Once again, the University of North Dakota hockey team will renew its historic rivalry with the University of Minnesota in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game in Las Vegas, NV.
If you’re unfamiliar with this series, log onto the internet and check out Youtube and there will be hours and hours of video. Many of these videos will be of post-whistle scrums and dustups. Even a near brawl in the post-game handshake.
The two teams used to be heated WCHA rivals, but since re-alignment, the rivalry has cooled off. I expect to see a lot of offense and goal scoring.
That said, I don’t expect to see a lot of post-whistle dustups, UND isn’t that kind of team anymore, but you never know. Teams coached by Bob Motzko don’t take a lot of penalties either. They’re very disciplined.
Matt Frattin and Kevin Wehrs have moved on.
Play Disciplined Hockey
This week, the focus for the Hawks is discipline. Don’t take a bunch of unnecessary penalties. UND can’t let their emotions get the best of them. Entering the series against the Gophers, the Hawks penalty kill had been nothing short of atrocious. Their penalty kill is killing 61.5 percent of the opponent’s power players. Currently, that’s last in the NCAA.
They need to play on the edge but don’t go over the edge. It’s about finding a balance. The Hawks don’t want to spend all night in the penalty box.
“You want to be aggressive as a team, but you have to have discipline in the game,” head coach Brad Berry said.
How has UND addressed their penalty kill problems? “It’s through the use of video, Berry said. “It’s through the use of individual meetings.”
Berry continued, “I go back to a guy like (former head coach) Gino Gasperini, a long time ago, he said when you’re playing in these types of series, you’ve got to get to the edge. You can’t be over the edge, and you can’t be three feet back from the edge. You have to get to the edge and you have to play on the edge.
“And for our guys, it’s the same thing. North Dakota is an aggressive team, we’re on our toes all of the time. But anytime you go over that edge, that’s what we talk about; the penalty side of it. If you’re back from the edge you don’t want that either, because you don’t have a chance to be successful. You’ve got to get to the edge and you’ve got to have discipline.”