Deep Depth: How Minnesota Duluth Won Its Second National Championship

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee of Violent Turtle Photography)

 

The University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs won their second national championship on Saturday night with a 2-1 win over Notre Dame. They won with goals from Captain Karson Kuhlman, and Jared Thomas. UMD also got timely goaltending as Hunter Shepard made 19 saves on the evening. Of his 19 saves, three of them were on solid grade-A chances for Notre Dame.

He outlasted 2018 Mike Richter Award (best goalie in college hockey) Winner, Notre Dame goalie Cale Morris. He made 33 saves but was solved early by UMD.

Initially,  Notre Dame did a better job at getting sticks into lanes and making Duluth earn its chances, however it was not enough to stop them from replicating their streak of scoring first in their last three games of this tournament.

Duluth captain Karson Kuhlman capitalized on a Notre Dame turnover. He started the play with the turnover that Jade Miller was able to return to him. Kuhlman then raced in and fired a strike from just outside the right faceoff dot that went off Notre Dame defender Tory Dello and past the glove of Cale Morris to give UMD the first lead of the night 9:06 into the first period.

Notre Dame played Duluth tough the entire first period, but could not convert on any of their chances. They had a few solid chances, but could not solve Shepard.

The lack of scoring for Notre Dame benefited UMD early on as Jared Thomas netted his second goal of the weekend 18:39 into the first. Thomas won a puck battle in the Notre Dame zone, found Kuhlman and returned the puck back to Thomas. He then walked to the side of Morris and banked a shot in off of him.

Notre Dame did get one goal 7:40 into the second on a power play as Cam Morrison found Andrew Oglevie on a nice setup. He then wired a wrist shot through the five-hole of Shepard.

For as much as Notre Dame pressured Duluth the rest of the night, the final margin was set at that point. UMD did a superb job of limiting second and third chances, and did just enough to earn the win. Duluth even prevented Notre Dame from getting a shot on net with the extra attacker for the last part of the game.

QUOTES

UMD’s Karson Kuhlman on the depth of his team, and the play made by Jade Miller to set him up for his goal.

“Obviously those guys have been playing great all year. That’s one thing that we knew
coming into the season that we’d have was real good depth up front. Obviously any single night lines one through four could score and all six [defenseman] can put the puck in the net. And Shep [Hunter Shepard could probably score if he came out, too.”

“But it was a good play. I think Jader got a stick on a puck and I was able to turn in transition quick and sneak one by his glove.”

Jared Thomas on the unsung heroes of UMD

” I think we have a bunch of unsung heroes on our team. There’s a guy sitting down there [ Blake Young] .He’s came such a long way since his freshman year. We had so many guys like that on our team, playing third,fourth line. And we’re never afraid when they were on the ice. We knew that they were going to do their job.And we trusted everyone in our locker room, whether the guys were playing or even the guys that weren’t in the lineup. If we needed them we knew that they’d be ready to step right in. And I think that goes unnoticed sometimes, those depth guys. So I’m so happy for our group and especially for those guys that don’t get a lot of recognition.”

 

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.

 

 

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.

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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)

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Three For One: How UND Defeated Minnesota 4-0 to Earn a Split

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee for Violent Turtle Photography)

On Saturday night, in front of 11,890 boisterous fans, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks (4-1-1) defeated the Minnesota Golden Gophers (3-3-0, 1-1-0) 4-0. Their victory was keyed by three goals on a Jack Glover checking from behind major. This set up the Fighting Hawks to separate themselves from the Gophers for the remainder of the contest.

With the Gophers down a defenseman, and shorthanded for five full minutes, UND took advantage of its chances. The three markers provided insurance after the Fighting Hawks had a one goal lead.

 

04:59 into the first period Nick Jones buried his first goal as a Fighting Hawk on a perfect setup from linemate Grant Mismash. The Predators prospect took a feed from defenseman Hayden Shaw, streaked down to the goal line, and fired an exquisite no look back hand pass to a wide open Jones who did the rest.

19:19 into the opening frame,  the Fighting Hawks would score their first of three goals on Jack Glover’s five minute major. Christian Wolanin took a feed from Gabe Bast and rifled it past Gophers’ goalie Eric Schierhorn to give UND a 2-0 lead at the first intermission. Give forward Rhett Gardner credit on that goal for providing a beautiful screen to set that chance up.

The Fighting Hawks continued their strong special teams play as Colton Poolman joined the goal scoring fun. The sophomore defenseman scored  2:12 into the period. He took a drop pass from Ludvig Hoff and sent a rocket past three Gopher defenders and Schierhorn into the back of the net.

Wolanin capped off the scoring 3:43 into the middle frame. He took a pass from Colin Adams and fired it past Schierhorn to secure the final margin of victory for the Fighting Hawks.

Notes 

Forward Grant Mismash had an especially strong first period and was my vote for second star of the evening. He had two assists, finished plus one, and blocked a shot. The two-way forward played a strong 200 foot game for the Fighting Hawks tonight, and is developing into the player Nashville drafted him to be.

Junior defender Hayden Shaw notched two secondary assists tonight, as he did a superb job setting up the play throughout the evening for the Fighting Hawks.

Last night, North Dakota dominated possession and chances, yet could not win. Tonight, the tables were turned as Minnesota finished with 47 shot attempts to UND’s 39.

My Thoughts

I think that the Fighting Hawks cannot only be judged by their shot totals, or even shot attempts. Some of the past few games that the Fighting Hawks have not won, going back to last season against Boston have a few common themes. Strong goaltender, not finishing chances, and too many blocked shots.

Tonight the Fighting Hawks took care of the last two, and Schierhorn had to deal with a lot of traffic on Saturday. Look for UND to utilize that even more moving forward. The Fighting Hawks almost have to be judged without shot attempts. One the one hand, this stat shows possession, on the other hand said possession does not  always indicate who actually wins as evidenced by UND’s season opener against Alaska Anchorage. .

The Fighting Hawks go on the road next week to open to take on Colorado College in their NCHC conference-opening series. If UND plays a simple game and opens up lanes like it did tonight, good things can happen.

 

 

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 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.

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