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 One Win Away from Back-to-Back Penrose Cups

GRAND FORKS, ND– Need two wins in their last four games in order to win the NCHC regular season, the North Dakota Fighting Hawks are in charge of their own destiny. They’ll be facing off against the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks in all four of those games. They took the first step in securing the Penrose Cup by beating Omaha Friday night 4-1. 

The first period featured a bit of a tight checking start, with only six shots total through the first half of the frame. Passing for both sides weren’t hitting their mark, which caused golden chances to go by the wayside. North Dakota did break the scoreless tie first, as Jacob Bernard-Docker let a shot go from the point, through a mass of humanity in front, and lighting the lamp for his second of the season. As the teams loosened up, so did the shot total, as Omaha outshot UND 14-10 after 20 minutes. 

“Our first period was rough,” Bernard-Docker mentioned post-game. “(Coach Brad Berry) came into the room and told us to clean it up, mainly in the neutral zone. I think we really found our game after that.”

After more tight checking and some chances on either side, Bernard-Docker was the focal point of the second gaol, as he took a Harrison Blaisdell pass, weaved through the offensive zone, put a backhanded shot on Isaiah Saville, but when Saville couldn’t hold onto the puck; Jackson Keane was there to put home the rebound for his first of the season. UND kept the pressure going, making sure they didn’t give Omaha any chance to breathe, which culminated in a Tyler Kleven tally. North Dakota worked the puck around smoothly, ending when Collin Adams set-up Kleven in Kleven’s wheelhouse and hammered home the 3-0 tally. Omaha broke the shutout after a point shot from Jason Smallidge ricocheted off the back boards and to Tyler Weiss, who had a wide-open net to put it past Adam Scheel. 

An uneventful start to the third period had action pick up on a North Dakota power play, which had been stymied all night up to that point. During the last throes of the power play, Mark Senden moved the puck to Bernard-Docker, who found a streaking Jasper Weatherby, who unleashed a brilliant snapshot past the glove of Saville, giving UND the 4-1 lead and victory. UND did catch-up in shots, outshooting the Mavericks 41-25. 

“It’s a team mentality,” Berry stated. “When you go up one or two goals, most players would want to get another goal or another assist for their stats. Our guys play a team mentality and are doing anything to get the win and not working about personal stats. It’s doing the things in game blocking shots, playing short shifts, and it’s reassuring to see it on a consistent basis.”

This was the first of four straight against Omaha to end the regular season for North Dakota. With another win, they’ll clinch the Penrose Cup for regular season champion of the NCHC. They’ll have to do that against a team who is undefeated in the back-end of the back-to-back series. 

“It’s not going to come easy,” Berry said. “We’re playing a team that’s 5-0 in second games of back-to-back games. We firmly believe they’ll be excited to play this and we’ll have to play our best game to win it. We have to come into the rink with a workman-like attitude.” 

“It’s something you think about,” mentioned Keane about winning the Penrose at home. “It sounds weird to say you don’t want to win it on the road. Our plan is to win it tomorrow. We don’t want to leave anything to chance.”