UND Comes Up Short Against Idaho State 25-19: Three Thoughts

(Photo Credit: Russ Hons-FightingHawks.com)

Yesterday for the combined Potato Bowl and Homecoming game, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks looked good in the first quarter. The offense went a perfect five-for-five on third downs. The defense combined with a roaring crowd kept the Bengals of Idaho State out of the end zone. Two drives resulted in touchdowns, and the defense held the Bengals to two field goals. That was the best quarter of the game for UND. From then on, the game completely changed as UND was only able to convert one third down on their last ten attempts. Here are some thoughts regarding yesterday.

The Good 

Noah Wanzek had another nice game for UND. The Fighting Hawks went to him five times for 109 yards including a nice touchdown in the second quarter. He is building a nice campaign for UND this season and it is good to see him getting these quality looks. In addition, the three UND running backs all had some contribution with John Santiago leading the way on the ground with 111 rushing yards and a touchdown. Brady Oliveira ran over multiple Bengals on his way to an 87 yard ground game.

On defense, especially early, UND was able to get home and generated three sacks on the day. UND’s defensive line and ability to get home without blitzing has and will continue to help them as the year goes forward.

What to Improve This Week

Regarding things to build on, the Fighting Hawks have to work on defending the intermediate pass. When Idaho State head coach Rob Phenicie noted the big day they expected their slot wideout, Michael Dean, to have before the game that made me wonder what teams are seeing in the short and intermediate passing game to give future opponents that impression. He finished the day as the leading wide receiver for either side with nine catches for 130 yards. Dean had the one long play up top for 49 yards, beyond that most of his and the rest of the Bengals’ passing game utilized intermediate plays to challenge the Fighting Hawks.

UND played superb defense in three quarters against arguably one of  the best passing teams in the country, Sam Houston State, on the road last week. What was a point of improvement from that game was either missed tackles in short and intermediate routes that turned into bigger gains, like the game winner to Mitch Guller yesterday. Absent missed tackles, opponents are taking advantage of UND by setting up systems to get the ball out quick to minimize pressure, and utilizing their fastest lateral wide receivers to run a sort of west-coast type offense to beat them.

Absent the intermediate game turning into big plays, UND had a bad game against the run yesterday. It is rare to see such a stout run defense like UND give up 273 yards on the ground to anyone at this level. Idaho State averaged 5.9 yards a carry utilizing quick run-pass-option plays. Ty Flanagan and James Madison were able to find gaps up the middle for a team forced to defend the perimeter routes and limit big plays up top. For the most part, UND defended the deep ball well, but the intermediate and underneath plays often were what did them in from the second quarter onward.

Finally, give credit to Idaho State Quarterback Tanner Guller. He did not give up on more than one play that should have been sacks for UND. He is tough to bring down, and turned multiple negative plays into short gainers for the Bengals.

What Now for UND?

Now UND has to get ready for Northern Colorado next weekend. The Fighting Hawks travel to take on a Bears team that is 0-4 to start the season. Looking a bit more into their record, they had a close call against upstart McNeese State to open things up, losing 17-14.

Regardless of the opponent, UND has a formula that they have shown can keep them competitive with anyone. This team still has a stout run defense and front line that will keep them in every game. They have a quarterback in Nate Ketteringham that can make any throw presented to him. Finally, they have a superb backfield which can run through or past any team that sets up superb play-action opportunities throughout every game.

If UND can contain teams that like to spread the ball around and force teams to either run through them or throw over them then the rest of the year could look more like the first quarter yesterday, not the last three.

 

Pride, Passion, Belief,and a Strong Offensive Outing Gives UND a 2-0 Win over Western Illinois University

On Sunday August 20, 2017, UND flew past the Leathernecks of Western Illinois University to stake themselves to their first ever 2-0 start in the Division one era.

The Fighting Hawks raced out to a quick 3-0 first half lead thanks to strong offensive play. Katie Moller got the scoring underway with the first of her two markers on the day. Next, Olivia Geiwitz made it 2-0 with strong play inside the box. Finally, Erin Svensson had the nicest goal of the day to make it 3-0 to close the half. The defender’s shot was a high arching shot that beat everyone and everything to squeak in the top right corner. She would contribute an assist on Moller’s second tally.

In net, Olivia Swenson picked up the win for the Fighting Hawks with an eight-save shutout. Ines Palmiero made four saves on eight shots in 73:42 of play. Goalie Jennifer Currie finished the game with a scoreless relief effort.

Coach Logan noted that UND played with a lot of pride, passion and belief. The Hawks look to take those emotions to Brookings, South Dakota , and Auburn next weekend to continue this strong string of early season play. Look for UND’s speed down the wings, strong goaltending from multiple goalies, and ability to cross to make a difference for them this weekend.

 

Boston University Shatters UND’s Title Hopes 4-3 in Double OT

On March 24 at Scheels arena, UND came up short against the Boston University Terriers 4-3 in double overtime. Charlie McAvoy found the back of the net on a perfect cross-crease pass from play maker extraordinaire, Clayton Keller. Boston won this game thanks to its superb defense and outstanding job limiting UND second chances. The Fighting Hawks won the shot attempts battle 145-67, yet the Terriers blocked 51 of those shots and UND missed 33 of them. North Dakota was done in by a strong Boston effort on the back end and timely transition opportunities. Jake Oettinger played a great game tonight. The freshman netminder for Boston never looked out of position and made several key saves to allow the Terriers time to survive the constant UND pressure.

The first period featured a series of back and forth exchanges. Both sides had their chances. As the game wore on, Boston’s speed was on full display. Cam Johnson had the first big save on a small breakaway from Kieffer Bellows.

17:04 in the first, Joel Janatuinen fired a pass to Rhett Gardner who used his long reach to put the puck in the net around Terrier netminder, Jake Oettinger. This goal is Gardner’s eighth tally of his sophomore season.

Boston University had some chances the rest of the way, but it remained a 1-0 game for UND after the first period.

2:05 in the second period, Doyle Somerby found the back of a wide open net to tie the game up. UND had chances throughout the rest of the period, but could not convert. Every time it looked good, Oettinger made a key save or UND missed the net.

Early in the third period, Bobo Carpenter took a superb setup from Clayton Keller to fire a puck past Cam Johnson and stake the Terriers to their first lead of the contest.

04:24 into the third period, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson put a puck past Johnson to give Boston a 3-1 lead. UND looked tired at this point.

After a 14 minute delay  due to a pane of glass shattering thanks to a nice check by Mike Gornall, UND came back to tie the game thanks to goals from Ludvig Hoff and later by Christian Wolanin. That was the score until the McAvoy marker in the second overtime period.

In the first overtime, Dixen Bowen looked to have the game winner, however after an inordinately long review UND was determined to be off sides and the goal was waved off. This goal was overturned thanks to a sky cam like angle from the opposite goal end.

The Fighting Hawks have not lost to a team other than Boston University in the postseason since 2015. The challenge for UND is trying to retain as many of its underclassmen as possible as the Fighting Hawks bid farewell to seniors Matt Hrynkiw and Gage Ausmus.

 

Hawks Fly to Minneapolis in 6-5 OT Thriller

GRAND FORKS, ND

In front of a raucous crowd of 10,540 fans at Ralph Englestad Arena, UND pulled out a series win over the St. Cloud State Huskies 6-5 in overtime. the game was a back and forth affair throughout as neither side had a lead of more than one goal. Trevor Olson got the game winner in overtime on a shot that went in and out so fast it had to be reviewed.  He now has three game winning goals in the past four games.

St Cloud State opened the scoring with a deflection goal from Nick Poehling 15:11 into the first period. 18:06 into the first period , Robby Jackson put the puck past Cam Johnson however, after a lengthy review, the goal was overturned due to St Cloud having too many men on the ice .During the play, Blake Winiecki took an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to give UND a power play.

The Hawks would  capitalize on the ensuing power play thanks to a strong wrist shot from St. Louis Blues prospect Austin Poganski 19:16 into the first period to tie the game.

53 seconds into the second period, Poganski whipped a perfect pass from the goal line to  a wide open Tyson Jost on a shorthanded chance who did not miss his chance to stake UND to its first lead of the evening.

A bit later in the period, Blake Winiecki won a puck battle with multiple UND skaters below the UND goal line, got the puck to Robby Jackson, who then fired the puck to Patrick Newell. He made no mistake with his wide open chance and tied the game with 8:46 left in the second period.

Soon after the Newell tally, Brock Boeser would find a loose puck at the side of the net and tap it home to return UND to the lead 10:37 into the second period. The Hawks would take a 3-2 lead into the locker room after two periods.

The Huskies would battle back as 7:11 into the third period, John Lizotte fired a puck past a slip-sliding Cam Johnson to tie the game. Then shortly afterwords, Shane Gersich would capitalize on a three on zero breakaway to put UND up 4-3.

That lead did not last long, as John Lizotte would pot an unassisted tally to tie the game 1:02 after the Gersich Tally. Not much later, Nick Poehling would give St. Cloud its second lead of the night after numerous UND attempts to clear the puck. As the seesaw game continued, Christian Wolanin fired home a point shot to tie it up 15:58 into the third period.  The score would remain this way till Olson ended it 07:38 into overtime.

UND will take on either Denver or Minnesota Duluth in Minneapolis next week in the Frozen Faceoff. Their opponent is contingent on the winner of the Western Michigan- Omaha series. Should Omaha win, the Hawks will take on Minnesota Duluth. Should Western Michigan win, UND will take on Denver.