UND Men’s Hockey’s conflicting views on major penalties: Some thoughts

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

Today, the NCHC suspended University of North Dakota Forward Grant Mismash for strolling through the creae of Denver’s Magnus Chrona and shocking him with an elbow. Chrona took the elbow to his chest and fell, smacking his head against the ice, and leaving the game after. Mismash was assessed a five minute major and a game misconduct for charging him.

Was that deserved? Many people outside of the program may think so, but UND Men’s Hockey Head Coach Brad Berry begs to differ, saying ” we know every five-minute major goes through a review process… I got a call today that said he was suspended for the extra game. Our league does an outstanding job as far as officiating and the review process. They deemed it a one-game suspension. I guess I would say we here have a difference of opinion, but at the end of the day, the league makes the call and we deal with it and move forward. It is what it is”

Compare that Brad Berry bit of passive aggressive thought to what he said when Jimmy Schuldt of St. Cloud State nearly two years ago injured Grant Mismash through a knee on knee contact that official Todd Anderson thought, at the time, was a clean hit. Arguably both should have been reviewed, but Schuldt’s hit was not. Berry said, “i’m very, very, disappointed, …And again, I’m not going to get in any trouble here by making a comment, but that was a knee-on-knee that should have been reviewed. We have a protocol in place and it wasn’t reviewed and I’m very disappointed in that. It’s not the result of the game that I’m alluding to. It’s one of those things where you know where anything is 50/50 like that at that time in the game has got to get reviewed, and we have that in our protocol.”

Categorically speaking, the suspension Grant Mismash received today arguably was fair. You do not causally saunter through the blue paint and elbow a goaltender. That is a no in this sport at any level, and Mismash is paying for that. Magnus Chrona did not at all dive, and he looked concussed on the play and could miss time for a Pioneers team. The puck was no where near Chrona when the contact happened, and there was no reason for Mismash to skate in the blue paint, that close to him, during that instance in the game. We remember covering that night against St. Cloud State when Mismash got injured that collision. As noted, fans and Berry were incensed, and rightly so given the player they lost for the rest of the year. Chrona is at least at that level of importance for the Pioneers, if not more given his role as the starting netminder. The overhead view is pretty clear and shows the space Mismash had to try and adjust before going into Chrona.

What Grant Mismash did to him was the functional equivalent of a defensive lineman getting to Kurt Cousins and sacking him three seconds after he throws the football downfield. There is no functional reason for that, or for what Grant did. He is a good player in his own right and playing for an NHL contract with the Nashville Predators. That play certainly did not help his case, which was building in the positive direction given his scoring touch this season, but the stark disparity in Berry’s tone between today, and nearly two years ago is reflective of how some Fighting Hawks fans see this disparity. To Berry and them, we would concede that the Schuldt hit on Mismash was worthy of a review, which it should have had. With that said, we do not play sports in any condition that is theoretical, and UND fans were right to demand a review that they did not get two years ago.

Where we draw the line is the disparity. Advocating for transparency, and for your player to pay attention to where he is on the ice would have been the straight up way to adress the suspension today, if Mismash skates through he paint and doesn’t elbow Chrona, maybe Magnus moves up on him a bit like most goalies to give their defense a little more room, but no elbows to the chest plate occur, or potential concussions on that instance. You could even make the argument that given what he served in the game, and when the penalty happened, no suspension was warranted, but you understood the penalty. Berry was right to be incensed at the NCHC for their lack of transparency on the choice to not review the Schuldt hit on Mismash on the ice that evening, and is not correct in his response to Mismash’s suspension. Knee-on-knee contact and goaltender interference via charging through the blue paint with a puck no where near it both have no place in this sport.

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 like unique untold stories across college hockey. 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:paypal.me/Seamorepsorts

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UND Hockey: What comes next?

Phtoto Credit:Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

Tonight, the Fighting Hawks earned a victory over the Pioneers of Denver a mere 24 hours after losing to them 4-1. What does this mean for the team’s fortunes the rest of the year? Well these are three things we came away from the series noticing.

Penalties, so many penalties

These two games have shown us one thing despite the results. The Fighting Hawks are incredibly overaggressive as a team most times, and are subject to tougher officiating more than most. The team took multiple unneeded penalties throughout this weekend, and was able to squeak out a victory over the Pioneers because of how it killed the penalties it took. With that said, do keep in mind that the postseason will feature 15 other capable teams on the power play, and all will have a chance to potentially end UND’s season in some form or fashion.

Goalie concerns

Adam Scheel played superb in the series finale, and should every game he plays in resemble it, than UND will win a lot of games this year. With that said, you cannot throw out the season opener, or multiple other close ones that Scheel has had this year. The NCAA Tournament has teams that live for one thing, depositing rebounds in their opponent’s net. On Saturday, multiple reboundds off the equipment of Scheel ended up in the back of Scheel’s on looks Scheel should have swatted away better. Rebound control has been a consistent concern for him, and it is the thing that, in our eyes, limits his celling at the next level. Scheel will not win the Mike Richter Award, but in order to win the National Championship with UND, he needs to lmit second chances a bit better than the first game in this series showed he could do. Part of this can be acheived through UND simply playing Peter Thome a few more nights the rest of the way. Resting Scheel will help him in the postseason, and let him get more time to study video and be ready to lead this group in the postseason.

Turnovers are still too high

UND seems to have a consistent proclivity to make home-run passes and pay for them, or get dispossesed at their own blue line on nights that goaltending does not stand on its head. The Fighting Hawks are a team built to wear others out, and turned the puck over far too much against Denver for anyone’s liking. When they give the puck up, fast teams like Denver take advantage of this fact and score transition goals in bunches to provide a lot of the scoring against UND.

All of this is to say, UND is a really good team, but one with flaws that need to be looked at to prevent the NCHC’s number one representative from losing in the first round in the last three years that the tournament has been held.

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UND-Denver: Three things to watch

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

Tonight, the Fighting Hawks take on the Pioneers in a battle of two teams going in different directions.

UND is fighting for the Penrose Cup to stay in Grand Forks against the Huskies of St. Cloud State, while Denver is fighting to get into consideration for an at large selection. In the NCHC Pod, when these teams played, skill was on top display as Carter Savoie and Riese Gaber seemed to do battle to provide the best highlights in the Pod.

For Denver, the Pioneers have all of the skill they have had in years past. The fact that Carter Savoie took as long as he did to get drafted (fourth round by Edmonton) is somewhat shocking given how he has played for this team. Players that played in the USHL with worse statistics for his same player profile were taken ahead of him. He is a rookie of the year candidate and has 13 points in 12 games so far. The forward group of this team has what they need to go far, the back end is reeling from the departure of Ian Mitchell. Magnus Chrona is still the main player in net, and for the Pioneers to turn things around, he has to be their best defender on some nights and take a few games they did not deserve.

With that intro out of the way, here are three things to watch in the series.

Where the penalties happen

With UND playing Denver, we expect plenty of penalties to happen. The Fighting Hawks have a proclivity for taking offensive zone penalties due to their over aggressive tendencies on the forecheck. For a team that controls possession as much as UND does, they should not have to do too much to maintain it, and offensive zone penalties, with the team they are facing tonight and tomorrow are an invitation for more goals scored by the Pioneers. Carter Savoie, Bobby Brink, and the rest of Denver does not need any more time and space, and the penalty kill numbers of UND, while great, will suffer if this trend continues. For the Pioneers, if you see a lot of penalties taken in their own end that is indicative of how well UND is holding the puck. The longer teams cycle on offense, the more defensive penalties are taken. The Fighting Hawks have turned drawing penalties on those long shifts into an art form, and deserve accolades for that.

Who Scores First

If the Fighting Hawks score first, good luck coming back. This statement applies to any team they will face this season. Brad Berry’s team is uniquely capable of holding possession against most teams in this game for stretches’ of time that go for perceived eternities. The teams with the best success against UND in the past few seasons are ones that eschew possession metrics when they play the Fighting Hawks. That is, they get into the zone fast, and score off the rush. They take what the defense gives them and capitalize on mistakes. If the Fighting Hawks have one potential weakness its the offensive nature of the defense corps. This team has offensive defenders on every pair capable of joining the rush. They also have a tendancy to go for stretch passes in a way that often comes back to harm them. If Denver scores first, they can force UND to make more of those mistakes via necessity. If not, their task becomes tougher.

Who wins the turnover battle

This fact will determine who wins the game more than shots on net. That is, how many turnovers each team gives up, and what is done with each of them ultimately impacts the final score more than saves made. By this, i reference the previous two categories. If Denver can catch the defenders of UND a bit off guard, and steal a pass or two through the neutral zone more than UND can, they will get a few more grade-a looks on Adam Scheel and likely bury a couple of them. If , on the other hand, Denver tries something remotely similar and gets away from being cohesive, than the veteran Fighting Hawks will take control of this one, and pretty early.

All of these facts, beyond the top line statistics will play a key role in determining how this series goes. If UND can get some points, they will remind the nation of their status in the NCHC. If Denver surprises some folks this weekend, they can show that the Pioneers belong back in the national conversation.

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 like unique untold stories across college hockey. 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:paypal.me/Seamorepsorts

Your donation will help expand what content we can offer and how many stories we can tell

UND Men’s Hockey: Three minor concerns after Colorado College Sweep

The Fighting Hawks of North Dakota are a bit faster than they were last year with players like Riese Gaber coming in right away and scoring goals in bunches. They are a little bigger, with Jasper Weatherby playing the role of shutdown center, and strong in net with Peter Thome and Adam Scheel backing things up quite well for the most part.

With all of that said, the Tigers of Colorado College added to the opus of how to skate with UND, before UND’s next series, it is a good time to look at some nagging areas of concern this team has to have. Yes, they are one of the best in the country, but every team has some flaws to it, and these are flaws not to bar UND from the NCAA Tournament which they will surely make, but flaws that will prevent them from winning many games in it. These are all things we have been watching for and will continue to note.

The undisciplined penalties

This team has one of the best penalty kills in the country, yet relies on it far too much to win games. Routinely some of the penalties this team takes are not due to positioning, or preventing scoring chances, but often meager stick infractions in their offensive zone or the neutral zone. This penalty kill will not keep up its pace all year, and as Ben Copeland showed last night, eventually power plays will convert against you. For this team to win in the NCAA Tournament, a feet not done since 2016, it has to eliminate at least half of the penalties it is taking

The home run passes

UND has talented defenders, some of the best in this game. Every pair has an Ottwa Senators prospect on it, and every pair from time to time tries to make home-run passes through the neutral zone for breakways, and they often become turnovers the other way. Teams will not beat UND grinding them in their own zone, it rarely happens any more and that is a testament to the strong recruiting of its leader, Brad Berry. Teams often have sucess against UND because they have gotten good at being opportunistic, and diagonal home run passes through the neutral zone that set up easy turnovers and a rush the other way will not bring home anything other than disapointment.

Goalie usage

We have always appreciated both Peter Thome and Adam Scheel’s games. To win this season, both of them have to play some games, and we are concerned that Scheel will be overused. If teams with lesser tandems can deploy their goalies more evenly, this one can as well. It is not the tradition of UND to use this, but given the quickly rescheduled games, and the potential for three or four games in some weeks, using the tandem you have will prevent the postseason starter from getting too tired.

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 like unique untold stories across college hockey. 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: paypal.me/Seamorepsorts

Your donation will help expand what content we can offer and how many stories we can tell.

The Fighting Hawks Win the Pod: What’s Next?

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

Over the past three weeks, the Fighting Hawks of the University of North Dakota have done quite well for themselves in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference Pod, valuting into first place as we head into the second of half of an always competitive conference. These past few weeks have shown a lot about this team, with the good far outweighing the things that need working on to ensure a long postseason run, should one be played. Let’s look at the good and areas to improve on in the second half here.

The Good

This team has two capable goaltenders that can stymie the opposition. While Adam Scheel stole the show in the Pod, getting the majority of the reps, Fighting Hawks fans saw what happened last year. Peter Thome took Scheel’s job down the stretch, and given the weeks of having three games in three days this year, we think that Thome’s time in net is only just beginning. His “worst” game in the Pod was the loss to the Huskies of St. Cloud State, where the team in front of him did not do much. Both can start at any time, and for now Scheel is the number one. With that said, Thome has played well enough over his time at UND to get some reps in the second half, and should see it.

The depth of this team is even better than a year ago. Missing two defenders to the World Juniors Tournament, in Jake Sanderson and Tyler Kleven, we have seen Ethan Frisch elevate his game into a Tucker Poolman-esque two way star that can contribute offensively. If Frisch can maintain this level of play this season, the NHL may be on his radar for some development camp invites soon, and perhaps a contract. He is smooth-skating, and seems less out of position than some of UND’s more offensively gifted defenders.

With that said, this team has a lot of good to it this year, and we will close with the most intriguing forward on this team. Riese Gaber has been the most electric player for the Fighting Hawks in this pod. He is in a three way tie for first in goals scored nationally, and yet, 31 teams passed on drafting him over 400 times when you include the drafts he has been eligible for selection in. Gaber is wearing Tyson Jost’s number that he wore as a Fighting Hawk, and has a better release than Jost ever had or will have. For a team built around puck possession and grinding a team down, Gaber off the rush is an extra arrow in their quiver that last year’s NCHC Champions did not possess. His shot alters how teams can attack the Fighting Hawks, and how conservative they have to be in defending the top line of UND. Last year, this group lost games where it turned pucks over and gave up a lot of fast break looks. That has happened this year, and will happen in the future, but Gaber on this roster has kept the team in more of those games and helped them win some more in the second half.

What to watch for

With all that good said, these improvements need to happen. This team seems to be turning the puck over a bit more in its own end, which have given teams a lot of grade-a looks. Those turnovers have a cascading effect as they lead into another area of improvement for this team, taking less penalties. The Fighting Hawks average 11.96 penalty minutes per game played, second behind St. Cloud State for most penalty minutes per game. That is another number that needs to come down a bit. While five minute majors and misconducts do affect that, this team can afford to take neither of those in this conference. Eventually, something of this team will regress a little bit as film and scouting over a more series-driven second half, and if the team keeps giving up six power plays per game or so, the penalty kill seems a logical pick.

With all of this said, if not for Boston College’s pedigree and Minnesota’s results, this team would be ranked number one in the nation after a grueling three week stretch of games. There is still work to do for this group, but this team does so from a good vantage point.

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 like unique untold stories across college hockey 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.

Making and Being a part of change:Jasper Weatherby

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

NOTE: This interview was conducted before further information about UND Freshman Mitchell Miller and his abhorrent repeated bullying of his African-American classmate in his high school, Isaiah Meyer-Crothers. This bullying included repeated acts of physical violence towards him we chose not to repeat, along with Miller routinely using the N-word and more racial slurs towards him. Miller and his classmate performed 25 hours of community service and wrote a court mandated apology to Isaiah. At the time of writing this article, Miller is still a candidate to represent the United States at the World Junior Championship in Edmonton this winter. We will have more about this story to come, but felt it necessary to note the horrid actions of Miller, and the lack of any form of apparent long term restitution to Isaiah and his family on his part, and the utter lack of transparency given by US Hockey, his HoneyBaked team, the NHL, multiple USHL organizations, the league itself, the Arizona Coyotes, and the University of North Dakota to be more transparent with any discipline Miller has been given. In UND’s statement, not once is Isaiah’s name mentioned. Hopefully that changes soon.

We will write more about this in the days ahead.

With that said here is our piece talking with senior leader Jasper Weatherby on concrete changes and views he wanted to talk to us about.

The piece written by the Grand Forks Herald’s Brad Schlossman on the background of San Jose Sharks’ Draft pick and one of the leaders of the Fighting Hawks’ Men’s Hockey team, Jasper Weatherby seemed to focus on his family background, which is quite important and helped guide some of these questions we asked him. We plan on interviewing administrators, coaches, and others in positions of power in the game of men’s college hockey and beyond to find out the long lasting changes brought about by the never ending quest that events this summer, including the murder of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, have brought to bear. That is, people of color, especially black people, being killed or having worse interactions with law enforcement for comparably similar issues.

We wanted to ask Jasper these questions because he is in a unique spot as one of the leaders of this team, on this campus, in this state to use his platform to make and inspire change. While we know anyone can use their platform to say how big of an ally they are, too often those same people turn around and make misguided and xenophobic remarks a few days later, and holding people with privaledge and power accountable in this game, and in other avenues, we think, is a better way to provide more transperancy and give all people, especialy Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BiPOC) a better guide of where people stand on doing what we belive to be the right thing.

That is standing up to ensure that we as a country can get a little closer to living up to the ideals that all people are created equal, some of what Jasper touches on in this goes to that end. If you want more of a background on the NCHC Diversity committee Jasper mentions, go read the wonderful work composed by Jashvina Shah on this new committee, and buy the book she is cowriting with Evan Moore that aims to bring light to the inherent inequalities in all levels of hockey, toxicity in hockey culture, and much more about where we go from here.

Jasper is in a leadership role for the Fighting Hawks on these important issues as he notes:

“I’m a member of the SAID (Student Athlete Inclusion and Diversity) group here on campus. I’m also the NCHC player rep for the College Hockey Social Justice Committee. Which is a group put together by college hockey, with members from every league, men and woman’s, across college hockey. We are working on our goals of making not only hockey but our society’s more diverse and inclusive. I’ve also been pushing UND hockey to be 100% behind social justice with the goal to make BlPoC feel at home on this campus.”

In addition, as Jasper notes he is working with student athletes across the department, including leaders like Jaxson Turner on the football team to bring about change. ” I have reached out to some of my friends on the football team here at UND. The biggest message was to encourage all teams, coaches, team managers, players, etc to post about topics relating to social justice on social media. They said It’s time UND joined the fight. I 100% agree with that and have brought that up with the UND athletics department.”

Next, Jasper notes his support for going on record and encouraging UND Men’s Hockey fans to stop uttering phrases that are derogatory like “Sioux Forever.”

“The goal is for every BlPoC to feel safe here in the U.S. and to also have language that makes them feel like they’re not being put down. For me this is not my call, we need to listen to the Sioux tribes/Sioux people. If they are uncomfortable with the word and feel it brings them down than absolutely. I know we have tremendous respect for the entire Sioux and Indian tribes as well as all Indian people.”

In an immediate concern, Jasper noted his support for using the Ralph as a polling place, since this interview was done the Fighting Hawks have gotten a schedule and know a bit more about their season. That being said, his answer here should provide guidance going forward for this athletic department.

” I have brought this up to the athletic department. Unfortunately, I know we are in the middle of trying to figure out where our season will be played, so the timing is not perfect. But in the future, I would love the Ralph to open up as a polling place. So many disadvantaged Americans can’t vote because of limited access to voting. And if the ralph could help this out it would be an amazing accomplishment for the rink. “

Jasper then went on to note support for student-athletes choosing to peaceful protest with actions like kneeling. Keep this answer in mind as the season starts for all UND Sports. What stands out here is his direct rebuttal of the red-herring argument of “disrespect” detractors of peaceful protest often like to use.

” I will absolutely support them [student-athletes] and I believe the coaching staff will support them as well. I’ve encouraged the University of North Dakota Athletics Department to send out a message saying we are behind any student athlete who chooses to partake in a peaceful protest, whether this be kneeling for the anthem, a raised fist, etc. If it’s peaceful, the University should stand behind those athletes. With that being said I think a lot of people think it’s disrespectful to the troops. It is absolutely not. We have so much respect for the troops. What people are kneeling for is what the troops have been fighting for. Freedoms to express yourself, freedom to choose your religion, freedom to walk with a hoodie on or any other freedoms that so many minorities are not free to do. That’s why people are peacefully protesting.”

Weatherby then went on to discuss specific actions he would like to see all on or around the team should be taking to make the Ralph a fundamentally more inclusive place than it currently is for those who are BiPOC.

” Encourage all teams, coaches, team managers, players, etc. to post about topics relating to social justice on social media.

Encourage more people of color to attend hockey games. We need to make sure we do everything we can to make BIPoC feel safe at our events. A minority student reached out to me and said the one thing that really made her feel included on this campus was attending hockey games with everyone else. She said it was a time where she felt like everyone rallied together and it didn’t matter who you were as long as you were cheering for North Dakota. This is powerful, this is something we should be taking advantage of at every opportunity. This is something I have brought up with the Athletic Department.

Another thing: If UND teams play in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, coaches are encouraged to take their players and staff to visit the place George Floyd was murdered. This will be a great opportunity for UND to show its students what is happening around the world. Encourage student athletes to share experience on social media.
Encourage teammates to wear patches on their uniforms. Patches or phrases on uniforms might not go very far in terms of eradicating racism, sexism, anti-LGBTQ policies, etc., but they may raise awareness and show fans that student-athletes are fighting for a better world. Even a moment of silence might be helpful.”

Jasper then went on to discuss changes in his own life that he has made and why the Black Lives Matter movement means so much to him.

“I’ve been constantly educating myself, as I said I’ve been working with several groups locally and on a national scale. It’s also very important for us to listen to those people who have been experiencing those hardships for so long and listen to what they think would help.

“It’s important to me because I have a black brother, I’ve seen how he has been racially profiled, and I will continue to fight for his rights until we are seen AND treated as equals in this country.”

After noting the strong support he has from his family and the coaching staff, he ended with noting that, from this point in our history, that, “I think we listen, we educate ourselves and those around us. The only true change is too look inside and see how each of us can help to create change in a positive way.”

2-0: What a desert shutout over Grand Canyon meant for UND Soccer last year and this year

(Photo Credit: Russell Hons-UND Sports)

The 2019 UND Soccer side showcased the best iteration of football this team has played since becoming eligible for the postseason in Division One competition. This team had speed down the wing with freshman Bailey McNitt, strength in net with multiple superb goalkeepers, and strong defense with players like Hannah Olson. This team will have some turnover next year, but thanks to the way that underclassmen were utilized this past season, fans should not see too much of a drop off, and if this team can bang home a few more shots, they can compete for a Summit League Championship.

Head Coach Chris Logan deserves all the credit in the world for taking a program that had gone through multiple coaches in not a lot of time and refining them to compete in the Summit League. As we look ahead to the 2020 campaign (if able to be played), we felt it right to look back at some high points of 2019.

For us, we will look first at UND’s 2-0 road win over Grand Canyon University. While ‘Lopes did not finish the season the way they wanted, going just 4-14-1 on their 2019 campaign, they played the Fighting Hawks tough in the desert. Unlike previous years where Catherine Klein had to make double-digit saves on the evening, she only had to make four on the night.

A couple of things stand out about the 2019 team and the future of the program that became evident that night. First, the game winning goal was scored by  Olivia Knox on a header from a soaring Sarah Doran free kick. Knox showed that night that she could not only score, but track back and defend as well. Her development took another step this past year as she not only scored some goals, she played all over the front two thirds of the field. Had she played strictly striker all year, she surely would have potted more than three goals. Knox’s versatility on this night had her all over the field played a key role in limiting Grand Canyon to just four shots on goal.

In addition, that night, we saw a defensive masterpiece from UND’s back line. Throughout the evening they took away quality chances and were arguably lead by a redshirt freshman defender in doing so. Hannah Olson played a superb game in back leading her defenders to keep the Fighting Hawks in the game. In an environment packed with loud fans, the defense of UND had the loudest voice on the evening. Everyone played a part in it, from Mimi Eiden and Bailey McNitt tracking back to provide support, to Olson and others jostling ‘Lopes away from the net. The one bit of blight on the defense that night was Catherine Klein giving a penalty kick foul (on a well interesting call) that she then saved with ease. Had Grand Canyon scored that marker, it could have stolen valuable points from UND as the ‘Lopes were pushing the pace as the game went on.

As we head into the next soccer season, whenever it is (hopefully this fall!), remember this game in UND program history. It wasn’t the most “top-line” win in terms of opponent beaten or the flashiest with one goal scored in the run of play (a Megan Wright Penalty Kick provided the insurance). It was a big road win for the team and showed they could hang in any time of game. One could make the case that without the win against Grand Canyon in the way they did, that their last second heroics against the Coyotes of South Dakota a few weeks later would not have happened. The team had gained valuable close game experience and played with an even keel despite having a penalty scored on them late. That South Dakota win was arguably the difference to this team making the Summit League postseason.

In terms of momentum and program value, the win against Grand Canyon provided top class results for a team and a program that Logan has built into a top-flight contender in the Summit League.

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

Coronavirus and UND Athletics: What does it mean?

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography )

Well, first off we hope everyone is heeding all appropriate guidelines for social distancing and staying safe and home where able. This is a crazy time and we do not know when sports of any sort will be back, for campuses big and small. This of course includes athletics at the University of North Dakota. In the mean time of all of this, we reached out to the General Manager of Ralph Engelstad Arena Jody Hodgson. Keep in mind that unlike the NHL and NBA, College Hockey lost its postseason. While some teams in the WCHA and other conferences knew their fates in the week before things were shutdown, the, NCHC postseason was supposed to launch the week things shutdown.

Men’s College Hockey lost all of its postseason for most of its teams, and that will impact the bottom line for UND Athletics and more.

For those not aware, the Ralph is a non profit with for-profit operating principles. All net profits it makes every year are turned over to the UND Athletics Department at the end of each event year.

Check out Jody’s answers on this situation below

1. Is the Ralph paying part time staff for cancelled events as needed through the end of the needed social distancing as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic?

” Jody’s Response: We are not planning to pay part-time event employees for hours not worked. Luckily, we were able to complete the regular season and the regular season represents the significant majority of hours for all of our part-time event employees. At most, we may have three home playoff dates to complete the 2019-2020 athletics season.”

2. Does the Ralph have any employee assistance program to help those workers who may be relying on any upcoming events to help pay bills/other expenses?

“Jody’s Response: We do have an EAP program and we will take care of our employees.”

3. What are the criterion needed for the Ralph to resume business as usual?

“Jody’s Response: This is such a fluid situation, the answer to that is yet to be determined. We’ll take our guidance from the CDC and the local public health agencies. For the time being, we will comply with the CDC guideline regarding events and gatherings.”

4. What is the early projected loss to the Ralph as a result of the NCHC first round series being cancelled and how does that harm UND Athletics?

“Jody’s Response: The playoffs are typically worth about $200,000 in net profit to us. It sure does harm UND Athletics because that is $200,000 worth of net profit that we won’t have to allocate to them at the end of the year.”

Add anything else about this situation you would like.

“Jody’s Response: Like most others in the community, we’re gathering information and trying to stay ahead of this thing as best we can. We will comply with the regulations of the CDC and local public health agencies.”

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

 

 

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Fighting Hawks limit grade a looks en route to 3-1 win over Western Michigan: Now What?

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography)

Coming into their final regular season series at home, this Fighting Hawks team had some questions to answer. Chief among those was how it would respond after only taking one point in a series for just the second time of the season.  As we saw tonight, St. Cloud State is roaring back into the top half of the league and is earning the respect they demanded after winning against the Fighting Hawks on Saturday.

Back to the Fighting Hawks, this Men’s Hockey team actually had to win a game while getting hemmed in their own end for a large portion of the deciding period in the third. To their credit, they bent but did not break. Adam Scheel made a triumphant return to the net saving 26 of the 27 shots he faced and earning third star in the process. Judd Caulfield potted his third marker against Western Michigan, and fourth of the season to open the UND scoring ledger 9:52 into the second. After that, Matt Kiersted wired home a scintillating seeing-eye point shot past Western Michigan goalie Brandon Bussi to provide the game winning goal.

For the Broncos, Dawson DiPietro slammed home a rebound to the far side of Scheel to provide the only blemish on his otherwise spotless night 4:35 into the third period. To close the evening, Westin Michaud tipped home a nice looking Gabe Bast point shot to provide the insurance marker against Ben Blacker, who replaced Bussi after he left due to injury caused by a disallowed UND goal. Collin Adams made just enough contact with Bussi in the crease to merit the goal being waved off on video review. It was, to put it nicely, a call not liked by the home fans. Later on in the game, Ronnie Attard walloped the head of Shane Pinto with 1:16 left in the affair and was sent to the dressing room a bit early. That was the lowlight of a fracas-filled third period, to say the least.

What does this mean for Saturday

North Dakota

This game had all of the hallmarks of a first round NCAA Tournament game. The playoff intensity vibe really turned up in the third period after DiPietro made it a one goal game. To UND’s credit, the Fighting Hawks hung tough playing without Cole Smith and having to juggle lines around again. When 66 percent of your defensive specialist line (Cole Smith and Gavin Hain) both are out, others have to step up, and Casey Johnson played one his most complete games of his UND career seeing some of the most ice he has since coming to UND. We could see Smith back in Saturday as he was recovering from a minor practice injury and informed the coaches he needed the night of rest to get back to his normal self. Credit to the coaches for not pushing Smith through his injury to play extra.

If Smith is still out tomorrow, one potential option for this team should be moving Jasper Weatherby to his own line to center things. Western Michigan played UND almost even in the faceoff dot, losing one more draw than they won (30-31). Weatherby with Pinto and Michaud down the stretch of a game when benches are shortened to fit the needs of the team is one thing and a good deployment of his skills. Weatherby only won two of the six draws he took, and one of them lead to the Kiersted tally.

In net, Adam Scheel played his best game of the year in terms of the quality of shots faced throughout the game and being able to hold a team in the game against a desperate opponent. His defense limited shot quality in the third, where Western Michigan got 15 shots on net to UND’s seven. There were a few points throughout this one where Scheel needed to be sharp to hang on for the win and he did. This team has two brilliant goalies who can win against any type of team they face, and will most likely use both Scheel and Peter Thome throughout the rest of the season and should UND win its first round matchup in the NCAA Tournament, we could see the other goalie play the next night. Since we have started covering this team, Scheel and Thome are the best tandem we have seen in net, and credit to this coaching staff for using both of them when needed.

Western Michigan 

Other than the third period, the Broncos did not do enough to make Scheel work much throughout the night. The Fighting Hawks kept the majority of the first 40 minutes’worth of shot attempts to the outside for the Broncos and it shows on the shot chart. If you are a fan of the Broncos, you want to bottle up the good effort from the third, remove the dirty hits that Attard brought on Pinto which ended any hope of a comeback, and try to get to the middle of the ice a bit more. This team has to play with a little more speed to have a chance against UND. The Fighting Hawks are so good at playing a compact zone defense that in order to earn goals, you almost have to not worry about zone time. Teams that play through the neutral zone and avoid the pinching UND defenders are the only ones that have beaten or come close to beating this team this year.

Whatever the result, the finale on Saturday night should be a fun one at Ralph Engelstad Arena.

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.

Fighting Hawks earn sweep with 3-1 win over Denver: Now What?

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography)

Tonight, the Fighting Hawks cemented a series sweep over Denver with a 3-1 hard-earned victory. Matt Kiersted, Collin Adams, and Jasper Weatherby (empty net) all notched markers to help the Fighting Hawks get closer to the next goal, winning the NCHC Penrose Cup.

How did it happen? Well Peter Thome was arguably the best player on defense fo the Fighting Hawks. He managed to make 25 saves on 26 shots tonight. To add to that, UND Head Coach Brad Berry said that he did it ” in style”. The Pioneers through streches of the second and third period played peskier hockey and turned UND over. Multiple times they had multiple looks in close on Thome, but to his credit he handled the challenge well. His counterpart, Magnus Chrona played really well making his first start at the Ralph. He finished the night with 21 saves on 23 shots in a game fans may see again in St. Paul at the NCHC Frozen Faceoff, or perhaps at the Frozen Four in Detroit this April. This game not only had the feel of playoff hockey, but a top-end, herculean battle worthy of the national spotlight,

Now What?

For Denver, well, if you are Head Coach David Carle, you show your team the video of the weekend in two parts. First, you show them all the good things they did to get looks. Last night Denver had more shot attempts and different types of looks for Thome to see. Tonight, were more close-in rebounds, but tough shots never the less. In part two of the film, you question what you need to do better as a team in the rest of the regular season and postseason to bury more of those looks. Denver had plenty of chances to earn a win tonight, even while missing one of the best rookies in the country, Bobby Brink, on a play last night where Cole Smith clipped him and avoided any sort of penalty somehow. Denver being able to put together arguably a better game without Brink in the lineup bodes well for the Pioneers,

Why?

Well Denver is a younger team this year akin to the last two UND has fielded. The difference here is overall team speed. The Pioneers are much faster than the last two UND iterations. The difference between the groups is the ability of speed to make up for a wide array of mistakes. Turning play over quickly on defense and transitioning is a hallmark of Denver Hockey, and this team is no different in that sense. Doing it with more depth players involved bodes well for the national tournament as speed and transition often sets the tone for goaltending and everything else. Ask AIC how much speed mattered to them earning the win over St. Cloud last spring, they will probably spend hours discussing it.

For UND, this weekend showed a lot of things good and bad. A lot more good was shown, but we will talk about both here in some measure. First, to the good, again Jasper Weatherby and Shane Pinto were solid up the middle for the Fighting Hawks. each won a large majority of their draws (11-5, 10-2) and set the tone for the forwards all night. Weatherby’s ability to play defense and utilize his frame has grown in his time at UND, and tonight he rewarded himself for his work with the empty net goal to seal things.

Peter Thome played well, again. His ability to track pucks through traffic, and pick up that complete skill in one offseason has been a sight to behold. He does not overreact to goals any more, and the one allowed tonight came on a shot off the boards going right to Brett Edwards who fired a goal to the middle part of the right side of the net before Thome could react. In close Thome seemed to get better with each multi-save sequence, and as we have been saying here all year, has been worthy of more looks and he has run with them. We would like to see some more of Adam Scheel as the year winds down but when the postseason starts, until proven otherwise it is Thome’s net to defend, every night his watch begins anew now (for those who do not know, Thome has the Night King on his mask and is a huge Game of Thrones fan).

What should UND work on off this weekend before facing a resurgent St. Cloud on the road next weekend? Well i do not think many crews will let as many things grow as the one run by Voss and Wieler did this past weekend. On both sides, a lot of uncalled penalties were left to slide, and other officials we be tougher on the physical game UND plays, seeing the team adapt to different officiating styles will be something to watch, especially in the NCAA Tournament as you never have an official from the NCHC officiating a UND or any other NCHC game.

All in all UND had a good weekend, Denver had some good moments to build on and has some things to fix, like finding the net more, and a great weekend of college hockey took place. Now for the Fighting Hawks, St. Cloud State awaits, take them lightly at your own peril fans.

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.