5-3: Lakers Earn Game Three with improved defense, depth scoring and more- What to watch for in game three

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography)

On a Saturday night at the Sanford Center in beautiful Bemidji, the Lakers of Lake Superior State earned a 5-3 win in game two in their first round WCHA playoff series against the Beavers of Bemidji State.  Mareks Mitens stood tall for the Lakers in net making 45 saves on 48 shots faced . His counterpart, Zach Driscoll, made 24 saves on 28 shots faced. Game three takes place Sunday night at 6:07 PM to determine who moves to the WCHA Semifinals. Bemidji State most likely has to win to maintain their at-large hopes, while the Lakers need a win to continue their season.

The game winning goal was scored by a long-sweeping back hand from the mid slot courtesy of Hampus Eriksson 7:42 into the second period. That goal at the time put the Lakers up two, but ended up proving helpful insurance as Elias Rosen put home a point shot for the Beavers 13:43 into the third period precipitating a furious Beavers’ comeback attempt late in the game that came up just short.

The Lakers got contributions from all over the lineup in game two. Miroslav Mucha put home the first goal of the night to tie things up 13:33 into the first period. On the night, Bemidji State only lead 2:05 all game. Mucha’s marker combined with a Bryan Basilico tally 13 seconds later gave the Lakers their first lead of the weekend. That lead was short lived as Alex Adams tied things up 1:14 after the second Lakers’ marker.

Following that, Max Humitz potted the first of his two markers as he put home the third goal of the night 3:29 into the second period.  He later added the empty net marker right before time expired for his 21st marker of the season. The Lakers managed to play relatively penalty free on the night as well only giving up two power plays on two minor penalties on the night. One of those was in stopping a breakaway that could have lead to a Bemidji State goal.

What to watch for in the finale 

Head Coach Damon Whitten praised his depth in this one. On offense, the Lakers got big boosts from depth players like Mucha. On defense, the big Lakers back line blocked shots and made life a little easier for Mareks Mitens despite being hemmed in their own end for large points of the evening. Everyone on the team for the Lakers tonight contributed in some way and Whitten was sure to point that out. Also, the Lakers did a much better job limiting turnovers in their own end. Bemidji State still buried one of those chances, but credit to the Lakers for using their size and strength to hold the lead after claiming the two goal advantage. Bemidji State will surely try a few different things in game three to get the defenders of Lake Superior State moving. Despite getting 94 shot attempts, Mitens only saved 48. Bemidji State will want more pucks to the net, while the Lakers will want to get a little more offensive zone time. Look below for post game comments from Whitten, Mitens, Eriksson, and Beavers’ Head Coach Tom Serratore on the night.

Whitten’s Comments

Also, Mitens praised his team in front of him on the evening and explained why Eriksson’s backhand is so hard to stop especially from where he fired home the goal.

In addition, Eriksson added his thoughts on the evening.

Serratore’s comments on the night and some things to watch for from Bemidji State in the series finale.

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape, please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded  journalism that can truly be free for all at this link: https://www.paypal.me/oliverfrancies your donation will help expand what content we can offer and how many stories we can tell.

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Peter Thome wins goaltending duel for UND 1-0: Now What?

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography)

Coming into Friday night’s skirmish with the Tigers of Colorado College, the Fighting Hawks’ Men’s Hockey team had some things to adress. For the past few weekends, its starts especially on Fridays, have been squalor based affairs that have had them chasing games. Luckily the team has usually found ways out of the holes it dug itself in, and it did not have to do so tonight.

On this wonderful night at the Ralph Engelstad Arena, the Fighting Hawks got just enough good bounces to earn a 1-0 victory. In the third period, Shane Pinto fired home a puck that pin balled to him into the yawning cage to provide the final margin for the evening  10:23 into the third period. What stood out most about that power play was the fact that UND finally got a good bounce to go their way. They had to fight against freshman netminder Matt Vernon all night. He made several great saves and made things tough for the Fighting Hawks. In addition, credit the Tigers for defending the blue paint relatively well. UND did not get many easy looks on yawning nets off second chances. That is where a lot of their goals have come from in this resurgent season for the Fighting Hawks.

In net for UND was Peter Thome. The junior netminder’s play from the start of the second half has arguably kept UND at the top of the country. His ability to play angles without over pursuing anything and make several key saves against the Tigers gave UND more time to find the go ahead goal. The biggest improvement Thome has made to his game is his further utilization of his size (six feet, four inches) to not need to over pursue angles as he did on occasion in his first two seasons as a Fighting Hawk. He made a few lateral saves on this night that his counterpart, Adam Scheel, has had to work on getting better at as well.

What to watch for in the series finale 

For the Fighting Hawks, I would strongly consider using Jasper Weatherby to take every draw for all lines he is not on when he has any energy of any sort. He lead the way in the faceoff dot for UND last night winning 14 of the 15 draws he took. The San Jose Sharks prospect has developed his game and utilized his faceoff prowess and ability to get to the net front to help his team this year. If the season ended today I would strongly consider him in the running for any sort of most improved award the team would hand out.

Also, Peter Thome should get the start tonight. If turning in a 25 save shutout in a 1-0 game is not enough to earn another look in net, I do not know what is. While we still support a platoon of Peter Thome and Adam Scheel in net down the stretch, giving Thome the net the game before UND heads to its bye week would allow Scheel to get a little more rest and then give coaches two weeks to figure a rotation for the two superb netminders UND has down the stretch.

Finally, if you want Colorado College to have a better fate than their loss last night, look at transition opportunities as a way to solve those problems. It seemed as if on the few they had in the series opener, they did not do enough to get Thome moving and open up any angles. UND is a team with an offensive-minded defense group that likes to get up in the play and take shots on net. When those shots go high and wide, the Tigers have to bury a couple of those looks to have a chance in the finale. Most teams will not win the battle of offensive zone time against the Fighting Hawks;however, multiple teams in the second half, from Alabama Huntsville to Minnesota Duluth, have shown their ability to score multiple goals in transition against this team. The Fighting Hawks do not have many ways they can be beaten or even competed tough against, but scoring on transition looks is probably at the top of that list.

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape, please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded  journalism that can truly be free for all at this link: https://www.paypal.me/oliverfrancies your donation will help expand what content we can offer and how many stories we can tell.

Supporters: We thank all of our readers and those who donate, especially Greg and Michelle Livingston.

Zips race past UND Volleyball to clinch UND Classic Title 3-0

Tonight, the University of North Dakota Volleyball team faced one of their toughest opponents of the season. Slow starts in sets one and three, and a resilient Akron Zips side in set two did in the Fighting Hawks at home and secured the UND Classic Title for the Akron Zips (25-14, 25-23, 25-15).

The Zips won by playing consistently physical volleyball, relying on strong attacks, and capitalizing on unforced errors to keep UND hitting out of its system tonight. When the Fighting Hawks kept it closest was when their blockers, lead by Lexi Ahrens in the second set, were able to hang with the Zips. Every time UND got close, minus the tie at 23 in the second set tonight, an error at the service line or the Zips would push the margin right back out again.

With all of that being said, there were some positives on the weekend for these Fighting Hawks.  Coach Jeremiah Tiffin was happy that the team got some bench contributions on the weekend from players like Sara Antic among others who picked up their team, especially against Eastern Washington, when needed.

Going forward, one thing is clear after the non-conference slate of this season being done. This team will rise or fall based on its starts. Keep an eye on who gets to five first and what the margin is. If UND can stay in front of that margin and force teams to play perfect volleyball, they will win a few more games than expected and have results more mirroring the pacing of set five against Eastern Washington.

When that does not happen, the results will largely replicate sets one and three from tonight where they have to answer back against a tough Summit League schedule.

UND now heads on the road to take on a very good Omaha team with some quality non conference wins, and South Dakota after that before returning home October 4 to take on Western Illinois.

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.

 

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.

PHOTO Link: https://www.facebook.com/pg/Violentturtlephotograhpy/photos/?tab=album&album_id=672606726271241

 

UND Flies Past Eastern Washington to go 4-0 in the Big Sky

Photo Credit: (Tyler Ingham for UNDSports.com)

In front of 1289 fans at the Betty Englestad Sioux Center the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks (19-2, 4-0) swept (25-15, 25-12,25-20) the Eastern Washington Eagles (5-8, 2-2)

This win marks the 17th consecutive win at the Betty for the Hawks. They have won the last 32 sets at home.

The Fighting Hawks raced out to a quick lead due to their ability to limit errors. Four of their seven attack errors came in the first set. UND had 12 kills on 34 swings in the first half.

Coach Pryor mentioned the need to improve “ball security” and limit mistakes after the match against Idaho. The Fighting Hawks would replicate this formula in the second and third sets to take the match. Coach Pryor’s side had an attack error free second set.

The Fighting Hawks had to battle in the third set to close out Eastern Washington. The Eagles had a few runs, and forced UND to use its only timeout of the match. North Dakota benefited, once again, from its strong defense to short-circuit a lot of Eagle attacks. Eastern Washington only hit .073 in the third set (14 kills on 55 swings with 10 attack errors).

This attack error free second set was the first for the Fighting Hawks since the second round of the 2017 Big Sky Tournament on November 18, 2016.

UND was paced throughout by Faith Dooley who lead the way on offense for the Hawks with nine kills on seventeen swings. The Wheatland, ND native hit above .500 (.529) for the second match this week.

Four players pitched in big defensive evenings for the Fighting Hawks. Teodora Tepavac, Tamera Merseli, Alivia Fraase,and Sydney Griffin each had double digit digs (15,14,11,10).

Once again the Fighting Hawks were able to limit their attack errors to single digits. UND had seven attack errors on the day which tied its season low. The Hawks last had seven attack errors against George Washington on September 8 in the UND Classic. Eastern Washington had 30 attack errors on the day.

The Fighting Hawks head on the road next weekend to take on Sacramento State, and Portland State as they look to extend their undefeated record in the Big Sky.

Check out Faith Dooley’s thoughts on the game, the win streak at home, and more.

 

 

 

 

UND Sweeps Idaho Keyed by a Trio of Double-Digit Kill Evenings

(Photo credit to Joel Helbling for UNDSports.com)

In front of a crowd of 1,333 fans anxious to see the first home match at the Betty Englestad Sioux Center in almost three weeks, the Fighting Hawks (18-2 2-1) swept (25-22, 25-18, 25-21) the Idaho Vandals (7-7, 2-1) in their Big Sky home opener. This win gave the Fighting Hawks their 16th straight home win at the Betty.

The Fighting Hawks persevered through an eight error first set with 20 kills to put the Vandals on their heels early. As the match went on, the Fighting Hawks were able to slowly control their attack errors and the game.

In the second set, the Fighting Hawks hit .500 as they were able to put the Vandals down 25-18 going into halftime. This allowed the team the chance to avoid going to four sets. Given that UND has played 20 matches, maintaining their stamina is becoming increasingly important. Coach Pryor noted the issues with fatigue, and the importance of closing Idaho out in three sets.

Seniors Faith Dooley, Tamera Merseli, and sophomore Ashley Brueggeman each (13,12,and 10) notched double digit kills on the evening.

The Wheatland, ND native was the most efficient Hawk on the offensive side of the ball  on the evening. She notched her 12 kills on 19 swings with zero attack errors. She hit .632 on the night and was a constant force for Head Coach Mark Pryor’s team throughout the match. Pryor noted how much Faith has improved over her time at UND, as she has put herself just outside the top five of UND’s career kills list.

Tamera Merseli had her ninth double-double of the season this evening with 14 kills and 10 digs. The Belgrade,Serbia native had a keen eye for placing the ball as she caught Idaho’s defenders off guard with well placed kills.

The Fighting Hawks are back in action this Saturday at the Betty against Eastern Washington. The match is scheduled for 11 AM.

 

 

 

 

 

 

North Dakota Sweeps Appalachian State: A Recap

Grand Forks, ND

In front of 1288 boisterous fans at the Betty Englestad Sioux Center, UND Fighting Hawks Volleyball (12-1) used a balanced attack to sweep the Appalachian State Mountaineers (3-6) 25-18, 25-19, 25-19.

Ashley Brueggeman lead a potent offensive attack for the Fighting Hawks. She had eleven kills on twenty-five attempts. She was joined by Faith Dooley who hit a strong .529 percent tonight.

A common theme of the evening for UND was managing its errors. The Fighting Hawks ended the evening with 9 errors. The Mountaineers had 23 errors.

Head Coach Mark Pryor was impressed with how his team managed its errors against a good opponent.

On the quality of the Mountaineers:

“Appalachian State’s a lot better than their record. They’re gonna be pretty good in the Sun Belt, they do a lot of good things.”

In addition, he commented on the remarkable atmosphere in the Betty, and the expectations of his program.

“The atmosphere is great, and that’s one thing we can’t stress enough is how great it is. ”

This win continues a streak for the Fighting Hawks. UND has not lost a set at home since November 5th, 2016 against Idaho.

The Fighting Hawks look to close out the UND classic against future Summit opponent South Dakota State a little bit later on today at 11:00 AM at the Betty.

 

 

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.