(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.
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.
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.