Bank on It: Nick Jones Sends UND Back to the Frozen Faceoff with OT Game Winner

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee for Violent Turtle Photography)

Grand Forks, ND

53 seconds into overtime, the bank was open for the University of North Dakota. Forward Nick Jones picked up the overtime winner for the Fighting Hawks off of Omaha goalie Evan Weninger. Jones tied the game for UND in the third period on a redirect past a screened Weninger on the power play.The junior forward took a rebound from a Jordan Kawaguchi shot, and used the positioning of Weninger to his advantage.In addition, that goal provided Kawaguchi with his first collegiate assist. His two tallies provided the difference for a UND side that needed a spark after giving up another two goal lead. The Jones tally sent 10351 fans at Ralph Engelstad Arena home happy.

This sweep in the NCHC First Round keeps UND’s hopes for the NCAA Tournament alive. They still have more work to do. The only thing this win guarantees the Fighting Hawks is two more games next weekend. It also showed that UND can come back from deficits, and that its experience in numerous overtime games helped equip them for tough situations like tonight.

After a long review it was determined that Matt Kiersted opened the scoring 10:13 into the game as he just squeaked the puck over the goal line before Weninger pulled the puck out of the net.

A few minutes later Bowen took a feed from Trevor Olson and walked in on breakaway. He went forehand-backhand to put the puck past Weninger 14:05 into the first.

The Mavericks answered right back as  Teemu Pulkkinen redirected a powerful Lucas Buchta wrist shot past Cam Johnson 15:28 into the first. UNO got its first goal in its last six periods. on that tally.

Pulkkinen would strike again in the second period, and tie things up for the Mavericks. UNO fought back from the first period and played UND even throughout the second frame and into the third period. In the third stanza, Jake Randolph gave UNO the lead 5:41 into the final regulation frame.

Nick Jones would score the first of his two goals on a redirect past Weninger. Jones’ net front presence made it impossible for Weninger to see the puck. The score would remained tied for the final 9:46 of regulation time.

UND will await the results of the Miami-St. Cloud, and Colorado College-Denver game threes tomorrow. These results determine UND’s opponent on Friday in St. Paul.  The Fighting Hawks still have to win at least one if not both games depending on their opponents next weekend. In addition, UND cannot cough up another two goal lead, this habit has cost them games and almost hurt them tonight.



Fighting Hawks Change Their Friday Night Song With 4-0 Victory

(Credit all photos to Kelsey Lee of Violent Turtle Photography)

Coming into this postseason opener, UND needed a few things. The Fighting Hawks needed to stay out of the penalty box, play sound defense, and use their depth to their advantage. They did all of these things throughout the postseason opener against Nebraska Omaha.

to defeat the University of Nebraska Omaha Mavericks 4-0. The Fighting Hawks  used an opening tally from Shane Gersich, combined with a superb three goal second period to put away the Mavericks.

The Fighting Hawks made one key change before the game. They, lead by senior goaltender Cam Johnson, and Director of Hockey Operations Patrick Swanson, completely changed their Friday warmup song list. This seemed to help the Fighting Hawks change their mindset heading into the postseason.

In front of 10,125 fans at the Ralph Engelstad Arena, UND changed up the beat both during warmups and during the game.

Shane Gersich opened the scoring with a superb shot on net past a screen from Colton Poolman. He took a drop pass from Austin Poganski and wired his twelth goal of the season past Evan Weninger, UNO goalie, 13:52 into the first period. This goal would end up being the game winner, but the Fighting Hawks were no where near done scoring.

In the second period, Christian Wolanin opened up the scoring with a superb juke move to open some space and then he picked his spot to make it a 2-0 game one minute into the second on the power play.

Nick Jones added to the scoring with a superb cross ice move and scored falling down. This photo from Kelsey Lee showcases how unique this goal was.


Finally, Joel Janatuinen would round out the scoring with a superb turnover and wrist shot on Weninger to provide the end margin of victory. UND goaltender Cam Johnson would add a scoreless third frame to collect another shutout on the season.

Photos from Friday Night 


UND Hangs on for Home Ice in 2-2 Tie: Gardner Saves Senior Night With Three-on-Three OT Winner

(All Photos used in this recap are courtesy of Kelsey Lee of Violent Turtle Photography)

In front of 12, 093 screaming fans at the Ralph Engelstad Arena, the University of North Dakota did just enough to secure another postseason series in front of their fans. They earned a 2-2 tie against St. Cloud State guaranteeing them a home date with Nebraska Omaha next weekend. They also built a little momentum winning the three-on-three overtime with a superb shot from forward Rhett Gardner 04:14 into the three-on-three frame.

UND was lead offensively by junior defenseman Christian Wolanin. He had primary assists on all three goals and keyed the offensive attack for UND. Wolanin also tied Austin Poganski for the blocked shot lead last night with three.

On senior night, freshman Grant Mismash took a Wolanin  point shot and fired it past St. Cloud goalie David Hrenak from the slot to give the Fighting Hawks a 1-0 lead 5 minutes into the game. UND would generate a lot of chances in the first but could not add any insurance to their initial 1-0 lead.

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14:39 into the 2nd period Rhett Gardner got the puck on his stick off a perfect cross-ice feed from Wolanin. The Dallas Stars’ prospect had enough time to get the perfect corner picked and he did not miss.


The third period was not kind to UND. Canadians super prospect Ryan Poehling scored another superb goal on a re-direct from a Robby Jackson shot on the power play 02:42 into the final frame. A few minutes later, 09:42 into the third, Grand Forks native Jacob Benson sent the fans in his hometown in to a panic for the final few minutes of the game. He went top shelf on Cam Johnson just after another power play had ended.

UND called timeout, and head coach Brad Berry reminded his team that “hey, we’re fine.”  Berry was able to calm the ensuing storm from St. Cloud and helped steer his team into the first overtime frame where it generated two shots on net. Neither of them found the back of the net, and UND guaranteed home ice at the end of the first overtime based on Omaha and Colorado College’s regulation losses.

Next week, UND can hopefully learn its lessons from this series to play against Omaha. The Mavericks bring the best power play in the conference, lead by the best player on the power play, senior forward David Pope, to the Ralph. UND gave up five power plays last night, and one goal shorthanded. UNO converts just over 25 percent of their power plays, so staying out of the penalty box next weekend will be crucial for the Fighting Hawks.


(Game Highlights, Video Courtesy of UND Insider)






Poehling Powers St. Cloud to 4-3 OT Win Over UND: Quick Recap and Look Ahead

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee for Violent Turtle Photography

Montreal Canadians super prospect Ryan Poehling stole the show riday night at Ralph Engelstad Arena. His two goals propelled the Penrose Cup Champion Huskies to a 4-3 win in overtime against a University of North Dakota side that played one of its better games of the year. While UND generated  65 shot attempts on the evening, St. Cloud was held to 52. Unfortunately for the Fighting Hawks, the final shot from St. Cloud lost them the game a mere two minutes and 48 seconds into the overtime frame. Poehling was the best player in the last three periods of hockey for either team. Christian Wolanin, Nick Jones, and Jordan Kawaguchi contributed the three UND goals on the evening.  UND came so close to winning the game in heroic fashion, but Shane Gersich had his shot blocked with 4.3 seconds left in regulation.

Now What

UND does not control its own destiny for home ice any more in the NCHC. In most years this would mean they are out of the out large picture but are still not out of things this year. Assuming the Atlantic Hockey Champion does not finish in the top 16 of the Pairwise, UND occupies the 15th and final at large spot in the tournament. For UND to better its place tonight, a couple of things need to change.

  • UND had 65 attempted shots, and only 32 found their way on net. If UND can simplify its game tonight and make one less cross ice pass and focus on getting gritty goals via rebounds, they can generate more on net chances.
  • Stay out of the box. If UND can reduce its penalties by even just one or two from last night, they limit St. Cloud’s superb power play chances. The two SCSU power play goals by Jimmy Schuldt and Poehling gave the Huskies two of their leads.

Friday night was so close, that UND could play this same game 100 times and win 50 of them. If UND can make small changes to improve on what it did well last night, tonight’s result could dramatically improve.

What a Difference a Day Makes: UND Earns 5-1 Victory Over Colorado College

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee for Violent Turtle Photography)

In front of  11,860 fans at the Ralph Engelstad Arena, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks played in a must-win game over Colorado College. They did not disappoint their fans tonight. They earned a 5-1 victory thanks to strong special teams play resulting in two power play goals, and timely goaltending from Peter Thome.

In a completely different first period than last night, UND controlled the pace of play throughout. Although they did not score, they had Colorado College on their heels. This pace was consistent throughout the rest of the game.

Finally, for UND things looked up in the second period, the Fighting Hawks earned some five-on-three time on the power play. They did not convert on the two man advantage, as Joel Janatuinen  buried a rebound on a Shane Gersich sharp-angle shot to give UND the 1-0 lead 9:23 into the 2nd .

A few minutes later, Christian Wolanin fired a perfect shot on the power play off Colorado College goalie Alex Leclerc. It never got to him, it went off of the shin pad of Austin Poganski and over to Shane Gersich. The Capitals draft pick made no mistake, and deposited the rebound into a wide open net to give UND its first two goal lead on the weekend.

The third period featured a superb start for the Fighting Hawks. A mere 57 seconds into the final frame, Austin Poganski took a feed from Johnny Simonson and raced in and fired a superb shot past Leclerc short side to give UND its first five-on-five goal of the evening.

Colorado College would answer back, as with 13:24 left in the game, Nick Halloran took a feed from Troy Conzo and fired a perfectly placed shot past Peter Thome to bring the Tigers within two goals.

A few minutes later, UND restored their 3 goal lead as Grant Mismash created time and space in the offensive zone. The Predators’ prospect fired a shot that went off Leclerc, off of Jordan Kawaguchi, and to Janatuinen, who did not miss the open net. The Finnish forward was credited with his second goal of the evening.

Grant Mismash was not done.

A few minutes after he started the play that lead to the second Janatuinen tally, he created his own goal. He took a feed from Trevor Olson , walked in and went top shelf on Leclerc 11:43 into the third to make it a 5-1 game.  That would be the final margin of victory for UND.

UND heads on the road next weekend to Omaha to take on the University of Nebraska Omaha. If UND can mimic some of what it did tonight through playing through the middle of the ice, generating high percentage chances, and using a strong forecheck to limit Omaha’s top line, then the result could possibly be similar to tonight. The Fighting Hawks did not clinch anything tonight, but showed that they can compete when they play their brand of  hockey.

Magnificent Mitens: How Lake Superior State Swept Bemidji State 2-0

(Photo Credit:Kelsey Lee from Violent Turtle Photography)

Last night at the Sanford Center, Lake Superior State faced a strong Bemidji State team lead by senior goaltender Michael Bitzer. The Lakers were coming off a strong 2-0 shutout of the Bemidji State Beavers on Friday night. Last night, they recived a superb 36 save shutout from freshman netminder Mareks Mitens, and a timely go-ahead goal from Max Humitz 1:14 into the second period plus an empty net power play insurance marker from Diego Cuglietta to provide the same result. Mitens finished the night with 36 saves, including stopping many high percentage shots from the low slot and just outside his crease.


This game had some themes running throughout it. The Beavers utilized their speed all night and forced the Lakers to play in their own zone the majority of the night. The shot attempts on the evening were 81-29 in favor of Bemidji State. The Lakers were able to counter this with strong defense and superb effort from Mitens. He did not look out of position on any of the saves he made all night. Mitens even anticipated multiple deflections coming from Beavers on the attack and set up well to stop them.

Mitens poke save

(Photo Credit:Kelsey Lee for Violent Turtle Photography)

Also, Lake Superior State skaters did a superb job of blocking shots, and clearing rebounds from in front of Mitens. On the night, the Lakers blocked 16 shots as a team. They were lead in that category by Colin Saccoman who finished the night with four blocks and a primary assist on the Max Humitz goal to earn third star honors on the evening. Mitens took home second star honors for the shutout, and Humitz earned first star honors for netting the game winning goal.

Another theme of the evening was the Lakers’ ability to counter Bemidji. Whenever there was a long sequence in the Lakers’ defensive zone, they were able to use some timely speed and smart puck decisions to clear the puck. They generated their best chances, including the Humitz goal in the second on the counter attack.

Also give credit to Lakers’ forward Yuki Miura. In only his third college hockey game, he played outstanding. On the top line, he generated the secondary assist on the Humitz goal. He found Saccoman who set up the Humitz goal.

Another thing that stood out to me was the main review of the game. It happened in the third period. The Beavers looked like they had scored. However, it was waved off  after a prompt review for goaltender interference. Leo Fitzgerald skated across the crease and bumped Mitens which prevented him from playing the puck. Mitens knew it and immediately voiced his concerns on the ice about it. To the officials’ credit, they quickly reviewed the play and got the call right.

Finally, Mitens played just as strong for the Lakers tonight as he did for team Latvia in the 2016 U18 Worlds when we first saw him. It would be smart for Latvia to consider taking Mitens to the IIHF World Championships in Denmark this spring. Mitens has shown he can withstand high shot volumes, and plays quite well regardless of the team in front of him. He kept the Lakers in this one last night, and should merit strong consideration for WCHA Rookie and Goaltender of the week.

We think that Mitens and his goalie colleague Nick Kossoff should share WCHA goaltender of the week honors. Combined they stopped all 64 shots faced on the weekend.

Next week, the Lakers look to vault themselves into a playoff spot with a crucial two game set on the road against Alaska Anchorage.

Below are the highlights from last night including the two Lake Superior State goals and the goaltender interference call which nullified Bemidji’s best chance of the evening.

Better Game, Same Result: UND Settles For Second Three-on-Three OT Loss in Two Nights

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee for Violent Turtle Photography)

In front of 12,002 loud fans at the Ralph Engelstad Arena, Denver Pioneer Logan O’Connor created a turnover, and started a break away in the second three-on-three overtime session at the Ralph in two evenings. Just like last night, the result was the same. Denver defender Ian Mitchell took a feed from O’Connor on the ensuing two-on-one breakaway and found the back of the net 01:19 into the extra overtime to give the Pioneers four points on two ties for the weekend.  While UND ended the weekend with  two ties, it finished tied for eleventh in the pairwise with Minnesota.

In the first period, Kohen Olischefski took a feed from Ryan Barrow, went to the goal line and fired one into the opening short side against Cam Johnson. The puck just went through the small opening to give the Pioneers another lead. In the first, Denver controlled possession through large swaths of play. The Fighting Hawks did not get a shot on net for the first 13:52 of the game. They ended the first frame with only 13 shot attempts to Denver’s 21. The Pioneers had eight high percentage scoring  from the low slot area. UND only generated one.

In the second period, UND picked up the pace. They got more pucks on net and forced Denver to defend more in the first half of the period then they did in the entire first period.

A few minutes into the second, Liam Finlay interfered with Cam Johnson in the blue paint. This gave the Fighting Hawks their first chance on special teams all night.

They did not waste their opportunity.

About halfway through the power play 09:26 into the second stanza, Christian Wolanin took a feed from  Shane Gersich and fired a perfect shot past a completely screened Denver netminder Tanner Jaillet. The Ottawa Senators’ prospect’s eight tally of the year equalized things. The score would remain the same through the end of the second and third period. While UND out shot Denver 16-11 in the last two regulation periods, they could not solve Tanner Jaillet the rest of the way.


Thoughts Heading into the Bye 

  • The NCHC is capable of getting six or seven teams into the tournament. This conference has every team but Colorado College and Miami in the top 13 of the pairwise heading into February.  Accounting for the Atlantic Hockey Tournament winner, and Hockey East Tournament winner, the top 14 teams would make the tournament in the pairwise right now.
  • UND looked much better on special  teams this weekend, they only allowed one power play goal on the weekend. Their penalty kill was much more aggressive and forced Denver to make quicker decisions with the puck while limiting time and space for their skilled forwards to generate high percentage shots.
  • If UND can use this weekend where it was missing its top two centers, Rhett Gardner and Nick Jones, along with top four defender Gabe Bast, to help develop players like Josh Rieger and Matt Kiersted, both of whom played well in their replacements then this weekend could help UND down the road. In addition, defenseman Casey Johnson slotted in at forward and helped UND in spots in the game. The Fighting Hawks’ ability to develop their depth players during this long season of injuries will prove crucial in the long run.

Two Games One Point: How UND Salvaged a Point Against Denver

(Photo Credit:Kelsey Lee for Violent Turtle Photography)

In front of 11,845 fans at the Ralph Engelstad Arena, the University of North Dakota could not hold a 2-0 first period lead against the Denver Pioneers, needing late help from a Hayden Shaw extra attacker goal to salvage one point on the evening. After a scoreless first overtime making the game a tie for NCAA purposes, Denver did not waste a chance to net the extra NCHC point. Troy Terry turned over Shane Gersich in the neutral zone and walked and fired a superb shot short side to beat UND netminder Cam Johnson.

The first period was where things went well for UND. Cole Smith started things off early firing a puck off  a Pioneer defender and into the back of the net a mere 62 seconds into the game. Things started on the right foot for the Fighting Hawks.

A few minutes later, Shane Gersich capitalized on a scramble at the DU net and made it  a 2-0 UND lead on the power play. Grant Mismash, and Trevor Olson netted the assists. Olson is now on a four game point streak (two goals, two assists)

In the second stanza, Dylan Gambrell took a feed from Henrik Borgstrom and rifled one past a non-screened UND netminder Cam Johnson on a superb one timer 7:04 into the 2nd to bring the Pioneers within one.

Then the tide of the game really started to change towards the end of the second and into the third. The Pioneers finished the period only down one. In addition, the Pioneers closed the shots on net gap to a mere two (12-10 UND).

In the third period, the Pioneers conquered the UND deficit and even built a lead that almost gave them a full three point win. Rudy Junda got the scoring going 02:11 into the third off a feed from a Tariq Hammond point shot.

A few minutes later, Cole Smith checked the head area of Denver skater Adam Plant. Plant fell to the ice injured and had to leave the game. Smith left as well. He was assessed a five minute major and a game misconduct for a check to the head. After a controversial goaltender interference call nullified a Pioneer goal, Troy Terry got it back and the lead for the Pioneers. For nearly 13 minutes DU looked like they would hang on, but UND was able to battle back to earn the point on the Shaw marker. Denver earned the extra point in the three-on-three with another terrific Terry goal.

For Saturday

UND needs to replicate its first period, they did a good job keeping things simple. In one period the Fighting Hawks were able to simplify their game. They generated multiple good looks from the slot and could not convert any after the initial two markers. If UND can replicate its effort from the first the result could be different.If Denver puts a full game together look for the result to not be as UND fan-friendly as tonight.



J.P Lamoureux Interview

Last fall, I talked about the important thoughts J.P Lamoureux had regarding small goalies and the key bits of advice he had for them. Below is the rest of the question-and answer session with him.

1. What has been your favorite off-ice moment playing since you started your pro career?

” [My] favorite off ice moments, are getting married in 2012 to my wife Kellie, and the birth of my kids in Austria, son Henri in 2014 & daughter Leah in 2017″

2. What are your plans when you are finished playing hockey?

“Right now I am positioning myself to get into coaching when I retire. I started JPL Goaltending 5 years ago to establish myself in the coaching world.”

3. How much do you follow the current UND team now?

“I follow the current UND team daily. My weekend routine is to wake up before I go to pregame skate and watch the highlights with my son on UND Sports. I also worked with some of the UND goalies when I’m back in the summer so I follow their progress closely!”

4. What did you do to celebrate UND’s National Championship in 2016?

“I was lucky enough to be in Tampa for 2016 NC [National Championship}. I flew home from Austria with my family after our season and my wife and I jumped on the charter right when we got back. That was special team to watch and I knew it would be a rare opportunity to watch the team live. Like most of the fans their the whole weekend was awesome! Everything from the resort to the pregame party at Fergs it was a blast and to share the weekend with my wife was special.”

5. What are some things that UND fans might like about the European game?

“UND fans might like the wide open game we play. Our league in Austria is high scoring. With the big ice you see less chip and chase and more teams try attack off the rush.”

6. During your UND time, who were some of your teammates with the biggest personality?

Matt Greene my freshman year was a larger then life personality. Was the life of the party and an absolute warrior on the ice. Osh, was lively guy in the locker room and on the ice, [also} Andrew Kozek was  [another] funny guy in our group. And not because he tried, he always got himself into funny predicaments.

7. Who has been your favorite coach to play for at any level?

[Former UND Head Coach and Current Philadelphia Flyers Head Coach Dave Hakstol}  Hak, was a guy I loved to play for. He was honest & fair bit had a really good read on when players were ready for more opportunity. My coach in Vienna reminds me of Hak’s approach. Serge Aubin had long playing career and he has been great to play for.

8. What do you most miss about UND and  Grand Forks?

“I miss Red Pepper the most. It’s usually my first stop when I get back from over seas for the summer.”

9. What are some interesting things in Austria that you like to do or see in your off time?

“I loved living in Villach, my 1st team in Austria. Looking out my window and seeing that everyday just puts you at ease. I live in Vienna now, and it’s an incredible city filled with history and beautiful architecture.”

10. What are some hockey-related goals you want to accomplish before retiring?

[A] couple of goals yet to accomplish is reaching 500 games played which at my current pace is reachable in the next couple seasons. And of course winning another championship. I was fortunate to win my fist pro championship last season.

11. How many more years do you want to keep playing hockey?

“I would like to keep playing as long I can. But it has to make sense for family as well and if I’m making a good living playing and family is happy then it makes sense to keep going. Physically I feel like I got a lot left on the tank.”

12. What are you most thankful for learning from UND?

” [I am] most thankful for the relationships I made playing for my favorite team. UND really teaches guys to pro s on and off the ice. And to be apart of the tradition that continues to be passed down by the current players is really special.”

13. What was the inspiration to form JPL Goaltending?

“JPL was inspired for two reasons: 1. To establish something that I can do after playing and 2. I wanted to create an environment in GF with the REA {Ralph Engelstad Arena]  for local kids to have pro quality goalie training & information. I’ve been lucky enough to play all over the world and meet some of the most influential people in goaltending and I want to share that knowledge with young goalies who want to get to the next level.”

14.Tell me about the championship run you and Vienna went on last year in the EBEL and something you are proud of about that group.

 “Last years championship run was special, it was the closest feeling with the guys that i got then when I played for UND. We set league records in the regular season for wins and set a playoff record going 12-0. It was 3 rounds of a 7 game series. It was surprising because the league was much tighter then a perfect playoff record would indicate. I lost in a game 7 finals my 1 st year pro and that was the last opportunity I had in a finals. So 8 years is long time to battle between finals so when we were there last year I wanted to leave no doubt.

UND Ties BSU 2-2:A Quick Recap and a Bonus Thought

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee for Violent Turtle Photography)

In front of a sold out 11,868 screaming fans at the Ralph Engelstad Arena, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks skated to a Saturday 2-2 tie against the Bemidji State University Beavers in their non-conference finale. UND could not muster more than one goal on a five minute major and allowed the Beavers just enough time and space to pot an equalizer late into the third frame. Overtime would bear no goal-scoring fruit for either side, as Bemidji fought back to earn a tie.

Following a scoreless opening frame,  Nick Jones tapped in a perfect no-look feed from Austin Poganski 3:28 into the second stanza giving UND its first lead of the evening. The pace of the second period would be to North Dakota’s liking until the 13:15 mark of the second, when Leo Fitzgerald equalized things with a tally of his own for Bemidji State.

A few seconds later, with 6:09 left in the frame, Jordan Heller took a five minute major and a game misconduct for a check from behind putting UND on the extended power play.

Christian Wolanin found the back of the net on a strong slot shot to give UND its last lead of the evening

The Fighting Hawks were only able to capitalize once on the Heller major, and ended the second frame ahead only one. The Beavers tied things up midway through the third on a redirect goal. Both teams had chances after that but no one could break through.

Quick Thought

UND cannot take any opponent for granted the rest of the way. While BSU does not measure up to the skill of UND, it used superb goaltending from Michael Bitzer and strong defense to earn a tie. No team on UND’s schedule has less skilled players than Bemidji, and UND will need to measure up to their opponents offensively with getting more shots from down low. Look for UND to work on generating more looks down low against UMD next weekend.