UND HOCKEY: Fighting Hawks Break Skid, Win 5-2 Over Anchorage

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GRAND FORKS, ND– After an eye-opening series last weekend, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks snapped a three-game losing streak by beating the University of Alaska-Anchorage 5-2 on Friday night. Peter Thome made 20 saves in his first win of the season, while the Fighting Hawks had five different goal-scorers in the winning effort. It was the second time this season that UND has put up five goals, the first coming against Wisconsin earlier in the month.

UND got some chances early, with an exceptional chance on Joel Janatuinen getting a penalty shot after getting hauled down, but his attempt rang off the post after Anchorage’s Kris Carlson cut down the angle very well. But, the Fighting Hawks were able to bury one of their goals, as Ludvig Hoff found the back of the net off a scrum in front and batting one out of mid-air, off of Carlson’s helmet, and in. It was Hoff’s first game back since the Wisconsin series earlier in the month. UND was in command the shot counter again with a 16-3 total over Anchorage in the first 20 minutes.

The Hawks took advantage of an early power play after a too many men on the ice call, where Grant Mismash took a whiffed shot attempt by Jacob Bernard-Docker and put a wrister glove-side on Carlson to make it 2-0. Almost 90 seconds after that, freshman Jackson Keane got a feed from Casey Johnson and had a highlight reel goal toe-dragging passed a diving defender, going forehand, backhand, and then in the back of the net to make it 3-0.

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Jackson Keane/Photo by Jen Conway

“It was pretty cool,” said Keane after the game. “I don’t have words to describe it. It’s something I’ve dreamed about for a long time. I was just happy to be in the line-up tonight. I kind of just blacked out. I saw him slide down and I really couldn’t tell you what happened after that.”

Keane, however, would take a penalty his next shift and it would allow Anchorage a chance, which they cashed-in. After a Jonah Renouf shot from the point got lost in the pads of Peter Thome, Nicolas Erb-Ekholm banged in the puck in the crease to make it a 3-1 game. UND got it right back after a Drayson Pears penalty, Mismash found Rhett Gardner in front to tap home the redirection and make it 4-1.

While both teams went end-to-end, Anchorage got onto the board first in the period, after Nils Rygaard tapped home a solid Jeremiah Luedtke pass from behind the net to go five-hole on Thome. The Hawks regained the three-goal lead after Dixon Bowen came out of the corner to get to the slot, but lost the puck in a crowd. No one could find it except Casey Johnson who picked up the loose puck and put it home for his first of the season, closing out the scoring for both teams.

“It was pretty easy to get up for this one,” said Gardner after the game, “It was a good bounce-back. We answered and did what we had to do to get a win. We kind of talked about it all week. We had a real hard work week. We knew what the past is like on the Friday after Thanksgiving, but we got it into our mind it was gonna be like any other home weekend.”

The Black Friday game at home hadn’t been too kind to North Dakota, as they were winless in their last four Friday home games after Thanksgiving (0-3-1).

“I thought we came out strong. We had a good energy level and did what we needed to do,” said head coach Brad Berry. “All the records on the day after Thanksgiving, but that was secondary. Our mindset was the biggest thing and trying to play the game the right way.”

North Dakota will look to sweep the weekend on Saturday night at The Ralph.

UND Sophomore Hoff Named to Team Norway

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When his phone rang at 6:30am Wednesday morning, Ludvig Hoff was still asleep, trying to get ready for a day of classes ahead. Little did he know that on the other line would be news that would make him the “Man of the Hour” today at University of North Dakota’s athletics weekly press conference after his announcement as part of Norway’s Olympic hockey team.  With this, Hoff becomes the first European-born player from UND’s men’s program to play in the Olympics (Bob DePiero played for Italy in 1984, but was born in Thunder Bay, ON).

“It was actually my mom who called me and told me,” said Hoff during the press conference. “She was watching the sports channel back home and told me I made the team. She was crying a little bit. It was good news to wake up to.”

With two goals and six assists in 19 games, his stats haven’t been overwhelming, but Hoff’s intangibles have made him noticeable for the Fighting Hawks. There were some rumblings that as the time drew near, he’d have a good shot of making the team even though he wasn’t aiming for it.

“I was a little surprised,” confessed Hoff. “Obviously, I’m very honored and it’s a dream come true. I don’t think I’ve really processed the whole thing yet. It’s obviously been a goal my whole life, but it wasn’t even on my mind for this season. I was more focused on hockey here (at UND).”

There is a lineage to this, as Ludvig’s father Geir Hoff played in two Olympics for Norway in 1992 in Albertville and 1994 in Lillehammer. Geir also took a different route than most Norwegians by coming to North America to play college hockey, as Geir played two seasons at Michigan State before returning to Norway and being a part of five Norwegian Championship teams.

“I grew up watching and my dad was in it, so he’s told me stories about it,” mentioned Hoff. “It’s something that means a lot to me. It’s nice to see how many people care and getting congratulations from everyone.”

This isn’t the first time Hoff is part of the National team, as he captained two U-20 Division 1 squads for Norway in 2015 and 2016, while also taking part in the U-18 tournaments as an alternate captain. Yet, when he went to a tryout camp last month, he did have some nerves in going.

“When I was at the tryout camps over Christmas break, the guys took me in with open arms,” Hoff mentioned. “They understood I was nervous, but they made it easy to be there.”

“Very excited for him,” said head coach Brad Berry. “It’s one of those things growing up as a boy in your home country, it’s one of those things you strive to play for your National team. To play on the Olympic stage is the ultimate goal, I guess. You always have hesitation with a player leaving who could be at risk of injury, but we’ve seen from players going to the World Juniors that you always get a better player back. It’s the hope he’ll get experience and confidence and we’ll get a better player back.”

Coach Berry did say there’s ironing out of details with academics and all of that, but Berry is confident those will be hammered down and he’ll be back sooner rather than later. The thought is that Hoff will leave after the bye-weekend on February 4th to get ready for Norway’s first game on February 15th against Sweden.

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: 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.

UND RECAP: Youth Served in Exhibition Win

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Photo via University of North Dakota’s Twitter

GRAND FORKS, ND– The kids were in full force for the University of North Dakota on Saturday, as the Fighting Hawks won their exhibition match-up against the University of Manitoba for a 14th straight season. The Hawks’ rookies had two goals and five assists from the freshman class, while the other newcomer, junior transfer Nick Jones, added an assist.

The start was a little rocky for UND, as they gave up the first goal after Manitoba’s Remi Laurencelle picked the puck off and went in to beat Cam Johnson five-hole almost five minutes in the first period. Manitoba controlled the game early, which shouldn’t be a surprise with the Bisons playing six games leading up to this match-up.

Things settled down once Ludvig Hoff fired a rocket of a wrist-shot from the top of the circle to beat Byron Striggs and tie the game up. It was the first of two goals Hoff would score in the game, as he was bumped to “top line” center for UND between captain Austin Poganski and Shane Gersich.

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09/30/17 Ludvig Hoff (photo by Jen Conway)

“I felt very comfortable playing between those two,” Hoff said post-game of his two linemates. “They’re two really talented players and made it a lot more fun for me out there.”

After that, the rookies took center stage, with Grant Mismash potting his first goal of his UND career after a fantastic pass from fellow freshman Collin Adams, a play all started by spare freshman defenseman Matt Kiersted.

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09/30/17 Grant Mismash (photo by Jen Conway)

“It was pretty surreal, though I kind of whiffed on it,” said Mismash, a Nashville Predators prospect. “Obviously, first period there were nerves, but once we settled down it was just like playing a good ol’ game of hockey.”

Aside from a goal by Manitoba three minutes in, the second period belonged to UND. Started by another great passing display by Adams, who found a streaking Christian Wolanin to put the third goal on the board for UND, while Hoff put up the fourth, freshman Jordan Kawaguchi scored UND’s fifth, and senior Johnny Simonson put up the sixth and final goal for the Hawks in a 6-2 final.

“We learned we’re not a one-line team,” mentioned head coach Brad Berry post-game. “Lot of good effort out there, but a lot we need to work on. We weren’t as sharp as we could have been. We need to have a good week of practice leading up to Alaska next week.”

The Ralph tonight had 10,682 to watch the game, which is something both rookies Mismash and Adams hadn’t seen in their junior playing days.

“You’re only getting, what, 3,000 or so people out in the USHL,” mentioned Adams. “To have this here for just an exhibition game was pretty fun.”

While this team has been a lot about the play of Cam Johnson, he didn’t have his best game, letting up two goals on 12 shots, one of which was a fluky, bouncing puck in the second that was credited to Calvin Spencer. Freshman Peter Thome took over for the third and stopped all five shots he faced.

“(Defensive zone) is one of the big things we need to clean up,” Coach Berry stressed. “We have to make sure we address the chemistry of the lines and know the importance of cleaning up in front of our house. It doesn’t come overnight, it’s something we have to instill on a constant basis.”

UND takes a long road trip to start the season, as they’ll travel to Anchorage to take on the Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves next weekend in their first series, which is a non-conference tilt.