(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography)
Coming into this game, the Fighting Hawks needed to get off to a good start as always. To beat the Beavers of Bemidji State teams typically have better success when scoring first and forcing a team that plays a neutral zone trap where it is hard to establish possession on offense to open up their scheme a bit.
That was not what happened to start this one off. Over the first ten minutes the shot attempts were heavily skewed in favor of the Beavers as they looked to impose their will on this game. They were rewarded for those efforts as they converted on a power play goal as Owen Sillinger staked the Beavers to a lead that would last all the way through 14:13 into the third period.
While Sillinger’s tally came in the second period, that was really the last consistent chance the Beavers had. Head Coach Brad Berry had to use his timeout early in the first period and calm his team down. From then on, minus the Sillenger tally on the power play , the Fighting Hawks controlled the pace of play.
One thing Brad Betty did as the game went on was shorten the bench. His new line combinations rewarded the roughly three lines of forwards that skated well for the Fighting Hawks towards the end of the game.
14:13 into the third period, Jacob Bernard-Docker was able to make a scintillating seem pass off the half wall through traffic in the Bemidji State zone. Jordan Kawaguchi found himself at the front of the net and did not miss his tip in chance to tie the game up and force overtime.
In overtime, Shane Pinto won a draw 52 seconds into the extra frame and won it clean back to Westin Michaud. The graduate transfer from Colorado College who was recruited by in total, roughly 42 teams before choosing to come play for UND, sent in a superb shot from above the left faceoff dot and earned the overtime victory for UND.
On the evening, Adam Scheel made a few key saves and was not tested a whole lot in net for the Fighting Hawks as he made 16 saves. on 17 shots Sometimes games where goalies do not make a lot of saves but have to bail their team out on occasion can be more tough mentally than making a 30 plus save effort under duress. In net for the Beavers, Zach Driscoll played well and snuffed out a lot of second chance looks for the Fighting Hawks. He saved 25 of 27 shots on the night and when the Beavers held their 1-0 lead and were trying to see out the game had my first star vote before things changed after the Kawaguchi marker.
For the Finale
To beat Bemidji State twice, given how the Beavers attack you with their neutral zone trap, they force you to be perfect through the neutral zone and make you choose your destiny. If you dump the puck in, often times they retrieve it and get an easy breakout. If you can carry it in as Brad Berry wants his team to do, you can get an easier initial look that can lead to a rebound or tip in chance before they establish themselves in the neutral zone. If UND plays like they did post timeout in the first period, they should have every chance to secure a sweep.
If Bemidji State limits the Fighting Hawks to low percentage chances like they did through the first, we could see a different result in the finale. In the first period, a mere two of the Fighting Hawks’ 11 shot attempts came from within the low slot. Keep that in mind for the finale, quality shots matter more in terms of location than the total shots on net do, a lesson this team is seeming to learn so far.
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