game in overtime for the Fighting Hawks and sweeping the weekend for them.

“It was huge,” coach Brad Berry said after the game. “We had a lot of opportunities tonight on the power play to get a goal or two, but we only got it at end. I’m proud of how our guys showed resiliency from the second and into the third. We got some looks at the end of the game, but they weren’t good looks. We were standing around and stagnant. You want to make sure you have fresh bodies so you can make plays. I think JBD scored a heck of a goal on Friday night and it was almost the same tonight.”

Though a cause for concern is the power play. While UND had nine power play chances in the game, they only connected on one of them– the game winner. UND has the 46th ranked power play in the nation, running at only 14.3% (5 of 25), putting them last in the NCHC in that stat.

“We gotta find chemistry,” mentioned Jones about the power play. “Last night, we had some looks, but with nine chances, you gotta have more than looks. We have to go back to the basics. Matt Shaw is a good coach for us on that, but just got to find that chemistry.”

The conference play starts next weekend, as UND heads to Oxford, Ohio to take on Miami of Ohio.

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: Split Weekend Tough for UND to Swallow

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Photo Courtesy UND Men’s Hockey Twitter

GRAND FORKS, ND– After a heart-breaking 2-1 lost in Bemidji, the University of North Dakota came back to the comfy confines of the Ralph Engelstad Arena for the back-end of the home-and-home against the Beavers. It was a different look for the Fighting Hawks, as freshman goalie Adam Scheel got the nod in net for his first career start.

“I thought it was exciting to wake up and find out I was playing,” said Scheel post-game. “This morning when I showed up to the rink and I found out after pre-game skate.”

However, the offense wasn’t able to muster up any goal support for the freshman, tying Bemidji State 1-1 and leaving a lot of questions to be answered for the North Dakota offense.

It didn’t look that way early, as UND struck first just 2:31 into the first with Grant Mismash picking up a rebound off a scramble in front over the reaching Zach Driscoll to put the Hawks up 1-0. Nick Jones and Gavin Hain had the helpers and were one of the more impressive lines in the first 20 minutes.

The second period was much more methodical in the play, with both teams not getting many quality chances, despite UND have two power plays in the period. It stayed that way until 16:46 in the third period, when Charlie Combs ripped a wrist-shot over the glove of Scheel to tie the game at one. It would stay that way at the end of regulation, with shots being 21-13 for UND over the sixty minutes.

North Dakota put the pedal to the metal in OT, with plenty of quality chances at the start of the period. However, Driscoll was equal to the task, shrugging off shot after shot. The game ended in a 1-1 tie, much to the dismay of the North Dakota players and fans.

“We got one point out of the weekend,” said coach Brad Berry, “And that’s not our expectations to come out of the weekend. Obviously we found out a little more information. We have to work on a few different things as far as our game.”

“When you take away both games, unacceptable, disappointing, we just can’t have that,” said senior Nick Jones when asked about the weekend games. “To come out with a loss and a tie, it’s…..embarrassing is the only word I’ve got.”

On the weekend, the Fighting Hawks were zero for eight on the power play and were only able to muster two goals total in six periods and overtime. Coupled with trouble mustering offense in their exhibition, there’s an aura of the offensive woes continuing in the short-term.

When asked about the offensive woes, Jones was quite blunt.: “It starts on the power play. The past two times I’ve been (in front of the media), I’ve been optimistic. Tonight, there’s nothing to be optimistic about. Couldn’t even get set-up. It was dreadful.”

“We didn’t start with the puck,” said Berry, “They won draws and they cleared the puck 90-95% of the time. You saw how tough it was to get the zone five-on-five, it was equally tough on the power play. Once we got in the zone, it was about trying to keep it simple and I think we didn’t do that.”

“The easy thing is to point fingers and go off in a different tangent and that’s not what do here,” continued Berry. “There’s a focus here. There’s a team and there’s a culture here. It’s early in the season, but that’s not excuse. We have a great leadership group and we have to get better in that area.”

Another non-conference weekend coming up next week with Minnesota State-Mankato coming into The Ralph for a Friday and Saturday set. Mankato is coming off two big wins against Boston University this past weekend and should be in the top-ten of the NCAA rankings by next week.

UND HOCKEY: Fighting Hawks Survive Exhibition, Beat Manitoba 3-2 in OT

GRAND FORKS, ND– Hope springs eternal for another season of University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks hockey. After missing the NCAA Tournament last year, the Hawks are primed to get back in there and leave no doubt that they should be there. With seven incoming freshman, seven sophomores, seven juniors, and five seniors; the Hawks have a solid spread of classes. They would start their march back to the big tournament with a usual foe in the University of Manitoba Bisons.

The pace was dictated by North Dakota in the first period, though the 1-0 score after 20 minutes didn’t show it. Shots were 18-3 for UND, who were trying to get a lot of the first game jitters out of their system as quick as possible. Grant Mismash got UND on the board late in the first, putting home his own rebound after the initial shot was stopped by Manitoba’s Byron Spriggs. Mismash got a lovely centering feed by Collin Adams, as the Fighting Hawks were on the power play.

It took under four minutes in the second for UND to strike again, as Gavin Hain took the zone and found a wide-open Dixon Bowen streaking down the slot, who put it high-glove on Spriggs to make it 2-0. Not much else happened in the middle frame, as UND held Manitoba to no shots in the period at all. A tough task to get a read on goaltenders if you can’t get them to put more than three shots in 40 minutes of gameplay on them.

“You take the positives out of it,” said senior forward Nick Jones. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen the puck on our stick as much as we did in this game. You just got to bear down a little more in practice. You see with Grant Mismash, he had seven or eight elite scoring chances and scored one goal. The goalie played well. I’d rather create 10 chances in a game to score one than create two chances in a game to score two.”

While most of the third seemed like clean-up duty, Manitoba cut the lead to one when Thomas Lenchyshyn put home the rebound that Ryan Anderson kicked out to his stick blade to make it 2-1. Two minutes later, Manitoba captain Jonah Wasylak put one five-hole on Anderson after a lovely feed from Devon Skoleski to tie the game with 4:32 remaining. In what should have a been a good tune-up turned into a full fight, as this game went to overtime.

“I felt so bad for (Anderson),” captain Colton Poolman said. “He’s such a competitor in practice. It was so unlucky for him to get those breakaways. It’s so hard for him, because he’s coming in stiff and cold. He hasn’t played for 50 minutes or something. I feel bad for the guy. I know he battles hard. I wish we could have done more for him.”
It took a power play in OT, but UND came through as Rhett Gardner, who had four penalties in the game, took a back-ass from Jasper Weatherby to put it past Spriggs with under two minutes left in OT.

In net, Byron Spriggs was sensational for the Bisons with 52 saves in the game. While UND had Peter Thome stop all three shots he faced, Adam Scheel stopped the only shot he faced, and Ryan Anderson stopped three of the five he faced.

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UND Head Coach Brad Berry/Photo by @NHLHistorygirl

“I thought we missed the net a few time, we’ve gotta dial that in a bit,” said head coach Brad Berry postgame. “You know what, we played against an older, experience team. They played hard in their own end of the rink and played against a good goalie. I thought we accomplished a lot in what we wanted to do, but we need to get better in other aspects.”

With only nine shots on goal and four total against the projected top two goalies, Berry said it was a bit difficult to get a read on how they would play into the season.

“It affects a couple things,” Berry explained, “First, goaltending, but also D-zone coverage. But I’d rather play in the other team’s end then our end of the rink. We’re going to playing some teams where we’ll be playing in our end. We’ll make sure we work on it everyday in practice.”

With this dress rehearsal done, the Fighting Hawks go into their first weekend with a home-and-home with Bemidji State with Friday’s game being in Bemidji and Saturday back at The Ralph.

UND HOCKEY: Fighting Hawks Saddle Broncos 4-3 in Physical Affair

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Photo by @UNDmhockey

GRAND FORKS, ND– Friday night set the tone for the weekend, as the University of North Dakota took the first game of the weekend set against Western Michigan University 4-3 in a chippy, physical affair that saw many a scrum break out.

UND opened the scoring in the first on the power play, as Rhett Gardner broke up a Western Michigan breakout, which tipped over to Grant Mismash before eventually finding the stick of Austin Poganski, who went five-hole on Ben Blacker to put the Fighting Hawks up 1-0 just five minutes into the game. Minutes later, after drawing a penalty on Christian Wolanin, Dawson DiPietro came down the wing on the ensuing power play over Cam Johnson’s glove hand to tie the game. UND struck back minutes later, while on a 5-on-3 power play, which Austin Poganski potted his second goal of the night from a lovely feed from Jordan Kawaguchi to make it 2-1.

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Austin Poganski/ Photo by @NHLHistorygirl

“It’s always nice to get on the scoresheet and help like that,” said captain Poganski after the game, “But things go unnoticed, like Ludvig blocking some shots and there were some big blocks at the end. It’s not always about scoring goals and getting assists. It’s about the little things people don’t see as often.”

Western Michigan tried to challenge offsides, but it was to no avail. Just over a minute later, Ludvig Hoff got in on the action, tipping a shot from Colton Poolman and going over the shoulder of Ben Blacker to make it 3-1 UND. Three minutes after that, WMU cut the lead to one as Brett Van Os deflected a Cam Lee shot to go over the shoulder of Johnson to make it 3-2, which is where the first period ended. It was only the sixth time this season UND had the lead after the first period.

A lot of beating, banging, and exchanging of power plays, but it wasn’t until midway through the second where UND increased their lead. Collin Adams went broke up a clearing attempt, took a skate across the top of the circle and ripped it high blocker on Blacker to make it 4-2 Fighting Hawks. While the play continued to be physical, it didn’t come without issues– as Andrew Peski and Ludvig Hoff left the game with undisclosed injuries.

More physical play until late in the period when Wade Allison got Western Michigan to within one goal on the power play, as he blew by the UND defense of a small dish from Corey Schueneman to make it 4-3 UND. However, UND thought they got the two-goal lead back when Joel Janatuinen put the puck past a laid out Blacker, but due to Luke Bafia being pushed into his own goalie– the goal was disallowed. As the game went along, it got more physical, but UND rode the edge a little too close and then over, getting three penalties within the last two minutes. Thankfully for the face-off work of Johnny Simonson and the defensive play by Gabe Bast, two late-game face-offs in front of Cam Johnson were all for not as UND went on to win 4-3 Friday.

“I thought that was a man’s game out there tonight,” said UND head coach Brad Berry. “It was fast, it was heavy, a lot of up and down the ice. Two teams that have unbelieveable will. It came down to the last play and the last face-off.”

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Cam Johnson/ Photo by @NHLHistorygirl

With the win, Cam Johnson goes to 6-2-1 after a four-week layoff when he was injured during morning skate of the Wisconsin series

“It’s been a long month or long eight games, whatever it was,” said Johnson, “But it’s good to be back and good to get a win at The Ralph. I felt good all the way through, but I think I need to drink more liquids before the game. Trying to get the pacing of the way the game speed is as opposed to practice took a bit, too.”

“It was as close to 60 minutes we’ve played all year,” Berry stated. “It’s tough to play a perfect game, especially with a good team on the other side like that. Consistency and the start is something we have to make sure we off-set tomorrow.”