UND Finishes Three Game Homestand Strong With Sweep of SDSU

(Photo Credit: Russ Hons-FightingHawks.com)

In front of 979 roaring fans at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks defeated the South Dakota State University Jackrabbits 3-0 to take their third game in a row and on the week.With that win, the Fighting Hawks now move to 4-1 in Summit League play. Multiple Fighting Hawks played strong roles in today’s sweep. Taliyah Flores lead the defense with 15 kills. Jordan Vail lead the offense with 10 kills on 18 swings. Lydia Rutten was the most efficient attacker with more than 10 swings. She generated an error free 7 kills on 16 swings, good for a .438 clip on the day.

After the game, Head Coach Mark Pryor noted the challenge this game presented to UND. It was their third game since Wednesday, and second in less than 24 hours. He was pleased with UND’s ability to finish sets and hopes the Fighting Hawks can build on that ability to control games heading into next weekend. Next weekend, the Fighting Hawks have a split weekend. First, they play Nebraska Omaha on the road Friday, then come home to face another tough Summit League test as they take on preseason Summit League favorite, Denver, at home next Sunday.

In the first set, the Fighting Hawks had to overcome some adversity as SDSU got on the front foot early as they had to take a timeout down 10-7 in set one. From there on it was a back-and-forth set. Like the second set against Oral Roberts, they did give up a few set points. Unlike yesterday’s second set, they finished strong and took the first set 25-22. In the first set, Jordan Vail was the most efficient Fighting Hawk on offense getting five kills on six swings.

In the second set, the Fighting Hawks made quick work of the Jackrabbits. They stormed to a 25-14 second set victory. UND hit at a blistering .333 clip in the second set. The Fighting Hawks generated 14 kills on 36 swings. In the second set, they bested their low attack error marker of yesterday (in the first four sets) with a mere two attack errors. In addition, they forced 10 attack errors on 34 swings for SDSU.

In the third and final set, UND was able to utilize another low error set with only four attack errors to take the set 25-20 and the match. The Fighting Hawks took the final set hitting .308.Another strong point of the set was UND limiting their swings. They took the third set with 26 swings while SDSU had 31. That, combined with six SDSU attack errors accounted for the quick third set. In the first three sets last night, UND had 20 attack errors. Today, the Fighting Hawks reduced that total by seven to finish the match with 13 attack errors. Limiting errors is a hallmark of when this team is playing well.

Today provided a strong formula to replicate for UND going forward. Limiting errors, and diverse distribution of chances for the offense help this team stay unpredictable and force teams to change their systems to react.All of that, combined with the continued development of Flores who has played quite well as a freshman libero and outside hitter averaging 4.62 digs per set coming into this matchup today all add up to a winning formula for the Fighting Hawks.

That Was Close: How UND Won Five Set Thriller Against Oral Roberts

(Photo Credit: Russ Hons-FightingHawks.com)

On a cold Friday night in Grand Forks, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks nearly had their first loss at home at a loud Betty Engelstad Sioux Center this season in front of the 932 loud and invested fans that came to watch them take on the Golden Eagles of Oral Roberts. Those fans were worried as heading into set four, the Fighting Hawks were facing a 2-1 deficit and coming off of their  UND was able to come back and take the final two sets to win a 3-2 five set thriller.

Lydia Rutten was the most efficient attacker with over 20 swings for UND. She finished with 12 kills on 24 swings with a mere three attack errors to finish hitting at a .375 clip on the evening. On defense, libero Taliyah Flores led the way with 30 digs. Four Fighting Hawks had double digit digs. Setter Roosa Rautio finished with a double-double with 57 assists and 10 digs. Finally, Kayla Williams also chipped in a double-double with 13 digs and 15 kills.

In the first set, UND was able to soar past the Golden Eagles early on. The Fighting Hawks forced both Oral Roberts timeouts with ten point leads in the first set. The Golden Eagles fought back with a 7-2 run to bring it to 20-15 UND, but the Fighting Hawks were able to take five of the final seven points to take the first set 25-17. In the opening stanza the Fighting Hawks hit .314 with a mere four attack errors.

In the second set, Oral Roberts took advantage of 14 total Fighting Hawks errors including 10 attack errors to take a wild second set that saw UND have eight set-point chances to go up 2-0. Oral Roberts forced more mistakes in the second set and kept themselves in a lot of long rallies with superb back line play from libero Tori Roe who finished the second set with 15 digs.

Following that, in set three, the Golden Eagles took the third set putting away 16 kills on 42 swings. They used their offense and took advantage of six attack errors by UND to go up two sets. In the fourth set, UND was able to force ten attack errors and put away 12 kills to take the fourth set 25-18.  In the deciding set, UND made quick work of Oral Roberts, winning it 15-8. The Fighting Hawks capitalized on their most efficient set of the night. They hit at a .471 clip and only committed one attack error in route to finishing strong against the Golden Eagles.

Next up for the Fighting Hawks is South Dakota State. SDSU was swept by NDSU in Fargo last night. The third UND match since Wednesday night starts Saturday afternoon right back at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center at 4 PM.

UND Volleyball Defeats NDSU in Five Sets: Now What?

(Photo Credit: Russ Hons-FightingHawks.com)

Last night, at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center in front of 2401 screaming fans, University of North Dakota Volleyball Fans were treated to a rousing five set thriller where the home team used a strong offensive effort in the fifth and final set to take their second Summit League Victory over rival North Dakota State University.

That game was a tale of different sets. In the first and second set combined, UND had 34 kills and nine attack errors on 83 swings. They won both of them, despite NDSU’s ability to play a low error game and limit mistakes. In the third and fourth set, the Fighting Hawks had 26 kills and 12 attack errors on 72 swings. UND had to play five sets as NDSU overcame multiple match points in the fourth set to force the deciding fifth and final set.

Jordan Vail and Brynn Nieukirk had career high evenings in kills with 19 and 18, respectively. The efficiency of Vail was critical for UND. She managed to hit at a .567 clip with 19 kills and a mere two errors or 30 swings.

On defense, four Fighting Hawks had double digit digs. Taliyah Flores lead the way with 30 digs. Finally, Roosa Rautio had another superb night of setting with 61 assists on the evening. Her ability to distribute for UND this year is a key every single night as she sets up most attacks for the Fighting Hawks.

Below are some things to watch for as UND takes on Oral Roberts at home this Friday.

Service Errors

UND had 13 service errors in five sets. That is too many. The team acknowledged they need to build on their service work. This matters because it seemed like multiple errors swung momentum and kept NDSU in the match or gave them the ball back after a key point. In addition, these errors, combined with some of the other issues in UND’s receive game limited their chances to put NDSU away sooner.

Short Rest 

UND has to get ready for another big test friday night at the Betty against Oral Roberts. UND does have experience doing this, playing in multiple tournaments and playing on short rest routinely. Limiting errors among other things will be a key metric in Friday’s matchup. How UND starts their points in service matters a lot. UND had 13 service errors last night. NDSU only had five.

Limiting Attack Errors

Multiple times this season, UND players have talked at length about hitting with intention and being more thoughtful about limiting their attack errors. Last night UND had 22 attack errors on 182 swings to go with 69 kills. These errors combined with the aforementioned service errors gave NDSU momentum during sets three and four and kept the Bison in the game. If UND can reduce their errors just a bit and maximize the efficiency of their hitters up front, Friday’s matchup could be over a bit earlier than five sets.

 

 

UND Comes Up Short Against Idaho State 25-19: Three Thoughts

(Photo Credit: Russ Hons-FightingHawks.com)

Yesterday for the combined Potato Bowl and Homecoming game, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks looked good in the first quarter. The offense went a perfect five-for-five on third downs. The defense combined with a roaring crowd kept the Bengals of Idaho State out of the end zone. Two drives resulted in touchdowns, and the defense held the Bengals to two field goals. That was the best quarter of the game for UND. From then on, the game completely changed as UND was only able to convert one third down on their last ten attempts. Here are some thoughts regarding yesterday.

The Good 

Noah Wanzek had another nice game for UND. The Fighting Hawks went to him five times for 109 yards including a nice touchdown in the second quarter. He is building a nice campaign for UND this season and it is good to see him getting these quality looks. In addition, the three UND running backs all had some contribution with John Santiago leading the way on the ground with 111 rushing yards and a touchdown. Brady Oliveira ran over multiple Bengals on his way to an 87 yard ground game.

On defense, especially early, UND was able to get home and generated three sacks on the day. UND’s defensive line and ability to get home without blitzing has and will continue to help them as the year goes forward.

What to Improve This Week

Regarding things to build on, the Fighting Hawks have to work on defending the intermediate pass. When Idaho State head coach Rob Phenicie noted the big day they expected their slot wideout, Michael Dean, to have before the game that made me wonder what teams are seeing in the short and intermediate passing game to give future opponents that impression. He finished the day as the leading wide receiver for either side with nine catches for 130 yards. Dean had the one long play up top for 49 yards, beyond that most of his and the rest of the Bengals’ passing game utilized intermediate plays to challenge the Fighting Hawks.

UND played superb defense in three quarters against arguably one of  the best passing teams in the country, Sam Houston State, on the road last week. What was a point of improvement from that game was either missed tackles in short and intermediate routes that turned into bigger gains, like the game winner to Mitch Guller yesterday. Absent missed tackles, opponents are taking advantage of UND by setting up systems to get the ball out quick to minimize pressure, and utilizing their fastest lateral wide receivers to run a sort of west-coast type offense to beat them.

Absent the intermediate game turning into big plays, UND had a bad game against the run yesterday. It is rare to see such a stout run defense like UND give up 273 yards on the ground to anyone at this level. Idaho State averaged 5.9 yards a carry utilizing quick run-pass-option plays. Ty Flanagan and James Madison were able to find gaps up the middle for a team forced to defend the perimeter routes and limit big plays up top. For the most part, UND defended the deep ball well, but the intermediate and underneath plays often were what did them in from the second quarter onward.

Finally, give credit to Idaho State Quarterback Tanner Guller. He did not give up on more than one play that should have been sacks for UND. He is tough to bring down, and turned multiple negative plays into short gainers for the Bengals.

What Now for UND?

Now UND has to get ready for Northern Colorado next weekend. The Fighting Hawks travel to take on a Bears team that is 0-4 to start the season. Looking a bit more into their record, they had a close call against upstart McNeese State to open things up, losing 17-14.

Regardless of the opponent, UND has a formula that they have shown can keep them competitive with anyone. This team still has a stout run defense and front line that will keep them in every game. They have a quarterback in Nate Ketteringham that can make any throw presented to him. Finally, they have a superb backfield which can run through or past any team that sets up superb play-action opportunities throughout every game.

If UND can contain teams that like to spread the ball around and force teams to either run through them or throw over them then the rest of the year could look more like the first quarter yesterday, not the last three.

 

Three Thoughts: UND up 21-19 at half

669 yards have happened in the first half in this one. This has been a back-and-forth game ever since UND turned the ball over knocking on the endzone. Here are some thoughts on the first half for both teams.

More than Guller

Madison Gurnsey, the Idaho State beat writer for the Idaho State Journal, noted that other wideouts needed more of a look in this one besides Mitch Guller. They have done that so far as Michael Dean leads the way for the Bengals. with 71 yards on four catches so far. Tanner Guller has lead some strong drives for the Bengals that have come up just short.

Run Defense for UND 

UND has a stout rushing defense. So far Idaho State has found lanes to run and generated 228 yards on 23 carries in the first half. UND needs to sure up these lanes in the second half.

UND Through the Air 

UND has found some success throwing different routes to different wideouts in the first half. Nate Ketteringham has 164 yards through the air in the first half.  The Fighting Hawks have done a good job distributing the ball so far.  Look for UND to keep distributing to a lot of different receivers in different ways as they find other ways to score on the Bengals.

 

UND-Idaho State: Three Things

Today, UND takes on Idaho State in the Homecoming and Potato Bowl combined game here at the Alerus Center. Here are some thoughts on today for both teams, this should be a good test for the Fighting Hawks to see where they are a week after upsetting a superb Sam Houston State team on the road. For Idaho State, this will be their Big Sky opener and their first gauge of where they stand in the conference. While UND is an independent, this game matters a lot to a Bengals team who under second year coach Rob Phenicie look to make it to the top of the Big Sky.

Guarding the Gullers 

Junior quarterback Tanner Guller and his brother, junior wide reciever Mitch lead the way for the Bengals on offense. Scheme wise, his ability to create big plays will go a long way to determining the outcome of the game today. Mitch is a big play wideout for the Bengals with proven ability to create big plays. Coming into this game, 26 of his 82 catches have gone for more than 20 yards. How UND defends the short and intermediate routes and its ability to make first tackles will go a long way to determining the outcome of this one.

Delivering in the Diamond

UND’s utilization of all three running backs this season at once has been something fun to watch. John Santiago, James Johanneson, and Brady Oliveira have looked superb when together. This formation, combined with increased utilization of its tight ends and different looks have given the offense a fresh flavor this season. This look gives UND a lot more ways to utilize its running game, and has created a lot more chances for the occasional play action pass to stretch the defense.

Can the Jets Fly?

UND has a few receivers (jets) capable of breakthrough speed. Look for Izzy Adeoti’s reps and involvement to keep going up as his speed and difference-making ability becomes more evident each week. In addition, Cam McKinney provides a nice compliment to the possession wideouts that get the start for UND today. These two wideouts will be called on more as the year goes to make some different plays and open up things for their running backs.

Look for more today on this key game for both sides as UND faces all Big Sky Schools for the rest of the regular season.

UND Soccer: Three Thoughts After Close 1-0 Defeat to Portland

Yesterday, UND Soccer played a home game against the best opponent to come to the Fighting Hawks’ home field since UND joined Division One. They generated plenty of chances. Olivia Swenson had a superb game in net, as did the Fighting Hawks defense. The midfield created plenty of chances for the superb forward group UND has, they ultimately came up just short in a valiant 1-0 loss to Portland yesterday. What does this mean for them going forward? Check out my three thoughts below to get a better idea of what this game means for UND as they now enter Summit League play with a 6-2-1 record.

Fantastic Forwards 

This forward group can generate opportunities out of thin air. Yesterday, superb senior striker Katie Moller turned a one-one-five scenario into a good chance from just outside the box. UND did not convert that chance, however they generated plenty more looks as the Fighting Hawks had 13 total shots. Six of those salvos found their way to Portland netminder Rachel Lusby who had to make multiple grade-a saves in the second to keep the Pilots ahead. This forward group can compete with anyone, and if they can convert on a few more chances at home, look for good things from this team in Summit League play.

Sensational Swenson

Complimented by a superb and talented midfield and defense corps, Olivia Swenson is having a superb year. Unlike a few years ago where she was asked to make countless saves to keep UND in the game, she is now being asked to make a few key saves and has not seen as much work this past season as she has during her last starting campaign. That being said, Swenson has been sensational for UND this season. She came into the Friday matchup as a goals against average and save percentage leader for UND. Swenson and the defense of this team will keep them in every game this season.

Now What?

UND returns to the road next weekend to take on Oral Roberts to open up Summit League play. The test for UND, will be seeing how they can convert their chances. Head Coach Chris Logan, and Katie Moller stressed that.  This diverse out of conference slate for UND should help them prepare for the rigors of the Summit League. Portland’s style will help UND prepare for the challenges of the Summit League, especially against teams like Denver. This team has all of the capabilities to shock people in the Summit. It is now time to see how high up the Summit League UND can ascend.

 

UND Football: Three Thoughts After Hawks Soar Past the Bearkats

(Photo Credit: Russ Hons-FightingHawks.com)

Yesterday, UND was able to head down to Huntsville, Texas and knock off a top five opponent in the Bearkats of Sam Houston State. A lot of good things happened for UND in this one, and some things happened that they will want to adress before playing another team in Idaho State at home that runs a similar quick-strike offense to the Bearkats. This 24-23 win puts the Fighting Hawks in the playoff discussion, but they need to follow up their arguably biggest non-conference non-FBS win in the Bubba Schweigert era with a continued emphasis on improvement and development for the win to have an even bigger relevance come playoff time.

The Good 

Starting quarterback, Nate Ketteringham can make most throws in this pro-style offense. During the game-winning drive alone he made a superb, high-lofting throw to Izzy Adeoti to put UND in position for the touchdown to Noah Wanzek. The 48 yard pass was perfectly lofted in between two Sam Houston State defenders. Adeoti timed his route perfectly and made a superb catch between two defenders, helping get UND into position for the go ahead fade in the end zone to Wanzek a few plays later.

Tank Harris lived up to his nickname yesterday. He was in the middle of a lot of strong play for the Fighting Hawks up front. His high motor is fun to watch on a weekly basis. His compete level, combined with the amount of reps he will get against Idaho State will make for an interesting facet to next week. UND being able to generate pressure with its defensive line alone, lead by Tank, helps the secondary get more options to cover another fast team in Idaho State.

One more positive area for UND out of yesterday, the running backs. We all know UND has a strong running game that relies on John Santiago, James Johannesson, and Brady Oliveira. What was nice to see yesterday in particular was the balance and the rush per carry average, everyone in this rotation averaged at least 4.1 yards per carry, over a first down per three carries. The diamond formation this team has employed combined with its lateral quickness with players like Adeoti have provided a needed wrinkle to utilize all three rushers in more ways this year.

Things to Build Upon

Penalties, while UND did a lot of things right yesterday, penalties and cleaning up some things are always a thing this staff wants to build upon. If UND can limit their penalties to less than one per quarter I think absent playing penalty free that this staff would like those numbers.

On defense, UND’s secondary had a superb day yesterday in the fourth quarter and first half. One thing I would like to see the team build on is defending the quick pass and lateral plays in general. They had multiple missed tackles yesterday on short passes that lead to big Bearkat gains. Also, these short passes are not a Bearkats only feature. Mississippi Valley State generated all of its offense through quick passes against the Fighting Hawks. Washington had 437 yards through the air on 45 attempts. That being said, the secondary has gotten better each week defending against big plays. Now locking down some more underneath routes and limiting gains are the next step for this continuously developing defensive backfield.

Regarding the Bengals

Idaho State played FBS foe California tough. The Bears knocked off the Bengals 45-23. That being said, the Bengals were able to put up 319 total yards of offense in a balanced attack. Idaho State’s quick strike offense will be another issue for the Fighting Hawks. The Bengals run some of the same setups that Sam Houston does.That being said, UND now has a lot of experience facing spread-type offenses that like to push the tempo. On a friendly field for homecoming six days from today, the experience UND has gained in their first three tests will benefit them against Idaho State. When the crowd is on the Fighting Hawks’ side, it just comes down to defense. If UND can turn a few first down potential passes into small gains and force third-and-long scenarios, then with a boisterous Alerus Center crowd, good things can happen for the Fighting Hawks.

UND is definitely “in” the playoff conversation now. That being said, how long they stay “in” the conversation is dependent on what they can do the rest of the way. That all starts this upcoming weekend as the Fighting Hawks defend the Alerus Center for the first time in three weeks on Saturday against Idaho State.

 

 

 

NHL Pyramid: UND Fighting Hawks 2018-2019

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee Violent Turtle Photography)

Every year for the past few seasons, Toronto Maple Leafs’ fan and Youtuber extraordinaire, Steve Dangle, has created a prospect pyramid for the Leafs and inspired countless blogs and videos with this system. A few years ago, I created an NCAA adaptation of this with the NHL Pyramid for UND. Let’s see what this year’s tiers look like for the Fighting Hawks. This pyramid will focus on a player’s chance to make the NHL, and play at least enough games to no longer be considered a rookie.

Tier One: 75 percent or better chance 

Jacob Bernard-Docker, Jonny Tychonick, Grant Mismash, Colton Poolman

The pair of incoming recruits were both drafted by the Ottawa Senators in the first and  second rounds, respectively. Bernard-Docker, and Tychonick have played together before on a defensive pair. The two compliment each other quite well. Bernard-Docker is more of a two-way defender that can make the occasional play on offense. On the other hand, Tychonick is an offensive dynamo who is able to generate offense in bunches. Both have strong components to their game. Each defender also had the advantage of spending this summer with the newest Senator and former UND defender Christian Wolanin. They know what it takes to get drafted, and spending time learning about what to expect from Wolanin, combined with a coaching staff featuring head coach Brad Berry, who has a track record of working with and developing defenders in the pro game. How long they each spend here will be a function of their personal goals, and what happens with the Senators this season. One good thing UND fans have going for them with Bernard-Docker and Tychonick is their drafting team. Ottawa has seen what three years can do for development with Wolanin. They will not be rushed to the pro game, as the Senators already see the reward for waiting for a player to develop.

As for Mismash, the second round pick  of the Nashville Predators is in the mix for another spot on the World Juniors’ roster this year. One thing that stands out to me about his game is his consistency. Even if his stats don’t reflect themselves in the box score, he is improving in the defensive end with his positioning. The Predators’ prospect looks to earn himself more time this season, and be a key contributor for the Fighting Hawks in all situations.

As for Poolman, he is the only undrafted free agent to make this list. He has already turned down NHL offers, according to Brad Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald. Poolman is a strong two-way defender that will be called on to lead the younger defensive corps the Fighting Hawks will have this season. He did earn an invite to Vancouver Canucks’ development camp. As a junior, look for him to embrace his captaincy for UND and lead the team from the back end. He will not jump up into every single rush for the Fighting Hawks, but when he does he usually makes good things happen. Every NHL team has a need for strong, puck-moving, and responsible two way defenders. Look for more from Colton this year, and look for him to consider his options when the season ends.

Tier Two: 50-75 percent chance

Nick Jones, Peter Thome, Colin Adams, Rhett Gardner

Each of these three players has a strong quality to their game, and something to add on this season. Nick Jones is coming off of a season where he averaged nearly a point-per-game (30 points in 34 games). He is a smaller forward who does not let his height define him. Jones plays a solid two-way game, and this season his chances of earning an NHL deal hinge on his ability to replicate his success, and show scouts his defensive prowess on the penalty kill. The NHL is filled with superb forwards under six feet, no reason why Jones can’t develop into one with a consistent well rounded game this year. His continued development and leadership will be a strong benefit to a younger UND team this season.

As for Thome, to me his rank this high is for a few reasons. First, he earned multiple games in net from a national champion goalie (Cam Johnson who signed a pro deal with the New Jersey Devils upon his season ending) because of his calming play. The Minneapolis native is 6’4″ and uses every bit of his frame to cover a lot of net.Thome plays a smooth game as a netminder. He does not make a lot of highlight reel saves because his positioning and frame allow him not to have that as a constant need. The Columbus Blue Jackets’ prospect gained key experience going up against high-powered teams last season in his limited time. What Thome can build on this season, is lateral movement and puck handling this year. If Thome can improve his lateral game to help his defense out, combined with his superb glove play and positioning he could rise to the top tier here relatively soon. The other issue for Thome is Columbus itself. While Sergei Bobrovsky is locked in as the starter,  Thome will have to develop for a few more years at UND and then look to move up from Columbus’ AHL team, the Cleveland Monsters’ soon.

The Blue Jackets have three goalies that are drafted and not signed, just like Thome. His toughest competition within the system comes from Elvis Merzlikins playing overseas for HC Lugano in Switzerland this year. Look for Thome’s game to take the next step as he moves into a full time starting role for the Fighting Hawks this season.

As for Colin Adams, he showed flashes of brilliance with his goal scoring prowess this year. He scored a goal in two of his first three games last year. Adams only finished with five tallies but still profiles as a strong sniper able to generate offense as needed, especially on the power play. With one year under his belt, I look for him to have an improved season as long as his defense can allow him to generate more ice time and therefore more goal scoring chances. Good, and cheap goal scoring is always in demand in the NHL, Adams developing his game to get more time on the ice will allow him to better showcase his skills. He put up 51 goals in two seasons in the USHL. If Adams can earn more ice time he will score more this season. The Islanders will be closely watching their prospect develop this season.

Finally, while I think Rhett Gardner has developed dramatically in his time at UND, he is in this tier more as a function of who else the Stars have and the amount of time I expect him to spend in the AHL. Rhett will get an NHL look and very soon, but he will be competing against Riley Tufte and other forwards who possess Rhett’s same defensive prowess, but are able to score a few more goals more consistently than Rhett has shown so far. Will Rhett Gardner play in the NHL? In my opinion, yes. Will that happen before a longer stint in the AHL than some other Stars’ prospects, I don’t know. Gardner has a senior season ahead of him to build the offensive side of his game and become a leading goal scorer for UND.

Tier Three: 25-49.9 percent chance of making the NHL

Jasper Weatherby, Gabe Bast, Gavin Hain

The Oregon native is a strong power forward that the Sharks thought enough of to trade up to get in the fourth round of the 2018 NHL Draft. He developed in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) with the Wenatchee Wild. He put up 106 points in 104 BCHL games. Weatherby is 6’4″ like Thome and will see immediate chances on UND in at least a bottom-six role. If he showcases the gains he has made in his game over the summer, combined with the needs of the team he could get even more time. UND develops all types of forwards, but, like Austin Poganski before him, he is a strong two-way player that will develop into an all around player at the NCAA level.

As for Bast, he came off shoulder surgery as a freshman and only played 27 games on defense for UND. I think he is a potential gem for the Fighting Hawks for a few reasons. Bast’s physical style of play and responsibility on the back end will help open up opportunities for UND’s offensive-minded defenseman this season. In addition, there is offensive potential not discovered at this level for Bast. He can generate offense as shown in his last full season of junior hockey, he put up 40 points (9 goals, 31 assists) in 49 regular season games for Penticton.

Gavin Hain was also drafted this offseason by Dave Hakstol’s Flyers. Look for him to compete for time on ice with sophomores Jordan Kawaguchi and Colin Adams, just to name a few. He will develop here for a few years, and has an impressive background playing for the USA National Development Team before coming to UND.

Tier Four: Everyone Else

As for every other UND player, I hope to be proven wrong. This team has a lot of depth this year, including senior leader Hayden Shaw.  The point is to say that this team, like every college hockey team, has a lot of depth and players develop at irregular intervals and times.

Also, college hockey championships are not won without depth players. Regardless of NHL capability, every player on this roster is here for a reason and belongs on this team.

Finally, UND has over 40 players playing in pro leagues around the world. To me that means that all players are being scouted every game by pro organizations around the world. Look for a lot out of everyone on this team this season. I hope multiple people not named on this list make the NHL and prove me wrong.

 

 

Three Thoughts: UND Soccer Concedes 1-0 Loss in Hard Fought Effort Against Bemidji State

(Photo Credit: Russ Hons-FightingHawks.com)

Today, at East Grand Forks Senior High, UND Soccer conceded their first goal and lost their first game of the season to a Bemidji State team who came in ranked number 22 in all of Division Two Women’s Soccer.

The lone goal was conceded on a fortuitous deflection inside of a crowded box that found its way to Rachel Norton. She was able to fire the only tally of the day past UND netminder Olivia Swenson to provide the final margin.

Despite the final result, UND learned some more things about itself today and can take some positives from this one going forward.

  1. The Fighting Hawks had a better second half today. They doubled their first half shots total to accumulate eight shots in the second. Three of those shots were on goal. Head Coach Chris Logan thought his team had the better of play in the second half despite a strong wind benefiting Bemidji State in the second half.
  2.  This Beavers team is good. They came in ranked 22 in Division Two soccer. They will compete for both their conference championship and the Division Two title. That being said, I think UND learned a bit more about types of teams they will face, and got good things to review from today. This Beavers team reminds me a bit of some Summit League teams like South Dakota. They have a strong back front that relies on consistent, smart, and physical play to set up counter attacks from fast and efficient strikers. UND head Coach Chris Logan noted before the game that this team would be at least a mid-tier Summit League team, if not higher.
  3. UND has a tough challenge in its final non-conference road trip of the season coming up this week. They take on Grambiling State, who went 7-2-1 in the Southwest Athletic Conference (SWAC) last season. This Grambling State team returns their top offensive players, and is poised to compete for a SWAC championship. After that, they take on Alcorn State, another SWAC team building off a trip to the SWAC tournament last season, to round out the weekend. This trip will once again test UND’s ability to play through adversity and give UND more practice with taking long trips and playing against different systems.

If UND can compete at the level it did in the second half, a good non-conference trip could await the Fighting Hawks. Chris Logan wants his team to “play angry” and learn from this loss moving forward. This Fighting Hawks team already strung together one perfect southern road trip, now its time to see how well they can do in their second southern swing.