UND HOCKEY: Hawks Survive Second Period, Win 2-1

Photo Jen Conway/@NHLHistorygirl

GRAND FORKS, ND– At the start of the last home regular season weekend, the North Dakota Fighting Hawks were riding high with two straight sweeps, while also getting back some keep elements to their roster. While they were without Riese Gaber and Jake Sanderson, the Hawks were about to withstand a 2nd period on-slaught from the Western Michigan Broncos to win Friday night 2-1. 

North Dakota’s start was quick, they were able to get some zone time against Brandon Bussi in net for Western; but some of North Dakota’s passes were just a bit off the mark to really create some solid scoring opportunities. One that wasn’t off the mark was the pass from Jake Schmaltz streaking down the right side and centering a pass to Ashton Calder, who one-hand deflected the pass into the back of the net for the icebreaking goal. Following that, the Broncos picked up a little steam, including a late power play– but didn’t have any goals to show for it. 

The second period however was mostly Western, They were able to get their jump back and really put plenty of pressure onto Zach Driscoll. However, riding a four-game win streak coming in, Driscoll was more than dialed-in for this affair. There was one hiccup in that second for Driscoll as Jacob Bauer notched his first NCAA goal on a centering pass that seemed to catch Bauer off guard as the pass almost handcuffed him, but he was able to get enough on it to put it over the shoulder of Driscoll. While they were outshot 17-5 in the middle frame, UND was able to get the go-ahead goal thanks to the work of Judd Caulfield and Matteo Costantini, with the latter finding open space off the pass from Caulfield, moving Bussi around enough to sneak it through is legs for the 2-1 goal. 

More of the Broncos’ pressure continued in the third period, doubling up on the Hawks in shots. Despite buzzing around, Driscoll and the defense stood strong with key blocks and stellar saves to keep the Broncos off the board. It wasn’t until the last face-off when Western had a late-second chance on Driscoll that UND was able to secure the victory and retain the lead in the NCHC standings. 

THEY SAID IT

“He’s tracking pucks, he’s finding pucks, he’s battling on loose pucks in front of the net. It’s experience. He’s got a lot of experience behind him and he’s hungry to compete. It’s his 25th birthday today. What a birthday present that was.” –Head Coach Brad Berry on Driscoll’s performance down the stretch. 

“The guys stepped up at the end there in the last two minutes, and we’re going to need that for the rest of the year. We just got to sharpen up a couple things that we’ll look over tomorrow morning and stick to the game plan. Probably won’t change up too much tomorrow.” –Costantini about the game and what needs to change from the second period. 

“I saw him play in the past, gave me glimpses of him from the past. I definitely saw some of what he could do at Lake State and definitely knew it was coming.” –Calder on the performance of Driscoll.

UND HOCKEY: Hawks Offense Erupts for Seven in Friday Victory

Photo: Jen Conway/ @NHLHistoryGirl

GRAND FORKS, ND– After only scoring one goal all of last weekend and five goals in their last four games, the University of North Dakota exploded with seven goals on Friday night in a rout of St. Cloud State 7-1. Contributions from all parts of the line-up helped carry the Fighting Hawks for their first win of 2022. It flipped the script of the series in St. Cloud dominated the Friday game with a win 8-1 on December 3rd, but UND answered with a 5-3 win on the 4th to split the series. 

North Dakota got started early, as Matteo Costantini was able to streak down the left side and feed a streaking Connor Ford, who beat St. Cloud’s David Hranek on the near-side to make it 1-0. After some solid chances following the goal, St. Cloud was able to counter-attack and get some chances on their own. Rookie goalie Jakob Hellsten stood tall in net, however, stopping all eight shots thrown at him in the first. UND was able to net a power play goal with Ethan Frisch hammering a one-timer over the right shoulder of Hranek to make it 2-0 Hawks. Right before the end of the frame, Riese Gaber put home his 10th of the season after a patient Costantini was able to force a St. Cloud defender to slide and moved the puck around him to find Gaber into the wide-open net. 

Peppering Hranek with plenty of shots to start the second, North Dakota didn’t break through until 9:27 in when a solid forecheck created a turnover and started a tic-tac-toe passing play; leading to Griffin Ness’s first NCAA goal and Carson Albrecht’s first NCAA point on the primary assist. That would end Hranek’s night for Jaxon Castor, which seemed to spark St. Cloud, as they put plenty of pressure on Hellsten, who was stellar in a sequence of saves that kept the Huskies off the board. It wasn’t until 2:27 left when St. Cloud broke through with Jami Krannilla hammering home a one-timer on the power play to make it a 4-1 game going into the second intermission. 

Even more offense from the Fighting Hawks had the Huskies on their heels. So much so that Ashton Calder was able to draw a penalty shot after getting past the defense. On his shot, Calder juked Castor out of his crease to make it 5-1 for the Hawks. Not two minutes later, Calder struck again on four-on-four play, as Jake Schmaltz recoiled out of the zone to find Calder at full speed, blowing by the defense and beating Castor five-hole. Things got a little chippy at the end, as they are wont to do during a blowout, but UND make it 7-1 after their aggressive forecheck led to a turnover in front of Castor as Gaber netted his second goal on a Costantini rebound to make it 7-1 and give Costantini his fourth assist of the night and the first star honors. 

THEY SAID IT

“I think we had a lot of fire underneath us coming into this weekend after what happened in Western Michigan. Everyone took the right approach during the week. We kept a positive attitude and got the result we wanted, so we’ll stick to that and keep this going into tomorrow night.” – Costantini on the outburst of scoring and mentality going into this weekend.

“It’s always fun to play games, but confidence is something you build in practice every day. I’ve just been doing the same thing the whole season. I feel like I’ve always been ready and now that I’ve gotten a few nods, it’s just a lot of fun. I think I can just step in and play my game.” – Hellsten on his confidence after getting some starts this year. 

“Absolutely something we’re aware of. We’re not satisfied with one win. Obviously, it’s been a tough stretch for us, but tonight felt real good. It’s about us and what we do and we’re excited to get back here tomorrow.” – Frisch about their previous series in St. Cloud.

UND HOCKEY: Fighting Hawks Complete Sweep of Denver in First NCHC Weekend

GRAND FORKS, ND– Following up on Friday’s victory, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks were able to give an encore performance of their all-around performance with a 4-1 victory over Denver Saturday night, sweeping the first weekend of conference play. Things, however, took a turn late in the game, as the rivalry boiled over on many fronts.

North Dakota got off to a quick start with plenty of offense from the start. The persistence paid off as 4:59 in, Ashton Calder’s pressure on the Denver point created a turnover, which lead to Matteo Costantini breaking away from the pack and putting home his third of the year past Magnus Chrona to make it 1-0 UND. The pressure continued, as the zone time for UND was big in the first frame, leading to 12 shot on goal in the first period. Just after the midway mark, Judd Caulfield spun out of the corner and drove to the net, creating a rebound for Tyler Kleven to make it 2-0. It was the first of three four-on-four goals for the Hawks on the evening.

The second period had Denver coming back a little more, putting pressure on Zach Driscoll a little more, but Driscoll was equal to most task. The only hiccup on the record was an attack 6:24 into the second, when Ryan Barrow was the recipent of a great passing play between himself, Jack Devine, and Brett Stapley to cut the UND lead in half after Barrow put it over the glove of Driscoll. The Hawks didn’t pressure Chrona as much as they did in the first, but the chances they did have were quality and created by an aggressive forecheck on the Denver defense.

Four-on-four play struck again for North Dakota, as Riese Gaber took a Jake Sanderson breakout pass the length of the ice, making a power move cutting in from the far boards, and tucked it under Chrona for the 3-1 marker. North Dakota kept the pressure on, hitting a few posts behind Chrona but not finding the back of the net. The transition and pressure of North Dakota halted many chances for Denver to get back into the game.

Things then took a turn, as with the Denver net empty, Mark Senden looked to seal the game, but Carter Savoie came across the ice, leapt towards Senden who was trying to gather the puck up, and Savoie’s forearm hit Senden in the head, knocking the UND captain to the heap on the ice and creating a stir after the fact. Senden went off with assistance from the trainer and Savoie got a five and game for his troubles. Things continued to get feisty, as Tyler Kleven’s big hit upon Denver’s zone entry was a bit too high for the liking of the officials and he got a five and game, as well.

At the end, Calder got the open net goal and UND secured the sweep of the weekend. It puts the Hawks at 2-0-0 in NCHC play as they head to Miami next weekend.

THEY SAID IT

“This was a character-builder and for sure a team-builder for our team for the year, the way they battled up. I think that was learning lesson last night, kind of sit back in the third period with a one-goal lead. We said you know what, we’re not sitting back, playing not to lose, we’re playing to win.”– Head coach Brad Berry on his team’s performance Saturday.

“That was huge for us confidence-wise. I think not a lot of people expected that. I know we have a lot of belief within our team here. We definitely showed that tonight.”– Riese Gaber on the meaning of this sweep.

UND HOCKEY: Fighting Hawks Get Home Cooking with Win Over Pioneers

GRAND FORKS, ND– After a trip to Nashville that saw the University of North Dakota have the crowd support behind them, but not get the goal support they needed; the Fighting Hawks returned home to right the ship a little bit as they took on Denver Friday night in the first NCHC contest of the season. A second period burst allowed UND to get the better of the Pioneers and take the first game of the weekend 3-1. 

The first period of the contest was quite a feeling out portion, with plenty of neutral zone play. Both Zach Driscoll and Magnus Chrona were tested a little bit, but not much out of the ordinary for shots. However, with North Dakota having a disadvantage in shots and goals in the first period this season, to come out of it ahead on shots (8-5) and in a scoreless draw is a step in the right direction for the team. 

UND got off to a quick start in the second, with Riese Gaber getting a solid look after cutting through the defense, but could not beat Chrona. Same for Ashton Calder, who had a solid look from the slot, but to no avail. The Hawks caught a break near the halfway mark, as Kyle Mayhew was down behind the Denver net, giving UND an advantage, which Brady Ferner recognized. Ferner passed it up to Judd Caulfield for what essentially was a 2-on-0, where he slid it over to Matteo Costantini to put UND up 1-0. Forty-nine seconds later, a hard forecheck by captain Mark Senden caused a turnover and allowed Senden to find Louis Jamernik in front for the 2-0 goal. 

“(Budy) dumped the puck in and I knew I had to get a step on their d-man and separate him from the puck,” recollected Senden post-game. “I heard (Jamernik) yelling for it, so I just tried to put it in an area where he was calling for it and just super, super excited for it to go in.”

Later in the frame, Driscoll made probably his best save of the season, stopping a cross-crease pass in front, getting his pad out to keep his sheet clean. It didn’t last much longer, as after a Massimo Rizzo left the box serving a bench minor, Hawks defenseman Chris Jandric had his stretch pass intercepted by Rizzo out of the box, who found Cameron Wright to make it 2-1 after two. 

Try as they might, Denver kept the pressure on UND in the third period. They capitalized on errant passes out of the zone, while maintaining possession after shots to try and get the equalizer. It was for naught, as UND held down the fort and played a solid defensive game in front of Driscoll, which led to a Jamernik empty-net goal to secure the UND 3-1 victory. 

THEY SAID IT

“It’s not something you like to have, especially down in Nashville. But definitely guys look at themselves in the mirror and figure out what they need to do to get better. There’s a lot of expectations on us to come in and win games. A good week of practice here led to a good Friday night.”– Driscoll on if the Penn State game was a wake-up call for the team.

“We started really good today. Our focus was to start hard and quick. I thought we got off to a lot better start and continued to fight hard in the second just being a hard and heavy team to play against.”– Senden on the quick start for the team.

“I think it gave our guys a spark. Like, ‘okay, we’ve got to pull up our bootstraps because we’ve got a key guy out.’ The guys were fired up, they were able to get a couple goals and be on the forecheck. I’m proud of how the guys responded.”– Head coach Brad Berry on his team’s reaction to losing Connor Ford after the first period.