Last Saturday night, the University of North Dakota hockey team beat the University of Manitoba 3-2 in overtime.
First, the positive, the Fighting Hawks put an impressive 55 shots on the Bisons net. The negative, the Hawks only scored three goals. Hence, the 3-2 OT win.
Let’s give credit where credit is due. It’s not often that the losing team’s goalie is awarded the No. 1 star of the game. Manitoba goalie Byron Spriggs was nothing short of amazing. He was a brick wall. UND threw a lot of rubber at the Manitoba net, but Spriggs stood tall, stopping 52 of 55 shots (.945 save percentage). (Spriggs Elite Prospects Page)
While fans might be concerned with the last Saturday’s low goal total. The players and coaching staff aren’t all that fussed about it.
“I thought we had a lot of shots, but I thought a lot of them were from the perimeter, Rhett Gardner said after Saturday’s game. “I think we can get a little better net front. He (Spriggs) was good down low, so you’ve got to bear down in the crease and get pucks up in the net. I thought we had a lot of chances and we’re definitely going to build off of that.”
Wednesday, during hockey media day, head coach Brad Berry was asked if he’s concerned about the low number of goals with the high shot total.
“Nope, not at all,” Berry said. “Getting those opportunities that’s something that we want. I thought we played fast, and that was one of the things we talked about; playing fast with and without the puck. Concerned about finishing plays? Yeah, a little bit. That’s something that we’re addressing. We’ve done that with our group for the last three to four weeks, and we want to continue to do that.
“That was the first time in a game situation that those lines were together. So, we wanted to get some information on the chemistry between individuals and players. I thought that we got that. Now, we have to take it a step and try to finish plays with those lines.”
I went back and looked at the shot charts from Saturday’s game. Yes, there were a number of the shots were from the perimeter. However, there were also a lot of shots from the slot. The Bisons players collapsed around the net and gave the UND players little net to shoot at. Again, the Bisons goalie Spriggs was very sharp. Sometimes goalies get hot and are almost unbeatable.