UND Women’s Basketball Flies Through Exhibition Season:Now What

Coming into a new conference, Coach Travis Brewster’s Fighting Hawks Women’s Basketball team has something to prove. They started off their season in exhibition play with two wins over division two foes, Bemidji State and Minnesota Crookston. In game one, the Fighting Hawks took down the Beavers 88-39. That game produced a lot of strong offense from multiple players and gave UND a good first look at a lot of their newcomers and returners playing bigger roles. The Fighting Hawks controlled the pace of that game and limited their mistakes throughout.

On Tuesday night against Minnesota-Crookston, UND experienced something a little bit different. The Golden Eagles played them a bit closer keeping the lead under 20 throughout the game,The Fighting Hawks won their exhibition finale 74-58. One thing that was nice to see in this one was UND utilizing all of its depth. Of the 12 players that played for UND on Tuesday, 11 of them scored. The deep depth of this team will be something to watch as they play a tough power conference schedule on the road in November to open up the season.

Last night, one of the most fun aspects to watch was the play of Jill Morton. The senior guard lead the way for UND and keyed their 27 point first quarter. Of UND’s first 12 points, she contributed to nine of the first 12 points. Her leadership from the guard position has been fun to watch and will be a big part of how far this team goes this season.Head Coach Travis Brewster routinely compares Morton’s ability to heat up and score points in bunches to heating up like a microwave. In addition, another leader that will determine how well this team does this season is Faith Dooley. Her game has consistently improved and evolved since she joined the basketball team full time after her stellar volleyball career ended last November. She lead the Fighting Hawks offense with 13 points on Tuesday, and her ability to defend the paint and allow Lexi Klabo more time and space to utilize her skills is another thing that will be fun to watch this season.

Overall, UND has a strong senior class, and a freshman class with a lot of depth that will be fun to watch develop this season. How UND does will be a function of getting everyone to mesh, and for new leaders to compliment the work of players like Morton and Dooley. The season starts next week for UND as they face a tough non-conference schedule including zero home games in the month of November.

UND Football Comes Up Short Against Weber State: Three Reasons Not to Worry

Coming into this one, we expected a battle of defenses, wills, and attrition. This game provided the exact opposite of all of that. Six touchdowns alone were scored in the first half. That said, the game was close in the first half, but offense ruled the day in this battle of two top-flight FCS teams.

Throughout the day, Weber State was able to answer UND’s challenges. The Wildcats played a strong underneath check down game and relied on a strong offensive line to limit the ability of UND’s blitzes to get home. The Fighting Hawks did not register a sack against the quick-strike short pass offense of Weber State. With the 35-30 loss, UND now is a three loss team looking to potentially need to run the table to make the playoffs. That said, UND looks like a playoff team after taking the number four ranked team in the nation to the wire. Below are three reasons for optimism if you are a UND fan after that very close game yesterday.

Deep Depth 

UND played yesterday without deep threat Izzy Adeoti, and senior superstar running back John Santiago. That said, the offense still was able to thrive. Noah Wanzek had a superb day with 111 yards and a TD on ten catches. The Fighting Hawks still were able to rush for 105 net yards, 3.8 yards per carry. This team showed it can move the ball and find other top threats to emerge despite injuries against one of the best defenses in the FCS. Going forward this will be a monumental asset to them. In addition, I was impressed with the depth of UND on defense. While the Wildcats moved the ball more than any Fighting Hawks fan would have liked to have seen, the Fighting Hawks were able to utilize most of their depth on defense. 22 UND defenders got on the stat sheet for at least contributing to a tackle.

Superb Special Teams

Minus one missed PAT that ended up not being the difference in the final score, UND’s special teams unit had one of its best games of the year. Kick coverage limited the Wildcats to a long return of 24 yards on four attempts. Weber State got nothing returning punts as Cade Peterson limited the Wildcats to one return for negative yardage. Then we go to kick return. Evan Holm’s 99 yard flight to the endzone got UND in the game in the first half and was a momentum-shifting play that helped UND immensely. Finally, the blocked field goal and return for a TD by Donell Rodgers nearly spurred UND to an improbable comeback. Special Teams Coach Sean Kostich’s entire unit had a great day and showed the power they have to write and re-write history for this team on a weekly basis.

Nate is Still Great 

Nate Ketteringham had a decent day for UND. He made one bad read that turned into a pick for the Wildcats. Beyond that he showed his booming arm and strong pocket poise as he finished 16 for 29 passing for 245 yards and one TD. His ability to extend plays and buy time has been superb to see this year. In addition, his ability to buy time in the pocket keeps defenses off balance and allows for more broken plays to result from his ability to ad-lib. Ketteringham’s play, the depth of this team, and its emergent special teams are three reasons why the playoffs are still in reach despite the close loss yesterday to a very good Weber State team.

UND Loses 3-1 to UNO Volleyball: Now What?

(Photo Credit: Russ Hons-FightingHawks.com)

On Friday, UND did some things differently. One of its best middle hitters, Ashley Brueggeman, played the outside for the first time in her college career. She tied her career high in kills with 17. Despite UND developing its new look lineup and showing that it is still competitive with a good Omaha team, they did not pull off the victory. The Mavericks hit .232 on the evening and used their limited error sets to pull away and take the match in four sets.

What now for UND? Where do the Fighting Hawks go the rest of the way?

Develop Depth 

UND has relied more on freshman like Darian Chwialkowski in the past few matches. I have been impressed with how Head Coach Mark Pryor has developed some of his depth and freshman players this season. As UND has played more games, they have featured more diverse lineups as the season has progressed. While UND’s Summit record does not place them near the top of the table, the development of underclassmen like Lexi Ahrens among others will benefit UND immensely this season and beyond. This team does not rebuild in college volleyball, they merely reload. This process is merely reloading and development.

That Was Fun 

Mark Pryor noted how much fun it was to coach that group last night. The result was what no one wanted, of course, but you could tell this team is developing a chemistry that will serve them well in the long run. If UND can iron out some of its hitting error issues, then they could still surprise a few teams in Summit Volleyball down the stretch. This team willed its way back into the match playing a strong third and fourth set to get things a little closer last night. Do they still have work to do? Of course. Does this team look like a squad building for both the rest of this season and the long term? You bet.

South Dakota State Sinks UND Soccer in Double OT: Three Thoughts

(Photo Credit:Russ Hons- FightingHawks.com)

Today, UND came into their last home game of the season against South Dakota State looking for three points and a sure conference tournament berth. They got neither but found out more about themselves. This team has shown all year that they can play with every team in its conference. Today was no exception. The Fighting Hawks took SDSU to two overtimes and came 52 seconds away from a tie before their opponents capitalized on a flurry of chances in the box. What does all of this mean for the weekend?

USD Will Be Tough 

South Dakota, UND’s final regular season opponent, is looking for a Summit League Tournament berth. Both teams are playing for a win this Sunday. These teams play strong offense and rely on quick counters to make plays when needed. They have already seen each other in exhibition play, but a lot of things have changed since that matchup. This game could determine the final participant in the Summit League Tournament next weekend in Vermillion, SD. Look for this one to potentially take more than 90 minutes to decide.

Chris Logan Should Win More Awards

Head Coach Chris Logan has completely turned this program from one lucky to win a few games to one of the upper-echelon teams in the Summit League. Once again he should deserve serious consideration for Summit League Coach of the year. Logan would be one of the very few if any coaches to win this award in two different conferences in consecutive years. If this team makes the tournament, they can beat anyone they play. Logan and his staff deserve credit for a complete rebuild of the culture of this team in two seasons.

The Next Generation 

Katie Moller’s goal scoring is impossible to replace. That said, this season has showcased some talented freshman and sophomores willing to take on this herculean task. Cassie Giddings, and Olivia Knox have impressed in their freshman seasons. Knox played almost a central attacking midfield role today, and possesses a lot of the same ability of Moller to score from darn near anywhere. As her finishing develops, she and Giddings will grow even more over their final three years at UND. Mimi Eiden had another superb year. She has the ability to blow the top off any defense at any time. She is to UND Soccer what Izzy Adeoti is to UND Football. Her speed is a constant threat and keeps the defense guessing. Look for all three strikers to develop and progress in their next few seasons at UND. No one can relpace Moller after this season, but these three will lead the way for UND up top.

7-1: How UND Soccer Soared Past Purdue Fort Wayne

(Photo Credit:Russ Hons-FightingHawks.com)

Today, UND came in just outside of the Summit League Tournament picture in sixth place. Seven goals and their biggest conference victory in the Division one era vaulted the Fighting Hawks right back into postseason contention. Katie Moller lead the way with four goals, establishing herself as the most prolific goal scorer for UND in its NCAA Division One existence. Olivia Knox started things off with two goals, further reinforcing her superb rise as a sensational goal-scoring freshman for UND, and Veronica Kessler contributed her second salvo of the season to provide the final goal scoring tally for UND. Deanna Hecht provided the sole goal for the Mastadons of Purdue Fort Wayne with 2:15 left in the game on a nice move and sensational finish.

How Did This Happen?

Well, look no further than shorts and shots on goal for UND. They finished with 15 shots on net in 90 minutes of play. The Fighting Hawks played relentless throughout the entire game. 80 percent of UND’s starting field players recorded at least one shot and all of UND was able to provide depth to their offensive game today. Even though she did not score, Mimi Eiden had another impressive game today. She came inches from scoring on a rebound but was ruled down on an offside call. As always, Eiden’s speed is a great asset for UND to have and has constantly helped her teammates in creating lanes for them to score. As for Moller, we are running out of adjectives to describe how good she is at scoring goals and generating offense. She contributed to five of the seven UND goals today. Moller had four goals and one assist and came very close to being the first UND soccer player to ever score five goals in one game on a few occasions.

Now What? 

UND has almost a week to get ready for superb Summit League side South Dakota State. They take on SDSU this Friday at home in their final home match of the season. Look for SDSU to challenge the back line of UND a bit more consistently than the Mastodons did today. As a result, look for the Fighting Hawks to try more of their same style. Expect them to take the play to SDSU and try to score early and defend as needed. If UND can compete with NDSU and almost win, then they can play with absolutely any team in the conference. Friday will be a fun matchup.

Sensational Smith: Cole Smith’s 3 Point Night Saves a UND Split with 4-3 Win:Recap and Two Thoughts

(Photo Credit Kelsey Lee-Violent Turtle Photography)

Coming into tonight, UND needed some more defense, at the end of the second period when Marc Michaelis potted a shorthanded breakaway with .4 seconds left, it looked like we could see a repeat of last Saturday where UND would not be able to hang on to a lead. Cole Smith changed all of that in the third period. “Smitty” was able to capitalize on a misplay from Minnesota State netminder Dryden McKay in the third period and put the puck into a wide open net 11:35 into the third. That marker was the final goal in a series where a goal was scored against a goalie in five out of six periods.. In front of 11,438 fans tonight at the Ralph Engelstad Arena, UND used some superb play from Cole Smith with his first three point night (2G, 1A) to ensure the win. Adam Scheel got his first win for the Fighting Hawks in net as the rookie netminder made 20 saves on 23 shots.

Early on, the script was the same for UND as an early goal on some sublime passing on the power play gave them their first lead of the night. Nick Jones took a feed from Jordan Kawaguchi on the faceoff, found Gabe Bast who hooked up with Grant Mismash. The Predators’ prospect made no mistake on a one-timer from the point to give UND a 1-0 lead early on. 38 seconds later, Cole Smith was able to find the back of the net at even strength to make it a 2-0 UND game.

The Mavericks would answer back, aided by some UND penalties as Julian Napravnik and Max Coatta each scored on the power play to end the second period. In the second period, Gabe Bast was able to find a rebound from Mark Senden and send UND to a 3-2 lead that would last until the Michaelis goal at the end of the second. The Fighting Hawks were able to hold on after the Smith Goal in the third and tightened up defensively to ensure the win.

The Offense Returns

This weekend was the best offensive output for UND all season. Now how can the Fighting Hawks replicate that? I thought Grant Mismash on the point looked superb on the power play and he showcased the true goal-scoring prowess UND knows he has in him this weekend. UND got help up and down the lineup as Matt Kiersted had a superb effort this weekend putting up three points in two games (1G, 2A). Having him compliment Jacob Bernard-Docker on the back end is a bonus for UND. All of this available depth and improvement from sophomores like Mismash and Kiersted will go a long way to determining where UND finishes this year.

Goaltending 

Yes, neither goalie had their best weekend. Adam Scheel looked strong on Saturday night and made a lot of grade-a saves to keep UND ahead. Peter Thome did not have the best Friday night before getting pulled for Scheel. That being said, I think UND has two strong goalies who both play tall and calm styles which should help the Fighting Hawks. So what does this mean for the rest of the season? I think for the time being, a platoon is the best choice at least through the midpoint. Both goalies have shown the high points in their game, and both will show them this season. I think a platoon will limit whomever takes the net full time going into the second half and allow them to be a bit more rested for the stretch run.

 

UND loses 7-4 to Minnesota State: Three Thoughts

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violent Turtle Photography)

Last night at a loud Ralph Engelstad Arena, 11,304 fans saw UND score four goals, their best offensive output of the season. They also saw the Fighting Hawks give up six goals against UND plus one additional empty net goal to end up losing 7-4. A lot of good things happened for the Fighting Hawks last night. The power play found two goals on five chances. Colin Adams got his first goal of the season wiring a puck home in the slot from a nice Nick Jones feed. Matt Kiersted had one of his best offensive games from the blue line adding a goal and assist to the tally. That said UND did not win. What does this mean for tonight and going forward for the Fighting Hawks? Read on to find out.

The Results Will Change

In hockey in general, teams that generate more than double the amount of shot attempts (75-37) typically win their games. Especially when of those shot attempts 50 are not blocked and only ten are missed. UND hit two posts close in to give the Fighting Hawks 38 total shots on net last night. Why does this statistic matter so much? It is the genesis of advanced stats like Corsi and Fenwick that show UND, despite their record is playing quite well in terms of generating offense.

The Personnel Will Change 

Last night showed me something. Like every UND team, and most every other college hockey team, this team is still finding right combinations and units that give them the best chance to win every night. Last night, Gavin Hain and Casey Johnson did not play. We could easily one or both of them in the lineup tonight. This team typically tries different lineups throughout the season to see how its players are developing and find the best combinations for postseason play.

The Goalies and Defense

Peter Thome has done a lot of good for UND. Adam Scheel will do a lot of good for UND. Both did not have the best game last night. However, neither received a lot of help from the defense or lack of depth last night as UND was reeling without Rhett Gardner who had to leave the game for a checking from behind major 6:59 into the game last night. On the third Minnesota State goal last night, Thome was screened.

He was screened by Colton Poolman and could not see the Max Coatta shot. Both goalies obviously want to play better, and if the third period is an indication, they both have things to build on. The lone goal in the third was an empty net goal to make it 7-4.

Point being, the defense and Scheel played decent in the third to complement a hard-charging forecheck that could not find the back of the net. Things will improve. UND can get their first win tonight at 7:07 PM.

Bemidji State Earns 1-1 Tie on Late Goal Against UND Saturday Night: Four Reasons to Be Optimistic for UND Going Forward

(Photo credit: Kelsey Lee-Violent Turtle Photography)

Coming into Saturday night, UND had something to prove. They had plenty of chances against Bemidji State on Friday night but could not come up with a win to open up the season. Now coming home in front of a packed Ralph Engelstad Arena, the Fighting Hawks wanted to get out to a good start and build on that. They got the good start. Nashville Predators’ prospect Grant Mismash converted an early marker to give UND a 1-0 lead.

That lead lasted most of the night, and UND was unable to build upon it with insurance markers. That in ability to add insurance tallies came back to bite the Fighting Hawks. In the third period, 15:46 in, Charlie Combs of the Beavers took a feed from Brendan Harris and wired a perfect shot past three players and rookie netminder Adam Scheel to tie things up. Neither team would find the twine in overtime so the game ended as a 1-1 draw. UND finishes the weekend 0-1-1 to open up the season. The Fighting Hawks take on Minnesota State Mankato next week for their first full non-conference home series this season. Below are a few thoughts on why UND fans should yes, not be happy about the result, but remain encouraged for the season ahead.

It’s Only One Week 

I know that slogan gets stale real fast around here. Especially with UND just barely missing the tournament because they let one or two more games get away then they should have during the regular season. That being said, it was the season opener. UND has a large freshman class all vying for time. Adam Scheel looked good in net last night making timely saves and even distributing the puck quite well to key some attacks. Having a strong Scheel to backup Peter Thome can only help this team stay fresh in the long run.

There Is Now Tape 

Yes UND had a lot of chances against Manitoba. Tape in this sense is tape playing games that count. The Fighting Hawks now can see how their special teams set up, and diagnose issues to get more chances on the power play to find the back of the net.

Defensive Matchup

Bemidji State is legendary for their ability to block shots. Last night alone they blocked 15 of UND’s 50 attempts. Now that UND has seen arguably the most defensive-minded team they will play all year, they will be able to take some ideas from this series and apply them forward. Other teams the Fighting Hawks play will have more forward skill, but not many teams left on UND’s schedule sell out on defense as much as Bemidji State does nightly. Should UND play Bemidji State or a similarly situated defensive team from say, Atlantic Hockey, in the NCAA Tournament, they now have film on what gameplan can work against a defensive team.

Its October 

Yes, themes from the first two weekends have emerged similar to how last year ended. Lack of insurance markers, inability to hold leads, and lack of depth scoring are some of those themes. That being said, UND has played 60 minutes of hockey at home, and generated some good looks last night. Would you like some more to go in? Of course, anyone following this team would. That being said, early on in the year you want results to be there, but in a non-conference game against a decent defensive side, you learn what it will take to win some big games later on. In the NCAA Tournament, teams sell out to block shots especially when other teams are more skilled. That is how Air Force was able to upset St. Cloud State, great goaltending, quick counters and superb defense. They nearly upset the 2018 National Champions, Minnesota Duluth,in the regional final, using a similar setup to what Bemidji State uses. Point being, yes two wins and lots of goals are preferred always by everyone, but absent that you like to see this team’s ability to generate chances, get some timely goaltending, and control faceoffs.

Goals will come for this team, changes will be made, and I still believe this team will return to the NCAA Tournament this year. Let’s see what happens in the next few weeks for UND before jumping ahead and making bold bad predictions.

Questions with UND Goaltending Coach Matt Hrynkiw

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violent Turtle Photography)

Since graduating, Matt Hrynkiw has found his way back to UND Hockey as a volunteer goaltending coach. He mentors three goalies this season in sophomore Peter Thome, freshman Adam Scheel, and senior Ryan Anderson. Below are some questions on Hrynkiw’s background and thoughts on his goalies, and more.

1)What inspired you to take the goalie coach job when Karl went to Syracuse?

Honestly, I felt extremely fortunate to even be considered as a successor for Karl.  Karl Goehring is a brilliant hockey mind and had the total respect and admiration of every goalie that he worked with. When Brad approached me about the opportunity it was a no brainier. I jumped on it right away. Can’t say enough about how much a value the role and the chance to be a continuing part of this incredible program at UND.

2) Tell us a little bit about each of the goalies in the room ? What do they bring to the team on and off the ice?

 

Ryan Anderson is great goalie but an even more incredible guy. He brings the best he has each day and strives to improve while being the best possible teammate. We really value Bob for what he brings with leadership and integrity while also keeping the mood light around the guys when appropriate . As a person, he is quiet and humble but the team and coaching staff hold him in an extremely high regard.

Peter Thome is an extremely focused guy who takes a lot of pride in his craft. He likes to compete and is always looking to improve. He welcomes a challenge and pushes himself extremely hard. He’s an interesting character and welcomes heckling as he is known to give it right back to the source.

Adam Scheel is a tireless worker who also has some very impressive natural ability. He has great instincts and fundamentals which make him tough to beat. Off the ice he seems to always have a grin on his face. He never stirs up too much controversy but always has an interesting opinion if you can get him talking.

3) What inspired you to become a goalie?
Upon getting into hockey, I was on a team that lacked defensive depth so i found i had the greatest impact on the game by playing goal. It also didn’t hurt that my dad and grandfather were both  goaltenders and were encouraging me in that direction.
4)How important to NCAA goalkeeping at-large would approval of a third paid assistant coach be?
It’s obviously very difficult to speculate, but I will say I believe the NCAA already consistently produces some extremely strong goaltending prospects.
5)What is the biggest improvement in Peter Thome’s game from year one?
Peter has worked hard at this flexibility as well as his foot work in demanding situations. I feel he has made significant strides in both.
6)How has UND helped you in your career?
UND has helped me academically and professionally. I was fairly driven person prior to arriving but my time at UND molded me into a professional. Its amazing how much you can learn in 4 years and i am extremely grateful to be associated with the hockey team and the greater community of Grand Forks.
7)What should prospective athletes in any sport know about UND that they may not?
Prospective student athletes should know that this university values great people and I would encourage any prospective athlete to come here and meet the coaches, staff, advisors, and fellow athletes. Its something that’s hard to quantify but I feel you can get a pretty solid feel of the character and values of a people upon face to face meeting.
8)What inspired the staff to look at Adam Scheel?
Adam Scheel has a very good foundation and has excelled at every level. His character and work ethic complement his skills and made it so a number of college teams were rightfully interested in him.
9)What are your professional goals in hockey?
At this point my goal is to keep UND as an elite goaltender producing program in college hockey. Bringing this program another national title also is our greatest focus as a team and staff as well.

 

3-1: How UND Volleyball Lost in Four Sets to Denver and Now What

(Photo Credit: Russ Hons-FightingHawks.com)

Coming into today, UND had been working with its lineup featuring new players. along with key stars like Ashley Brueggeman. Today, the Fighting Hawks saw what winning the Summit League would take. The class of the league, Denver, won a four set victory over them (3-1) on the road this afternoon. Besides the second set, which UND won, the Pioneers finished every other set with at least 17 kills.

One thing that stood out today was the disparity in receive errors which has been a theme this season. UND finished with eight, and Denver finished with only two. In addition, the Pioneers had a distributed attack which keyed them to victory.Three Pioneers finished with double-digit kills. Becca Latham and Tina Boe each had 12 apiece, and Katarina Marinkovic finished with 11 kills. For UND, only Ashley Brueggeman finished above the 10 kill mark with 14. She was the only Fighting Hawk to hit above the .200 clip. She hit .286 on the day.

Going into their Tuesday tilt against Pittsburgh on the road, UND can use this game for a few things. First, they will look to lower their receive errors where possible to keep themselves in more points. Second, they will get this new look lineup some more reps and look to further hone their skill development. Third, they will find out which of their hitters besides Jordan Vail and Ashley Brueggeman they can look for to help provide their offense some more depth. Finally, they will have a chance to see one of the best teams in the country in their court and put good things on tape to further work on to help them out when they get back to Summit League play next weekend. After the Pittsburgh matchup, UND then heads on the road to take on North Dakota State University on Friday October 12 before returning home next Sunday to take on South Dakota back at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.