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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.