Consistent Effort Propels UND Into Second Half with 6-2 Exhibition Win:Quick Recap and Three Thoughts

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee- Violent Turtle Photography)

Coming into this one, UND needed to build on a few things. First, the Fighting Hawks needed to find a way to have their consistent hard work of the first half show up more on the scoreboard. Tonight it did as they finished with six goals on shots against a strong USA National Development Team U18 side stacked with top talent primed to take the NHL by storm. Next, the Fighting Hawks needed to maintain their discipline as they have had games where they have put themselves at a large disadvantage with conceding power plays. They did well there as they conceded the same amount of power plays as they earned. of time. Finally, they needed to get consistency up and down their lineup as they look to build a solid side for the upcoming second half.

Tonight all of those goals were accomplished with a 6-2 exhibition win. Six different Fighting Hawks scored tonight as the team got the second half of their season rolling. The team had more than ten shots on net each period during the game. All three goalies played, and the only two goals conceded where on skill plays made by the Under-18 team.

Quality and Quantity

The Fighting Hawks were able to get multiple good looks throughout the game. Head Coach Brad Berry was happy about how his team played and their ability to generate a constant volume of shots throughout the evening. This consistency tonight against a team of multiple first and second round quality talents is the benchmark for sucess. How this team replicates it will go a long way to determining where their season ends.

Good Goaltending 

Adam Scheel and Peter Thome are both capable netminders able to help this team. Scheel’s play against top opponents and consistency have earned him the starting role for now. It was great to see Thome make plenty of grade-a saves in a tough third period where the NTDP had multiple tough chances.

Now What? 

The Fighting Hawks travel on the road to Buffalo to face Atlantic Hockey foe Canisius next weekend. This is the regular-season opener of their second half. What UND needs to do is the same thing it did last night. The Fighting Hawks need consistent play from all 18 skaters and capable goaltending. If they produce high-quality shots, limit chances, and get decent goaltending, they can compete with most anyone with a lineup one player short of being completely healthy. This team does not have a Brock Boeser anymore that can take over games. What it has instead is a lot of quality players that, working in conjunction, can rely on each other to play well.

32 Sensational Larsson Saves Sink UND to Split with 2-1 Overtime Loss Against Denver

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violent Turtle Photography)

Coming into this one, UND knew what it needed to secure a sweep over the Denver Pioneers. They did not achieve their goal of a sweep in front of a nearly sold out crowd of 11,545 fans at the Ralph Engelstad Arena.  Denver used a strong first period and superb goaltending from Red Wings prospect Filip Larsson to take the series finale and secure a split. He finished saving 32 shots on the evening including multiple grade a chances for UND. In overtime he provided the spark for the Pioneers as he helped stop two shots. After the last chance for UND, Slava Demin for the Pioneers was able to find the stick of Jarid Lukosevicius in over time to tip it home for the winner.

The Fighting Hawks got more pucks on net more consistently, but could not find the winner, and were 21.2 seconds away from earning at least four out of six points against the Pioneers. Now the team has a chance to recoup and hopefully see the return of most of its injured players for the start second half of the regular season.

In the first period, Jaakko Heikkinen took a feed from Colin Staub who drew two defenders below the goal line out of position. Heikkinen found the perfect spot against UND netminder Adam Scheel to give Denver their first lead of the weekend a mere 70 seconds into the contest. That goal would be the only one from either side until late in the third period as Larsson held off UND in a strong second period. The Fighting Hawks got 16 shots on net in the second but could not find the back of the net. Shot wise, that was the best period for UND all weekend but they had nothing to show for it on the scoreboard.

In the third period, 17:25 in, Jacob Bernard-Docker found the back of the net for the only UND goal of the evening. He took a feed from Colton Poolman and fired one off a Denver defender and in to send the game to overtime.

Two Thoughts

For Now, Start Scheel 

This weekend, against the quality of opponent and on the big stage showed that Adam Scheel deserves a full weekend in net for the Fighting Hawks. Both him and Peter Thome have had highs and lows this season, yet Scheel has done his best work against the top teams on UND’s schedule so far. This is not to say either goalie should be handed the job exclusively, but Scheel’s game last night was impressive despite the final result. Games where goalies go long stretches without much work can be just as hard mentally as ones where they are peppered consistently.

GMC Line Should Stay In Business

This weekend, with UND shorthanded due to injuries, they showed, power of their team depth. The most impressive line of the weekend was the Gavin Hain-Mark Senden- Cole Smith forward group (the GMC Line). All of those players have seen increased minutes due to injuries up front for the Fighting Hawks. They all play a tough and physical game that feeds well off one another and are all responsible players in their own end. Their responsible play allowed Bernard-Docker to feel better about stepping into the rush to create the game-tying goal in the third period. Look for more opportunities for the GMC group to showcase their skills as the second half starts.

 

Fast Start Propels UND to 4-1 Friday Night Win over Denver Plus Thoughts on Series Finale

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violent Turtle Photography)

Coming into this one, North Dakota had started to find a formula to play well in the NCHC, get a fast start and then follow that with stout defense. They got all of that with a 4-1 victory over the Denver Pioneers in front of 10,949 loud fans at the Ralph Engelstad Arena on Friday night.

Gavin Hain provided the fast start. On a Mark Senden contested faceoff win, Hain took the puck from his left wing spot, and walked in on Denver netminder Devin Cooley. with limited space, Hain was able to pull the puck to his backhand and open up just enough space to go glove side on the Denver netminder. 7:46 in to the first period, UND had their first lead of the night.

5:10 later, Hain’s line would strike again. This time, Senden would benefit from the play of his other wing, Cole Smith. Taking on multiple Pioneers, Smith fed an area pass to Senden in front of the net. Instantly he was able to convert the one-timer to make it a 2-0 Fighting Hawks lead.

That first period start, combined with UND goalie Adam Scheel making all seven saves in the second period on some better looks for the Pioneers gave UND a 2-0 lead heading into the third period. That effort, combined with a perfect penalty kill for the Fighting Hawks helped them to their lead.

A few minutes into the third, the Fighting Hawks would add to their lead. Nick Jones did yeoman-like work behind the net and created time and space to wire a superb pass to Matt Kiersted. The sophomore defender wired the 13th shot of the night past Cooley to provide UND a 3-0 lead. That margin would not remain all night as 9:29 into the third, Colin Staub fired in a Ryan Barrow feed from close in to make it a 3-1 game and give Denver their first goal of the weekend.

Finally, after a missed Brett Stapley penalty shot for Denver with 2:02 left, Colton Poolman would then provide the final margin with an empty net marker. Adam Scheel got the only assist on this goal. He finished the evening saving 21 of the 22 shots he faced.

Two Thoughts for the Series Finale 

Finish Strong 

UND needs to do a better job maintaining their pressure. In the third period, Denver outshot UND 9-2 with a goalie in net for the Pioneers. While UND did score on one of those shots, the pressure they build throughout the game needs to be consistent in the third period. If it wanes like that against more skilled teams like Denver, starting Saturday night, then the Fighting Hawks will risk losing hard-earned leads throughout the season.

Maintain Shot Quality 

UND needs to continue their pressure in the offensive zone. The Fighting Hawks were a lot more selective with their chances and it showed in their efficiency. They finished with three goals against Cooley on 14 shots. While they need to play a consistent game with 5-12 shots or more per period, they also did improve in the quality of their chances.