Photo Credit: (Kelsey Lee for Violent Turtle Photography)
Fresh off a 6-2 exhibition win over Manitoba, UND heads north this weekend to take on an Alaska Anchorage side that finished last in the WCHA last season. The Seawolves won seven total games in 34 contests last season.
This season, the Seawolves look to improve on their record lead in net by senior goaltender Olivier Mantha. He finished last season with a 2.82 goals against average and .913 save percentage.
The Seawolves play a physical style of hockey that will force UND to utilize the wider sheet of Olympic ice to make more skilled plays.
Giving fast players like Shane Gersich and Ludvig Hoff more ice to skate on will benefit the Fighting Hawks.
To have a chance against the Fighting Hawks, Head Coach Matt Thomas noted the importance of taking away time and space from the Fighting Hawks. The Seawolves’ returning leading scorer and captain, Matt Anholt, had 22 points (5 goals, 17 assists) in 34 games. Alaska Anchorage has done better when it plays physical and limits scoring chances.
For the Fighting Hawks to have success against the Seawolves this weekend here are few things to look for.
Utilize your Speed Game
North Dakota is a faster team than the Seawolves. Because of this, it will be able to generate chances if they can maintain puck possession. As the game wears on, like during the Manitoba game, the Fighting Hawks will show their speed. Look for players like Ludvig Hoff to build on their exhibition performance against Manitoba.
Build on the Blue Line
One of the things Head Coach Brad Berry thought needed improvement was play in UND’s own defensive zone. Manitoba had some long cycles in the first period, and one of those cycles contributed to the Bisons second goal on a deflection.
The Seawolves will be incredibly motivated. They have experience playing the top teams in the country to start a season. The Fighting Hawks have to come out fast, and force the Seawolves to score multiple times just to keep pace.
Now that the games count, UND has to not give the Seawolves any chance to stick around with their motivated crowd cheering them on.
UND will face some challenges this weekend from the Seawolves but should come out on top with a sweep.
Score Prediction: UND 4-2 UND 5-2