Beyond UND: Q-A With Minnesota Whitecap and UND Women’s Hockey Alum Amy Menke

(Photo Credit: Minnesota Whitecaps)

Since the UND Women’s Hockey program was cut in 2017, its players have gone around the world. Some have moved on to other colleges, others graduated and moved on to post-hockey academic pursuits. A few, like 2016-2017 Captain, Amy Menke, have moved on to professional hockey. She is one of the Minnesota Whitecaps competing in their first season as a member of the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL).

I had a chance to catch up with her recently and discussed her current pursuits, some things she learned from her time at UND, and more, read on below to see my questions and her answers.So far this season,  she has nine points in thirteen games with the Whitecaps.  She finished her career at UND with 108 points (50 G, 58 A) in 146 games.

What has been your favorite off-ice moment of your pro hockey career?

“1. My favorite off ice moment from my pro career has been palling around with my teammates on road trips. We’ve got an awesome group of women, on and off the ice, so it’s been a lot of fun getting to know everyone better and making memories along the way.”

What was your favorite off-ice moment from your time at UND?

“2. My favorite off ice moments at UND included partaking in shenanigans with teammates. We’d hide in lockers or boxes to scare each other, try the shampoo in a towel trick, tape a paper cup on someone’s helmet during pregame skate so they didn’t know it was there but everyone else did, gift a hamster as a secret Santa (that was Gracen Hirschy actually and it was hilarious).[In addition] Gracen Hirschy and I once taped all of Halli Kryznaniak’s room decorations to her ceiling. A bean bag and all.”

What is one thing the NCAA could do tomorrow to better promote women’s hockey and women’s sports in general?

“3. The NCAA could promote women’s hockey and women’s sports better by aiding in TV time. I’m not sure if they have a role in what games/sports get real, quality air time, but all women’s sports could use more exposure on that platform.”

What is the biggest misconception people have about women’s hockey and your response?

“4. The biggest misconception about women’s hockey is that it is less entertaining because we can’t check each other. It’s true we play a different style than men, but that doesn’t mean the games are not physical.”

What was your favorite class at UND?

“5. My favorite class at UND is a toss up between anything Professor Munski taught, and my independent study taught by Professor Chuck Haga. The independent study was on how media impacts/portrays women’s sports.”

What is one thing the NHL could do tomorrow to grow the game at a grassroots level?

“6. Growing the game starts by having more exposure and opportunities for kids to try the sport of hockey. I know USA hockey sponsors a “try hockey for free” night in areas across the US. More events like that, or possibly helping in some way by getting kids the equipment to play. Many parents stray away from hockey due to the cost of the gear.”

At the pro level, do you think the NWHL/CWHL would support involvement of their top players in All-Star Weekend similar to the integration the NBA and WNBA have?

“7. Yes, I think that idea is awesome. Last year, some women’s players from the USA national team got to demonstrate the skills competitions on TV for the all star weekend. Hilary Knight even technically beat Connor McDavid’s time on the accuracy shooting challenge… Even that little bit of exposure was cool to see. But more involvement would always be very beneficial to the NWHL/CWHL.”

How long do you think it will be before the two leagues (NWHL/CWHL) integrate and how beneficial to the game would that be?

“8. Combining the two leagues will be huge for women’s hockey. As for a timeline, I’m not sure. Maybe in a couple years. Both leagues still need to grow and secure funding for travel and salary expenses.”

How proud are you to see the success of UND Women’s Hockey alums around the world and how often are you able to follow them on and off the ice?

“9. I love seeing my fellow UND alums succeeding in their new roles. I was able to play in Sweden last year with 4 of my former teammates for a couple months. That was a lot of fun. I also get to play with Tanja Eisenschmid on the whitecaps this season. Many of the UND girls that had to transfer schools are having tons of success on their new teams, which is fun to watch.”

10. What are some of the biggest things you learned from each coach you worked with at UND and how have they helped you?

“Coach Idalski taught me I shoot off the wrong foot. Sorry Brian, I still do that.

Coach Fabian taught me an awesome move on how to get through a D when I’m entering the zone on my backhand. [I] wish he would have taught me that freshman year instead of junior year.

Coach Elander taught me, and a few other former UND players [including] Jocelyn Lamoureux  a move called ‘oops, I did it again’ “.

Beatty’s 35 Points Helps Oral Roberts Best UND Women’s Basketball 80-58

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violent Turtle Photography)

Grand Forks, North Dakota– Coming into a key Saturday matchup, their second to last home game at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center this season, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks needed a win to get back in to top-half contention in Summit League play. They were not able to pull ahead of their opponent, Oral Roberts. The Golden Eagles flew past UND 80-58 lead by 35  points from Lakota Beatty. She put together a superb outing including going 6-8 from the three point line and helping stymie any instance of momentum UND tried to build.

Beatty had one instance in the first half where she connected on two straight threes combined with the Fighting Hawks trying to force the issue by getting a pass to a heavily guarded Lexi Klabo. That six point swing took the lead for the Golden Eagles to 16 and forced UND to play outside of their game the rest of the way.

Lexi Klabo lead the way for UND with 24 points. She was the only Fighting Hawk to reach double figures. UND never lead in this game and was unable to adjust to counter Beatty or anything else on offense that the Golden Eagles were able to do.  In addition, Head Coach Travis Brewster noted that the team has to spread the offense out a bit more. Because UND does not have a strong three point shooting game this season, teams have been able to double or triple team Klabo on a consistent basis. Tonight that was no different as that ability to collapse with help side defense on Klabo was a key component in the win for Oral Roberts.

UND finished with 20 turnovers on the evening as the Golden Eagles earned 12 steals on the night. A lot of those came on passes into Klabo in heavy traffic. Finally, look for UND to take some positives from this one. They play a strong outside shooting team in Denver and will look to learn some things on defending the three point shot a bit better. While they were able to get Klabo looks, this team needs to get more players involved. When teams are able to triple team your best player, and others do not knock down more shots then results typically do not trend to you. The most field goals made after Klabo’s eight were three by Faith Dooley.

As to Oral Roberts, for a young team with minimal veteran leadership, for them to come up to North Dakota and earn a 22 point victory was impressive. While South Dakota is the class of the Summit League, a hot shooting Golden Eagles squad lead by Beatty could surprise some folks in Sioux Falls. For a team with only three seniors (two of them being fifth year seniors) the Golden Eagles all played like seasoned veterans today.

Quick Recap and Podcast: GMC Line Steers Fighting Hawks to Split with 5-1 Saturday Night Win over St. Cloud State, Now What?

Photo Credit:Kelsey Lee-Violent Turtle Photography

Throughout the season UND has had some inconsistent times and play. The most constant force on this team is a line composed of Gavin Hain, Mark Senden, and Cole Smith. This line was the driving force for this team in the finale as they helped UND to a 5-1 victory over the St Cloud State Huskies. As noted in some previous games, this line has been the most dependable for the Fighting Hawks this year in terms of everything but goal scoring. Last night, three of the five goals were scored by this line as Gavin Hain contributed his first multi-goal (2) game of his college career.

Listen to the podcast for more on the game, and what to look for next week. UND played a perfect game Saturday against the number one team in the nation. Check out the podcast below for more.

 

 

Podcast: SCSU 3 UND 1 in Series Opener, Now What?

Photo Credit (Kelsey Lee-Violent Turtle Photography)

Check out a podcast with more on the series opener between UND and St. Cloud as the Huskies won 3-1. The podcast includes the following in 20 minutes.

  1. A quick goal recap
  2. A message to St Cloud State Fans
  3. A message to UND fans
  4. A Thought on the Schuldt hit on Mismash (should have been a penalty and reviewed, listen to find out more)
  5. All throughout I mention what both sides should build on for Saturday

Special Teams Stats Prove Deceptive as St. Cloud State Takes Opener 3-1

Photo Credit:Kelsey Lee-Violent Turtle Photography

When a team goes 3/3 on the penalty kill (not including empty net goals) and owns five on five play for at least around half of the game things typically go well right? Well for the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks things went poorly tonight as they gave up three unanswered goals (the third goal was an empty net marker from Blake Lizotte as UND was trying to bounce back and tie things on the penalty kill late in the third period) to lose the series opener to the number one team in the nation, the St. Cloud State Huskies 3-1.

Micah Miller and Patrick Newell took away a 1-0 lead provided by Nick Jones on an interesting angle shot from below the goal line 11:21 into the first period and gave St. Cloud the lead it would not relinquish. Both St. Cloud goals came mere seconds after UND killed off penalties. Miller’s goal came 18 seconds after UND killed a Matt Kiersted penalty in the second period. He took a feed from Nolan Walker, walked into the UND zone in transition and rifled one past UND netminder Adam Scheel on his left side just above his pad.

In the third period, 17 seconds after the Fighting Hawks killed off a Jasper Weatherby penalty, the puck was fired down towards the UND end. It looked as if a UND defender was close enough to play the puck, and Scheel reached out to play it as well negating any chance of an icing call. Colton Poolman tried to play the puck behind the net but made a very rare mistake and turned the puck over to Nolan Walker. He then found one of the best goal scorers on the Huskies, Newell, in the slot and he did not miss the game-winning goal.

UND was out shot in the second and third periods combined 41-22. The Huskies utilized their strong transition game throughout the second and third period. If not for a very close goal review on a potential Nick Perbix goal, the margin could have better reflected the shots on goal disparity. UND took issue with a potential penalty on Jimmy Schuldt as a hip check on further review looked to result in knee-on-knee contact on Grant Mismash who required help to leave the ice. He will definitely not play in the finale. UND needs to improve in consistency. The result is different as the Huskies outplayed the Fighting Hawks in the final two frames, but the path was the same for UND. The Fighting Hawks started the game well, got chances and limited grade-a chances for the other team. Then the opponent got into their game and this time said opponent was not Omaha or Canisius but St. Cloud State.

These are not the same Huskies that lost to Air Force in the NCAA tournament last March. This is a team with all of the speed and skill of last year’s squad combined with a consistent commitment to team defense to further highlight their skills. For UND to salvage a split they need to play a perfect 60 minutes all the while knowing any mistake they make has a marginally decent chance of ending up in the back of their own net. Saturday night at the Ralph will be a fun one.

The Comeback: UND Survives Colorado College Comeback to Take 4-3 OT Victory

(Photo Credit: Russ Hons-UND Athletics)

Last night in front of 11,094 fans at the Ralph Engelstad Arena, the University of North Dakota, once again, finished a game more than doubling its opponent, the Colorado College Tigers, in shots on net. Once again, they were playing from behind in the third period. The Tigers scored three unanswered goals to take a 3-2 lead and were using superb play from their netminder, Alex Leclerc, to keep themselves ahead. That all changed 14:!4 into the third period as Jordan Kawaguchi tipped home a Nick Jones shot to tie the game and send it into overtime. In the extra frame Ludvig Hoff tipped home a game winner 4:15 into the extra frame.

Unlike previous games this year where the opposing team was able to hold onto leads despite being out shot by the Fighting Hawks, this one was different. The Fighting Hawks played a solid game from the beginning and took a 2-0 lead before the Tigers got on the board. Nick Jones waited out Leclerc 10:11 into the first and went short side top shelf to make it 1-0 on the power play. Andrew Peski then wired a puck home through multiple defenders to give UND a 2-0 lead. Over the second and third frames, Westin Michaud, Erik Middendorf, and UND transfer Chris Wilkie gave the Tiger a 3-2 lead. The Wilkie goal came on a five minute major and game misconduct given to Gabe Bast. He went high and directly hit Alex Berardinelli in the head to give the Tigers a five minute power play. Bast could face supplemental discipline for that hit.

While Wilkie did score 26 seconds into that power play, UND was able to limit the harm to one goal. The feeling among UND was one of relief but not happiness. Given how the non-conference season finished, and their out of conference record against non-ranked teams, UND needs to win a fair amount of games to secure a spot in the tournament regardless of the postseason.

On to Saturday

The good to bring forward for UND? Consistency, as the Fighting Hawks scored a goal a period for the entire game and did not let up all night despite having a two goal lead at one point. The team was able to get multiple goals off deflections, as the team is looking for other ways to convert on chances.

What should UND work on for the finale? While the Fighting Hawks were able to make a big difference with tips and deflections, throughout the game they almost tried to find a perfect opportunity in the slot that got blocked. This team has a strong defense that is good at getting pucks on net to get tipped. If the team keeps waiting for perfect chances, none will arise. All of this being said, the Fighting Hawks played a good game, and still have one more hill to climb to earn a sweep against the Tigers.

 

92-91: UND Men Lose Close One to Omaha- What Was Good, What to Improve Upon, and What’s Next?

(Photo Credit:Russ Hons-UND Athletics)

Coming into this one, UND had a prime opportunity to pull even in Summit League play before taking on a Western Illinois team picked near the bottom of the league Saturday. That did not happen as Omaha was able to use a last second three to clinch a remarkable comeback win against the Fighting Hawks at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center in front of a loud crowd. Conner Avants came inches away from equalizing things with a free throw that rang off the rim with .6 seconds left to end it at the 92-91 loss.

That is how the game ended. The final score is not indicative of the good that happened for the Fighting Hawks as they played a consistent game throughout. Avants lead the way for UND with 24 points on offense. Aanen Moody provided a spark off the bench for the team knocking down six three-pointers on the night for 18 points. Cortez Seales contributed another strong effort with 16 points. The team found ways to score and fast routinely tonight. This multi-faceted inside-outside game the Fighting Hawks played tonight is repeatable in the Summit League to get this team where they want to go.

What should not be repeated and what did the Fighting Hawks in was the lack of rebounding. Head Coach Brian Jones noted the issues Omaha had coming in with its rebounding and small average of offensive boards(he noted seven). Tonight, the Mavericks finished with 15 offensive boards which lead to 19 second chance points. UND had nine offensive boards and 13 second chance points. Jones and Avants noted the need for the team to improve quickly in the rebounding category.

If they can consistently rebound and get a similar amount of offensive production they can put away more teams the rest of the way. That all starts this Saturday against the Leathernecks of Western Illinois.