Fast Start Propels UND to 4-1 Friday Night Win over Denver Plus Thoughts on Series Finale

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violent Turtle Photography)

Coming into this one, North Dakota had started to find a formula to play well in the NCHC, get a fast start and then follow that with stout defense. They got all of that with a 4-1 victory over the Denver Pioneers in front of 10,949 loud fans at the Ralph Engelstad Arena on Friday night.

Gavin Hain provided the fast start. On a Mark Senden contested faceoff win, Hain took the puck from his left wing spot, and walked in on Denver netminder Devin Cooley. with limited space, Hain was able to pull the puck to his backhand and open up just enough space to go glove side on the Denver netminder. 7:46 in to the first period, UND had their first lead of the night.

5:10 later, Hain’s line would strike again. This time, Senden would benefit from the play of his other wing, Cole Smith. Taking on multiple Pioneers, Smith fed an area pass to Senden in front of the net. Instantly he was able to convert the one-timer to make it a 2-0 Fighting Hawks lead.

That first period start, combined with UND goalie Adam Scheel making all seven saves in the second period on some better looks for the Pioneers gave UND a 2-0 lead heading into the third period. That effort, combined with a perfect penalty kill for the Fighting Hawks helped them to their lead.

A few minutes into the third, the Fighting Hawks would add to their lead. Nick Jones did yeoman-like work behind the net and created time and space to wire a superb pass to Matt Kiersted. The sophomore defender wired the 13th shot of the night past Cooley to provide UND a 3-0 lead. That margin would not remain all night as 9:29 into the third, Colin Staub fired in a Ryan Barrow feed from close in to make it a 3-1 game and give Denver their first goal of the weekend.

Finally, after a missed Brett Stapley penalty shot for Denver with 2:02 left, Colton Poolman would then provide the final margin with an empty net marker. Adam Scheel got the only assist on this goal. He finished the evening saving 21 of the 22 shots he faced.

Two Thoughts for the Series Finale 

Finish Strong 

UND needs to do a better job maintaining their pressure. In the third period, Denver outshot UND 9-2 with a goalie in net for the Pioneers. While UND did score on one of those shots, the pressure they build throughout the game needs to be consistent in the third period. If it wanes like that against more skilled teams like Denver, starting Saturday night, then the Fighting Hawks will risk losing hard-earned leads throughout the season.

Maintain Shot Quality 

UND needs to continue their pressure in the offensive zone. The Fighting Hawks were a lot more selective with their chances and it showed in their efficiency. They finished with three goals against Cooley on 14 shots. While they need to play a consistent game with 5-12 shots or more per period, they also did improve in the quality of their chances.

 

 

Double Deflection Does in Fighting Hawks in 2-0 Loss to Western Michigan: Three Thoughts

(Photo Credit:Kelsey Lee- Violent Turtle Photography)

Coming into this one, both teams had some injury issues, and tonight North Dakota came out on the short end of things on the ice losing 2-0. The Fighting Hawks out shot the Broncos 32-19 but lost the game 2-0. Western Michigan goalie Trevor Gorsuch spun a 32 save shutout in the win. Peter Thome made 17 saves on 18 shots for UND.

The lone goal of the affair came on a double deflection in the third period 12:24 in as Josh Passolt deflected a Hugh McGing pass off the skate of Hayden Shaw and past Thome. Colt Conrad added an empty net marker a few minutes later to provide the final 2-0 margin for the Broncos. Of the 62 shot attempts for the Fighting Hawks, only 32 found their way to Gorsuch.

Despite having three power plays in the first, UND generated only eight shots on net during them combined. None of them found the back of the net. Western Michigan utilized an aggressive penalty kill and took away the time and space of the Fighting Hawks, especially on the points on special teams to limit good power play looks. UND actually lead the night in blocked shots with 18 (18-13) but Western Michigan’s aggressive defense limited quality looks and increased misses for the Fighting Hawks on the evening.

Read on to find out how UND can build on the opener to get a few more in the back of the net Saturday night.

Simplify

Whenever UND comes up short this seems to be a theme for the Fighting Hawks. UND needs to simplify its approach on special teams to generate more chances from high-quality scoring areas. As Western Michigan utilizes an aggressive penalty kill and system to limit quality chances, UND needs to find a way to capitalize on that system. One idea is generating a few more head-fakes and juke moves to open lanes. Think back to the Jacob Bernard-Docker overtime winner against Wisconsin. That patience and poise allowed him to make a nice move to open a lane and provide the final margin that night. That same ability to wait out an opponent did not manifest itself for UND as much on  Friday night at the Ralph.

Add Quality

If the Fighting Hawks finish the series finale with less shots reaching the net, but more goals, no one will be disappointing. The top line number of 32 shots on net was nice, but a lot of those chances as the game wore on were outside chances. It would be equivalent to a basketball team taking a lot of extra shots from beyond the three-point line but not connecting. If UND is able to find more chances down low utilizing the skills it has to mitigate the physical style of hockey the Broncos play, the result in the finale could be a bit different.

Patience

One of the things that impressed me when UND went on its  five game win streak was its patience. If shots did not open up right away, the Fighting Hawks made the extra pass and did not force the issue unnecessarily. That ability to be patient is one of the hallmarks of this team when it is rolling. So now, we patiently wait for game two of the series and see what the Fighting Hawks have in store on a Saturday night in Grand Forks.

 

 

 

Hawks Fly Past the Huskies 5-2

GRAND FORKS, NORTH DAKOTA

In front of a crowd of 10,143 loud fans, the University of North Dakota vanquished the St Cloud State Huskies by a three goal margin. Rhett Gardner opened the scoring at 13:39 of the first period with a shot fired off a Husky stick to give the Fighting Hawks an early lead.

Less than a minute later, Shane Gersich got the puck at the blue line and raced in to score a breakaway goal. The Capitals prospect is the first UND sophomore to put up 20 goals in a season since Brock Nelson in the 2011-2012 season.

UND remained in control until 9:43 remaining in the second period. Jacob Benson buried a power play marker on a nice cross-ice feed from Mikey Eyssimont into a wide open net.

With 3:33 remaining in the second, Brock Boeser buried a power play tally to put the Hawks back up two.

On the Boeser goal in the second, defenseman Tucker Poolman notched point number 30. The Winnipeg Jets prospect is the first UND blue-liner to hit that mark since Chay Genoway back in the 2010-2011 season.

After the Huskies answered back with a Jimmy Schuldt goal 10:48 into the third UND was on their heels for a bit, until Austin Poganski scored another key goal on a superb breakaway  less than two minutes later to put the Hawks back ahead by two.

Joel Janatuinen would add an empty-net tally with 44.4 seconds left to secure the three goal victory.

Winnipeg Jets prospect Tucker Poolman was named the game’s first star for his two assists. Both of his assists helped set up UND goals that pushed momentum in their direction.

Tomorrow night UND looks to complete the sweep at Ralph Englestad Arena. The puck drops at 7:07 PM.

 

 

 

 

Manitoba Moose-Jack Roslovic

Columbus, OH native Jack Roslovic  was drafted by the Winnipeg Jets in the 1st round in 2015. A center and right wing, he has played in multiple leagues over the years.Jack scored 52 points during his two years  in 59 USHL games with the USA National Team Development Program.

Even though he is only 19 Roslovic plays a very physical game with an offensive edge and has great foot speed.

Currently playing for the Manitoba Moose, I had the opportunity to watch him play and get to talk with him after the game.

When asking why he decided to sign this year instead of returning to Miami University. He thought it was the best for his development and that the Jets could do wonders for his career.

Over the summer, Roslovic worked on getting bigger, faster and stronger. I asked him what he thinks he needs to work on to make it to the next level, he said he just needs to work the systems and listen to the coaching staff.

We also talked briefly about his time at Oxford and what he would miss most, the guys and the brotherhood he felt when he was there.

I asked him what player past or present that he models his game after and his response was no one. He studies as many players as he can so that he can combine parts of their game and develop his own style.

The Hawks Pyramid to the NHL

Well, a few days ago, blogger and YouTube Star extraordinaire Steve Dangle invented a new way to rank each team’s NHL prospects. He used a pyramid system to group prospects rather than listing them one through whatever arbitrary number is used. (click his name for a video with a primer on the pyramid idea)

This system is excellent in my view because it gives more flexibility and because it removes pointless dogmatic arguments. I am using this system in college hockey. I will write about a few teams. The main one of course is going to be the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks. The tiers will be separated by the chance to play at least one game in the NHL at some point in each players’ pro career upon leaving UND.

The highest tier is the highest chance of playing even one game in the show. Each tier decreases in probability.

Tier One

75 percent or greater

Brock Boeser, Tyson Jost

Well, most UND fans have seen the scoring prowess of Brock Boeser. His shot is NHL ready now and he has one more year to work on his speed before making the jump to Vancouver. He will play an NHL game as soon as this year.

Jost is another first round pick that plays a responsible two way game and has a knack for making plays all over the ice. His mere presence on the ice made his Canadian team better at the U18 World Championship this past April . Tyson will kill penalties and play key special teams minutes this year. If he can develop his shot a bit and generate say a point a game he could make the jump this year as well. The Avalanche do not have a better unsigned center prospect in their system than Tyson Jost.

Tier Two

50-74.9 percent chance

Tucker Poolman, Austin Poganski, Christian Wolanin, Cam Johnson, Rhett Gardner

This is where some of the more developed players reside. Poolman could have jumped to the Jets this year but stayed to play with his brother Colton among other reasons. Gardner earned a late round pick from the Dallas Stars thanks to his stellar work in all three zones. He has a role now as a faceoff specialist. Rhett reminds me of Corban Knight. He can win a faceoff any time and can play in all three zones. Cam Johnson earned a development camp invite to the Penguins based on his superb play this past season including Midwest Regional MVP in Cincinnati on the way to backstopping UND to its eighth National Championship. Poganski has a strong presence on the ice as a reliable net-front presence and is UND’s best penalty killing forward going into the season.

Tier Three

25-50 percent chance

Gage Ausmus, Matej Tomek, Chris Wilkie, Shane Gersich

All four of these players will have roles on this team. Ausmus is UND’s first two year captain since Chay Genoway. Gage reminds me of Andrew MacWilliam. He is a great stay at home defenseman that does not do much offensively. His defensive skills allow his partner to jump up into the rush more knowing that they have a strong backup.

Tomek did not play at all during the regular season last year due to both being injured and then being outplayed by Cam Johnson and Mat Hrynkiw. If Tomek earns ice time he will have a chance to elevate his ranking,however the Flyers drafted another goalie this year in the first round. That goalie is Carter Hart. The Everett Silvertip will be ready for the NHL before Tomek may even be a starter here. The Flyers have six other prospect goalies and all of them but Tomek played last year. Matej has a lot of work to do to improve his stock in the Flyers organization but has the potential to do just that.

Wilkie and Gersich remind me of Rocco Grimaldi. They are both smaller players who are strong on the puck and need to score constantly to be considered valuable to their team. Both can improve their spots with the increased time they will get on the higher lines this year.

 

Tier Four

0-24.9 percent

Everyone else

The most likely person in this tier to play an NHL game at some point Johnny Simonson. He has improved each year and has gotten better on the puck. His goal scoring is catching up to his speed. Simonson still has two more years to showcase himself for an NHL team.

Ranking college players is even more imperfect than ranking pro prospects. Someone in tier four could make the league before someone in tier one. This is just a snapshot in time based on expectations and past performance. What are your thoughts on this system.What are your tiers? What are your tiers for some other teams? We will write about more teams as the season goes on. Also let me know what I missed in the comments.

 

 

Peanut Butter Jelly Time at UND

With Nick Schmaltz departing for the Chicago Blackhawks, UND now has some choices to make regarding its first line composition. Austin Poganski, Brock Boeser,and Tyson Jost are three of the best players UND has and all play a very complimentary game to one another. This would be,like a PB&J sandwich, and award winning combination for UND.

To start,Austin Poganski is a two way forward that plays a very physical game. He is an expert at screening the goalie and providing tip in goals while making it easier for defenseman to fire clean shots on net. Defensively he goes to the tough areas routinely,and wins puck battles to help start the transition back to offense. On power plays, Poganski routinely takes the attention of one or more defenseman in front of the net. He is a good box disruptor,and allows others cleaner shots on goal.

Next, Brock Boeser  is an outstanding goal scorer. His shot is the best in college hockey. Coming into this season,Brock is a prime candidate to win the Hobey Baker Award. The Minnesota native is a game-changing talent that has helped UND win games it had no business winning. The best example is the Frozen Four game against Denver last season. Boeser won the key face off that lead to Nick Schmaltz scoring the rebound goal to vault UND into the National Championship. Brock benefited from having Drake Caggiula on his line last year. Drake is an all around strong forward that provides a physical presence when needed.

Finally, Tyson Jost is a fantastic two way forward. He routinely makes outstanding passes to his linemates and makes his whole forward line better. The Canadian forward was Canada’s best skater throughout the U18 World Championships in Grand Forks, ND. Jost routinely makes Schmaltz-esque passes and sets up all those around him to generate great chances. Unlike Schmaltz, Jost seems to shoot the puck a bit more, and is not shot averse at times.

The combination of Poganski to screen defenders, and Jost to pass the puck to Boeser is an excellent one. NCHC teams cannot key in on any one player. All three can score twenty goals or more a season. The trio could combine for 100 points or more. They all work in harmony with one another, and play well off one another’s strengths. If this line is assembled and plays up to its potential, it could have North Dakota talking about the PB&J line  like they will forever talk about the CBS line.