(Photo Credit:Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography)
Tonight, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks Men’s Hockey team earned a 5-1 exhibition win over the Bisons of Manitoba. This game did not require overtime like last year’s version, and there were some marked improvements for this team to keep an eye on going forward.
To open up the scoring, UND took advantage of a five-on-three power play. San Jose Sharks’ prospect Jasper Weatherby provided a wonderful screen of Bisons goalie Riley Lamb leaving home no time or space to see a wired home shot from Ottawa Senators’ prospect Jacob Bernard Docker.
Weatherby did not make the score sheet tonight but was singled out by UND Head Coach Brad Berry for his net-front presence and his prowess taking faceoffs. This is something to keep an eye on as he won 11 of the 15 draws he took. Only Weatherby and another Senators prospect, freshman Shane Pinto won double digit draws (both won 11) with the next best Fighting Hawk winning four (Westin Michaud).
Grant Mismash was the star of this game. The Predators’ prospect finished with four assists and helped establish UND’s offense for the evening. His precision passing provided primary assists on the first four goals for the Fighting Hawks. If Mismash can add this passing element to his game this season to complement the heavy shot he brings and ability to play in all three zones consistently, then we could see a lot more out of him this year.
In net, the line chart read Adam Scheel, Harrison Feeney, and Peter Thome in that order, but Berry cautioned people to not read anything into the order in which the goalies played. All had some highlights with the only real down moment coming on a late-stage power play goal from Colton Veloso against Adam Scheel.
Veloso picked one side of the net, and Scheel looked the other way. Other than that, with limited chances, Scheel, Feeney, and Thome all looked solid. Scheel finished with two saves on three shots, Feeney finished with four saves on four shots faced and saved a penalty shot as well, and Thome finished with six saves on the evening rounding out the evening.
Each goalie played a full period. As to who starts and earns the backup role, that is still to be decided. I would not look at the order that the goalies played in as indicative of anything other than wanting to give each goalie an equal sample on which to be evaluated.
What does all of this mean? Well going forward, what stood out to me most was where UND earned its chances. The vast majority of UND’s 49 shots on net came from the higher percentage area, not a common theme last season. When UND gets to the slot area, with the skill on this team, combined with their ability to screen the goalie, good things can happen for this team.
They have an opportunity next week to make up for their season defining sweep at the hands of the Canisius Golden Griffins in Buffalo last season. What happens next weekend at the Ralph Engelstad Arena will be determined in a large part by how well this team can earn the slot and get rebounds, if they replicate their effort from tonight, the season could start quite well.