It’s the second week in February and University of North Dakota hockey fans are unhappy with the current standing of their favorite hockey team. After winning a national title in his first year as head coach of the UND hockey team, a handful of fans are already suggesting that UND part ways with head coach Brad Berry.
Yes, the bar at UND is very high, but it doesn’t work that way. In almost three seasons behind the bench, Berry is 66-31-15 (.723). That record doesn’t scream mediocrity to me. Yes, UND has had a couple of seasons that are a little down, but it’s not the complete dumpster like some claim.
Yes We Cam
Consider this, after leading UND to an NCAA title, many are ready to send former All-American goalie Cam Johnson (8-6-5, .919 GAA and .904 save percentage ) into retirement. Before you throw Cam under the bus, let’s take a look at his career numbers during his three-plus years at UND. He’s first all-time in GAA 2.10, second all-time in shutouts with 10 and ranked fifth in save percentage with a .914 save percentage.
I think we can cut the kid some slack.
Finally, Cam is ranked sixth all-time n games played with 92. So, we’re not talking about an untalented hack between the pipes. Yes, I would go with the hot goalie and ride him till he falters, but Peter Thome (5-3-3, 2,15 GAA and .917 save percentage) also has some flaws in this game, Denver exposed him when UND was in the Mile High City. His rebound control is atrocious. Like I’ve said before, the most popular players on any team is the backup goalie and or the backup quarterback.
Injuries to Key Players
First things first, let’s not forget, on Saturday night, UND used its 30th different lineup in 30 games. So far this season, UND has lost an impressive 67 man-games due to injury, illness or suspension this season, including: Trevor Olson (11), Gabe Bast (9), Cam Johnson (8), Dixon Bowen (7), Ludvig Hoff (7), Rhett Gardner (5), Johnny Simonson (5), Nick Jones (3), Andrew Peski (3), Collin Adams (2), Joel Janatuinen (2), Peter Thome (2), Josh Rieger (1), Cole Smith (1) and Zach Yon (1). I think this is the biggest factor for UND’s struggles on the ice this season. Consider this, while Gardner was out with a lower-body injury, UND didn’t win a game.
I understand the frustration, but it could be a heck of a lot worse. UND has suffered a lot of adversity and is still in the hunt for a home series during the first round of the NCHC playoffs. More importantly, UND is currently in the running for an at-large NCAA tourney bid. All you have to do is make the NCAA tourney.
Are Fans Souring on Berry Already?
I guess, I am confused… After winning an NCAA title, many fans wanted to erect a statue of Brad Berry in front of the Ralph. Now, I am reading comments that he can’t coach. He isn’t a good recruiter. Can’t evaluate talent (even though he’s was the head recruiter for Hak). Let’s not forget, Berry was also an assistant coach in the best league in hockey. Now all of a sudden, Berry doesn’t have the ability to coach. A few years back. This was uttered at a press conference.
“I think that coming into the year, one of the things we talked quietly about in our coaches room is that a team could finish two or three games over .500 and win this league,” Former head coach Dave Hakstol said. “I have no idea how it’s going to turn out 10 games from now, but that could be the case. It’s pretty tight (conference race).”
NCHC = Meat Grinder
Let’s not forget, UND is playing in a conference that plucked the best teams from the WCHA and the now-defunct CCHA minus the B1G and Notre Dame. No one is going to run away and hide with that conference schedule. There’s a reason the two former CCHA schools have struggled in the NCHC. Why do you think the league’s PWR are so high? We’re not playing in the WCHA anymore where half of your schedule is made up of teams that are basically an easy win.
I know it’s cliche’, but I want to reiterate that the National Collegiate Hockey Conference is a meat grinder. There are no nights off. Any team in the current NCHC could go on a run in the NCHC playoffs and the NCAA playoffs. I also think we need to give the other teams in the NCHC some respect. There are 59 other teams fighting for an NCAA title.
Finally, keep in mind, Berry is well respected by the players. There are many other factors playing into UND’s record. The injury factor is the biggest factor. I also think that the final chapter for this team hasn’t been written yet. Just because UND doesn’t have any first-round draft choices, doesn’t mean the cupboard is bare. This guy is wasn’t even drafted.
NCHC Coaching Record Last three seasons
Jim Montgomery 45-12-9 (.750)
Bob Motzko 40-23-3 (.628)
Brad Berry 37-23-6 (.606)
Scott Sandelin 34-25-7 (.568)
Andy Murray 27-36-3 (.431)
UNO 24-39-3 (.386)
Enrico Blasi 19-38-9 (.356)
Mike Haviland 14-44-8 (.272)