(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.
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.