Hawks Soar Into the Second Half With 5-2 Exhibition Win: A Recap Plus Three Thoughts

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee for Violent Turtle Photography

In front of 10,113 fans at the Ralph Englestad Arena the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks defeated the USA Hockey National Development Program’s Under 18 Team 5-2 thanks to a balanced effort featuring ten skaters adding to the score sheet.

UND would not wait long to get into the scoring spirit as 2:23 into the first period, Colton Poolman wired a shot from the blue line that Cole Smith was able to tip past Under 18 Team goalie Drew DeRidder.

A few minutes later, Austin Poganski created a turnover in the neutral zone and rushed past everyone. 10:26 into the opening frame, he used his much-revered forehand backhand move to put the Fighting Hawks ahead by two.

The Fighting Hawks were not done with contributing to the score sheet in the first. 15:39 into the opening frame,  Grant Mismash found Matt Kiersted who wired one over the right shoulder of DeRidder to push the UND lead to three.

The Under 18 Team would answer back as Ryan Savage put one past Fighting Hawks goalie Cam Johnson at the 17:21 mark. The Savage goal made it a 3-1 UND lead after the opening stanza of hockey.

61 seconds into the second frame, Jordan Kawaguchi took a feed from Colin Adams and buried a bar down shot past DeRidder on his high blocker side. The power play tally came a mere 19 seconds into the chance for UND who capitalized on a K’Andre Miller hooking penalty. At the 9:31 mark, potential 2018 NHL Draft top 10 pick Oliver Wahlstrom took a feed from Jack Hughes and converted his first tally of the evening on a strong backhand in the low slot against Cam Johnson.

Shane Gersich rounded out the scoring with an empty net marker 18:25 into the third period.

Quick Thoughts

  1. Peter Thome looked strong in relief of Cam Johnson. He saved all 12 shots that made it on net in the 17:16 he played to start the third period. Goalie Ryan Anderson played the remainder of the period and did not face any shots on net. Cam Johnson is definitively the starter for the Fighting Hawks , but it was good to see Thome get some work against a quality side and pitch a shutout in limited action.
  2.  Olivier Wahlstrom had a strong game tonight. While he finished minus one on the score sheet, his goal from Jack Hughes was a thing to behold. He used his skill and natural ability to fire a strong backhand past Cam Johnson. The Harvard commit lived up to his top ten billing tonight. NHL teams that do not make the playoffs should strongly consider Wahlstrom for his natural goal scoring ability, and speed in all three zones.
  3. The UND power play converted one of its four chances. They did this with a quick faceoff win and efficient passing to generate the goal by Jordan Kawaguchi. If the Fighting Hawks can work to convert one or two special-teams chances per game, then they will be even tougher to play against come March.


Energy Line Powers Fighting Hawks to a Sweep with 4-1 Victory over Western Michigan

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee from Violent Turtle Photography)

In front of 11,742 fans at the Ralph Englestad Arena, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks used four unanswered goals from Nick Jones, Cole Smith,Hayden Shaw,and Grant Mismash to propel this team to its first home NCHC sweep of the season.

With UND dealing with significant injuries throughout its lineup, the job that the line of Johnny Simonson, Josh Rieger, and Cole Smith did tonight turned out to produce the game winning goal and tie a record a mere seven seconds into the third period.

Simonson won the faceoff, then Josh Rieger, playing his fourth game ever at forward , made a pass to Cole Smith who drove the net hard and fired the game-winning goal past Western Michigan netminder Ben Blacker.

The record for fastest goal to start a third period is now shared between UND legend Ben Cherski, and Cole Smith.

Early on, in the first ten minutes of the game, UND controlled the pace and generated multiple chances. UND held Western Michigan without a shot on goal for the first 8:28 of the game. Western Michigan would rebound and end up putting eight shots on net for the remainder of the period. The Fighting Hawks finished the first frame with five shots on goal. Both teams had similar stats after the first with a penalty each, 13 shot attempts, and three blocked shots per side.

The game opened up a bit in the second period as Austin Rueschhoff took a feed from Brett Van Os, walked into the slot, and used some slick deking to help him find the back of the net 8:33 into the second period.He fired the puck passed the glove side shoulder of Cam Johnson, UND netminder. The goal provided Western Michigan with their first lead of the series.

That lead would not last the entire period. Although Western Michigan kept UND’s offense at bay for most of the second frame, until Shane Gersich rushed into the zone late into the period. He found Grant Mismash who fired a strong shot on Ben Blacker. The rebound went to Nick Jones who found the back of the net 19:37 into the second period. Jones’ sixth goal of the season tied things at one heading into the second intermission.

The third period not only saw the Smith goal, it featured crucial insurance markers from Hayden Shaw and Grant Mismash. Shaw’s tally came on the power play as he fired a puck off of a Bronco skater’s skate and past Blacker 11:59 into the third.

Mismash’s fifth tally of the season provided the final margin of the evening 14:26 into the third frame. Shane Gersich and Nick Jones contributed to this tally, and helped ensure UND got its first home NCHC sweep of the year.

Next week, the Fighting Hawks travel to St. Cloud for a crucial series to wrap up the first half.





All Around Effort Propels UND to 4-3 Win over Western Michigan

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee from Violent Turtle Photography)

In front of 11,156 fans at the Ralph Englestad Arena, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks used a strong, three goal opening period and sound defense throughout to defeat the Western Michigan Broncos 4-3 on Friday night. Austin Poganski lead the way with two first period goals. In his return to the UND net, goalie Cam Johnson made 18 saves. His Western Michigan counterpart, Ben Blacker, made 25.

Both teams played to their styles early on in this one. They limited chances and showcased their physical natures. That physicality came back to harm Western Michigan, as Austin Poganski took advantage of a power play chance 4:54 into the first period to stake the Fighting Hawks to an early 1-0 lead.

A few minutes later, that same physical nature came back to harm the Fighting Hawks as Western Michigan capitalized on their first power play chance. Dawson DiPietro took a feed from Corey Schuneman and buried one past UND netminder Cam Johnson to tie things up 9:54 into the first frame. Bronco goalie Ben Blacker contributed a secondary assist on the play.

Yet again, special teams marked the first frame as UND capitalized on a five-on-three chance. 14:15 into the first, Jordan Kawaguchi took a feed from Christian Wolanin, and made the extra pass to a wide open Austin Poganski who made it 2-1.

A few minutes later, 15:37 into the first period, Ludvig Hoff joined the goal-scoring party in the first as he  redirected a Colton Poolman point shot to help the Hawks fly to a 3-1 lead late in the first period. On that play, Jordan Kawaguchi notched his second point of the night, contributing a secondary assist.

Western Michigan fought back as 18:19 into the first. Brett Van Os got one past Cam  Johnson to make things a 3-2 contest after one period.

The second frame was a bit slower paced than the first, UND generated more chances, and maintained its strong play on defense to limit Western Michgian’s opportunities.

The Fighting Hawks regained their two goal lead, as Colin Adams  found the back of the net 10:24 into the 2nd. The New York Islanders prospect  walked into the slot, and fired one past goalie Ben Blacker.

UND controlled the pace of play more in the second with twelve shots on net. Western Michigan could only muster five.

Western Michigan hung around throughout the third period and used a power play tally from Wade Allison to make it a 4-3 UND lead 16:23 into the final frame.  The Broncos would not score again on the evening.

Shortly after that UND looked to make it a two goal game but the goal was overturned due to goaltender inference. Colton Poolman pushed a Bronco defender into Ben Blacker who was unable to recover to make the save.

The Fighting Hawks had to stave off numerous Bronco attempts to score in the last two minutes. They did this all shorthanded including surviving a six-on-three power play as Western Michigan pulled Blacker for the extra attacker.

The same two teams play tonight at the Ralph at 7:07 PM.