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UND Hockey: Things are Looking Up

Friday night, the University of North Dakota hockey team finally had a few things go their way. While UND has a 1-3-1 record in conference play, they haven’t played all that bad. Defensively, in five National Collegiate Hockey Conference games, UND’s defense is ranked third out of eight teams. On the offensive side of the ice, UND is ranked eighth in the NCHC in scoring. That will have to improve if the Hawks want to win hockey games.

Let’s take a look at some of the positives. It would appear that things are looking up. Keep in mind, UND is a young team and has played the toughest schedule in college hockey to date. They have eight freshmen and 11 sophomores. Think of it this way, you have sophomores filling the roles of veteran players like Drake Caggiula, Paul LaDue, Luke Johnson, Troy Stecher and Keaton Thompson. They’ll get better with experience.

Last night, special teams were better: UND went 1-4 on the man advantage and 3-3 on the PK.

In the last eight games against the Huskies, UND is 6-2-0 (.750). For the most part, the games have been close (except for a lopsided 1-6 loss). During those eight games, UND has outscored SCSU 23-18.

Goaltending was solid again. As I mentioned last night, when teams are struggling, fans tend to point fingers at the goaltenders. At times, I’ve been guilty of this myself. I think we need to give credit where credit is due. During the games against Minnesota-Duluth and Minnesota, Johnson was kind of left out to dry by the forwards and his d-core. During those four games, Johnson had to fend for himself. Head coach Brad Berry eluded to this after last Saturday’s game.

“You can look back through the game,” coach Berry said. “It’s those lapses in games where you give up one goal or two goals. Whether it’s having a lead or chasing a game there lapses in games where you’re leaving Cam (Johnson) stranded back there and having to make good saves. You can’t do that. We’re playing good teams and we’re playing a good team next weekend.”

Last night, against the Huskies, Johnson didn’t have to make a lot of secondary saves. In many cases, after making the first save, the forwards and d-men cleared the puck. Later in the game, the defense clamped down and kept a lot of the shots to the perimeter.

You can look at segments in the season and glean a lot of information. Lately, Johnson has really picked up his game and we’ve seen the old Cam re-emerge, the same goalie that won All-American honors last season. In the last three games, Johnson is 1-1-1, 1.31 GAA and .946 save percentage. Friday against the Huskies, Johnson was tested early and made some great saves to keep the Huskies off the scoreboard.

Again, looking at the conference numbers, Johnson really isn’t really playing that bad and he’s right there. Johnson is ranked second in GAA 2.19 and third in save percentage .919. With Friday’s shutout against the Huskies, Johnson now has seven for his career. He’s ranked fifth all-time on UND’s shutout list.

Sometimes, the stats don’t always tell the whole story. Also, remember, it’s still early in the season.

The Numbers

UND’s is ranked 27th nationally n scoring 3.08 GPG
UND is ranked 12th nationally in defense 2.33 GPG
UND’s power play is ranked 38th nationally (8/54 14.8)
UND’s penalty kill is ranked 44th nationally (47/59 79.7)
UND leads the nation in hat tricks with three.
UND is ranked 10th in the nation in faceoff wins (54.2%)

(NCAA Stats) (College Hockey Stats Net) (College Hockey Stats Net/NCHC)

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