(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.
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.