Better Game, Same Result: UND Settles For Second Three-on-Three OT Loss in Two Nights

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee for Violent Turtle Photography)

In front of 12,002 loud fans at the Ralph Engelstad Arena, Denver Pioneer Logan O’Connor created a turnover, and started a break away in the second three-on-three overtime session at the Ralph in two evenings. Just like last night, the result was the same. Denver defender Ian Mitchell took a feed from O’Connor on the ensuing two-on-one breakaway and found the back of the net 01:19 into the extra overtime to give the Pioneers four points on two ties for the weekend.  While UND ended the weekend with  two ties, it finished tied for eleventh in the pairwise with Minnesota.

In the first period, Kohen Olischefski took a feed from Ryan Barrow, went to the goal line and fired one into the opening short side against Cam Johnson. The puck just went through the small opening to give the Pioneers another lead. In the first, Denver controlled possession through large swaths of play. The Fighting Hawks did not get a shot on net for the first 13:52 of the game. They ended the first frame with only 13 shot attempts to Denver’s 21. The Pioneers had eight high percentage scoring  from the low slot area. UND only generated one.

In the second period, UND picked up the pace. They got more pucks on net and forced Denver to defend more in the first half of the period then they did in the entire first period.

A few minutes into the second, Liam Finlay interfered with Cam Johnson in the blue paint. This gave the Fighting Hawks their first chance on special teams all night.

They did not waste their opportunity.

About halfway through the power play 09:26 into the second stanza, Christian Wolanin took a feed from  Shane Gersich and fired a perfect shot past a completely screened Denver netminder Tanner Jaillet. The Ottawa Senators’ prospect’s eight tally of the year equalized things. The score would remain the same through the end of the second and third period. While UND out shot Denver 16-11 in the last two regulation periods, they could not solve Tanner Jaillet the rest of the way.


Thoughts Heading into the Bye 

  • The NCHC is capable of getting six or seven teams into the tournament. This conference has every team but Colorado College and Miami in the top 13 of the pairwise heading into February.  Accounting for the Atlantic Hockey Tournament winner, and Hockey East Tournament winner, the top 14 teams would make the tournament in the pairwise right now.
  • UND looked much better on special  teams this weekend, they only allowed one power play goal on the weekend. Their penalty kill was much more aggressive and forced Denver to make quicker decisions with the puck while limiting time and space for their skilled forwards to generate high percentage shots.
  • If UND can use this weekend where it was missing its top two centers, Rhett Gardner and Nick Jones, along with top four defender Gabe Bast, to help develop players like Josh Rieger and Matt Kiersted, both of whom played well in their replacements then this weekend could help UND down the road. In addition, defenseman Casey Johnson slotted in at forward and helped UND in spots in the game. The Fighting Hawks’ ability to develop their depth players during this long season of injuries will prove crucial in the long run.

Two Games One Point: How UND Salvaged a Point Against Denver

(Photo Credit:Kelsey Lee for Violent Turtle Photography)

In front of 11,845 fans at the Ralph Engelstad Arena, the University of North Dakota could not hold a 2-0 first period lead against the Denver Pioneers, needing late help from a Hayden Shaw extra attacker goal to salvage one point on the evening. After a scoreless first overtime making the game a tie for NCAA purposes, Denver did not waste a chance to net the extra NCHC point. Troy Terry turned over Shane Gersich in the neutral zone and walked and fired a superb shot short side to beat UND netminder Cam Johnson.

The first period was where things went well for UND. Cole Smith started things off early firing a puck off  a Pioneer defender and into the back of the net a mere 62 seconds into the game. Things started on the right foot for the Fighting Hawks.

A few minutes later, Shane Gersich capitalized on a scramble at the DU net and made it  a 2-0 UND lead on the power play. Grant Mismash, and Trevor Olson netted the assists. Olson is now on a four game point streak (two goals, two assists)

In the second stanza, Dylan Gambrell took a feed from Henrik Borgstrom and rifled one past a non-screened UND netminder Cam Johnson on a superb one timer 7:04 into the 2nd to bring the Pioneers within one.

Then the tide of the game really started to change towards the end of the second and into the third. The Pioneers finished the period only down one. In addition, the Pioneers closed the shots on net gap to a mere two (12-10 UND).

In the third period, the Pioneers conquered the UND deficit and even built a lead that almost gave them a full three point win. Rudy Junda got the scoring going 02:11 into the third off a feed from a Tariq Hammond point shot.

A few minutes later, Cole Smith checked the head area of Denver skater Adam Plant. Plant fell to the ice injured and had to leave the game. Smith left as well. He was assessed a five minute major and a game misconduct for a check to the head. After a controversial goaltender interference call nullified a Pioneer goal, Troy Terry got it back and the lead for the Pioneers. For nearly 13 minutes DU looked like they would hang on, but UND was able to battle back to earn the point on the Shaw marker. Denver earned the extra point in the three-on-three with another terrific Terry goal.

For Saturday

UND needs to replicate its first period, they did a good job keeping things simple. In one period the Fighting Hawks were able to simplify their game. They generated multiple good looks from the slot and could not convert any after the initial two markers. If UND can replicate its effort from the first the result could be different.If Denver puts a full game together look for the result to not be as UND fan-friendly as tonight.



J.P Lamoureux Interview

Last fall, I talked about the important thoughts J.P Lamoureux had regarding small goalies and the key bits of advice he had for them. Below is the rest of the question-and answer session with him.

1. What has been your favorite off-ice moment playing since you started your pro career?

” [My] favorite off ice moments, are getting married in 2012 to my wife Kellie, and the birth of my kids in Austria, son Henri in 2014 & daughter Leah in 2017″

2. What are your plans when you are finished playing hockey?

“Right now I am positioning myself to get into coaching when I retire. I started JPL Goaltending 5 years ago to establish myself in the coaching world.”

3. How much do you follow the current UND team now?

“I follow the current UND team daily. My weekend routine is to wake up before I go to pregame skate and watch the highlights with my son on UND Sports. I also worked with some of the UND goalies when I’m back in the summer so I follow their progress closely!”

4. What did you do to celebrate UND’s National Championship in 2016?

“I was lucky enough to be in Tampa for 2016 NC [National Championship}. I flew home from Austria with my family after our season and my wife and I jumped on the charter right when we got back. That was special team to watch and I knew it would be a rare opportunity to watch the team live. Like most of the fans their the whole weekend was awesome! Everything from the resort to the pregame party at Fergs it was a blast and to share the weekend with my wife was special.”

5. What are some things that UND fans might like about the European game?

“UND fans might like the wide open game we play. Our league in Austria is high scoring. With the big ice you see less chip and chase and more teams try attack off the rush.”

6. During your UND time, who were some of your teammates with the biggest personality?

Matt Greene my freshman year was a larger then life personality. Was the life of the party and an absolute warrior on the ice. Osh, was lively guy in the locker room and on the ice, [also} Andrew Kozek was  [another] funny guy in our group. And not because he tried, he always got himself into funny predicaments.

7. Who has been your favorite coach to play for at any level?

[Former UND Head Coach and Current Philadelphia Flyers Head Coach Dave Hakstol}  Hak, was a guy I loved to play for. He was honest & fair bit had a really good read on when players were ready for more opportunity. My coach in Vienna reminds me of Hak’s approach. Serge Aubin had long playing career and he has been great to play for.

8. What do you most miss about UND and  Grand Forks?

“I miss Red Pepper the most. It’s usually my first stop when I get back from over seas for the summer.”

9. What are some interesting things in Austria that you like to do or see in your off time?

“I loved living in Villach, my 1st team in Austria. Looking out my window and seeing that everyday just puts you at ease. I live in Vienna now, and it’s an incredible city filled with history and beautiful architecture.”

10. What are some hockey-related goals you want to accomplish before retiring?

[A] couple of goals yet to accomplish is reaching 500 games played which at my current pace is reachable in the next couple seasons. And of course winning another championship. I was fortunate to win my fist pro championship last season.

11. How many more years do you want to keep playing hockey?

“I would like to keep playing as long I can. But it has to make sense for family as well and if I’m making a good living playing and family is happy then it makes sense to keep going. Physically I feel like I got a lot left on the tank.”

12. What are you most thankful for learning from UND?

” [I am] most thankful for the relationships I made playing for my favorite team. UND really teaches guys to pro s on and off the ice. And to be apart of the tradition that continues to be passed down by the current players is really special.”

13. What was the inspiration to form JPL Goaltending?

“JPL was inspired for two reasons: 1. To establish something that I can do after playing and 2. I wanted to create an environment in GF with the REA {Ralph Engelstad Arena]  for local kids to have pro quality goalie training & information. I’ve been lucky enough to play all over the world and meet some of the most influential people in goaltending and I want to share that knowledge with young goalies who want to get to the next level.”

14.Tell me about the championship run you and Vienna went on last year in the EBEL and something you are proud of about that group.

 “Last years championship run was special, it was the closest feeling with the guys that i got then when I played for UND. We set league records in the regular season for wins and set a playoff record going 12-0. It was 3 rounds of a 7 game series. It was surprising because the league was much tighter then a perfect playoff record would indicate. I lost in a game 7 finals my 1 st year pro and that was the last opportunity I had in a finals. So 8 years is long time to battle between finals so when we were there last year I wanted to leave no doubt.

UND Ties BSU 2-2:A Quick Recap and a Bonus Thought

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee for Violent Turtle Photography)

In front of a sold out 11,868 screaming fans at the Ralph Engelstad Arena, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks skated to a Saturday 2-2 tie against the Bemidji State University Beavers in their non-conference finale. UND could not muster more than one goal on a five minute major and allowed the Beavers just enough time and space to pot an equalizer late into the third frame. Overtime would bear no goal-scoring fruit for either side, as Bemidji fought back to earn a tie.

Following a scoreless opening frame,  Nick Jones tapped in a perfect no-look feed from Austin Poganski 3:28 into the second stanza giving UND its first lead of the evening. The pace of the second period would be to North Dakota’s liking until the 13:15 mark of the second, when Leo Fitzgerald equalized things with a tally of his own for Bemidji State.

A few seconds later, with 6:09 left in the frame, Jordan Heller took a five minute major and a game misconduct for a check from behind putting UND on the extended power play.

Christian Wolanin found the back of the net on a strong slot shot to give UND its last lead of the evening

The Fighting Hawks were only able to capitalize once on the Heller major, and ended the second frame ahead only one. The Beavers tied things up midway through the third on a redirect goal. Both teams had chances after that but no one could break through.

Quick Thought

UND cannot take any opponent for granted the rest of the way. While BSU does not measure up to the skill of UND, it used superb goaltending from Michael Bitzer and strong defense to earn a tie. No team on UND’s schedule has less skilled players than Bemidji, and UND will need to measure up to their opponents offensively with getting more shots from down low. Look for UND to work on generating more looks down low against UMD next weekend.





UNO Power Play Grounds Fighting Hawks: A Recap Plus 3 Thoughts for Tonight

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee for Violent Turtle Photography)

In front of 10,133 fans at the Ralph Engelstad Arena, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks dropped their second half opener to the University of Nebraska Omaha Mavericks 4-1. The Mavericks utilized two power play goals, timely goaltending from Evan Weninger, and team speed to generate countless high percentage looks to take this game. Fredrik Olofsson, Luke Nogard, David Pope, and Zach Jordan contributed tallys for the Mavericks. Shane Gersich provided the only UND goal 17:23 into the first period on a penalty shot. Weninger made 34 saves for the Mavericks, while his counterpart Cam Johnson only made 17 saves for UND.

In the first period, UND played with five defenseman for over half of the frame due to a Christian Wolanin ten minute misconduct. The junior defenseman also took a holding minor on the play. The Mavericks did not convert on their first power play chance but took advantage of UND playing without their defensive leader later on.

10:44 into the game, Zack Jordan beautifully screened Cam Johnson and Fredrik Olaffson took a pass from Tristan Keck on a Matt Kiersted turnover and rifled one past Johnson to give the Mavericks an early lead 1-0 lead.

17:23 into the first period, just after the Fighting Hawks stifled the Mavericks power play for the second time in the first frame, forward Shane Gersich walked in on a breakaway and was hauled down by a Mavericks defender. He converted his penalty shot chance thanks to a slow build up and picking the perfect time to wrist one through the five hole of  Weninger to tie things up heading into the first intermission.

In the second frame, Omaha withstood an early barrage of UND chances, The Fighting Hawks matched their eight shots on net from the first early in the second. Despite that, and several chances on their power play UND could not convert.  UND out shot UNO 20-7 in the second. Despite that, a mere eight UND shot attempts of their 30 in the frame came from inside and below the faceoff dots in the low slot.

8:20 into the second period, Luke Nogard put home a puck through the five hole Cam Johnson on a Zach Jordan shot. The power play tally gave the Mavericks their second lead of the evening.  Capitals prospect and Mavericks forward Steven Spinner contributed a secondary assist. He generated some time in the corner on the power play, saw the opening to feed Jordan, and did not misfire the pass.

Less than four minutes later, David Pope took a superb feed from Ryan Jones and  rifled  one past Johnson from just outside the right faceoff circle to give UNO a two goal lead 12:17 into the second

Finally, in the third period, Zach Jordan capitalized on an offensive zone turnover, walked in and went top shelf glove side on Johnson to provide the final  4-1 margin 09:44 into the final frame.

Both teams are back at it for the series finale tonight at 7:07 PM at the Ralph.


Three Thoughts 

  • UND needs to improve on generating higher quality chances. The Mavericks did an outstanding job at blocking shots and limiting second-chance opportunities. On Saturday, UND has to work on making quicker passes along the boards and make more in-cutting plays instead of going for dump-and-chase or shoot in type plays when entering the offensive zone. The Fighting Hawks have an outstanding ability to forecheck but need to use their own speed to get the puck into the offensive zone more. The UNO defense did an outstanding job limiting opportunities to retrieve the puck on chip-and-chase plays from UND all night.
  • The Fighting Hawks have been at their best when they can generate more goalie screens. They did not do enough of that against the Mavericks. Look for some of UND’s line changes tonight to be geared towards generating more net front presence.
  • Give credit to UNO. They won 31 of 67 draws against one of the best faceoff teams in the nation. While UND won the faceoff battle, that stat was largely influenced by Rhett Gardner and Nick Jones (15/8, and 10/8) having good nights at the dot. The rest of the UND forwards to take a draw finished no better than 50 percent on the evening.