(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee- Violent Turtle Photography)
In front of 11,155 loud fans at the Ralph Engelstad Arena, the Fighting Hawks needed a spark, and they needed one early.Like in previous games, they experienced adversity between fluky bounces and missed shots .In the first period, the narrative aroud the Fighting Hawks changed quite a bit. UND came out strong and focused on playing an unselfish game. They consistently worked on getting pucks out of their own end and staying in the Seawolves’ end throughout the stanza. This paid off as multiple things went UND’s way. Joel Janatuinen was hauled down on a mini-breakaway after a superb feed from Gabe Bast sprung him for a great chance. This earned Janatuinen a penalty shot. He walked in 4:29 into the period against Seawolves’ netminder Kris Carlson and went low glove on him. The puck got past Carlson but hit the left post and went out.
We have seen opposing teams take advantage of missed chances from the Fighting Hawks this season. However, immediately after the penalty shot attempt, UND had other plans. Extra skater, Ludvig Hoff banged home a rebound on a Cole Smith shot from close in to give UND its first lead since its last win against Miami of Ohio on the road two weeks ago on Friday November 9. Then in the second period, Grant Mismash wired home a nice power play marker seven seconds in from the high slot. Next, Jackson Keane deked out Carlson and waited him out to earn his first NCAA goal. After a slightly odd Seawolves goal from Nicolas Erb-Ekholm, Rhett Gardner chipped in another power play marker with a perfect tip from a Mismash shot pass. Nils Rygaard then added one more for the Seawolves firing one through the wickets of Hayden Shaw and past UND netminder Peter Thome. Casey Johnson provided the final margin of the night for UND 12:13 into the third period.
On the evening, we learned some things about UND. The Fighting Hawks finished with 39 shots on the evening. This team does a lot better when it simplifies its game, this was one of the issues last Saturday against Western Michigan. Tonight, UND was able to chip pucks out and minimize unneeded puck handling to limit odd turnovers. We also learned that both UND goalies could play any night. After the game, head coach Brad Berry noted the possibility of platooning both goalies, Thome and Adam Scheel, based on the body of work each submit.
It does not sound like a platoon based on days of the week, more a next man up earn the net type of platoon. Thome played a fine game making 20 saves, and did well considering how far apart the Seawolves’ early chances came.
UND knows how to win, they just need to replicate this formula Saturday night at the Ralph.