UND Hockey (Photo Credit: Russell Hons)
Last weekend, the University of North Dakota hockey team headed north to take on their former WCHA foe the University of Alaska Anchorage Seawolves. They returned home from the 49th state with mixed results.
Let’s look at this from the glass being half full. First, It was a successful trip because they didn’t lose any games (Pairwise clunkers) to the Seawolves. That’s important for the Pairwise Rankings at the end of the season. Also, the trip to Anchorage is a tough trip due to the three-hour difference. Historically, it will catch up with the players this upcoming weekend. It will be interesting to see how UND responds after traveling to the last frontier.
Since re-alignment, UND has been unable to play some of their former WCHA rivalries. This past weekend, the Fighting Hawks were able to renew an old rivalry with the Seawolves. In the past, UAA is a team that UND has had some success against.
With their 3-2 overtime win on Saturday night, the Fighting Hawks now have an 18-14-2 (.558) record against the Seawolves in Anchorage. In their last 12 games against the UAA Seawolves, UND is 8-1-3 (.791). In the last seven games that UND has played in Anchorage, UND is also 4-1-2 (.714). Again, that stat is kind of trivial because UND hasn’t played against UAA since the 2012-13 season.
Dump and Chase
Due to my current work deployment, I’ve watched two of the first three games and one thing that I’ve noticed is that I haven’t seen UND playing a lot of a lot of dump and chase hockey. They’ve been carrying the puck through the neutral zone with speed. Moreover, they’ve been doing a lot of good things in the offensive zone, they’re just not burying pucks. Now, I want to be clear, the two teams that UND has played aren’t very good. They’re also not very strong defensively. But I think it’s a good start. You play the teams on your schedule and take care of business. By going to Alaska, UND is able to play 36 regular season games instead of 34.
UNDer the Radar
I am beginning to think that this season’s team is going to fly under the radar a bit. While the hockey experts seem to think that SCSU and UMD are better hockey teams than UND, I am not so sure. The Bulldogs lost a ton of talent on the blueline and experience is hard to replace. I am also not impressed as some are with SCSU’s goaltender, but he did have a great start this past weekend.
While UND doesn’t have a first-round draft choice, they do have a lot of talent through all four lines. I think this season’s team can skate very well and they have a nice mix of experience. I still last year’s lessons will come in hand this season. Mark my words, Trevor Olson is going to have a break out season this year.
And true to form, Jayson Hajdu has another historical gem.