UND Uses Special Teams and a Fast Start to Defeat St. Lawrence 6-1: A Recap, Notes, and Some Thoughts

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee for Violent Turtle Photography)

What a difference a day makes. Coming off a night where it took until late in the third period to convert a power play, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks(3-0-1) used a dominant three goal first period and two power play goals to earn a sweep over the St. Lawrence Saints (0-4-0).

6:11 into the first period, Christian Wolanin opened up the scoring with a point shot goal that squeaked past Saints netminder Arthur Brey. Colton Poolman provided the feed which set Wolanin up for a strong shot, that would stake UND to a lead it would not relinquish.

14:51 into the period, on UND’s second power play of the evening,  Shane Gersich knocked home a rebound from a Colton Poolman point shot.

Colton Poolman quietly put together a strong evening for the Fighting Hawks with two assists, two blocked shots, and he finished plus two. He was voted the game’s first star of the evening.

A few minutes later, at the nineteen minute mark of the first, Grant Mismash created a beautiful turnover, and rushed into the offensive zone. The Nashville Predators prospect staked the Fighting Hawks to a 3-0 lead after the first period.

UND dominated the first period with 13 shots on net to four from St. Lawrence. The Fighting Hawks generated 23 shot attempts in the first 20 minutes.

The first was also marked by dominance in the faceoff circle. UND won 20 of 24 faceoffs during the first period, yet the Saints would win the night 37-33.

During the second period, Daniel Mannella entered the game for the Saints in net.’St Lawrence was able to generate some more pressure thanks to a number of UND trips to the penalty box, including a two man advantage thanks to multiple UND minor penalties, and a checking from behind and game misconduct penalty to Grant Mismash.

UND’s lone second period marker came on the power play 15:38 into the frame, as Jordan Kawaguchi found his way to the front of the net, and put the puck past Mannella to put the Fighting Hawks up 4-0 heading into the intermission.

After Jacob Pritchard got St. Lawrence on the board 03:44 into the third period, UND put the game out of reach with goals by Cole Smith and Rhett Gardner.

Notes and Thoughts

Goaltender Cam Johnson finished the evening with 27 saves on 28 shots.  The senior netminder was voted second star of the game for his efforts. Colton Poolman and Shane Gersich were the other two stars of the evening.

Tonight, after the game, head coach Brad Berry noted his team’s ability to simplify things on the power play. That ability to simplfy things helped the Fighting Hawks generate six shots on five power plays.

UND was able to better utilize its speed tonight against the Saints. It used its speed game to create numerous chances throughout the evening. These chances were a big part of the dominant first period, as the Fighting Hawks finished it with 23 shot attempts.

Despite the score tonight, and their age as a team, I do not expect St. Lawrence to finish seventh in the ECAC, where they were predicted to finish. Their top two lines generated plenty of chances,and their side plays a game more suited to Olympic ice sheets, which is where it benefits defensemen to stay at home a bit more. If the Saints can use their size to stifle chances like they did on Friday night, some teams in the ECAC could be in for quite the shock this year.

Next week, the rivalry returns, as the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers head to the Ralph to take on the Fighinng Hawks.

 

 

 

 

 

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UND Squeaks Past St. Lawrence 2-1: A Recap and Thoughts for Saturday

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee for Violent Turtle Photography)

On Friday night, 11,221 fans came out to the Ralph Englestad Arena to watch the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks (2-0-1) get its first home win in its regular season home opener against the St. Lawrence Saints (0-3-0).

Colin Adams was able to stave off the Saints upset bid with a power play marker 16:11 into the third period.  The goal came on a feed from Joel Janatuinen, on a play started by Christian Wolanin. It was one of the most active power plays UND had all night, and the only one of its seven it converted on. The Fighting Hawks ended the night one for seven on the power play with a mere eight shots reaching Saints netminder Arthur Brey.

Most of the first period was physical,and each team generated under ten shots on net. Austin Poganski came close to putting UND ahead on a two-on-zero breakaway, however he hit the post.  A few minutes after Poganski hit the post, 19:49 into the first, Colton Poolman sprung Grant Mismash into the Saints’ zone, where he drove the net hard on Arthur Brey, and created an easy rebound for Ludvig Hoff to stake UND to its first lead of the night.

In the second period,  the Fighting Hawks could not convert on their multiple chances throughout the period. However, St Lawrence converted on their full powerplay chance.  Saints senior forward Joe Sullivan tapped home a rebound off of a Nolan Gluchowski shot to knot things up heading to the final period.

Once again, in the third period, early on, UND had trouble finding the back of the net on its powerplay. It could not convert on 44 seconds of five-on-three time, and let the Saints hang around late into the third period, where Adams would ultimately notch the game-winner.

Here are some thoughts on tonight’s contest, and things to look for tomorrow.

Limit Breakaways 

The Fighting Hawks allowed multiple Saints breakaways throughout the contest, and were bailed out by senior netminder Cam Johnson. His strong play, allowed the Fighting Hawks to withstand the dearth of special teams goals.  If UND can limit the time and space St. Lawrence routinely had throughout the night, it can generate more a few more chances.

Continue to Utilize Speed 

Colin Adams, the New York Islanders prospect, noted that UND did a good job utilizing its speed throughout the night. While UND did not have a lot of sustained offensive zone pressure during five-on-five play, it was able to use its speed to generate quick chances and force the Saints to play on their heels.

Be Physical 

During the weekly press conference on Wednesday, Johnny Simonson noted that the Saints are a big and physical team. They showed that tonight, I thought the Saints did a good job limiting second and third chance opportunities. Goalie Arthur Brey only had to make 26 saves tonight for the Saints on 55 shot attempts. The Saints blocked 19 shots, and did a superb job limiting UND to eight shots on goal during its seven power plays.

If UND can continue to match St. Lawrence with its physical play, then tomorrow could bring another good result for the Fighting Hawks. Cam Johnson had to make 20 saves on a mere 33 shot attempts. Also, the Fighting Hawks had seven blocks.

All of this showcases UND’s  continued ability to limit chances. When it starts converting a few more special teams markers, this team has a lot of potential to grow this season.

 

 

An Interview with St Lawrence Saints Coach Mark Morris

Last night, we had a chance to talk to Saint Lawrence’s Head Coach Mark Morris about how his group played this weekend, and some of the things he is expecting from his group this weekend as they prepare to take on the Fighting Hawks at the Ralph Englestad Arena.

Coach Morris also touched on the strong atmosphere of the Ralph, as well as his memories of the Hrkac Circus team that dominated the NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey landscape in 1987 to win a national title.

 

 

 

 

 

UND ties Alaska Anchorage 1-1: Quick Thoughts

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee for Violent Turtle Photography)

Last night, the University of North Dakota at times looked dominant over the University of Alaska Anchorage Seawolves. The Fighting Hawks generated plenty of chances throughout the evening.

However, the Seawolves defense, lead by Olivier Mantha was up to the task. The senior goalie made 32 saves on 33 shots faced. The UAA defense blocked 25 shots on the evening.

UND did a lot of things right last night. They used their speed and depth to generate a lot of chances, especially as the game wore on. They kept the Seawolves playing defense most of the evening. They staved off a five-on-three powerplay in overtime. Shane Gersich showed his skill and speed all night, generating chances, and getting his linemates involved.

Yet, UND has to improve some things tonight. Here are a few areas to keep an eye on tonight.

Passing to create lanes

One thing the Fighting Hawks did exceptionally well last week against Manitoba was getting a lot of quality chances. Yes, UND had some quality chances last night they should have converted. However, part of the reason why UAA blocked so many shots is because UND did not utilize the full Olympic sheet of ice at times.

The Fighting Hawks’ only goal came on a beautiful tic-tac-toe passing play where Trevor Olson found Christian Wolanin who quickly got the puck to a wide open Johnny Simonson. This team scored all but one of its goals last weekend on transitions and quick plays.

If the Fighting Hawks have a few less shots, but can utilize their ability to create time and space, then they could make life harder for Mantha.

Get One or More Special Teams Goals

The Fighting Hawks have to get one goal on special teams. Last night, they once again generated chances and had good zone time. If the Fighting Hawks can catch the Seawolves in transition that may open up their defense a bit.

Control the Dot Once More 

UND went 35-18 in the faceoff dot last night. That started a lot of their possesions, and lead to generating the amount of chances they did. If that continues look for UND to get a lot more chances tonight.

If UND can limit chances, and improve on its speed game from last night, then tonight could produce a lot different outcome for the Fighting Hawks.

 

 

 

UND Heads North: Previewing the Alaska Anchorage Series

Photo Credit: (Kelsey Lee for Violent Turtle Photography)

Fresh off a 6-2 exhibition win over Manitoba, UND heads north this weekend to take on an Alaska Anchorage side that finished last in the WCHA last season. The Seawolves won seven total games in 34 contests last season.

This season, the Seawolves look to improve on their record lead in net by senior goaltender Olivier Mantha. He finished last season with a 2.82 goals against average and .913 save percentage.

The Seawolves play a physical style of hockey that will force UND to utilize the wider sheet of Olympic ice to make more skilled plays.

Giving fast players like Shane Gersich and Ludvig Hoff more ice to skate on will benefit the Fighting Hawks.

To have a chance against the Fighting Hawks, Head Coach Matt Thomas noted the importance of taking away time and space from the Fighting Hawks. The Seawolves’ returning leading scorer and captain, Matt Anholt, had 22 points (5 goals, 17 assists) in 34 games. Alaska Anchorage has done better when it plays physical and limits scoring chances.

For the Fighting Hawks to have success against the Seawolves this weekend here are few things to look for.

Utilize your Speed Game 

North Dakota is a faster team than the Seawolves. Because of this, it will  be able to generate chances if they can maintain puck possession. As the game wears on, like during the Manitoba game, the Fighting Hawks will show their speed. Look for players like Ludvig Hoff to build on their exhibition performance against Manitoba.

Build on the Blue Line 

One of the things Head Coach Brad Berry thought needed improvement was play in UND’s own defensive zone. Manitoba had some long cycles in the first period, and one of those cycles contributed to the Bisons second goal on a deflection.

Start Fast 

The Seawolves will be incredibly motivated. They have experience playing the top teams in the country to start a season. The Fighting Hawks have to come out fast, and force the Seawolves to score multiple times just to keep pace.

Now that the games count, UND has to not give the Seawolves any chance to stick around with their motivated crowd cheering them on.

Prediction 

UND will face some challenges this weekend from the Seawolves but should come out on top with a sweep.

Score Prediction: UND 4-2 UND 5-2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UND Flies Past Manitoba 6-2:A Recap and Three Thoughts

Photo Credit: (Kelsey Lee for Violent Turtle Photography)

Tonight, in front of 10,682 fans anxious to see their first UND Men’s Hockey game in 190 days, UND stormed past the Manitoba Bisons 6-2. All six of UND’s rookies contributed in the win as the Fighting Hawks rolled all four of its lines in a balanced attack.

In the first period, UND was a bit on its heels for a little bit as Remi Laurencelle of Manitoba caused a turnover in the neutral zone, and converted a breakaway to give the Bisons the early lead 4:37 into the first period.

The Bisons’ lead lasted for less than two minutes (1:54) as Ludvig Hoff converted on an Austin Poganski pass to tie things up.

Later on in the period at the 16:17 mark, Grant Mismash tapped in a Colin Adams pass to give UND a lead which it would not relinquish.

During the second period, Christian Wolanin converted a superb cross-ice pass from Colin Adams to give the Hawks a two goal lead.

Later on, after a Bisons goal by Calvin Spencer, Hoff potted his second tally of the evening. Jordan Kawaguchi and Johnny Simonson would add two of their own markers to round out the scoring for the evening.

Cam Johnson stopped ten of twelve shots in two periods. Freshman goalie Peter Thome made his debut in the third period, and saved all five shots he faced.

Three Thoughts

Depth Depth Depth 

That word was repeated a lot at media day this week. What that meant in a game was shown tonight. Every line had positives in the game. Every line had someone contribute something to the cause.

Another example of the Fighting Hawks’ depth is backup goalie Peter Thome. He had a strong outing. The first year goalie had a tall order coming in late in the game, and had to stop a couple of grade A chances for the Bisons. He is a positionally sound goalie who showed how hard he works. The former Waterloo Blackhawk looked very calm stopping the limited chances he had.

The Returners 

Christian Wolanin, Shane Gersich, and Ludvig Hoff all had strong games. Wolanin showed his cannon of a point shot, and did an excellent job distributing to help his teammates. The Ottawa Senators prospect also showed that he is adept at finding the net to increase scoring from the back end.

Shane Gersich had an outstanding game, he played with speed in all three zones and nearly recreated his spin-o-rama goal from last season.

Ludvig Hoff was most impressive, he had two goals, played with speed, and won more than 50 percent of his faceoffs. He was all over the ice and benefited from having Gersich on his line.

Special Teams

The Fighting Hawks did an excellent job on the powerplay. While they did not score a goal, they generated a lot of zone time, and were able to move the puck effectively . The seven shots they took were all high-quality shots. This puck movement is a good sign for the rest of the season, as multiple players got some time on the powerplay. The penalty kill was also strong, and did a good job of limiting the Bisons to two shots on goal. Those two shots both happened on the second Bison power play.

Next weekend , the Fighting Hawks fly north to take on Alaska Anchorage in a two game series.

PHOTO Link: https://www.facebook.com/pg/Violentturtlephotograhpy/photos/?tab=album&album_id=672606726271241

 

UND Flies Past Eastern Washington to go 4-0 in the Big Sky

Photo Credit: (Tyler Ingham for UNDSports.com)

In front of 1289 fans at the Betty Englestad Sioux Center the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks (19-2, 4-0) swept (25-15, 25-12,25-20) the Eastern Washington Eagles (5-8, 2-2)

This win marks the 17th consecutive win at the Betty for the Hawks. They have won the last 32 sets at home.

The Fighting Hawks raced out to a quick lead due to their ability to limit errors. Four of their seven attack errors came in the first set. UND had 12 kills on 34 swings in the first half.

Coach Pryor mentioned the need to improve “ball security” and limit mistakes after the match against Idaho. The Fighting Hawks would replicate this formula in the second and third sets to take the match. Coach Pryor’s side had an attack error free second set.

The Fighting Hawks had to battle in the third set to close out Eastern Washington. The Eagles had a few runs, and forced UND to use its only timeout of the match. North Dakota benefited, once again, from its strong defense to short-circuit a lot of Eagle attacks. Eastern Washington only hit .073 in the third set (14 kills on 55 swings with 10 attack errors).

This attack error free second set was the first for the Fighting Hawks since the second round of the 2017 Big Sky Tournament on November 18, 2016.

UND was paced throughout by Faith Dooley who lead the way on offense for the Hawks with nine kills on seventeen swings. The Wheatland, ND native hit above .500 (.529) for the second match this week.

Four players pitched in big defensive evenings for the Fighting Hawks. Teodora Tepavac, Tamera Merseli, Alivia Fraase,and Sydney Griffin each had double digit digs (15,14,11,10).

Once again the Fighting Hawks were able to limit their attack errors to single digits. UND had seven attack errors on the day which tied its season low. The Hawks last had seven attack errors against George Washington on September 8 in the UND Classic. Eastern Washington had 30 attack errors on the day.

The Fighting Hawks head on the road next weekend to take on Sacramento State, and Portland State as they look to extend their undefeated record in the Big Sky.

Check out Faith Dooley’s thoughts on the game, the win streak at home, and more.

 

 

 

 

Kenton Miller Post Game 9-29

Iowa Wild Center Kenton Miller had a chance to chat with us after the Wild took on the Manitoba Moose at the Ralph Englestad Arena.

He talked about how the game went, some of his goals for the season, what he learned from Elmira Jackals’ Interim Head Coach Mike Duco, and more.

Kenton is a goal-scoring center who was one of the key contributors to the Jackals’ offense last season with 45 points (30 goals, 15 assists) in 63 games. He finished the year strong with 19 goals in his final 25 games as a Jackal.

In the offseason, Kenton signed an ECHL pact with the Rapid City Rush, the new affiliate of the Minnesota and Iowa Wild.

UND Sweeps Idaho Keyed by a Trio of Double-Digit Kill Evenings

(Photo credit to Joel Helbling for UNDSports.com)

In front of a crowd of 1,333 fans anxious to see the first home match at the Betty Englestad Sioux Center in almost three weeks, the Fighting Hawks (18-2 2-1) swept (25-22, 25-18, 25-21) the Idaho Vandals (7-7, 2-1) in their Big Sky home opener. This win gave the Fighting Hawks their 16th straight home win at the Betty.

The Fighting Hawks persevered through an eight error first set with 20 kills to put the Vandals on their heels early. As the match went on, the Fighting Hawks were able to slowly control their attack errors and the game.

In the second set, the Fighting Hawks hit .500 as they were able to put the Vandals down 25-18 going into halftime. This allowed the team the chance to avoid going to four sets. Given that UND has played 20 matches, maintaining their stamina is becoming increasingly important. Coach Pryor noted the issues with fatigue, and the importance of closing Idaho out in three sets.

Seniors Faith Dooley, Tamera Merseli, and sophomore Ashley Brueggeman each (13,12,and 10) notched double digit kills on the evening.

The Wheatland, ND native was the most efficient Hawk on the offensive side of the ball  on the evening. She notched her 12 kills on 19 swings with zero attack errors. She hit .632 on the night and was a constant force for Head Coach Mark Pryor’s team throughout the match. Pryor noted how much Faith has improved over her time at UND, as she has put herself just outside the top five of UND’s career kills list.

Tamera Merseli had her ninth double-double of the season this evening with 14 kills and 10 digs. The Belgrade,Serbia native had a keen eye for placing the ball as she caught Idaho’s defenders off guard with well placed kills.

The Fighting Hawks are back in action this Saturday at the Betty against Eastern Washington. The match is scheduled for 11 AM.