Energy Line Powers Fighting Hawks to a Sweep with 4-1 Victory over Western Michigan

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee from Violent Turtle Photography)

In front of 11,742 fans at the Ralph Englestad Arena, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks used four unanswered goals from Nick Jones, Cole Smith,Hayden Shaw,and Grant Mismash to propel this team to its first home NCHC sweep of the season.

With UND dealing with significant injuries throughout its lineup, the job that the line of Johnny Simonson, Josh Rieger, and Cole Smith did tonight turned out to produce the game winning goal and tie a record a mere seven seconds into the third period.

Simonson won the faceoff, then Josh Rieger, playing his fourth game ever at forward , made a pass to Cole Smith who drove the net hard and fired the game-winning goal past Western Michigan netminder Ben Blacker.

The record for fastest goal to start a third period is now shared between UND legend Ben Cherski, and Cole Smith.

Early on, in the first ten minutes of the game, UND controlled the pace and generated multiple chances. UND held Western Michigan without a shot on goal for the first 8:28 of the game. Western Michigan would rebound and end up putting eight shots on net for the remainder of the period. The Fighting Hawks finished the first frame with five shots on goal. Both teams had similar stats after the first with a penalty each, 13 shot attempts, and three blocked shots per side.

The game opened up a bit in the second period as Austin Rueschhoff took a feed from Brett Van Os, walked into the slot, and used some slick deking to help him find the back of the net 8:33 into the second period.He fired the puck passed the glove side shoulder of Cam Johnson, UND netminder. The goal provided Western Michigan with their first lead of the series.

That lead would not last the entire period. Although Western Michigan kept UND’s offense at bay for most of the second frame, until Shane Gersich rushed into the zone late into the period. He found Grant Mismash who fired a strong shot on Ben Blacker. The rebound went to Nick Jones who found the back of the net 19:37 into the second period. Jones’ sixth goal of the season tied things at one heading into the second intermission.

The third period not only saw the Smith goal, it featured crucial insurance markers from Hayden Shaw and Grant Mismash. Shaw’s tally came on the power play as he fired a puck off of a Bronco skater’s skate and past Blacker 11:59 into the third.

Mismash’s fifth tally of the season provided the final margin of the evening 14:26 into the third frame. Shane Gersich and Nick Jones contributed to this tally, and helped ensure UND got its first home NCHC sweep of the year.

Next week, the Fighting Hawks travel to St. Cloud for a crucial series to wrap up the first half.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

All Around Effort Propels UND to 4-3 Win over Western Michigan

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee from Violent Turtle Photography)

In front of 11,156 fans at the Ralph Englestad Arena, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks used a strong, three goal opening period and sound defense throughout to defeat the Western Michigan Broncos 4-3 on Friday night. Austin Poganski lead the way with two first period goals. In his return to the UND net, goalie Cam Johnson made 18 saves. His Western Michigan counterpart, Ben Blacker, made 25.

Both teams played to their styles early on in this one. They limited chances and showcased their physical natures. That physicality came back to harm Western Michigan, as Austin Poganski took advantage of a power play chance 4:54 into the first period to stake the Fighting Hawks to an early 1-0 lead.

A few minutes later, that same physical nature came back to harm the Fighting Hawks as Western Michigan capitalized on their first power play chance. Dawson DiPietro took a feed from Corey Schuneman and buried one past UND netminder Cam Johnson to tie things up 9:54 into the first frame. Bronco goalie Ben Blacker contributed a secondary assist on the play.

Yet again, special teams marked the first frame as UND capitalized on a five-on-three chance. 14:15 into the first, Jordan Kawaguchi took a feed from Christian Wolanin, and made the extra pass to a wide open Austin Poganski who made it 2-1.

A few minutes later, 15:37 into the first period, Ludvig Hoff joined the goal-scoring party in the first as he  redirected a Colton Poolman point shot to help the Hawks fly to a 3-1 lead late in the first period. On that play, Jordan Kawaguchi notched his second point of the night, contributing a secondary assist.

Western Michigan fought back as 18:19 into the first. Brett Van Os got one past Cam  Johnson to make things a 3-2 contest after one period.

The second frame was a bit slower paced than the first, UND generated more chances, and maintained its strong play on defense to limit Western Michgian’s opportunities.

The Fighting Hawks regained their two goal lead, as Colin Adams  found the back of the net 10:24 into the 2nd. The New York Islanders prospect  walked into the slot, and fired one past goalie Ben Blacker.

UND controlled the pace of play more in the second with twelve shots on net. Western Michigan could only muster five.

Western Michigan hung around throughout the third period and used a power play tally from Wade Allison to make it a 4-3 UND lead 16:23 into the final frame.  The Broncos would not score again on the evening.

Shortly after that UND looked to make it a two goal game but the goal was overturned due to goaltender inference. Colton Poolman pushed a Bronco defender into Ben Blacker who was unable to recover to make the save.

The Fighting Hawks had to stave off numerous Bronco attempts to score in the last two minutes. They did this all shorthanded including surviving a six-on-three power play as Western Michigan pulled Blacker for the extra attacker.

The same two teams play tonight at the Ralph at 7:07 PM.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gersich’s Rebound Goal Guides UND To a 2-2 Tie

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee for Violent Turtle Photography)

On Saturday night in front of  11,289 fans at the Ralph Engelstad Arena, the University of North Dakota looked for a bounce back effort from its defeat on Friday night.

Shane Gersich fired home a Rhett Gardner rebound off of a nice Colton Poolman feed to tie the game up 16:42 into the third period. That would provide the final margin for the night as neither team could score in overtime.

UND had more jump in its game throughout the evening and seemed to match Union’s physical style. The team noted that Union’s physical play helped prepare them for next weekend’s series against Western Michigan.

In the first period the pace of the game was much more even than Friday’s opening frame. Both teams alternated chances and played things fairly evenly for the majority of the opening stanza.

Later on in the first, defenseman Colton Poolman took a pass from Ludvig Hoff  and walked in to the slot, performing some fancy stick work in the process. At the 14:01 mark of the first frame, he fired a nice wrist shot past Union netminder Jake Kupsky going top shelf to stake UND to its first lead of the weekend series.

In the second period, both teams could not find the back of the net in the second. Union had ten shots on goal in the second period and largely controlled the pace of play during the second frame. The Fighting Hawks mustered five shots on net during the second frame. Both goalies had to make some key saves during the second frame, and UND goalie Peter Thome passed all ten of his tests, while Jake Kupsky passed all five of his during the second. UND looked to finish the game out with a win.

However, in the third period, Brett Supinski took advantage of a neutral zone turnover and fired one past Thome to tie the game at one 1:56 into the third frame. A mere 22 seconds later Ryan Scarfo put another puck past Thome to give Union their first lead of the night.

The Fighting Hawks would utilize their timeout and generated more chances after it. The pace of the game was more to UND’s liking after the timeout.

Those chances lead to the Gersich goal which pushed the game into the scoreless overtime.

UND takes on a similarly physical Western Michigan in NCHC play at the Ralph next weekend.

 

Union Uses Two Goal First Period to Soar Past UND 4-1 Plus a Look Ahead to Tonight’s Finale

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee for Violent Turtle Photography)

In front of 11,087 fans at the Ralph Engelstad Arena, The University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks came up short last night against the Union College Dutchmen by a 4-1 margin.

Last year,  Union College Head Coach Rick Bennett was upset at the lack of physical play his Dutchmen showed against UND. The Fighting Hawks controlled the pace of that game and won 3-1. On Friday, the roles were reversed, as Union came out gave the Fighting Hawks a completely different game.

The University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks fielded a different lineup heading into game one of its two game series against the Union Dutchmen. Josh Rieger moved from defense to play forward on the fourth line as Joel Janatuinen did not play.

In the first period, Union controlled the first ten minutes of play. The Dutchmen were able to control the early part of the game and set the pace.  Tonight, that was not the case. 10:03 into the first period, Ryan Walker fired a strong shot past UND netminder Peter Thome and through traffic into the back of the net.

The Dutchmen continued their strong play as a few minutes later, at the 14:16 mark of the first period, Peter Thome wandered out to play the puck. Sebastian Vidmar used some help from Luc Brown and Brett Supinski to stake Union to a 2-0 lead after the first period.

The Fighting Hawks would build some momentum off a late power play to make the shots on net a bit closer. UND generated a few more chances as the period concluded to end the shots on net battle down only one (9-8 Union) after the first.

 

The second period featured the most consistent play for UND. The Fighting Hawks generated multiple chances and shored up their own end but could not bury anything.

Christian Wolanin would get UND on the board 3:27 into the third period but 52 seconds later, Vas Kolias capitalized on a UND turnover and scored a breakaway. Brendan Taylor would ice the game for the Dutchmen with an empty net marker.

Thoughts for Tonight 

UND has to do a better job screening the goalie. Josh Rieger did a good job when his line was on the ice, and provided the screen on the initial shot that lead to Wolanin’s tally. I did not see UND get a lot of net-front presence during the game which made Jake Kupsky’s task easier.

The Fighting Hawks need to improve their starts, as the coach Brad Berry noted after last night’s game. In the first period, UND had a mere eight shots on net, and none of them were from high chance areas. Look for the Fighting Hawks to make some adjustments tonight to mitigate Union’s ability to clog the middle lanes, and open up some chances for their shooters. If UND can limit Union’s chances and utilize its speed like it did in the second period, then the result could be a different one for the Fighting Hawks tonight.

 

 

 

Rieger Report: A Look at Defenseman Josh Rieger, and His Development So Far

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee from Violent Turtle Photography)

Hardworking, good puck sense, physical, two-way defenseman. These are all words that describe freshman defender Josh Rieger. He is a six-foot tall defender from Regina, Saskatchewan. He plays a strong two-way game and has had to learn how to play college hockey this year.

When talking with him, he noted the adjustment he has had to make at the NCAA level so far.

One thing that has become more interesting to me is how Josh has kept improving his game despite limited minutes so far. Every chance he gets he always works on improving his game at the facilities of the Ralph Engelstad Arena. He chose to come to UND partly because of the outstanding setup afforded to its players here.

On coming to Grand Forks, he truly believes that the environment here was the best for him. Even on days when he does not play he still can utilize the wonderful facilities in the Ralph Engelstad Arena to improve his game.

Josh said that coming to UND was “a pretty easy choice”.

He mentioned a lot of reasons for coming to UND. In addition to noting the facility quality here, Rieger noted the one overarching theme. “I want to win a championship”. Rieger wants to win, and strongly believes that the University of North Dakota is the best place to do that.

Since coming to UND, Rieger has noted some instances of being able to work on his game regardless of whether he makes the game night lineup. The Ralph Engelstad arena has a shooting room, and other off-ice options for players to work on their craft regardless of whether he is playing that night.

Off the ice, Josh seemed fairly focused on his game. He has not spent much time away from the rink, and seems to be focused on getting his accountancy degree.

Josh is a focused player who is dedicated to his craft. Despite only playing in two games this season, Josh does not let his lack of ice time get to him. He values the day-to-day grind and preparation for each game. The Saskatchewan native noted that “you can’t take any time off” when preparing for games. He also values the constant grind and improvement. He said, “every day you’ve gotta get better”.

Rieger noted the differences between his junior hockey league, the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League “SJHL”, and the NCHC, UND’s current conference. He noted that the players in college hockey are a lot stronger and the wide difference in the skill level between the two levels of hockey.

One thing Josh mentioned was how Assistant Coach, Dane Jackson, has used his knowledge to help the two-way defender learn the mental side of the game. Jackson has years of professional hockey experience and uses that to mentor Josh, and the Fighting Hawks Penalty Kill units.

On Rieger, Jackson has high hopes for his future. He thinks of Josh as a strong, two-way defenseman that will contribute on the scoresheet in all situations. “

He was part of the recruiting team that brought Rieger to campus. The staff thought he was the best defender in the SJHL last year. Jackson identified his “hockey sense” as one of the biggest things that they saw in him. The coaches also like how Rieger handles himself with the puck.

Jackson also noted that since coming to campus, Rieger has “done a good job in a support role so far”. The former NHL rear guard appreciates how Josh handles himself in practice and in the gym.

As to Josh’s future, his hockey intelligence will help him. Jackson thinks that with time, Rieger can be a constant in the UND lineup. According to Jackson, Rieger is a “pretty good puck mover”.

Off the ice, the staff likes the “quiet confidence” that Rieger carries himself with. In addition, they appreciate the work he puts in daily to make himself better.

While Rieger is fighting for ice time this year, he has already shown some improvement. He has a strong background from his time in the SJHL, and his maturity will help him develop into the strong two-way defender Jackson thinks he can be. The Canadian defender will not be fighting for ice time for much longer if he continues the path of steady development and hard work he has set himself on.

Josh wants to play UND Hockey, and if he continues his steady development path, look for his name to soon become a fixture in the Fighting Hawks Lineup.

UND Football 2017: A Look at the Culture Bubba Has Built

UND has not had the best results on the football field.The Fighting Hawks finished 3-8 this season. However, Fighting Hawks fans, do not let the record fool you. This program is fully committed to building up its own culture and the past season does not change that.This team has shown it can bounce back even within the season. One example of this is its home win against Northern Colorado after a tough road loss the week prior. The coaching staff has done a relentless marketing  job of this program . Below are a few reasons why fans can remain confident in UND and this coaching staff despite the record not being what anyone wanted coming off of a Big Sky Championship.

The Coaching Staff Recruiting Fans and Players Alike

Coaches have to recruit and build the program right? Yes, of course, but one thing that changed  out of necessity after the Mussman years was more recruiting not just of players, but of fans.

That has completely changed since Bubba Schweigert became head coach at UND. His entire staff is an incredibly visible presence in the community. Every time I have seen any of them at a hockey game or any other UND event they are always supporting their fellow athletic programs.

In addition, very rare is a Friday before a home game that Bubba does not take a stack of tickets, and head to the quad behind the library and interact with a lot of students, and hand out all of his tickets.

This, in turn, has lead to a complete revitalization of the student section. Now, the students have often helped lead chants and pump up the crowd which has, in-turn caused numerous crowd-induced penalties and timeouts over the years.

Bubba’s staff has turned the Alerus Center back into the tough place to play it once was during UND’s Division Two days.

One final example of this culture change, is Bubba’s assistants helping out. It was quite impressive to see assistant coach Travis Stepps handing out tickets to studying students in the Memorial Union this past Thursday imploring them to come. Everyone on Bubba’s staff has bought into the holistic recruiting that had to take place to win back fans and recruits.

The Next Man Up Mentality 

Throughout this year, from star defensive back Deion Harris being out for the season, to losing senior QB Keaton Studsrud for a couple of points in time due to injuries, no one on this team has used injuries as an excuse. The best example of this is at the middle linebacker where it has used more than three players as its projected starters were out due to injury.

Because of these increased reps to all of the backups coming into the season, players like safety Jordan Canady and all of UND’s backup offensive lineman that had to play will be more ready to shoulder the load heading into next season. These tough reps now will pay benefits to UND in the future as it plays a tough independent schedule the next few years before heading into the SEC of FCS Football, the Missouri Valley.

One Final Thing

Fighting Hawks fans, this year has been tough. No one,especially this coaching staff, is happy with a team that finishes 3-8 after winning a championship.

However, as some of you are seeing with the Green Bay Packers, the team looks a bit different without Aaron Rodgers leading things right? Is it fair to say that no matter how good things are with their backups in, that they have to develop and learn their games with reps to improve? I think so, and now Green Bay can have a better setup in the future as they now have had to gameplan without their star.

UND has had that problem with a lot of its positions this year as more than half of its projected starters have not played, or have stopped playing due to injury.

This staff took over a 3-8 program , and lead it to a playoff berth a short three years later. Let’s see what this talented staff of Bubba Schweigert can do in the offseason to bring in some depth in areas of need, and develop its current corps of returners. This program is in a completely different state than it was after its last 3-8 season. Do not let a copious amount of injuries change your mind on that fact.

This past week, Bubba noted his thanks for the atmosphere at the game and how the fans reacted. He lamented that his team could not do enough to keep the fans in the game. For next year, look for more changes from the UND roster to stay competitive with the tough independent schedule it will play.

One thing that will remain the same is the dedicated staff Bubba has to help him sell his vision of day-by-day, tough, hard working football to fans here in Grand Forks. UND fans want to see winning football. This staff has an offseason to bring that back to Grand Forks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UND Uses Balanced Effort to Clinch 2nd Seed in Big Sky Tournament

(Photo Credit: Conor Knuteson for UNDsports.com)

UND Stats

Press Conferences: Griffin, Pryor

In front of a loud 1,319 fans at the Betty Englestad Sioux Center, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks used a balanced attack to defeat the University of Northern Colorado Bears in four sets (25-19,25-19,23-25,25-19) to secure the second seed in their final Big Sky Conference Tournament. UND will compete in the Summit League next season.

The Fighting Hawks finished the regular season 12-4 in the Big Sky Conference and now have to prepare to fight for a return trip to the NCAA Tournament on the campus of Sacramento State next weekend.

Today, UND was able to successfully utilize an outstanding effort from senior Sydney Griffin on defense who contributed 22 digs and 42 assists to the effort.The senior came a mere five kills from a triple-double.

Coach Mark Pryor noted the efficient style of her game as she took what the defense gave her, and made the efficient play.

Griffin’s superb defensive play set up the Fighting Hawks’  offense to have a balanced day. Ashley Brueggeman, Jordan Vail and Tamara Merseli paced the Fighting Hawks on offense (13,12,and 8 kills respectively).

UND now heads into next week with a chance to break down film, study its potential opponents in the tournament, utilize its first-round bye, and go for its second NCAA Tournament appearance in two years.

Coach Pryor also reached 100 wins in his UND career today. During his postgame talk with the media, he focused on UND being mentally ready for next week. He feels that the Fighting Hawks have a “puncher’s chance” next week.

If  UND can play their game and limit errors, they most certainly do.

 

Thrice as Nice: UND Uses a Three Goal Second Period to Help Down Miami (OH) 4-1 Plus 2 Thoughts

(Photo Credit:Kelsey Lee for Violent Turtle Photography)

In front of 11,389 loud fans at the Ralph Englestad Arena, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks were able to spring past the University of Miami of Ohio Red Hawks thanks to a three goal second period. The Fighting Hawks used strong forward play, lead by former Ohio State Buckeye Nick Jones to neutralize the speedy style the RedHawks played.  He took a pass from Colton Poolman 4:03 into the second period and buried it past Miami goaltender Ryan Larkin. This would key the three goal second period the Fighting Hawks used to earn the victory on Friday Night. UND is now 7-2-2 while Miami is 4-5-0.

Throughout the first period, the Fighting Hawks were playing catch up hockey. While the period ended with no score, it also ended with the Red Hawks winning the shot attempt battle by a resounding 21-8. Peter Thome looked strong in the first period. He even played well a couple of long bounces that looked similar to the one Jeff Frazee was unable to stop many years ago against Robbie Bina.

2nd period

Later on after Jones’s first goal, on the power play, Shane Gersich rushed down the ice  and executed a wraparound a bit later to set up Rhett Gardner to bury the eventual game-winning goal .  This goal came 16:17 into the second stanza.

Then just a little bit later, 18:07 into the second frame, Nick Jones took a feed from Jordan Kawaguchi and buried his second tally of the night to give the Fighting Hawks a three goal lead after the second.

3rd period 

In the third period, the RedHawks were finally able to complete the tough task of solving Thome as Panthers’ prospect, Karch Bachman fired one past him 07:26 into the third period to make it a two goal affair once again.

However, a mere four minutes later, Grant Mismash added an insurance marker to re-stake UND to a three goal lead. He potted his second point of the game on a net-front battle to provide the final margin of victory for the evening.

Peter Thome played a strong game throughout the evening for the Fighting Hawks. Coach Brad Betty noted how sharp Thome was, especially in the first period when the team in front of him was not producing much.

Be Consistent

If the team can repeat its performance from period two, it will have a lot of success this season. If the Fighting Hawks play like a first period team, then the success will not come as quickly. UND’s biggest opponent from success could end up being itself.

Thome Time

Peter Thome exudes a quiet confidence while playing goal for the Fighting Hawks. He never looks out of any play and always finds a way to stay calm. Utilize Saturday night as a chance to get him more experience, but do not let up. If Thome sees less than 30 shots, the chances increase for a UND sweep.